Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Gear Closet: Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station Review

When shopping for a portable power station to take with you into the backcountry the two factors that you must always consider is how much power does the device offer and how much does it weigh. There are plenty of portable power solutions available on the market, but they are definitely not all created equal. Some offer lots of juice but are incredibly bulky and heavy. Others are extremely lightweight and portable, but won't keep your electronic devices charged for the length of your entire expedition. But the new Explorer 240 portable power station from Jackery strikes the perfect balance in terms of weight and capacity, making it a great option for just about any outdoor adventure.

At its core, the Explorer 240 hides a 240 watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which plays an important role in finding that all-important balance between power and weight. Lithium-ion cells are much lighter than the old lead-acid batteries that were first used in these types of gernerators. As a result, Jackery's latest option tips the scales at a mere 6.6 pounds, making it one of the most portable power solutions I've seen so far.

In terms of charging ports, the Explorer 240 is equipped with a standard AC wall outlet, a DC port like the one found in your car, and two USB ports (5V/24W max). That's enough to charge multiple devices at once, including a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and a variety of other small electronic gadgets, including headlamps, GPS devices, and cameras. The DC port adds a nice level of versatility too, opening up the possibilities for a wide variety of items, or even adding a second AC inverter should you need another port.

To put all of these specs into perspective, this portable power station is capable of recharging a MacBook up to four times, and iPhone more than 20 times, and a GoPro camera 35+ times. It can also recharge high capacity drone batteries 3.5 times, while also powering USB camp lights for hours on end. In other words, the generator has enough capacity to keep a small expedition team going for quite awhile, depending on the number of devices they bring with them on their journey. A built-in LCD display helps users to monitor both the input and output of power as well.


When it comes to keeping the portable power station charged itself, Jackery provides some good options too. The Explorer 240 ships with an AC adapter for charging it up while at home simply by plugging it into the wall. That requires about 9 hours to complete when the device is completely depleted, so you'll want to allow yourself plenty of time to get it charge before heading out into the field.

But, you can truly extend the capacity of the Explorer 240 by pairing it with Jackery's 50-watt solar panel (sold separately for $199) to recharge it while on the go. This cleverly built solar cell is surprisingly lightweight, folds down to a reasonable size, and is easy to carry, yet still is efficient enough to recharge the power station in as few as 10 hours of direct sunlight. As with all solar panels, the speed or recharging depends on location, cloud cover, length of the day, and so on, but having put it to the test in charging the Explorer 240, I can honestly say I'm very impressed with how well the two devices work with one another. Carrying both of these with you to a remote base camp should ensure a steady supply of power for days at a time.

To ensure that the Explorer 240 is built for use in the outdoors, Jackery encased it in very durable armor that does a great job of protecting the technology within without adding much in the way of bulk or weight. In fact, the generator is actually quite small, which only adds to its appeal. The company also embedded it with thermal protection and battery regulation circuitry to ensure that it continues to function at a high level and remains safe to use both at home or in the backcountry.

One of the things that I like best about the Explorer 240 is that it is small enough carry with you, yet doesn't skimp on power in anyway. This gives it a great deal of versatility, whether you're using it for backyard barbecues, tailgating at the game, or on an extended expedition in the Himalaya. The device is small enough that it doesn't take up much room, and the combination of power station and solar panel are lightweight enough to be the perfect backcountry power option. The only knock I have against this model is that I would have liked to have seen a second AC outlet, but that could have compromised the size and battery capacity, so it is a limitation I can do without in order to get such a powerful charging solution in such a compact form.

Priced at $299.99, the Jackery Explorer 240 won't crush your wallet either. If you're in need of a dependable, lightweight, and powerful solution to keep your gadgets charged while on the go, you'll be hard pressed to find anything better than what Jackery has built here. Sure, there are units that offer larger batteries of course, but they are also heavier and larger devices too. Jackery has hit the perfect sweet spot with this power station, which makes it very easy to recommend.

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