Jackery Explorer 300

$349
4.1

Features

3.5/5

Design

4.0/5

Performance

4.5/5

Ease of Use

4.0/5

Value

4.5/5

Pros

  • Compact and relatively light
  • Great Price
  • Multiple outputs AND inputs
  • Solar charging capable
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Battery not by globally-known Tier1 manufacturer
  • Fixed carry handle
  • 90W max solar charge input
  • No Anderson input port
  • Hardshell plastic could crack/puncture
Read: 15 mins.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Explorer’s Little Sibling

Back in April, I purchased the Jackery Explorer 1000 and the Goal Zero Yeti 500x later as a result of 2019’s fires. Coincidentally, this year’s fires on the entire US west coast is actually WORSE with new records broken! I cannot stress how important it is to be prepared for emergencies, and with a baby and young boy in our household, I wanted to ensure we have a crucial refrigerator running to store milk, medication, and whatever else we needed.

There has been an increase in people taking emergency preparation more seriously.

I had since invested in several car freezers (favorite is the Foho 34qt BCD-32) as part of my emergency toolset. When Jackery announced the Explorer 300 (E300) with a special launch price and some improvements over the Explorer 1000 (E1000), I jumped on it for one simple reason: my little boy loves camping, and I wanted him to have a mini-Explorer of his own (actually, I wanted another backup battery, but don’t tell him that.) Literally, the E300 is a mini version of the E1000, and it looks awfully cute to have my son and I stand next to one another holding our own Explorers!

Jackery Explorer 300 and Explorer 1000

Right off the bat, the two models are very similar to one another, and so I will be re-using much of what I had already written for the Explorer 1000. The E300 is the direct successor to the company’s Explorer 240 model.

The newly-released Jackery Explorer 300 is made by one of the — if not THE — best-selling companies on Amazon for the battery power station category. The company said it was formed by a former Apple battery engineer in 2012.

Jackery is a combination of “Jacket” and “Battery”. The company used to make Apple jacket batteries.

Battery Technology and Safety

Goal Zero debuted with Lead-Acid batteries that were bulky and heavy. Today’s devices use Lithium-ion (Li-ion) and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) for more power in a smaller, lighter package. Li-ion, however, is more volatile and becomes riskier as more cells are packed together. The Explorer 300 uses Li-ion.

  • Battery storage capacity is measured in Wh, and power output is in W (Watts).
  • The higher the Watt-hour (Wh) capacity rating, the more dangerous the battery could become if not handled right.

The quality of the battery cells and the BMS (Battery Management System) are crucial for safety.

Cell Manufacturers

Battery cells made by LG and Sony are among the best in the hobbyist world as are Sanyo/Panasonic, Samsung, and BAK Battery. Jackery Explorer 1000‘s batteries are made by LG and BAK, but the E300’s are by EVE Battery. I do not have much information about the new, publicly-traded manufacturer’s safety record, however, but going by Jackery’s track record, they likely would not have selected a poor company to provide fuel cells for their power stations.

During my years of research, I found that use of lower-quality batteries could pose a serious risk to life and property and should become a crucial part in deciding what to buy.

Safety

The second part in a battery’s safe operation depends heavily on the design and BMS (Battery Management System). Some BMS manufacturers, unfortunately, overstate their capabilities that could lead to catastrophic failure.

  • Design should allow for proper, thermal cooling, use quality components, and obtain proper certifications
  • Batteries made by known manufacturers are less likely to fail
  • BMS should sufficiently restrict the battery from going past its capabilities

In A Nutshell

Jackery Explorer 300 with a Mini Projector

Jackery Explorer 300 is a relatively light power station with a professional-looking exterior and flashy, orange color scheme, and is backed by a company that appears, from the stories I have read (and personally experienced), to take customer service seriously. The batteries are made by a manufacturer I do not know much about, but their weight is an indicator that they are likely good quality. The 300W of energy (and peak of 500W) provides enough power for a small amount of electronics and small appliances, such as a laptop, television, mini fridge, medical device (like CPAP), and car freezers, but will NOT work for most rice cookers, and definitely not for a vacuum, water boiler, or circular saw.

Like the bigger Explorer 1000, the hard, plastic material used to help shed weight (and cost) could be prone to cracking from hard falls or bumps, potentially exposing the Lithium-Ion batteries to puncturing. The fixed carry handle unfortunately cannot be folded, making it not ideal for packing things on top.

Functionally, this is an excellent, portable power station with a multitude of AC and DC outputs, is solar charging capable with MPPT built in, and has a battery management system (BMS) to help ensure safety. Equally important is its verified claim of a pure sine wave – not modified – AC Inverter to produce clean electricity for sensitive electronics. Like Goal Zero Yeti 500x, Jackery finally upgraded the E300 with a USB-C PD with a 60W output. The E1000 only produces 18W. This makes it very useful for charging supported laptops.

Jackery is one of Amazon’s top sellers in the portable power station category with good customer service and reasonable prices, and as this is no longer my first experience with their products, I have no hesitation to recommend its latest product.

Goal Zero vs Jackery: Yeti 1000 Core vs 1000X vs Explorer 1000

Tip: A battery power station like this one cannot be used to jump start a car. Instead, I suggest getting a small, portable one specifically made for that, such as my favorite: NOCO Genius Boost Car Jump Starter (Lithium Battery).

Update: Jackery announced on 1/28/2021 that the updated Explorer 300 can now be charged through the 60W USB-C PD and be used in parallel with the 90W AC wall charger. This provides for a combined input of 150W, nearly cutting the charging time in half!

What’s Good? What’s Bad?

Pros

  • At 293 Wh capacity, it is an improvement over its Explorer 240 model and falls in-between Goal Zero’s Yeti 200x and 500x capacities
    • Capacity to power a 30″ LCD monitor and Mini PC for 3-5 hours, a Toshiba 50″ Fire TV for almost 2.5 hours
  • Pure Sine Wave AC Inverter capable of continuous 300W power (and 500W peak) — More details later
    • Jackery Explorer 1000 offers continuous 1,000W power with a peak of 2,000W
  • Very well-priced at $349 at launch
  • Can power AC and DC (USB/12V Car adapter) at the same time (as long as they draw less than 300W combined)
    • Laptop, tablet, phones, lights, fans, CPAP medical device, projector, TV, mini refrigerator, speaker, camera, DSLR battery charger, and SOME rice cookers
  • Faster charging with MPPT controller (Maximum Power Point Tracking)
  • Can be used while charging
  • Informative LCD with LED backlight
    • Total power coming in (via solar panel or AC adapter)
    • Capacity left (as a percentage)
    • Total power (AC and DC combined) being used
      • Suaoki G500 displays the Wattage separately for DC and AC, which I prefer
    • Unfortunately, estimated hours to full charge or empty is NOT shown
  • High-quality BMS (Battery Management System) for safety
    • Provides built-in overload, overcharge (automatic stop when the device is full), and short-circuit protection
  • VERY compact at 9.1″ x 5.2″ x 7.8″, though the higher-capacity, slightly larger Goal Zero Yeti 500x is still my favorite for its size and capacity
  • Portable at just 7.1 lbs
  • USB-C PD port outputs 60W (Explorer 1000 only provides 18W)

Update: Jackery announced on 1/28/2021 that the updated Explorer 300 can now be charged through the 60W USB-C PD and be used in parallel with the 90W AC wall charger. This provides for a combined input of 150W, nearly cutting the charging time in half!

  • Bottom is well-protected by bright-orange, non-slip feet
  • Carry pouch included to hold AC charger and cables
  • Cigarette socket cable included
  • Unexpectedly good customer service
    • Technical support was excellent in answering all my questions
  • 2 year warranty
  • Manual: Clear and well-written, though details were scarce
    • Goal Zero’s manual, on the other hand, is VERY detailed and helpful
  • Company is based in California

Cons

The E300 shares almost all the same design problems I disliked about the E1000, but also adds some improvements.

  • Batteries are not made by a globally well-known, Tier 1 manufacturer
    • My unit came with fuel cells by EVE Battery, a China-based, publicly-traded company
  • No Anderson input port for solar charging like the Explorer 1000
    • You charge with an (optional) Anderson-to-8mm converter cable instead
  • Fixed carry handle cannot be stowed away
    • Makes it difficult to stow things on top at the back of a trunk
    • Upward-curved top (underneath the carry handle) does not allow small items to be temporarily stored on top
  • Hard, plastic material makes the power station lighter, but could be prone to cracking from hard falls or bumps
    • Given that Lithium-Ion batteries become more volatile as capacity increases, one should handle the product with care
  • Although the exterior looks very professional, once I saw the Goal Zero Yeti 500x, I fell in love with the Yeti’s design
  • Power buttons can be accidentally turned on/off through a single press (ie. while packing away your camping gear)
    • Can lead to accidentally turning on/off the output during transport
    • May unexpectedly find battery fully drained when you need it
    • Suaoki requires you to hold the DC or AC button for 2 seconds before it turns on/off that output, helping to minimize accidental presses
    • No automatic power off once no power is drawn/station has become idle
  • AC power brick is flat and large
  • No built-in light (like the Explorer 1000) to illuminate your walking path (or area) or blink “S.O.S.”, the international distress signal
  • Display is not as informative as I’d like
    • Only shows battery charge level, input and output wattage, but no estimate of time remaining to full charge or to empty
  • Multiple fans turn on during high peak and can be too noisy for some
  • Battery cannot be replaced. This can lead to unnecessary landfill waste
  • Cannot be daisy-chained to other Explorer 300/1000’s to extend battery capacity
    • Some Goal Zero stations can be hooked up to other ones so power can be provided for an even longer time without needing to switch
  • Not waterproof. Keep it away from water splashes, rain, and pool!
    • Lithium and fire or water can cause serious damage or injury!
  • No master power off button to turn off ALL outputs at the same time
    • You have to manually switch off each type: DC, AC
  • No carry bag for the power station itself is included

Ports

Input

  • (1) 8mm
    • Accepts up to 90W
    • Max 12-30V and 10A with no minimum wattage
      • WARNING: Do NOT use a power source/solar panel that exceeds 30V or 10A!
        • Be mindful that solar panels that are daisy chained may output more than 30V combined!
    • Can be used for solar charging
      • MPPT charge controller is built in
      • I recommend using a panel that’s between 30W – 100W at 18V (with the right Amps to equal 100W)
        • If you attach a 120W solar panel (with 12V x 10A = 120W), it will charge at only 90W
      • I did not test solar charging as California is currently blanketed by smoke from the massive fires all over the west coast
      • Jackery SolarSaga 100W charged the Explorer 1000 at an excellent 69-88W of input. I expect it to be similar with the E300
      • Use of multiple solar panels
        • WARNING: Do NOT daisy-chain them in sequence/series as that can output more than 30V combined!
        • Connect them in PARALLEL instead with a Y branch cable (not included)
  • (1) USB-C PD
    • Jackery announced on 1/28/2021 that the updated Explorer 300 can now be charged through the 60W USB-C PD and be used in parallel with the 90W AC wall charger. This provides for a combined input of 150W, nearly cutting the charging time in half!

Output

Wall Charging

  • (2) AC with 3 prongs (120V)
    • Inverter can handle a continuous 300W, peaking at 500W. More on that later
    • Pure Sine Wave Inverter
      • Ensures clean power to protect against damage to sensitive electronics
      • Generates less heat
      • Note: Some manufacturers claim to be Pure-Sine when they are actually Modified or Square Waves
  • (1) Cigarette socket (12V, max 10A)
  • (1) USB-C PD (5-20V, max 3A, max PD 60W)
    • PD (Power Delivery) allows a device to be charged with up to 60W through the USB-C interface
  • (2) USB-A (5V, max 2.4A, max 12W)
    • One of them is a QuickCharge 3.0 for rapid charging of compatible devices

Usage

  • To turn ON or OFF the DC (12V Car, USB) or AC outputs, press the corresponding button (“DC”, “USB”, “AC”)
    • Note: This single-press (without hold) can lead to accidentally turning on or off the power station
  • To reset an Error condition that’s shown on the LCD (ie. AC port is Overloaded), turn OFF the respective AC or DC output, and back on
  • To reset the Explorer, hold the DISPLAY button for 10 seconds
  • Li-ion batteries have 500 charge cycles before capacity drops to about 80% from when they were new
    • Product could, in theory, be charged up to 2,000 cycles — about 1/4 of total capacity is lost every 500 cycle
  • Unlike LiFePO4 batteries, Li-ion can operate only in temperatures between 32-104F (0-40C)
    • Jackery’s Battery Management System (BMS) prevents:
      • Recharging in temps outside of 32 – 95F (0 – 35C)
      • Outputting power in temps outside of 14 – 104F (-10 – 40C)
  • Battery, like all Li-ion, slowly drains over time even when station is powered off
    • Could take 1-1.5 years to go from full to empty

Continuous vs Peak Output

  • Explorer 300’s AC Inverter provides a continuous output of 300W with a peak/surge of 500W
    • AC Inverter: Component responsible for converting battery (DC) power into AC for use by electronics
  • Continuous Output:  As long as a device (or combination of multiple ones) does not exceed 300W, it can be used
    • A TV that uses 100W can be used because it is less than 300W. You can add more devices as long as they do not exceed 300W combined
    • A miter saw I have uses 1,800W, and because it exceeds 300W, it cannot be used
  • Peak/Surge: Almost every device temporarily draws more power when it is turned on. The highest amount it pulls during that time is the Peak/Surge. This Explorer can accept up to 500W
    • A TV that uses 200W (continuous) may temporarily suck up 400W (peak) when powered on. Because 400W is less than 500W (peak), this battery will allow the TV to turn on at that level for a few seconds (any longer, and it might cut power as a safety precaution). After a few seconds, the TV then only uses 200W (less than the continuous 300W limit) until the battery is drained
    • An unusual device that uses 250W (continuous) and surges to 1,500W when powered on would instantly be shut off by the Jackery. Why? Even though the device uses just 250W while already on, it jumps to 1,500W when powered on, exceeding the 500W surge limit of the Jackery

Most devices power on at a higher (Peak) wattage than when they are already on (Continuous). Therefore, if its peak exceeds the power station’s max, it may not be able to start

Explorer 300 Introduction /Jackery

Calculations: What Size? How Long?

What size battery should you get? How long will it power your fridge for? How long will it take to recharge? The below calculations can help answer those questions and are rough ESTIMATES as conditions, battery quality, and age can vary.

Charging Times

  • Wall charger: 4-5 hours
    • 90W AC adapter was observed to provide 76W when charging level was at 37%
    • AC adapter will gradually charge slower as battery reaches full capacity (for safety reasons)
  • 100W solar panel: depending on weather conditions, it should take about 5-6 hours. I could not fully test this because the smoke from the California fires is blocking the sun
    • WARNING: do NOT connect panels sequentially or you may output too much voltage and fry the power station! Connect them in PARALLEL with a Y-Branch cable
  • Goal Zero 12V Car Charger (Goal Zero/Amazon)
    • 60W @ 4-5 hrs (5A setting) / 90W @ 3-3.5 hrs (10A setting, if car supports it) (Note: GZ charger can go up to 120W, but Explorer 300 can only accept up to 90W)
    • Most other manufacturers only charge up to 60W. So, 120W with the Goal Zero is game-changing for me and comes highly recommended
  • Goal Zero Yeti 500x can combine its 8mm and USB-C PD ports for a total input of 180W. Neither the E300 nor E1000 can combine both inputs

Update: Jackery announced on 1/28/2021 that the updated Explorer 300 can now be charged through the 60W USB-C PD and be used in parallel with the 90W AC wall charger. This provides for a combined input of 150W, nearly cutting the charging time in half!

Watts Used/Produced by a Device

  • Calc: Watts used or produced by device = Voltage x Amperage
  • Vacuum with 120V @ 9.5A uses 1,140W
  • Solar panel with 12V @ 10A can produce up to 120W

If a device draws more than 300W for an extended period of time, the power station will shut off as a safety precaution. This can also shorten the battery’s lifetime

Ideal Battery Power Station Size

  • Calc: Battery capacity (Wh) = Watts used by device x Hours needed for / 0.85
    • 10-15% of power is lost during power conversion
  • 45W car fridge needed for 8 hours: Minimum 424Wh power station (45W x 8 / 0.85)
  • Battery storage capacity is measured in Wh and power output in W (Watts)

Time Before Battery is Empty

  • Calc: Hours available for device = Battery capacity (Wh) x 0.85 / Watts used by device
    • 10-15% of power is lost during power conversion
  • 60W laptop with 505Wh battery: Up to 7.2 hours (505Wh x 0.85 / 60W)

Time to Charge a Device

  • Calc: Hours to charge device = Device’s battery capacity (Wh) / Input Wattage
  • 60W laptop with 200Wh battery: Up to 3.4 hrs (200 Wh / 60W)

Explorer 300 Charge Time with Solar

  • Calc: Hours to charge battery = Battery capacity (Wh) / (Panel Wattage x [0.5 or 0.75])
    • In a perfect lab environment, solar panels charge at the indicated wattage (ie. 150W)
    • Expect to only receive 50-75% on a good, sunny day (ie. 75W – 113W), depending on environmental conditions, panel’s age, and component quality
    • Tip: Even if it is overcast, the panels will STILL collect solar energy. Keep charging!
  • If a solar panel is rated for 100W, it could take as fast as 3.9 hours [293 Wh / (100W x 0.75)] to charge

Capacity Comparison to Power Banks

  • Calc: Powerbank-equivalent capacity (mAh) = Battery capacity (Wh) / Voltage x 1000
    • 1 Ah = 1000 mAh
  • Explorer’s 293Wh @ 3.6V = 81,389 mAh powerbank (293 Wh / 3.6V x 1000) or 27,129 mAh @ 10.8V

Tips

  • Always test your devices with the power station before you depend on it on the go
  • Lithium-ion batteries are volatile
    • To minimize fire damage to your belongings or loved ones, store the power station in the garage and not inside the house. Best storage is a dry, cool place, however
    • You cannot bring a battery of this capacity on a plane
  • With the right BMS, quality batteries, and other factors, the power station can be stored in the car while camping during a hot, California summer
    • Keep the battery out of direct sunlight. I usually store it on the floor of the car and crack open the windows a tiny bit
    • Do not USE in the car if temperatures fall below or exceed the battery’s rated, operating temperature (32-104F or 0-40C)

Keep your car cigarette lighter with the power station — you could plug it into its 12V DC socket for starting a camp fire

  • If using a car charger, make SURE you only charge this station while the car is RUNNING. Otherwise, you’ll deplete your car’s battery and leave you stranded
  • If charging with a solar panel, be sure to keep the station out of direct sunlight as it could overheat
    • A solar panel is NOT required to use the battery
    • Explorer 300 uses the MPPT solar charge controller/regulator
      • Smarter, more efficient and expensive than PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)
      • Suitable for larger systems
  • Can be used and charged at the same time. Manufacturers’ recommendations for their own products:
    • Yes, that’s fine: Goal Zero, Jackery, Rockpals, nrgGo
    • No/Not advisable: Suaoki
  • NEVER charge the power station itself in below freezing temperatures, or you will damage the Li-ion battery AND potentially limit its overall capacity
    • You CAN use it to power OTHER devices because the generated heat will warm its battery enough to be within operating temps
    • At below freezing temps, keep it in an insulated cooler and connected to a power source (ie. solar panels). The heat generated by the battery will keep it running as best as it can
  • Turn off any output ports (AC/DC) that are not being used in order to conserve power
    • Without anything plugged in, the AC inverter still draws 7W on its own
  • Do not use any power station in a tightly enclosed area as it can overheat
  • BUILT Willis 11″ Insulated Lunch Box fits the E300 perfectly well (with usable pockets) when the Jackery is put on its side
  • If charging the station with the car socket, you cannot get it to 100% capacity with a 12V outlet. If you have a 24V outlet, however, you could
  • To prolong the battery lifetime while in storage, keep the battery fully charged every 3-6 months
    • Or, according to customer support, keep it plugged in when not in use and discharge it to 50% every 3-4 months
      • The charging controller automatically gets disabled once the batteries are full
    • NOT using the battery for a very long time can actually hurt its lifetime
    • There is no “memory effect” in this station’s battery
      • Note: It is better to NOT let it completely drain before recharging
    • The battery is NOT replaceable, although some of Goal Zero’s products are

CAUTION: Lithium-ion batteries do NOT like to remain discharged at 0% for prolonged periods of time. If you let your battery stay at 0% for too long, you may not be able to charge it again without specialized equipment.

Jump Start Car?

Genius Boost GB40 in Use /NOCO

Genius Boost GB40 in Use /NOCO

A battery power station like this one cannot be used to jump start a car. Instead, I suggest getting a small, portable one specifically made for that, such as my favorite: NOCO Genius Boost Car Jump Starter (Lithium Battery).

Goal Zero 12V Car Charger

I wanted to point out how GAME-CHANGING the Goal Zero 12V Car Charger is (Buy on Goal Zero/Amazon). The company inexplicably does not promote its benefits enough, but it can be used to charge batteries at a whopping 120W when the car port supports 10A (like my Toyota Highlander 2008 does!) All other car chargers I have (Jackery, Rockpals, Paxcess) only go up to 60W, but the Goal Zero can double that! What does that mean? Faster charging while driving around town! I bought two — one for use with the Goal Zero Yeti 1500x and another with the Jackery Explorer 1000.

The Goal Zero 12V Car Charger can charge a Goal Zero/Jackery battery at a whopping 120W! The Explorer 300 will only charge at up to 90W, however, but that is still better than 60W with its own car charger.

BUILT Willis 11″ Carry Bag

A great alternative to the official, Jackery Explorer 240/300 carry bag is the insulated lunch box by BUILT Willis. It fits the Jackery Explorer 300 perfectly well when it is placed on its side, leaving plenty of space and pockets open to store charging cables and accessories.

If the Explorer 300 is stood vertically in the lunch box, the fit is extremely tight. Lay the power station on its back instead.

LiFePO4 vs Li-ion

If you are curious about Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, they are bulkier, heavier, and cost more than Lithium-ion. However, they excel in these areas:

  • Less volatile and thus, safer
  • Charge cycle: 1500-2000 (10+ years)
    • Li-ion: 20-25% capacity loss after every 500 cycle (6-10 years with up to 2000 cycles, but diminishing capacity over time)
  • Usable in high temperatures. Li-ion: only 140F/60C max
  • Holds 350-day charge. Li-ion: 300

Final Thoughts

Jackery Explorer 1000 and Explorer 300

The Explorer 300 is another winner for Jackery in that it has made several improvements over its older, bigger brother, the Explorer 1000. I was disappointed to find out that its batteries are made by EVE Battery, a Chinese, publicly-traded company I have little knowledge of. The Explorer 1000, on the other hand, used either LG or China-based BAK Battery, both of which are excellent manufacturers. The company has shown time and time again that it takes customer service VERY seriously, and to me, that is a major plus. The 300W of energy (and peak of 500W) provides enough power for a small amount of electronics and small appliances, and is the perfect size for my little boy, the fellow explorer and camper.

The hard, plastic material commonly used by power stations to help shed weight and cost (just like the E1000) could be prone to cracking from hard falls or bumps, and as such, this product should be handled with care – a puncture of the Lithium-Ion batteries could cause severe harm. The fixed carry handle unfortunately cannot be folded, making it more difficult to pack things on top.

Jackery is one of Amazon’s top sellers in the portable power station category with good customer service and reasonable prices, and if the new EVE Battery manufacturer proves to be as reliable as other Tier 1 makers (like LG or Panasonic), I will have no hesitation to recommend the Explorer 300.

Goal Zero vs Jackery: Yeti 1000 Core vs 1000X vs Explorer 1000

Where To Buy

Related Posts