Which Solar Panels Are Compatible With The Jackery Explorer 400/290?
The Jackery Explorer 400, also advertised as 290 due to it’s 290Wh battery capacity, is a popular portable power station sold at a lot of different hardware stores around the US.
While it’s very similar to the rest of the Explorer lineup, it’s unique in some ways which is why I figured I better write a short article about it.
I won’t be going into its features too much, but focus on the DC input found on the front of the battery, and how you can connect solar panels to it to charge it up.
While Jackery includes a car and wall charger with the Explorer 400, it does not include solar panels or any cables to connect panels to it.
The truth is that the fastest way to charge this specific power station is with solar panels. The car and wall charger will need around 6-7 hours to fully charge it, while a 100W solar panel can do it in around 5 hours.
Which Solar Panels Are Compatible?
The DC input on the Explorer 400 is connected to a solar charge controller that can handle solar panels rated between 12 to 30 volts, up to 65W.
The voltage is the most important to not exceed, and what it talks about is the VOC rating of the panel. You can usually find this in its specifications or on the panel itself.
Since it already has a built-in solar charge controller, you should not connect another charge controller between the solar panel and the input port.
Another important thing to know about the input port is that it’s an 8mm port. This matters since we need to find either a solar panel with an 8mm connector, or use an adapter.
I put together a table with some of the panels I recommend for this power station.
If there is a checkmark next to the “Requires Additional Adapter”, you also need to purchase an MC4 to 8mm adapter (click to view on Amazon).
What’s The Max Solar Input?
In the manual, it says that the max solar input is 65W.
This does not mean it’s going to break if we connect a 100W panel though, it just means that the charge controller maximizes at 65W and the rest of the produced electricity will be wasted.
This is not true with all charge controllers or power stations, since some have fuses that will blow if you exceed the max input.
I don’t recommend connecting anything larger than a 120W panel unless you live in a place that gets a lot of clouds.
I do want to mention that I have connected 200W to my old Explorer 500 which has the same input limits as the 290/400, and haven’t had any problems yet.
Can I Combine Two Panels?
You can combine two panels in parallel with an MC4 Y branch (click to view on Amazon) if they use MC4 connectors.
If you have panels with 8mm connectors, you’d need an 8mm combiner (click to view on Amazon).
You should not connect two panels in series, since that would most likely result in a voltage over 30V.
What About Extension Cables?
If your panel(s) use MC4 connectors, I recommend the Geosiry Twin Wire Extension cable (click to view on Amazon).
With SAE connectors, I recommend the OYMSAE SAE to SAE extension cable (click to view on Amazon).
With 8mm connectors, I recommend the Electop 8mm extension cable (click to view on Amazon).
Can I Connect A Harbor Freight Panel?
You can connect a Harbor Freight panel as long as you don’t use a solar charge controller between the panel and the input.
If the panel has an SAE connector you do need an adapter.
The adapter that’s needed to connect it is an SAE to 8mm adapter (click to view on Amazon).
The reverse polarity should not be needed to make the connection, but if it doesn’t work it might be needed.
Can I Connect a 24V Solar Panel?
Most if not all solar panels made for 24V systems have VoC/VmP ratings over 30V, and are not compatible unless you have a way to lower the voltage before plugging it in.
What Can The Explorer 290/400 Power?
It has an inverter that powers a single AC outlet capable of outputting up to 200W.
It can power small devices like tablets, laptops, lights, CPAP machines, etc.
I recommend the EcoFlow River (click to view on Amazon) over the Explorer 290. It’s capable of outputting three times as much electricity, charges faster, can be controlled and monitored via a phone app, and has a lot more ports.
Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions.