Recharge Your Jackery Explorer Power Station With Solar Panels
Jackery is a very popular power station/solar generator brand that makes and sells portable batteries perfect for outdoors, camping, home emergencies, CPAP users, and wherever you find yourself needing portable power.
There are four popular power stations made by Jackery on the market right now, the Explorer 160, 240, 300, 500, 1000 and 1500. In the table below, I will compare them and list their inputs and limitations.
You can recharge a Jackery power station in three ways: with the included AC wall charger, in the car with a cigarette lighter port, and with solar panels. Today we’re focusing on how to do it with solar panels.
NOTE if you have an Explorer 1500 or 2000: There have been reports (thanks Shane) that the 8mm inputs on the new 1500 and 2000 are not the same as on the older Explorer models, and the MC4 to 8mm adapter doesn’t work. I haven’t gotten my hands on one of the newer Explorers so I can’t confirm it, but please be aware that these adapters might not work with the Explorer 1500 and 2000. That also means that third-party panels that include 8mm connectors might not work.
Unfortunately, solar generators usually don’t include solar panels, therefore I am going to help you find the perfect solar panel for you to recharge your Jackery power bank with.
As we’ll see below, Jackery makes its own solar panels that you can use, but there are lots of third-party panels that are compatible as well.
Let’s take a look at my solar panel recommendations first, then I will list each power station and its specifications. Then I will teach you how to connect these panels to your battery, and what you need to think about.
Best Solar Panels Compatible With Jackery Explorer Power Stations
Note: Scroll left/right on small screens to see the whole table.
Jackery Power Stations Compared – Specifications And Limits
Note: Scroll left/right on small screens to see the whole table.
Which Solar Panel Is The Best?
It depends on which Jackery power station you have and whether portability or charging speed is more important to you.
A 100W panel doesn’t generate exactly 100W, but more like 60-80W (or less when the sun is weak), so to make sure you max out the input rating, you might need more than one panel depending on which power station you have.
Related Post: Goal Zero Yeti 200X Vs Jackery Explorer 240
For RVers, vandwellers, or car travelers that are looking to mount a solar panel on the roof for a more permanent installation, the Renogy 100 Watt is great. If you want to set it up when you get to your campsite and leave it out day and night, the Renogy 100W briefcase is a rigid heavy-duty choice.
Note that the Renogy panels use MC4 connectors, you would need the MC4 To 8mm Adapter to connect it to the Explorer.
The Jackery panels are great as well since they’re a mix of portable and efficient. I like that they have a built-in kickstand that makes it easy to angle the panel. The stand is not as robust as the Goal Zero or Renogy, but it will still be very helpful as long as it’s not windy.
I think it’s great that Jackery has put USB C and USB A ports on their panels in addition to the 8mm output. This lets you charge several devices all at once.
The Rockpals 100W panel is popular due to its versatility, portability, and efficiency. It’s a little bit too large to hang on a backpack while hiking, but you can hang it on a vehicle, in a tree, or put it on a table. This one does not require any extra adapters and is ready to connect to every Explorer model.
Even though I didn’t list it in the table, you should also know that the Explorers are compatible with a solar panel like the Renogy 160W flexible panel. This is a panel that is easier to mount on top of a vehicle like an RV, van or car.
You can connect it to the Jackery with the SolarEnz MC4 To 8mm Adapter.
What Adapter Do You Need For Solar Panels With MC4 Connectors?
Since the Jackery power stations have an 8mm DC input, we need to use an adapter with panels that only have MC4 connectors.
One compatible adapter that does this with the panels I listed above is the SolarEnz MC4 To 8mm Adapter.
This adapter will take a solar panel with a positive male MC4 connector and a negative female MC4 connector and turn it into an 8mm connection, which is what the Jackery Explorers use.
While the Explorer 1000 have both an 8mm and an Anderson input, only one can be used at once. The newer 1500 and 2000 have two 8mm, and both can be used at the same time.
What To Think About When Choosing A Solar Panel
The main thing you must know is that the Jackery Explorer power stations have solar charge controllers built-in, so you shouldn’t buy a solar panel that has a charge controller. If your panel already has one, you need to find a way to bypass it.
Another thing to know is the 12V~30V input rating, this is talking about the VOC rating of a solar panel which usually can be found in the specifications of a panel. This is more important to know about than the max watt input.
Every Explorer from the 1000 and down have a 30V max.
You can connect a 100W solar panel to a Jackery Explorer with a 42W max solar input, but you shouldn’t connect a 40V panel to a power station with a 30V maximum input voltage. The panels I recommend above are all within safe voltages, and won’t hurt the charge controller in the Explorers.
Can I Combine Several Panels?
Sure, if you want to combine two panels I recommend using the same kind of panel.
If you buy the Explorer 1000 or larger, Jackery includes an 8mm parallel connector that is supposed to be used with its SolarSaga 100W panels.
If the panel has MC4 connectors, you can combine two panels with a BougeRV MC4 Y Branch.
There are larger MC4 Y branches in case you want to connect three or four panels as well.
Connecting panels together with an MC4 Y branch creates a parallel connection, which means that the voltage stays the same but the amperages are combined. This is the way to do it with the Explorer 1000 and smaller.
If you have a 1500 or 2000, you can connect panels in series as long as the total VOC doesn’t exceed 50V. To create a series connection, you simply take the positive MC4 male connector from the first panel and connect it to the negative MC4 female connector on the second panel.
A series connection combines the voltages, but the amperage stays the same.
Since the 1000 and smaller can only handle up to 30V, and a 100W 12V panel outputs 18-22V, you have to do a parallel connection. With the larger 1500/2000 and the higher 50V limit, you could connect two 100W 12V panels in series since the total VOC would most likely stay below 50V.
You can find the VOC rating of a panel on the panel itself, in the specifications online, or in the manual.
Can I Take My Jackery Explorer On An Airplane?
How Can I Improve The Charging Efficiency When Charging My Jackery With Solar Panels?
The easiest thing you can do is to angle the solar panel towards the sun. A panel laying flat on the ground when the sun is just coming up in the morning, or going down in the evening, won’t generate very much if anything at all.
Related Post: Jackery HLS 290 Vs Rockpals 300
For the best efficiency, you’ll have to adjust the panel throughout the day to face the sun.
Another thing is to make sure there is no shade on the panel, not even a little bit. With some panels, a shadow that covers 10% of the panel can decrease the power output by 50% (not scientific numbers, but to give you an idea).
Are There Extension Cables?
You can use either MC4 or 8mm extension cables. I recommend MC4 since they’re available with a lower gauge, meaning a thicker wire, which equal less voltage loss. I use and recommend the Windynation extension cables.
iGreely makes 8mm extension cables that are 10ft/3m long. Note that there will be a power loss with longer cables.
You need to make sure that the wire gauge can handle the amperage of your panel(s), no matter if you get MC4 or 8mm extension cables.
What About Jackery Power Banks?
You can recharge the Jackery Power Banks with the solar panels above that have USB ports.
Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions.