Reviews |Jackery Solar Generator 1000

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Review

Review

Price when reviewed

£1559

$1549
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Our Verdict

Hiring a generator is a common occurrence when filming on location. The small, often petrol-driven machines are ideal for providing the power that keeps lights and cameras rolling. While generators are useful, they are noisy and often smelly; there are now fossil-free alternatives such as the Jackery Explorer 1000.

The Jackery Explorer 1000 is essentially a large electric power pack, like an oversized version of one of those power packs you carry to boost your phone’s charge, just far larger and capable of providing an output akin to that from a main’s plug, with some small limitations.

I was impressed with the power supply through the test, enabling everyday use of my MacBook Pro, battery charging, and the powering of lights and camera through three shoots. Re-charging of the Explorer 1000 was made solely through the solar panels, with a full charge achievable in a day when the sun was out while a couple of days is needed when cloudy.

Through the depths of winter and with some careful planning, 60% of all power I used for six photoshoots, five video shoots and everyday use of the laptop was supplied by the Jackery, not at all bad. Through the summer, that should easily be increased to 100%,

The Jackery Explorer 1000 is expensive, but when it comes to providing power options away from the usual locations, that expense is well worth it.

For

  • Runs mains devices up to 1000W
  • Charges through Solar
  • Easy and safe to use

Against

  • Heavy
  • Needs a good amount of sun to fully charge in a day

What is the Jackery Solar Generator 1000?

Power is one of the most valuable assets when out on location, and there’s nothing worse than running out of juice partway through a shoot. I have a kit bag dedicated to power reserve with various batteries for various devices, from cameras to lighting, to avoid disaster. While this generally seems me through, I often struggle with lighting, especially computing power.

The Jackery Explorer 1000 is an electric generator that lets you plug in any device that draws up to 1000w. That’s more than enough for any battery charger, light or laptop I use during a shoot. The design is simple, and compared with the old diesel generators, it’s almost silent, just a slight whir of the fans when higher wattages are being pulled.

Think of the Jackery Explorer 1000 as one huge power pack that enables you to run many standard main devices. The UK edition that I have features two main’s sockets, two USB Type-C and two USB Type-A, all available to supply power to your devices.

But, what makes the Jackery explorer 1000 so interesting is that it doesn’t just charge from the mains there’s also a solar option. Jackery makes the Explorer electric generator and the solar panels to go with it. According to the documentation, two panels plug directly into the generator and charge up the device in just over 8 hours.

As photographers on set, this electric generator seems like a great idea and certainly enables you to cut down batteries and extension cables. But, what interests me is the ability to re-charge the generator using solely the solar, especially during the British winter.

At present, the weather conditions are challenging for any solar-driven device, the days are short, and the amount of sun around is limited. I also have a huge amount of work to catch up on, and eight full MacBook Pro-13 inch battery rechargers per charge, as highlighted in the advertising material, might not be enough to see me through this work mountain, especially as I’m using a MacBook Pro 16-inch.

My idea is for the next month, from when I started writing this, was to run as much of my work electrical equipment from the Jackery Explorer 1000 as possible. That’s re-charging all my camera batteries, laptop and lighting.

Then as the battery depletes, on my downtime, I’ll leave it outside charging and will see where that gets me!

Build and Handling

Before I get into the performance and how long the battery takes to charge and deplete in real terms, I thought it worth giving you a quick guided tour of the Jackery Explorer 1000, the build and handling, especially when you wire it up to the Solar panels.

To be honest, think of a very nicely designed car/leisure battery, with an ergonomic design, eye-catching orange/grey case with handle, some sockets and a screen, and you pretty much have the Jackery Explorer 1000.

There are a series of sockets on the front, split into three groups. The first is AC, and here, you have two standard Plug Type G (UK household electric plug). The second group is DC with two USB Type-C and Two USB Type-A and a 12v car socket (Cigarette style). Finally, you have the power inputs, one for the mains and the other highlighted in red and black for the connector to the solar panels.

 

When it comes to using the power, a small button by the AC and DC sockets needs to be pushed to select your power source. The rest of it is self-explanatory.

Alongside the sockets, you have a small LCD panel that gives you information about the power drawn from the devices you are using or the amount of energy being fed back into the Jackery Explorer 1000 by the panels.

I should note at this point that there are three different charging options; the first is through the mains, the one I want to avoid, the second is through the solar panels, this is the one that will power this test, the third is through the car, I won’t be doing this as I’ll end up having bump start the car.

Aside from the power, vents and fans are built into the pack to keep it cool; you hear these fire up occasionally, and there’s an LED light on the side for good measure. This light is surprisingly bright and handy if you need a quick lighting source when you arrive on location.

Along with the Jackery Explorer 1000, the Solar panels are also known as the Solarsaga 100W. Essentially each is capable of converting 100W of power charge to the Jackery explorer 1000; 100w is essentially what the MacBook Pro 16-inch I’m presently typing on draws, so on a sunny day, it should be more than enough to re-charge my MacBook with enough solar energy left to trickle charge the Jackery Explorer 1000.

The solar panels open out with two reinforced fabric stands that fold down from the back; inside a small pocket is the hub and wire that connect to the generator. The hub features two sockets that enable you to charge USB devices directly from the solar panels without connecting to the Jackery Explorer 1000.

Finally, a small parallel cable first links the two-panel wires to connect the two panels to the Jackery Explorer 1000. It then plugs directly into the input socket on the generator. Once done, that’s it charging starts automatically.

As a last note, if you buy the kit, then Jackery will also give you the carry case for the Jackery Explorer 1000. This looks like a cool bag you would take on a picnic, but it holds battery and cables neatly and functions exactly as it needs to.

Performance

Let’s start with the setup process, which is pretty quick; unfold the two solar panels, and prop-up using the built-in velcroed in position stands, then position towards the sun, and the panels are ready to go.

Then unzip the pocket on the back of each panel, pull out the power cable, and connect the parallel adapter; plug both panels into the generator, and you’re done.

Instantly on a sunny winters day with some clouds, I was getting between 125W and 40W with a bit of cloud cover. On a completely dull day, this drops to around 20W. I found dull mornings are brighter than dull afternoons, with an average of 40W for morning and 20W for an afternoon.

As the panels and pack aren’t weatherproof, I didn’t subject them to the winter rain or see how the panels performed.

Leaving the panels in the garden with the pack run down to 50%, it took around 5 hours for the battery to charge back up to 100% fully, and that’s on a bright winters day with some cloud.

Over the month of use, we had more than a few cloudy days, and while the charge rates were slower, there was no getting away from the fact that the battery pack was still charging.

To put that into context, that charge has been enough for me to run my laptop most of the time, power two Rotolight ANOVA’s, charge all batteries for two Sony Alpha’s, an FS7 and Canon C100 MKII, plus phone and a few other bits without once plugging into the mains. In that time, I have used the solar panels to top up the battery while editing and enhancing images taken on the shoots.

In cost value, my laptop runs at 100w, so in 10 hours on my current electrical pricing plan, that costs around 6p in electricity, not a great deal. But then you add up the other devices, and it all starts to add up. I estimated that over the month to power my laptop would have cost £1.20, the light’s at 70w draw each round £0.60 and the various batteries and other items around £2.40, so a total of around £4.20.

This might not seem like a great deal, but over the year, that pitches in at £50.40, and to be honest, probably more as I wasn’t that vigilant on marking down what I was using and when.

When it came to the use of equipment, everything from lighting to camera gear and attery chargers all plugged in and worked without issue. The only item that didn’t was the Dyson Air blade, which I plugged in on purpose to check that the safety trip would trip, and it did.

In most situations, the Jackery Explorer 1000 ran silently with the occasional whir from the fans when the power draw from devices increased. When using the MacBook Pro, the laptop’s fans are on more constantly than the Explorer 1000.

The noise of the fans can be an issue if you’re powering lights and a camera from the Jackery Explorer 1000. Still, I found that leaving it with the panels and the battery chargers outside while filming helped ensure that it or batteries were being topped up while I got on with work.

To test the Jackery Explorer 1000 on a shoot, I first ensured that it was charged to 100%. At the location, I set up the Jackery Explorer 1000 with a four-socket extension cable to power the two Rotolight ANOVA Pro 2’s and the Sony FS7. The power drawn from the camera was almost around 28w, while each of the lights drew 70w with a total that balanced around 170w.

The shoot lasted for 7 hours, and the lights and camera were switched on and off during that time as the kit was shifted, and behind the scenes, issues were resolved.

At the end of the shoot, the Jackery Explorer was down to 14%.

The next day, cold but sunny, I set the Jackery Explorer 1000 and panels onto the flat roof of my house before breakfast and left it charging in the morning sun. The charge was up to 25% an hour later, with the input showing at 125w.

I then plugged in the extension cable, plugged in the laptop and started the edits from the previous day. By lunch, 1 pm, the laptop’s power was still at 100%, and the Jackery Explorer sat at 35% charge before it started clouding over and getting too cold to sit outside any longer.

Reading up using the battery as it’s charging is probably not the best idea as it will shorten the cell’s life span, but if you need to, you can!

As a note, Jackery recommends you don’t let the Jackery Explorer 1000’s charge fall below 20% before a re-charge; that’s quite standard for any battery of this type. When the capacity starts to deplete to this level, the LCD flickers on and off 10 to let you know that time is close for a re-charge.

Verdict

I have used a small 4-stroke petrol generator as backup power on shoots, and while the one I hire is compact, there’s no avoiding the noise once it’s fired up; the Jackery Explorer 1000, however, aside from a short whir of the fans on occasion is mostly silent.

The Jackery Explorer 1000 is a neat solution, like any electrical generator. It provides power enough for most small shoots, where lighting, cameras, laptops and other devices are in use and in need of mains power.

During one shoot, I had an editor working on the video production while the rest of the team filmed and shot photos. The editor’s laptop remained fully charged, and we could even re-charge a couple of batteries while on set.

For a couple of longer shots where the ANOVA’s we’re in use for more than a couple of hours, it was useful to be able to leave the lighting well alone plugged into the Jackery Explorer 1000 without loads of wires trailing around and knowing that the power to the lighting wasn’t going to drain and run out at any point.

While it can’t be said that the Jackery Explorer 1000 is an essential tool for the photographer or videographer on every day’s shoot, it does make life a little easier. Knowing you have that access to power anywhere gives you a huge sense of reassurance.

Over the month’s test, I’ve been extremely impressed with the Jackery Explorer 1000 and the SolorSaga solar panels. The ease of use is impressive, and as a package, it’s all very neat and straightforward.

As a straightforward electrical generator, the Jackery Explorer 1000 does the job for any device up to 1000w; on the first run after unpacking, I plugged in the TV and two lights and settled in for the evening watching six episodes of Cobra Kai, all power came compliments of the Jackery Explorer 1000.

Out in the field and used in a more photographic vein, the plugin power anywhere is a huge benefit and also means that I can now stick around in locations and get on with work without needing to run back to the office to plug in to a mains supply.

I also love the idea of harnessing the power of the sun to charge and power my devices. When the panels first arrived, the winters sun was weak, and the charge rates were slow, a couple of % an hour. However, over the last couple of weeks, as the intensity of the early February sun breaks through, I have managed to fully charge the battery from 20% to 100% in a day.

Over the pandemic, we’re all become used to adapting our workspaces, from the office to home, and now with the Jackery Explorer 1000, there’s no reason not to take your office to any location you want.

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