Maybe it’s because I spend so much time reading and writing about technology, but every few months I dream of what it would be like to leave it all behind and live off-grid for a while. The ways to disconnect are endless, and you can give it your all or end up somewhere in the middle. One of the easiest ways to feel a little more freedom is to provide yourself with your own sustainable source of strength.
Many newer homes are built with things like solar and geothermal energy in mind. Reducing or eliminating your reliance on various forms of infrastructure is not only liberating, it can also be good for the environment. Unfortunately, I am unable to build a new off-grid house or even move into a small cabin in the woods. So when Jackery answered and asked if I would like to try one of the company’s solar generators, I said damn it.
Jackery sent me their new Solar Generator 1500 package, which includes the Explorer 1500 portable power supply and 4 of the company’s proprietary 100W SolarSaga portable solar panels. It’s quite a package, and while just one of these things might not power your entire home, it is capable of some surprising feats.
The Explorer 1500 has an alleged capacity of 1,488 watt hours. That’s a lot and enough to walk. A modern refrigerator, for example, consumes around 130 to 150 watt hours of electricity per day after being put into operation, a washing machine needs around 250 watt hours for one cycle. Some other devices such as clothes dryers and air conditioners use significantly more, but as a backup power source, a fully charged Explorer 1500 would keep your refrigerator cold and your devices charged without any problems.
You can buy the Explorer 1500 separately and charge it from a home socket and store it as backup power, but obviously the biggest benefit of this package is solar charging. Using the quad solar panels on a bright day can charge the battery to 80% in four hours, the company says. I have no way of verifying these exact claims, especially since these numbers are likely ideal conditions, but I found that the battery refilled quickly when all four panels had a clear view of the sun.
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To test it out, I hired it to power my garage and attached shed. It handled half a dozen lamps, a small refrigerator, and tools that I used. I let it charge battery packs for my cordless leaf blower and drill, run a large blower fan and on top of that charge my Pon. It provided a lot of power for my Saturday, and after making sure the solar panels were at a good angle to the sun, I went in for a couple of hours in the late afternoon. When I got out it had booted up and was almost fully charged again.
If I ever really wanted to test myself by living off-grid and wanting to reduce or eliminate my dependence on the electricity grid, I would definitely need something like this. Probably several of them. For now, however, it gave me a small selection of how that could be, and it was pretty awesome.
Jackery has several possible use cases for the solar generator package including camping, remote work that requires power tools, and as a backup power solution in the event of a power failure. Given my time with the hardware, I can safely say that the solar generator would be incredibly useful for all of these scenarios.
I especially like to try it out on a long camping trip as it would make life a lot easier not to rely on a vehicle or a bunch of small backup batteries to keep everyone’s smartphones or laptops running. The main unit and solar panels are very portable, and while the battery weighs over 30 pounds, it is worth its weight for any outdoor excursion to charge it anywhere the sun shines.
A really great bonus that isn’t immediately obvious is that each of the solar panels can actually be used independently. Each panel has two charging ports, one for USB-A and one for USB-C, so you can take out a single panel to charge your phone, tablet or other device when the sun is out without having to pull out the battery. If you need power for multiple devices at the same time, you should be covered with the trio of AC sockets, two USB-A ports, a single USB-C port, and a single 12V car power socket on the Explorer 1500.
With a package price of $ 2,699, the solar generator package isn’t cheap, but when it comes to things like that, you tend to get what you pay for. The solar panels and battery unit are versatile, easy to use, and surprisingly powerful. Electricity is something most of us really can’t live without, and if you are a nature lover, a building contractor who needs an outlet wherever he can find it, or just a homeowner looking for some peace and quiet If this is an investment you will be happy.
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See the original version of this article on BGR.com