My Portable Power Station Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

This one from Jackery Explorer is a lifesaver when camping or during blackouts.
Jackery's portable power stations can even be solar-powered if you grab the corresponding panels.
Jackery's portable power stations can even be solar-powered if you grab the corresponding panels.

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When Jackery gifted me a portable power station a few summers back, it went directly into my basement. With all the inputs and outlets, I thought it was a confusing computer thing, like an external hard drive or whatever else my tech-y friends talk about. It wasn’t until my landlord came by to fix something and saw the portable power station sitting sadly in the dark that I learned it was essentially a silent, portable, gas-less power source — one I could take with me to have electricity when camping, at the beach, driving or selling vintage items at a flea market.

Flash forward to this summer, and my Jackery is my greatest asset. I take it everywhere with me to do things like charge devices on the go, use my griddle on camping trips and keep my fan going during the rolling summer blackouts we get in Philadelphia, where I live.

With its compact, rectangular shape and long handle, it’s easy to carry around or pack in the car. Its rechargeable lithium battery is completely silent, so you don’t have to deal with that typical generator hum. You can charge it up by plugging it into a wall outlet, car outlet or electric generator, or you can use the Jackery solar panels (sold separately or in a combined kit) to charge it with the sun if you’re camping or in a power outage. The time it takes to charge depends on the size and style of the power station.

Jackery’s portable power stations have all sorts of protections (over current and short current, over-discharge and overcharge, over-voltage and thermal), so they won’t explode or combust or produce any toxicity or pollution. There are different models of power stations that range in capacity, size, function and price, so we rounded up a mix of options to help you find your match.

The Jackery Explorer 1500 portable power station
I have the Explorer 1500, which takes about four hours to charge via wall outlet and can power seven devices at the same time with one USB-C, two USB-A, three AC outlets and a car port. It's just over 35 pounds, so it's not super easy to tote to a campsite on foot, but it is easy to pack in a car. Thanks to its 1534Wh capacity and 1800W AC outputs, you can bring your goose-neck kettle to the woods with you, take your blender to the beach and set up an outdoor movie theater in your yard without tripping over extension cords. It lasts for over 100 smartphone charges, 12 laptop charges, 15 hours of refrigerator use or 21 hours of television.

Promising review: "Beyond exceeded my expectations. Delivery was very fast, and the package was packed very well. I got this for any extended power outages, after testing, I can run my full size washing machine at least 4 times between charges. I have no doubt it will run my refrigerator for days. Even running my washing machine, the fan did not come on. Correspondence with the company was also exceptional. I won't go into why but they went above and beyond to help. I would highly recommend." — Jeremy
The way smaller and more affordable Jackery Explorer 160 portable power station
For less than a tenth of the price of the Explorer 1500, the Explorer 160 is an affordable portable power bank with 167 watt-hours of energy storage. It's designed for charging smaller devices like phones, GoPros and laptops, and has a USB Type-C, USB-A, AC outlet and a cart port. It can't power devices that demand more than 100 watts, so this isn't the generator for blenders, electric kettles or pressure cookers. But it takes just five hours to charge from a wall outlet, then can charge a laptop for 10 hours, a small fan for 30 hours or a smartphone 16 times. It weighs less than four pounds and is just under 8 by 7 inches, so it's easy to take camping.

Promising review: "This is an easy to use, lightweight power supply with great power output. I used it primarily to light a string of LED lights at our cottage by our firepit down by the Lakeshore where I have no AC power. It works like a champ! A whole evening (probably 4 or 5 hours) down by the firepit and these lights only used about 12% of the battery power. I also charged my cell phone at the same time. It's a great product that I highly recommend." — John C
A mid-sized, mid-priced Jackery Explorer 500 portable power station
It's the best of both worlds: blenders in the woods and a 13-pound easy-carry weight. The Explorer 500 can power smaller devices like phones and laptops along with mid-size ones like air pumps, electric grills and kettles, coffee makers and microwaves. It has an AC outlet, three USB-A ports, two DC ports and a car port. It takes 7.5 hours to charge from a wall outlet and lasts for 53 smartphone charges or 5.5 hours of television.

Promising review: "I live in Florida and this is a must have for power outages, camping, and hurricane preparation. It’s so much easier than a traditional generator. It’s also a much cleaner solution and easier to have available when needed. The display screen is very helpful as far as knowing whether or not it’s fully charged. It has ample outlets and ways to charge it as well. I have to also get the solar panels. I cannot wait for my next camping adventure to use this. Update: Just pulled this out of the garage ahead of the upcoming hurricane Isaias and the charge level is still 100% from last year!" — S. Scott

Correction: A previous version of this story referred to these power stations as generators.

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