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Our Unbiased Jackery 500 Review

Even if you want to go camping and enjoy the great outdoors, sometimes you need a little power. Whether it is just enough power to run your RV pump, start a pot of coffee, or just charge your phone in case something happens, having the ability to have some power is ideal.

However, you don’t want to necessarily drag around a loud, gas generator that pours out fumes and annoys all of your neighbors. So what do you do instead?

Thankfully, there are solar generators. Solar generators offer a way to power your devices using the energy from the sun, instead of gas. If you just need a little bit of power, the Jackery 500 might be ideal for you. However, there are also larger and smaller sizes to fit your needs. 

Keep reading if you want to learn more about Jackery, Solar generators, and specifically the Jackery 500. 

8
Jackery 500 Ratings
Design & Features8
Battery Capacity9
Outlets/Ports9
Charge Time8
Warranty/Reputation9
Value5

What Can The Jackery Explorer Power?

The Jackery Explorer 500 might be small, but it is also powerful. It can supply power to a wide variety of accessories, appliances, and gadgets. 

Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
8/10Our Score
  • Powerful endurance: The Explorer 500 portable power station is built with a lithium-ion battery pack in a safely designed frame structure to maximize and long last, the power for every use of outdoor adventures and home use
  • Larger capacity: With a total of 518 watt-hours, it can power many appliances—a mini-fridge, a fan, a projector light, and even a television
  • Portable: It isn’t much bigger than a radio and smaller than even a carry-on bag; it is pretty easy to carry around, even in a backpack
  • Safety features: It has Battery Management System (BMS), which helps with overcharging and irregular current
  • Various outlets and ports: There are two 8mm DC ports, a car plugin, three USB-A ports, and an AC plugin

Some examples, as well as how long the battery can power them are:

  • Laptop/Macbook: 30 hours (9 charges)
  • Air pump: 8 hours
  • TV: 7.5 hours
  • Blender: 50 minutes
  • LED lights: 45 hours

These are just some examples. Anything that draws less than 500 watts of power (500W), can be powered or charged with the Jacker Explorer 500. This includes smartphones/iPhones, cameras, laptops/Macbooks, TVs, and more. 

Jackery 500

Battery and Ports

The battery of the Jackery 500 has a 518Wh (watt-hour) Lithium Ion battery NMC battery capacity. Included is a Battery Management System (BMS) which helps with overcharging, and irregular current. What this essentially means is that it won’t let the machine overcharge and harm the battery if you leave it plugged in. 

It also ensures that the machine isn’t being used for more power than it can support. So if you try to use something over 500 watts or the 1000W surge, it will turn off the generator to save it. Finally, it also protects against any short-circuiting, so if something goes wrong, it won’t damage the battery or electrical system. 

As for outlets and ports that you can plug into, there are two 8mm DC ports, a car plugin, three USB-A ports, and an AC plugin. This gives you a total of seven places you can plug in to. 

If you’ve also looked at the Jackery 550, you might have noticed that the machines look relatively similar. They have the same ports, ways to plug in, and even the same build. The main difference between them is that the Jackery 500 is a little smaller in terms of power. So if you don’t need quite as much power as the 550, then this is a great option, as it allows you to save a bit of money. 

Weight and Size

The Jackery 500 weighs about 13.3 pounds.  The size is 11.8 by 7.6 by 9.2 inches (length by width by depth). This makes it pretty easy to carry around and take with you on a trip. Unless you are trying to carry all of your items on your back, an extra 13 pounds won’t often make a difference in terms of weight for your vehicle or your camper. 

Same with a size. Less than a foot long, it won’t be getting in the way too much. 

What all Comes With The Jackery Explorer 500?

There isn’t much that comes with the Jackery Explorer 500 solar generator. Thanks to its compact and efficient design, almost everything is built into the battery itself. You also get charging cables and a user manual. 


That way, you don’t have to go and buy a charging cable if you want to plug your battery bank into a car or a standard wall outlet. 

jackery power station beside a car

Unfortunately, unless you get lucky and find a bundle deal, the solar panels aren’t included. If you want to be able to charge on the go, you will have to purchase the solar panels separately. Just remember that you have to use Jackery’s specific solar panels, and you can’t just go and buy and solar panels you want. 

Recharging Options

On their website, Jackery lists four ways to charge a Jackery 500. However, we usually say that there are just three. Essentially, you can charge your solar bank by plugging it into a wall outlet, a car port, or by using solar panels. 

The other way the Jackery lists on their website is to use an electric generator. However, using an eclectic generator to charge an electric generator kind of seems silly and redundant, so we don’t include that as an option. 

How Long Does It Take A Jackery To Charge?

The Jackery changes its charging time depending on what you use to charge it. For recharging via car or traditional electricity, it takes roughly 7.5 hours. If you decide to use an electric generator, it can take 7.5 hours as well.

Solar panels take a bit longer. Since you can only use one 100w solar panel, it takes roughly 10 hours to charge up to full in complete sun. 

However, factors such as heat, how much light there is, the angle of your solar panels, and whether your panels are in full sunlight or not can change the charging time quite a bit. 

Also, while this is what Jackery reports, some consumers say that this isn’t actually accurate. Most people report that car charging can take about 12 hours. The wall outlet is accurate, usually ranging between 7 and 8 hours. 

Solar panels, people have reported that it would take 16 hours, even in full and direct sun. 

How Do You Keep Track Of The Jackery Explorer 550’s Charge?

With some other battery packs and chargers, you may notice that you on;y have a few blinking lights and colors to give you an idea of how charred the battery is. Obviously, this isn’t really ideal for any device, but especially not for something that you are going to be using for emergencies or as a backup. You don’t want to check it and the light tells you that it is good, only to realize you were one or two percent away from being low. 

women holding jackery solar generator

Thankfully, Jackery realizes the importance of having accurate and true readings. Not only do they provide you with a little battery icon that adjusts based on how full the battery is, but they also provide you with an actual battery percentage beside it, so you know exactly how much power it has. 

Pros
  • Plugs in multiple devices simultaneously
  • Operates in high temperature
  • Eco-friendly option
  • Compact size and portable
  • Shows you the charge
  • Reputable brand
  • 2-year warranty
  • Made in the USA
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Not waterproof

Jackery Explorer 550 Benefits

Plugs In Multiple Devices Simultaneously

Despite its small size and lower wattage, you don’t have to only plug in one device at a time. This device has 7 different output options, so as long as you don’t go over the 500 watts, and have all the plugins, you can potentially charge or power 7 different devices at once. 

Those outputs are:

  • 2 8mm DC outlets
  • 1 pure sine wave AC outlet
  • 3 USB-A Ports
  • 1 12v car outlet

Just make sure you don’t go over that 500 watts of juice or your device will shut off. 

Operates In High Temperature

Jackery allows users to use their products in almost all weather. While most users report that the products work best between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 4 degrees Celcius), the website reports that they should be able to go down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celcius) without a problem. 

Eco-Friendly Option

If you are looking to be a little more environmentally friendly, using a solar generator is a great option. Not only does it allow you to take it anywhere, but you don’t have to use harmful gas or coal-powered electricity to use it. 

jackery power station at home

It is unfortunately a little slow to charge, but still entirely possible if you don’t need all that much power.  

Compact Size and Portability

Gas generators are heavy. If you’ve ever used one before, you know that they are heavy, bulky, and overall just a pain. You need to make sure you bring the gas, be careful of tipping and bouncing, and they are loud as well. 

You don’t have to worry about any of that with the Jackery 500. As it isn’t much bigger than a radio, and definitely smaller than even a carry-on bag, it is pretty easy to carry around, even in a backpack. 

Built-in LED Flashlight

Having a flashlight and an SOS emergency light built into your battery is a nice touch. That way, in case of an emergency, blackout, or just in the middle of the night, you can make sure you can see, or alert others to your presence. 

It is a feature common among power banks like this, even small phone chargers, but it is nice to have either way. And the light barely takes any better, lasting for easily half a day without draining it even a percent, so you don’t have to worry about conserving power. 

Digital Display Shows You The Charge

I haven’t used too many full-sized generators before. However, I have to say that having the power percentage is super nice. With little portable packs for phones, they usually just give you a light. I’d check it before heading out and get the light saying the batter was good, only to see I only had just above the low warning light. 

women holding jackery solar generator

That can be frustrating when you need to charge your phone, and even more frustrating when you need some emergency power. 

PROS

To summarize:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to store and fit into even a backpack
  • Compact
  • Easy carrying handle
  • Quiet
  • Eco-friendly
  • LED Display lists important information at a glance
  • Can charge multiple devices at once
  • Flashlight built-in
  • Security features to protect the battery
  • Can handle most temperature ranges

Jackery Explorer 500 Shortfalls

Ports Aren’t Ideal

I have no clue what would use a 8mm DC plug, ad I can’t say I’ve ever come across a design that uses one. Most smaller devices seem to be leaning towards USB-A plugins, or more recently, USB-C plugins. Bigger devices still seem to stick with traditional wall outlets. 

So while it does look nice at first that the Jackery 500 has 7 outlets, they aren’t the most ideal. We are assuming that 8mm DC plugins are a very niche market. So while I am sure that someone appreciates them, I don’t think the general market does. 

Adding in some USB-C outlets, as there isn’t even one, would be nice, and could take the place of those DC ports. Since most devices seem to be leaning that way anyway, it would ensure the Jackery 500 is at least someone usable in the future when cords move away from USB-A and standard plugs. 

man with a jackery power station

I would personally like to have one more regular wall outlet as well, but I can see that using two standard devices that draw that much power could easily cause the battery to get overworked, so having one helps to reduce that problem. 

Not Waterproof

For Jackery toting these products for those that enjoy the outdoors, and making a huge effort to make the Jackery resilient to most temperatures, it seems a big oversight that both the solar panels and the solar generator itself aren’t waterproof. 

If I was going to take this camping, especially in a tent, I would be constantly scared that they would get wet, either due to my own clumsiness or due to an unexpected rainstorm. 

Also, with the solar panels taking easily up to 16 hours, it would be nice to be able to set up the panels to charge while I go and run errands for the day, but that isn’t possible because if there is a random rainstorm or even a brief shower, I could damage the whole system, so I would only feel comfortable charging it while I am watching it. 

Other solar panels I’ve used, even suitcase styles, have been waterproof, so this seems like a massive oversight that I don’t quite understand. 

LED Display Turns Off Quickly

I understand trying to conserve power, but if the flashlight barely drains the battery, I can’t imagine the LED screen takes much. However, the Jackery 500 is designed for the screen to turn off rather quickly. 

This can make it a pain if you are trying to keep an eye on wattage or battery power. Even having an option to leave the display on vs turn it off quickly would be nice. 

jackery solar power station beside a couple

CONS

Overall, we think the pros still outweigh the cons, but that doesn’t mean that Jackery is perfect. 

  • A waterproof system, or at least solar panels, would be ideal
  • An adjustable display screen backlight might be nice for some
  • Jackery should have put more thought into the ports

Comparison with Other Brands

GeneratorPeak WattsCharging TimeTotal Number of CyclesCost per CycleDimensionWeight
Jackery Explorer 5001000W7.5 hrs.500$0.911.8 x 7.6 x 9.2 in13.32lbs.
Anker 535500W2.4 hrs.3000$0.1911.5 x 9.9 x 7.4 in16.5lbs.
Renogy Phoenix 500800W2.5 hrs.600$0.912.76 x 8.19 x 9.43 in16.71lbs.
EcoFlow RIVER Max1200W1.36 hr.500$0.911.4 x 7.3 x 9.3 in17lbs.
Bluetti PowerOak EB55700W1.8 hrs.2,500+$0.310.94 x 7.87 x 7.79 in16.5lbs.
Flashfish 560W560W7 hrs.800+$0.511.7 x 7.4 x 6.6 in12.3lbs.
Duracell PowerBlock 500500W24 hrs.800$0.0110.6 x 8.9 x 7.9 in10.6lbs.
Oupes 600W600W3.5 hrs.2500$0.210.5 x 7.8 x 9.7 in14lbs.
Phoenix 5001600W1 hr.600$0.912.76 x 8.19 x 9.43 in16.71lbs.

Things To Consider Before Buying A Portable Solar Generator

What Power Capacity And Wattage Do You Require?

Before buying a battery bank, make sure you are being realistic about the power capacity you require. It might be nice to try and be more off-grid and require less power, but you also need to be realistic that you need a cup of coffee in the morning. 

If you are using it for emergencies, what will you need to power? A refrigerator? A freezer? Or just your phone? How long do you want to plan for?

These are questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a generator, to make sure you can power everything you need to, and have enough charge to last until you can recharge your battery bank. 

Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
8/10Our Score
  • Powerful endurance: The Explorer 500 portable power station is built with a lithium-ion battery pack in a safely designed frame structure to maximize and long last, the power for every use of outdoor adventures and home use
  • Larger capacity: With a total of 518 watt-hours, it can power many appliances—a mini-fridge, a fan, a projector light, and even a television
  • Portable: It isn’t much bigger than a radio and smaller than even a carry-on bag; it is pretty easy to carry around, even in a backpack
  • Safety features: It has Battery Management System (BMS), which helps with overcharging and irregular current
  • Various outlets and ports: There are two 8mm DC ports, a car plugin, three USB-A ports, and an AC plugin

Do You Have The Right Solar Panels?

Always buy, or at least know which generator you want to buy before purchasing solar panels. While some solar generators can take a wide range of solar panels, others need very specific ones. 

That is the case with the Jackery. They only use the Jackery Solarsaga 100w or 200w panels. Even if you already have solar panels, they may not work with your generator. 

Do You Need To Charge Multiple Devices At Once?

You also need to think about how many devices you may have to charge at once, and what outlets you need. For example, my fiance and I work online on laptops. That means we might both need to plug in and charge at once time. For this reason, I prefer to have two AC outlets. Think about any watches, tablets, cameras, phones, and anything else you might need to charge and look for generators that have the outlets that you need. 

Try to avoid unnecessary outlets you won’t ever use, a s it is just a waste of space.  

How Long Will a Jackery 550 Last?

Generally, you have 2 to 3 years until the Jackery begins to have a lower quality. This is because a lithium-ion battery can generally get 500 cycles before losing quality. After that, the quality drops to about 80%. 

Jackery 500

A cycle is a full charge and discharge. You get 500 of those before the product begins to lose its value. This is much better than most marine batteries, which can’t handle a full discharge and will begin to lose quality after just a few of them. 

However, when the price is as high as these are, it can be a bummer to know you don’t have very long with them if they get heavy use. 

Can You Overcharge a Jackery?

Thanks to the battery management system (BMS) you cannot overcharge your battery. This isn’t the only protection in place either, so even if this fails, it is unlikely that you will damage your battery from overcharging. 

Are Jackery Power Stations Worth It?

Many people who have owned a Jackery seem to be happy with their purchase. It gives some the freedom to travel that they otherwise wouldn’t have while for others, it is just a nice boost in power. Either way, people enjoy their Jackerys, and if that is the route you decide to go, I am sure you will enjoy it too. 

Is There Anything Better Than a Jackery?

There are a few alternatives to Jackery. Depending on your needs, one may be better than a Jackery, though there is no clear winner. Some may be cheaper, but not offer features that you need or want. 

Some other good solar generator brands are:

  • RockPals
  • Lion Energy
  • Renogy Phoenix
  • EcoFlow Delta

Can I Leave My Jackery Plugged in all the Time?

It isn’t necessarily a good idea to leave your Jackery power station plugged in all the time. Like with phones or computers, plugging in your Jackery all the time can slowly deplete the battery.

Plus, Jackery recommends that you let your solar generators fully drain at least once every three months for best battery health. 

Is Jackery a US Company?

Jackery is a US Company. It was founded in 2012 in California. Unfortunately, because most lithium batteries are made in China, they do make most of their products in China. Despite that, they work hard to make sure they have quality products. 

Jackery 500 Specifications

Capacity518Wh (21.6V, 24Ah)
Power Outputs110VAC, 60Hz, 500W (1000W Surge)
DC Charging Input12V-30V (100W Max)
Auto ShutoffNo
Size30.1 x 19.3 x 24.2 cm
Weight13.32 lbs (6.04 kg)
IncludedCar Charging Cable,AC & AC Cable (2 Parts),User Manual
Warranty2-Years Warranty
Optional AccessoriesJackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel
Measurements11.8 x 7.6 x 9.2 in
Maximum Output Power1000W Surge
AC Output Voltages110VAC
AC OverloadsYes
AC Output Frequency60Hz
AC Cooling FanYes
Charging Rates518Wh
Charge Times7.5 Hours
FlashlightNo
12V DC Output Voltage7A (6.5mm*1.4mm)
LCD MetersYes
Self DischargeNo

SolarSaga100W Specification That Use To Charge Jackery Explorer 500

Peak Power100W
Weight10.33lbs.
Dimension (folded)24 x 21 x 1.4 in
Dimension (unfloded)48 x 21 x 0.2 in
Cell Efficiency23%
Charging Time of Jackery Explorer 1609.5hrs.

What Can It Power?

DevicePower Drawn (KW)Time It Can Be Powered
air conditioner1.7517 minutes
air fryer1.72518 minutes
amplifier1.225 minutes
boat battery0.7541 minutes
battery charger0.01534 hours 32 minutes
computer/cpu0.51 hours 2 minutes
cooler0.0510 hours 21 minutes
car battery0.5556 minutes
coffee maker1.225 minutes
cpap machine0.41 hours 17 minutes
dryer (cloth)1.520 minutes
electric fan0.0412 hours 57 minutes
extension cord1.619 minutes
water filter0.068 hours 38 minutes
fuel pump1.128 minutes
freezer0.232 hours 15 minutes
oil fryer1.718 minutes
heater/room heater/small heater/space heater1.520 minutes
hair dryer1.87516 minutes
iphone0.04511 hours 30 minutes
ipad0.068 hours 38 minutes
induction cooktop0.934 minutes
inverter generator0.0317 hours 16 minutes
inverter battery1.225 minutes
juicer0.0317 hours 16 minutes
keyboard0.0025207 hours 12 minutes
kettle1.520 minutes
keurig1.520 minutes
laptop0.153 hours 27 minutes
lightbulb0.068 hours 38 minutes
microwave0.934 minutes
mini fridge0.077 hours 24 minutes
mixer0.3251 hours 35 minutes
normal room0.51 hours 2 minutes
off grid cabin5.55 minutes
oil cooler0.934 minutes
oven1.1527 minutes
electrical panel0.0510 hours 21 minutes
pc0.252 hours 4 minutes
projector0.351 hours 28 minutes
full size refrigerator0.41 hours 17 minutes
router0.0151 hours 48 minutes
speaker0.31 hours 43 minutes
sump pump0.192 hours 43 minutes
tablet0.0412 hours 57 minutes
thermostat0.0151 hours 48 minutes
transmitter0.0225 hours 54 minutes
turntable0.0225 hours 54 minutes
tv0.153 hours 27 minutes
ups battery0.651 minutes
vacuum cleaner1.422 minutes
vacuum pump0.252 hours 4 minutes
vape0.15 hours 10 minutes
water pump0.7541 minutes
water heater1.4421 minutes
xbox0.15 hours 10 minutes
xlr microphone0.0225 hours 54 minutes
yacht171 minutes
rivian0.182 hours 52 minutes
Dish washer1.4421 minutes
Dehumidifier0.5556 minutes
Pressure Cooker131 minutes
Water Dispenser0.15 hours 10 minutes
Play Station 50.22 hours 35 minutes
Sandwich Maker0.7541 minutes
Treadmill2.512 minutes
basement2.512 minutes
battery (ups)0.651 minutes
breaker box1.817 minutes
DC motor with Arduino0.0510 hours 21 minutes
garage0.31 hours 43 minutes
fire place1.520 minutes
gas stove0.153 hours 27 minutes
GFCI outlet1.817 minutes
heater1.520 minutes
jetski241 minutes
joy con charging dock0.22 hours 35 minutes
kitchen aid mixer0.252 hours 4 minutes
kitchen faucet0.0412 hours 57 minutes
travel trailer2.512 minutes
universal remote0.005103 hours 36 minutes
upright freezer0.15 hours 10 minutes
utility pole0.0412 hours 57 minutes
electric car75
vent0.5556 minutes
well pump1.225 minutes
zero turn mower161 minutes

Not the Right Jackery? Check out our other reviews:

Jackery 2000 Pro

Jackery 1500

Jackery 1000

Jackery 1000 Pro

Jackery 880

Jackery 500

Jackery 550

Jackery 290

Jackery 240

Jackery 160