Jackery Power Station for Vanlife: Autonomy Calculator, Wiring Diagram, Items List, Features & Limitations

Jackery Power Station for Vanlife: Autonomy Calculator, Wiring Diagram, Items List, Features & Limitations

Jackery-Heading-Temp

So you want to power your van with a Jackery Explorer portable power station? That's a quick and easy solution for a modular setup or for a super-simple electrical system (van, minivan, Jeep, etc). That being said, there are some limitations... so the goal of this article is to help you choose the right solution for your needs, by fully understanding what Jackery power stations are all about!

1- Jackery Power Station In A Nutshell

1.1- Overview

The Jackery Explorer portable power station is an “all-in-one” solution that packs almost everything you need to power small 12V DC or 120V AC appliances such as a phone, laptop, fan, small fridge, etc. The power station can be charged with solar power, vehicle’s 12V output or 120V wall outlet. It’s an attractive solution for people with limited electrical knowledge or with super-simple needs.

Jackery-Portable-Power-Station-Overview-Vanlife

1.2- Models

At the time of writing these lines, Jackery has 7 portable power station models to offer:

Jackery Explorer 160

Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 240

Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 300

Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 500

Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 1000

Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 1500

Jackery-Explorer-1500-Portable-Power-Station

Jackery Explorer 2000

Jackery-Explorer-2000-Portable-Power-Station

1.3- Specifications

160 240 300 500 1000 1500 2000
Capacity* 167Wh 240Wh 293Wh 518Wh 1002Wh 1488Wh 2060Wh
120V AC Output 100W 200W 300W 500W 1000W 1800W 2200W
USB-A Output (Quantity) 2 2 2 3 2 2 2
USB-C Output (Quantity) 1 N/A 1 N/A 2 1 1
12V Car Output N/A 10A 10A 10A 10A 10A 10A
12V DC Output 7A N/A N/A 2 X 7A N/A N/A N/A
Solar Input Recommended 60W 60W 100W 100W 200W 400W 800W
AC charge time 5h 8h 4.7h 7.5h 7h 3.5h 2.6h
12V car adaptor charge time 5h 8h 5h 16h 14h 13h 18h
*Capacity: For reference, one BattleBorn Lithium battery (100Ah) has a capacity of 1200Wh.

2- First things first: Is Jackery the right solution for your needs?

Honest question: Why would anyone bother to design and build its own DIY electrical system, when “all-in-one” portable power stations exist? To help us find an answer, let’s compare the limitations of a Jackery 2000 with a DIY system:

Limitations (Jackery 2000 VS DIY):

Battery Capacity

In a DIY system, it's possible to customize the battery bank capacity by wiring 12V batteries together in parallel. For example, wiring 6 BattleBorn batteries (100Ah each) together in parallel equals 7,200Wh capacity!

Solar Input

In a DIY system, it's possible to wire solar panels together to increase the solar input. The limitation if often dictated by the roof space available for solar panels...

Shore Charge Rate (120V Input)

With a single Victron Multiplus 3000W, it is possible to charge a large battery bank at a rate up to 120A! Several Multiplus can be wired together (in parallel) to increase the charge rate (but that's overkill for a van or RV).

Alternator Charge Rate (12V Input)

With a single Sterling Power Battery-to-battery charger (BB1260 model), it is possible to charge a large battery bank at a rate up to ~45A! Several Sterling b2b can be wired together (in parallel) to increase the charge rate. The true limitation here is the capacity of the vehicle's alternator.

12V DC Output

This is the limitation that bothers us the most. With the Jackery, you cannot run any 12V device that draw over 10A, but most importantly the current of all the devices running simultaneously cannot exceed 10A. Considering that a small fridge (e.g. Dometic cooler) can draw about 7A when the compressor starts, it doesn't leave much buffer for other devices...

120V AC Output

With 2200W max, the Jackery can power most of these appliances: kettle, microwave, toaster, induction cooktop, espresso machine, etc.

Installation

There is no shortcut when building your own DIY electrical system: you will have get the right tools, learn how to install wires & terminals, make sure the components you choose are compatible together, etc. That being said, if you are willing to educate yourself, you can start here and build your way up with our Electrical System Guide, Wiring Diagram & Tutorial (faroutride.com/electrical-system).

In simple terms, it'll do the job if you plan on powering a small cooler-type fridge, a few USB small devices (light, fan, phones) and occasional 120V device (max 2200W). No hardwiring required, all of this can be plugged straight into the Jackery.

On the other hand, if you plan on powering multiple devices such as a larger fridge, a roof fan (faroutride.com/fan-installation), puck lights (faroutride.com/led), water pump (faroutride.com/water-system), a wall fan (faroutride.com/sirocco-fan-review), a heater (faroutride.com/air-heater-installation), then you'll quickly reach the limit of the Jackery. We'll repeat ourselves, the 10A DC output of the Jackery is what bothers us the most...

In our humble opinion, Jackery portable power stations excel at being PORTABLE. They're not exactly the perfect match for a permanent campervan setup, as they have too many limitations (especially the 10A DC output). There are, however, certain situations where we would recommend it:

Jackery Portable Power Station

Great for temporary or modular setups, or when portability matters. For example:

  • A photographer going to work in the field for a few days/weeks. Almost any vehicle (Jeep, minivan, etc.) can be quickly transformed from a commuter into a temporary mobile home & office.
  • For people needing a work van during the week, and a camper van setup for the weekend.
  • For van-camping (small cooler fridge and USB-powered small devices) rather than van-life (roof fan, water pump, heater, etc).
  • For remote work at the beach (don’t forget to turn off your webcam so your boss doesn’t find out!!)

DIY Electrical System

Great for permanent campervan setup (weekend warrior or full time Vanlife). A DIY setup is fully customizable and can be tailored to your own needs easily as shown in this quick demo:

3- Autonomy

Jackery Autonomy Calculator

Model:
Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station
12V Devices
Device Watt Hours Per Day
120V Devices
Device Watt Hours Per Day

? DAY AUTONOMY

3.1 - Fridge

Fridge, typically, is the device that use the most energy in Vanlife. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your power station:

Dometic CFX3 Series

Dometic CFX3 35 Electric 12V Cooler Compressor Chest Style Vanlife
MODELCAPACITYENERGY CONSUMPTION PER DAY (12V DC @90F)BUY LINK
CFX3-3536L282WhAmazon
CFX3-4546L296WhAmazon
CFX3-55IM53L320WhAmazon
CFX3-75DZ75L412WhAmazon

Budget Options

We would personally splurge on a higher-end product (such as Dometic) for better efficiency and longevity, but there are cheaper options around:

3.2 - Small Devices

Energy loss is inevitable when converting power to 120V AC, so avoid it when you can. For example, choose USB-powered devices over 120V devices:

Reading Light

Battery-powered, USB charging cable included

Fairy Lights

USB-powered with remote

Dimmable Touch Light

Battery-powered, USB charging cable included

6" Portable Fan with flexible tripod

Battery-powered, USB charging cable included

10" Portable Fan

Power options: 12V DC / 120V AC / Internal battery / D-cell batteries (optional).

4- Wiring Diagram & Items List

4.1- Portable Setup

If you decide to go with the portable Jackery solar panels, it doesn't get any easier than this. Everything is "plug-and-play", so just unbox it and use it!

ITEMS LIST

(PORTABLE SETUP)
# ITEM DESCRIPTION QUANTITY BUY LINK
1 Jackery Explorer  1000 Includes power station, 120V input, 12V input. 1 Amazon
2 Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel Plug & play. 2 Amazon
That's all, good to go!!

4.2- Permanent roof setup (third party solar panels)

In this case, you'll need some extra parts. Don't worry, no electrical work is required except connecting wires together 😉

ITEMS LIST

(PERMANENT ROOF SETUP)
# ITEM  DESCRIPTION QUANTITY BUY LINK
1 Jackery Explorer  1000 Includes power station, 120V input, 12V input. 1 Amazon
2 100W Solar Panel Renogy 100w solar panel 2 Amazon
3 Parallel Connector To connect two solar panel in parallel. 1 Amazon
4 Extension Cables, 8 AWG, 15 ft Red + 15 ft Black To connect between ITEM 3 and ITEM 6. 1 Amazon
5 Double Cable Entry Gland To pass solar cables (ITEM 4) through the roof. 1 Amazon
6 MC4 to Anderson Adapter To connect MC4 solar cables (ITEM 4) to the Jackery’s Anderson input. 1 Amazon
7 MC4 Tool To remove/install MC4 connectors (required to route the extension cables through the entry gland). 1 Amazon

4.3- 12V Hardwiring (optional)

With the 10A max output of the Jackery, we don't really recommend hardwiring your 12V devices; you'll quickly max it out. BUT yeah, it can be done... (see wiring diagram above and items list below)

Optional: 12V Hardwiring

#ITEM DESCRIPTIONQUANTITYBUY LINK
112V Output to Terminal Ring AdapterTo connect from Jackery’s 12V output to the Blue Sea fuse block. 1Amazon
2Fuse BlockBlue Sea, 6 circuits.1Amazon

5- Conclusion

The Jackery portable power station is simple, flexible and cost effective. It does, however, have some important limitations for Vanlife. So make sure to understand your needs, understand the limitations, and then you’ll be able to make the right choice (Jackery VS DIY). Good luck and see you on the road!

You might be interested in:

- That's it folks, hope that helps! -

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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017, we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers, and moved into our self-built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then, and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams, and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

23 thoughts on “Jackery Power Station for Vanlife: Autonomy Calculator, Wiring Diagram, Items List, Features & Limitations”

Heads up! As of Fall 2021, we are currently visiting our families back home and we might not be able to answer all comments due to time constrain. Thanks for understanding and see you on the road! -Isabelle and Antoine

  1. Hi, great blog

    Odd question on the power all in one units, what is the needed amps for 12volt to be able to support a van? The 10 amps of the jackery is not high enough, but is 30 amps high enough for a fridge, heater(diesel), fan, water pump(very small) and lights?

    Reply
  2. Hello
    My first comment did not post, So I am reposting my question.

    You proved that the Jackery with 10amps of 12volt is not enough. As there are other similar set up battery/single solution boxes with 25, 30 and 40 amps of 12 volt are any of those amount enough for a small 12volt system for a van?
    Small system being a vent fan, heater, fridge, and maybe lights.

    Reply
  3. Hi guys! This post has been insanely helpful but also a bit misleading. Perhaps I am not understanding something correctly as well.

    I’m diagram 4.2 for the permanent roof setup you linked the 8awg pos and neg extension cables. Not only are they not big enough to be flush going through the waterproof cable entry that you linked, but there is no way that they would fit through the waterproof cable entry unless they were cables that were bare wire on one end of both. Leading me to believe I would need to splice the wire from your diagram to even have a chance to get it through the waterproof housing.

    I used your affiliate links for just about everything in that diagram and am very great full for the clear explanation but am curious if you know how to handle this issue. I am currently sitting here trying to figure out how to get the extension cables that already have a large male and female piece on each end, through the waterproof entry point.

    Thanks again for this post! Just trying to work through my own build kinks.

    Reply
  4. Hi. We are setting up a small campervan and would like to use the Jackery 1500 to power a maxx fan and Dometic cf25. Will this do the trick?

    Thanks

    Reply
  5. Hi, Thanks for doing this. I clicked through your affiliate links just now before ordering parts. I am curious: Do you have a different opinion of the Jackery 1500? I actually agree with you on the Jackery 1000 given the 10 amp limit, but I feel like the 1500 changes things. I’m planning to hardwire the 1500 into a 12 volt circuit in my shuttle bus conversion… the math works for my needs (weekend warrior). I realize it might not work for everybody. Amazing site, btw. I wish you continued success with it. Cheers.

    Reply
  6. Great article guys, just bought my Ram ProMaster 2500 high roof and am thinking about easy power solutions.

    One question: How easy (or hard) is it to hook up additional batteries to the Jackery and is that cost effective?

    Reply
      • The EcoFlow River Pro has a back up battery and their EcoFlow River allows you to connect other batteries (I think I saw that in one of their videos.) I’m looking at that as a power source because I can add to it when I need more power for longer trips. They have it on Amazon with a $70 dollar coupon!

        Reply
  7. Hi Antoine and Isabelle,
    When you do the Goal Zero Yeti writeup, could you also offer price comparisons (ballpark) to a similar DIY system? Thank you so much for your website! Tremendously helpful!
    Angel

    Reply
  8. Hey guys! Love your site and all the effort and hard work you have put in to make our lives so much easier. Your website is truly amazing.

    I have a Promaster that I am wanting to convert to use on the weekends and then for 7-14 days at a time (road trip vacations). I have very little electrical needs outside of the basics. I am thinking about splurging for the Dometic CFX3 45 but am concerned on whether the Jackery 1000 could run both the cooler and the MaxxAir vent fan at the same time. I know you prefer the DIY electrical system but I am just too electrically illiterate to pull that off. Do you think the Jackery could power both at once?

    Reply
    • Well, considering that the Dometic CFX3 45 consumes 8.2A, it only leaves you with 1.8A for other appliances, which is not enough for the fan.
      BUT, if you connect the fridge in the AC outlet (which in the end will consume more power = less autonomy), than you could connect your fan and possibly other appliances (eg leds) on the 12V car port.
      OR, you could also consider a Goal Zero Yeti 1500 (amzn.to/3rxB2du) which provides a 12V car port with 13A (instead of 10A on the Jackery).

      Reply
  9. Curious… do you know how the 500 with solar charger do for running a Maxxfan in the evenings?
    This would be on a adventure weekender build.

    Reply
  10. Thanks for the insights and review of the limitations. I think the one thing you missed in the write-up is a reference to Jacket competitors that have larger options. I’m using the Goal Zero 1500x, and I can connect it to 400W of solar (pretty much what my van can fit on the roof, and the 120v has 2000W (3500W surge) capacity. It costs a pretty penny, but saved a LOT of time/space/complexity compared to a DIY. The most unmentioned benefit of the portable power stations that we found was actually during the build phase. We could test elements of the electrical easily by just bring the Goal Zero to the work station and when using the heat gun we ran it from the power station without needing to run an extension cord. On the flip side, we have had trouble with the smartphone app and the system seems to struggle with seamlessly switching between different power inputs without us physically plugging and unplugging the input cables.

    Reply
      • Look forward to seeing this review. We are converting a 2020 Transit to a very basic camper, but opted for the Ford Factory Upfitter package. We also opted for some added factory power points in the vehicle. So our interior lights, fan, and heater will all be built-in, but we are really looking at the Goal Zero to operate small cooking appliances or other “larger” electrical charging needs. Will be interesting to see your take on the Goal Zero system.

        Reply

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