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
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.
At the time of writing these lines, Jackery has 7 portable power station models to offer:
Jackery Explorer 160
Jackery Explorer 240
Jackery Explorer 300
Jackery Explorer 500
Jackery Explorer 1000
Jackery Explorer 1500
Jackery Explorer 2000
|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|
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):
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!
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.
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:
Jackery Autonomy Calculator
|Device||Watt||Hours Per Day|
|Device||Watt||Hours Per Day|
? DAY AUTONOMY
One of your 120V device exceeds the Jackery max power.
You might want to consider a DIY electrical system. You can familiarize yourself with that topic with our Electrical System Guide.
- Smartphone: We assume that a smartphone goes through a whole charge each day. (Dept. of Energy estimation is 0.54 charge per day, but we think it's on the low side especially with the GPS use and all...)
- Tablet: We assume that a tablet goes through a whole charge each day.
- Light (USB) examples: See section 3.2- "Small Devices" below.
- Fan (USB) examples: See section 3.2- "Small Devices" below.
- A Fridge regulates its temperature by cycling between power ON and power OFF (this is called the duty cycle). The time it spends ON (and draw power) is normally about 35% at ambient temperature (68F), which is equals to 8.4 hours per day (24h x 35%). The duty cycle increases as the ambient temperature increases; van are especially subject to this because the temperature varies more than in a house. So it is not unusual to witness a duty cycle as high as 70% on hot summer days, which is equals to 16.8 hours per day (24h x 70%). For example, Dometic rates the energy consumption of the CRX 50T fridge at 268Wh per day at 77F (25°C) and 557Wh per day at 90F (32°C).
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:
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:
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!
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 😉
(PERMANENT ROOF SETUP)
|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)
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!
- That's it folks, hope that helps! -
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29 thoughts on “Jackery Power Station for Vanlife: Autonomy Calculator, Wiring Diagram, Items List, Features & Limitations”
Can you technically get 2x 1000watt jackery combine both DC output to fuse box? Wouldn’t that give you 20A total output?
Ugh, technically you could, providing you use identical cables between the two (same gauge & length). But maybe you should check other brand than Jackery with higher specs then… I think Bluetti and Ecoflow would have something more powerful.
When you say “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)”
I’m new at this I’m not sure I understand.
What are will you max out?
Each device (fan, fridge, etc) draws current from the battery bank (measured in amps). There is a maximum amount of current that the battery is able to deliver; in the case of the Jackery it’s 10 amps, which is not a lot. Adding many devices will quickly go over 10 amps. Hope that makes sense!
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?
For the 12V appliances you mentioned, I’d say 30A would be fine. Ideally 40A to have a buffer, but 30A should be alright!
Thank you for the reply.
I haven’t seen 40Amp single power units but have seen several of the 30Amp and one that has both a 30A and 10A that could be used at the same time.
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.
Thanks for your great resource.
Question on the Jackery like systems, you clearly show that the 10amp max for 12volt is not enough. What about the other similar system that have max 12 volts amps at 25, 30 or higher? What is enough for a simple van build with a 12 volt fridge, max air fan, water pump and a heater with maybe lights? I know when I added every thing I was looking at up I hit 35amps max for everything running at max, in your van do you know what is the real max 12volt amps you use vs the theoretical max? I would think that not all four of the big users would be on at max at the same time giving you real world use at lower than theoretical max.
It’s hard to tell. We rarely use of maxx fan at maximum speed, so it draws about 0.3amps. When our Webasto starts, it draws about 7-8amps, then lowers to less than 2amps. I guess you would have to be careful not to use water when you start your heater? Worst case, the fuse blows. To be honest, I feel it would be ok, but I don’t have the specs of your appliances… Make sure you have the right wire gauge and fuses.
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.
Sorry we should have mentioned you need to remove the MC4 connector to route the extension cable through the entry gland. This tool will do the job: https://amzn.to/3kndrLi
Updating the article right now!
Sorry again for the confusion,
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?
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.
To my knowledge, the 1500 or 2000 still has 10A output max. So if you need more than that, that’s a deal breaker. Cheers!
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?
I don’t think you can. I’d recommend getting the proper battery right from the start (maybe check out Goal Zero, or some other brands).
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!
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!
Goal Zero review/comparison article is in our to-do list 🙂 Subscribing to our mailing list is the best way to get the update: Subscribe here!
Dam finally found that the socket for car is to plug a fuse box thanks!!
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?
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).
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.
It should be alright. The Maxfan draw about 5W, in case you want to plug that in our autonomy calculator.
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.
Our plan is to make a similar article for Goal Zero!
Thanks for your input, didn’t think about that; we take notes 🙂
Thank you, I’ll use that in your calculator.
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.