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

Jackery-Heading-Temp

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

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 5 portable power station models to offer:

Jackery Explorer 160

Jackery Explorer 240

Jackery Explorer 300

Jackery Explorer 500

Jackery Explorer 1000

1.3- Specifications

 1602403005001000
Capacity*167Wh240Wh293Wh518Wh1002Wh
120V AC Output100W200W300W500W1000W
USB-A Output (Quantity)22232
USB-C Output (Quantity)1N/A1N/A2
12V Car OutputN/A10A10A10A10A
12V DC Output7AN/AN/A2 X 7AN/A
Solar Input Recommended60W60W100W100W200W
AC charge time5h8h4.7h7.5h7h
12V car adaptor charge time5h8h5h16h14h

*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 1000 with a DIY system:

Limitations (Jackery 1000 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 1000W max, the Jackery cannot power most of these appliances: kettle, microwave, toaster, induction cooktop, air conditioning, espresso machine, etc. You'll have to go DIY if you plan on having any of these.

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 1000W). 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) or any 120V device over 1000W, then you'll quickly reach the limit of the Jackery.

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. 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 DESCRIPTIONQUANTITYBUY LINK
1Jackery Explorer  1000Includes power station, 120V input, 12V input.1Amazon
2100W Solar PanelRenogy 100w solar panel2Amazon
3Parallel ConnectorTo connect two solar panel in parallel.1Amazon
4Extension Cables, 8 AWG, 15 ft Red + 15 ft BlackTo connect between ITEM 3 and ITEM 6.1Amazon
5Double Cable Entry GlandTo pass solar cables (ITEM 4) through the roof.1Amazon
6MC4 to Anderson AdapterTo connect MC4 solar cables (ITEM 4) to the Jackery’s Anderson input.1Amazon

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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about us

Nice To Meet You.

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!

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

  1. 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

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