From landscapes to wildlife, a lot of the photographs we love to take are outside. If you’re on an extended trip outdoors, keeping your camera powered up can be a real problem – and coming home from a long road trip can mean having to wade through thousands of images on your return. If only there was a way to top up your electronics and keep your post-processing workflow under control in the wilds…
The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 kit combines a 1000-watt rechargeable Jackery Solar Generator 1000 power station and a pair of Solar Saga solar panels, each rated at 100 watts, to recharge it from the sun’s rays. You can also charge it via the mains or from your car’s 12-volt outlet via supplied adapters.
Output-wise, there are a pair of standard UK three-pin 240-volt sockets. (US and European models come with their own domestic AC sockets.) There are also two pairs each of USB-A and USB-C sockets, plus a standard 12-volt car-style socket. You need to activate the AC and DC outlets by pressing a small button, confirmed by an LED light, to save wasting power when nothing is plugged into the unit.
The solar panels themselves each sport an additional USB-A and USB-C socket, although of course these will only produce power when there’s sufficient light. As well as being sold in kit form, the Explorer 100 power bank, and the SolarSaga 100W solar panels, are available separately.
An LCD readout tells you how much charge is left in the battery, as well as the current power input and output in watts. It’s quite fun to see how the input wattage leaps up in bright spells. At the front of the unit is a small torch; it’s pretty dim, but okay for emergencies.
We took it on a camping trip for our review; as well as charging camera batteries and keeping our MacBook Pro topped up, it recharged phones, illuminated camping lanterns and kept our perishables fresh in a powered icebox.
We found that while the solar panels were rated at 100 watts apiece, that’s the theoretical maximum; in use on a bright summer’s day, they topped out at around 130 watts in combination. Still, that’s more than enough to completely recharge the generator over the course of a sunny day – repositioning the panels every now and again to maximize exposure to the sun.
The Jackery Explorer is a smartly turned out unit, with a built in carry handle to lug it around. It’s about the size of a drinks cooler, but weighs in about 22lb (10kg), so needs to be within a short distance of a car rather than taking on hikes. The Solar Sage panels fold for storage to a reasonably compact 610x535mm, opening up to 1220x535mm, and have pull-out stands to keep them in the optimal position for catching sunlight.
The Solar Generator 1000 easily has enough capacity to keep laptops and cameras topped up with free energy from the sun. Obviously you’re at the mercy of the weather, but even in dull conditions, the panels should generate enough juice to keep you going. It doesn’t come cheap, although can often be found discounted.