After putting it to the test on his 23ft Karnic sportsboat, Hugo delivers his verdict on the Jackery Explorer 1000 solar-powered generator…
Until recently, if you wanted AC power on your boat you either had to invest in an expensive generator or risk draining your batteries with a power-hungry inverter.
That might be fine if your boat’s big enough to carry a separate set of house batteries but on a small boat like my 23ft Karnic, with only one set of batteries responsible for both hotel and starting duties, you don’t want to risk your engine not firing up just to keep your beers cold.
Now there is an alternative in the form of a portable power pack like this Jackery 1000 Explorer. Essentially this is a compact 1,002 Wh (1kWh) lithium ion battery with a built in inverter and a multitude of output sockets for 240V AC, 12V DC and 5V USB that you charge up at home then take to the boat, or anywhere else you need off-grid power.
Splash out for the full Solar Generator package, which includes the Explorer 1000 and a pair of 100W solar panels (normally priced at £273 each), and you can even charge it on the hoof.
I’ve been testing one in a variety of different environments, both on and offshore, from weekend glamping expeditions to boat outings and even a music festival.
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One of the joys of having a portable device is that it’s not just limited to boat use, you suddenly start finding lots of other situations that are made immeasurably easier with access to AC power.
With a maximum AC output of 1000W (2000W surge), it’s not punchy enough to power electrical goods with a heavy load demand such as a rapid boil kettle or domestic toaster, but it makes light work of cool boxes, televisions, lights, computers, phones and, most importantly of all, my wife’s hair dryer (but only on the low heat setting).
If you are desperate for a cup of tea in the morning you can always buy a low-wattage camping kettle for £20 that takes a bit longer to boil.
How long it lasts will depend on usage but it kept a 50ft string of outdoor LED lights illuminated all night and multiple phones and tablets charged for three days at Glastonbury, with more than 50% power remaining.
The nice thing about the Jackery Explorer 1000 is that while it’s not quite as powerful as some of the best portable power stations from the likes of Festool and Eco Flow, it is small and light enough to carry on and off a boat.
Weighing a moderate 10kg and housed in a robust plastic casing with a built-in carry handle, it will fit into most deck lockers or tuck away in the corner of a cabin without getting in the way.
I’d also recommend paying a bit extra for the optional carry case to give it a bit more protection (it’s not waterproof so it helps guards against rain and spray) and to keep all the charging leads together.
Jackery Explorer 1000 verdict
The solar panels are a more questionable investment for boat users as although they fold away to a sensible size, they take up a lot of deck space once set up and you need to keep rearranging them to face the sun.
On a hot June day in my back garden, it took around eight hours for them to boost the Explorer from 50% to 100% – fine for camping or recharging for free at home but a bit of a hassle on a boat with limited space.
Personally, I’d save yourself the extra £483 and settle for recharging the Jackery Explorer 1000 at home. The generator itself is a no-brainer though. As a cleaner, quieter, safer alternative to a portable petrol generator it makes perfect sense.
And because it’s separate from your boat’s batteries you can keep your drinks cool and your hair dry without worrying whether you’ll have enough juice left to fire up the engine at the end of the day.
MBY rating: 4/5