The Jackery Explorer 240 is a portable charger for all your tech, with a whopping 240Wh battery and an AC outlet that you can plug in anything from your laptop charger to a 42” TV – I even tried running an Xbox Series X console.
I’ll discuss all its features before testing exactly what it’s capable of and whether it’s worth its fairly substantial asking price.
Inside the box you get the charger itself and an AC adapter and car charger that come in a non-branded padded zipped case. There’s also a very clear user manual. Unfortunately there’s no case for the charger itself which might have been a nice inclusion at this price.
The charger is well built from what feels like a tough plastic, but is not waterproof. It’s an attractive design as far as portable chargers go, with a combination dark grey and orange finish and a convenient carry handle at the top. But this isn’t something you’re going to slip into your bag, weighing just over 3kg and measuring 23cm by 14cm and 20cm tall.
It does contain a 14.4V 16.8Ah or 241.9Wh battery – hence the name. That’s enough to charge an iPhone 12 around 25 times, a Mavic Mini 2 around 14 times or a MacBook Air just under 5 times. Or you could run a typical 42” TV for 2.5 hours, or a 60W mini fridge for just under 20 hours.
Clockwise from the top left the front of the charger has an LCD display, a 12V, 10A car charging port with a rubber flap, a 230V AC socket, 2 x 5V, 2.4A USB-A charging ports and the DC input. The AC socket supports up to 200W continuous output with a 400W surge peak.
Disappointingly there’s no fast USB Type-C Power Delivery ports for charging laptops, GoPros, drones and an ever increasing number of power hungry devices.
And the USB-A ports don’t support fast charging either with no support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0. If you don’t have much use for the car charging port I’d consider leaving a USB Power Delivery or Qualcomm Quick Charger permanently installed, depending on what your devices need.
This UK model has the 3 pin UK plug, but there’s also a 110V US version without a rubber flap over the car charging port. This AC socket has a pure sine wave output which means it can be used for even more sensitive electronics. This plug socket is a little far down for UK plugs and even with standard plugs you might have to lay the charger on its back.
With oversized plugs like my MacBook Pro and GoPro chargers, you’ll usually have no choice.
And depending on the orientation of these plugs, they might also preclude the use of the car charging port at the same time. You could use a power strip to get around this which I’ll come back to.
The inputs have buttons to turn them on and off, and the display has a backlight button which also displays battery remaining when nothing is connected.
There are vents around both sides with a cooling fan on one side that comes on as needed.
The back of the charger is plain, and the charger sits on 4 orange rubber feet.
You can use all outputs simultaneously as long as their combined output is 200W or less.
You can charge the power station 3 ways: using the included 19V, 3.42A 65W mains charger, the included car charger cable, or you can use an optional solar panel with its built in MPPT controller.
Jackery recommends their rather pricey 60W SolarSaga panel but you could use any solar panel with the correct 8mm tip (7.9mm OD, 5.5mm ID).
The charger takes around 5.5 hours to charge from completely empty with the wall charger and around 6.5 hours with the car charger. It would be around the same time with the 60W solar panel, depending on the weather. Theoretically you could also charge the power station with an electric generator if you have one.
I would have preferred it supported standardised USB Power Delivery charging over a USB Type-C port, like the RavPower Power House I reviewed a while back. If you don’t have the proprietary charger with you you’ll be stuck. And since it does come with a dedicated AC adapter I would have liked charging to be a little quicker – almost 6 hours is a long time to wait.
I have found a workaround if you do want to charge the Explorer 240 over USB Power Delivery. You can buy a relatively cheap USB PD to DC adapter with a 7.9mm tip which works really well and with a 100W PD charger even charged a little quicker than the supplied mains adapter. I could even charge the Jackery using the RavPower Power House at 30W.
The Jackery also supports pass-through charging, so you can charge it while using any of the outputs.
The most interesting feature of the Explorer 240 is the AC socket and I tested this extensively plugging in anything I could lay my hands on including a MacBook Pro, a large gym fan, a mattress pump, a Samsung 42” TV together with the Sky box, a 5000 lumen LED lamp, and even my Saris cycling turbo.
You do have to know the limits of a device like this. Most importantly you can’t exceed it’s 200W maximum continuous output which is still very limited compared to the typical 3000W of a household socket. So it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use anything with a heating element like a toaster, hair dryer or kettle. You also need to be aware of how long the device you’re plugging in will run for which I’ll come back to.
Which brings me to my favourite feature of this device. The LCD display shows you the instantaneous combined output power of all the devices you have attached.
The display also shows you the input power when it’s charging and the remaining battery life, both with a graphical battery icon and a percentage. When using the mains charger this input power is 60W, with the car charger it’s around 44W.
I compared the measurements the Jackery gave with an energy monitoring plug and they gave readings within a few percent of each other.
You should have an awareness of what you’re plugging in – usually you can take a look at the power output of the item in Watts. If you just have a voltage and current you can multiply them together to get the power. But when this isn’t possible you can just plug your device in and read off what it’s using. And if you overload it, it has protection built in that turns it off immediately. Unlike the RavPower you can turn the AC socket back on again immediately and plug in something it is capable of powering.
And this output power reading will also let you estimate how long you can run a device for. Just divide the 240Wh capacity of the unit by the displayed output to get the remaining time in hours. I would have quite liked the charger to do this calculation for you and show you on the LCD display the battery time remaining, but understand it would only be accurate when the total output was constant.
If you’re using the spec’ed rather than measured output and depending on what you’re plugging in, you should multiply this time by 0.85 to take into account any conversion losses.
I plugged in a light which used a constant 160W of power according to the Explorer 240 and my energy monitoring plug. 240Wh divided by 160W gives 1.5 hours and I got 1 hour 32 minutes running down the charger from 100%, which confirms the calculation and the spec’d capacity of the battery. When the battery gets to 20% and then 10% the display lights up and flashes 10 times.
If you suffer from sleep apnoea the manual states the charger can run a CPAP machine between 6 and 21 hours, but that’s not something I’m able to confirm.
I checked the two USB ports with two load testers and they could both deliver their full spec’ed 2.4A simultaneously and they have decent spacing between them for chunkier connectors. But as I mentioned earlier it’s disappointing they don’t support any fast charging standards especially since there’s no fast USB Power Delivery ports.
But the USB ports will still charge an iPad at the same speed as the 12W chargers Apple supplied as standard until recently.
The 12V, 10A charging port I tested with a Qualcomm Quick Charge (QC) 3.0 USB adapter which worked fine up to around 35W. A car fridge, tyre inflator or mattress air pump should work fine too – up to the port’s 120W maximum.
With most of my devices requiring USB-C fast charging or AC I tried the AC outlet with a power strip and kept plugging in devices until I overloaded the power station. But it still managed an 18” gym fan, a 13” MacBook Pro and a Lenovo Chromebook, iPad Pro, iPhone 11 and Nintendo Switch all fast charging over USB Type C Power Delivery.
I even had it running my high end editing and gaming PC together with its ultra-wide monitor, which could be useful if there was a power cut. It used around 150W on average, but that was without gaming or pushing it too hard.
I also cautiously plugged in an Xbox Series X gaming console. This also worked and I was able to play Fortnite, Forza Horizon 4 and a few other games without overloading the Jackery. I’m fairly sure some games would push it over its limit but Forza hovered around 150W and Fortnite closer to 180W. I couldn’t also power my 42” TV together with it, but perhaps a lower powered TV or a small monitor would be ok. A battery powered USB monitor would probably be an even better option.
It’s recommended to turn off the ports when not in use. The AC port in particular uses up to 12W even with nothing plugged in.
The power station also wouldn’t be much good for powering a wireless charger or anything under 10W since it automatically shuts off after 12 hours if the output is below 10W.
As I briefly mentioned earlier the power station does support pass-through charging so you can charge the unit while you’re using a combination of its outputs. This is quite useful in the car – you can have it plugged into the 12V car charging port on longer drives whilst charging all your devices.
But on their website they advise against this suggesting it may decrease the battery life – so although I’m sure it’s fine occasionally, I wouldn’t make a habit of it.
The charger has a fan that turns on intermittently in general use and is permanently on at higher power outputs – especially when using the AC outlet.
You can hear the fan noise and how it compares to the RavPower Power House in the accompanying video.
It’s not awful although it’s a bit distracting if you’re working or trying to sleep, but it does keep it cool. I checked the temperature using a Flir thermal imaging camera running the power station at its limit – around 220W, and it still managed to stay cool at under 30°C.
The Explorer 240 portable power station is a great option for charging all your tech when outdoors, away from home or even just out of reach of a plug socket. It would be perfect for camping, a camper van, festivals, or long car journeys.
It has a good balance between weight, size and capacity – I found 240Wh plenty for the devices I’d generally use with it and Jackery has more beefy models if you need additional capacity and more power. And I like the LCD screen that shows exactly what power you’re using.
But it is expensive at $200 or £260, and I was disappointed there’s no USB Type-C power delivery. You could use the AC socket or car charging port with an adapter, but that’s extra expense, not particularly efficient and uses up one the outputs. It is also a little noisy when the fan’s running and the position of the AC outlet means you often have to lie it on its back which isn’t ideal. I also would have expected it to have some waterproof rating considering its intended use and price.
But it’s still a very handy device and its uses are almost endless. If you can manage with a little less power I’d also look at their cheaper Explorer 160 and the RavPower 80W Power House I’ve also reviewed. They both do have USB-C charging and the RavPower can also be charged via this port which I find convenient. But they don’t have a pure sine wave output and they only have 100W and 80W of output respectively.
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