We review a powerful portable power station with a brilliant solar panel setup

Portable power stations are really all the rage right now. I’ve spent time with a few of them now, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Last on my testing schedule was the Jackery Explorer 500, a heavy, versatile powerhouse capable of keeping a range of devices charged for hours.

It contains a 518Wh lithium battery, which powers a 240V pure sine wave inverter which is suitable for 500W or 1000W peak.

This standalone setup can charge the average smartphone 53 times, from flat to full, or run a 60w TV for seven and a half hours straight.

It also has enough power to charge a laptop, and 12V lights and other low-power devices can run for days.

The inverter can run 100W devices for about four hours, and you can theoretically run a 500W device for just under an hour.

So it’s all very impressive. But it’s expensive. These portable power stations never come cheap, but at just over £550 the Explorer 500 undercuts some of its rivals.

Shop around and you might find one for just over £500. It’s cheaper than the equivalent Ecoflow power station, but a bit more expensive than the Poweroak equivalent. I think it is very reasonably priced and has great features.

For starters, there are three USB ports, which is great. The screen shows clear information about your battery level and current input and output. It has a 12 cigar lighter socket and a 240v mains socket.

On the charging side, you can recharge your batteries on a wall socket, with a 12v car socket, or you can opt for the rather excellent 100w solar panel. This “SolarSaga” panel is one of the best I’ve used, with its sturdy case, long cable, and easy-to-fold setup. It costs an extra £272.99, but for long-lasting outdoor living it’s a brilliant addition.

You can also buy them as a bundle, if you like both options. And, if you’re quick, there’s a Father’s Day sale on the Jackery website from June 10 through June 19 with 15% off generators and solar panels.

There are smaller and larger versions available. Jackery also offers a 240 version and a 1000 version, but the 500 is the best seller.

And it’s easy to see why. It is so well made, so sturdy and so capable at the same time that it is relatively light and easy to transport.

It may not have the market on its own, but the Jackery 500 really is a credible option for outdoor power.

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