Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro in the test: let flex workers be flexible

There are times in life when you have a hole so big that only a large battery can fill it. And sometimes, but not often, to convert the sun into 1200W of usable energy here on Earth, you need a portable battery pack that can hold all of the power generated by six 200W solar panels at once.

Jackery’s Solar Generator 2000 Pro kit starts with a 2,160Wh (50Ah/43.2V) capacity Explorer 2000 Pro Power Station and then adds up to six of the company’s SolarSaga 200W/19V solar panels. Labeled Generator,Jackery positions it as a quiet, zero-emission competitor to gas-powered generators.

I’ve been out and about with a kit like this for the past few weeks, setting it up on the beach and campgrounds and anywhere else I need a little power. Mind you, I’ve only tested a two-panel configuration that’s already listed for $3,599 and weighs almost 90 pounds – if I’m going to test a portable power system then it’s damn better to be portable.

The Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro is not the generator I want to rely on to power my home during an extended power outage. But it’s an excellent renewable energy source for anyone looking to make the most of temporary flexible remote work arrangements that have been permanent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are many scenarios where you want or need a 19.5kg battery with a handle. The Explorer 2000 Pro can run a projector for about 24 hours, an electric grill for about 100 minutes, an electric drill for 60 hours, or a Starlink RV internet-from-space kit for three to four days. In fact, it can power any AC device rated up to 2,200W with a peak power of 4,400W – pretty much any appliance or gadget in your home. It could even provide a few hours of emergency backup for your fridge or air conditioner if you live in an area prone to power outages.

The lithium-ion battery is equipped with eight sockets: three AC (two in Europe); two 18W QuickCharge 3.0 USB-A; two 100W USB-C PD; and a 12V / 10A car socket. Three buttons on the front of the battery are assigned to the AC, DC, and 12V outputs to turn each cluster on and off.

The built-in LCD display can be difficult to read in sunlight (it’s very reflective), but it’s good to see how much power is pouring in from the sun compared to the power going to your gadgets and devices.

In theory, I should be able to charge the Explorer 2000 Pro’s 2,160Wh battery with a pair of 200W panels in 5.4 hours (2,160Wh divided by 400W equals 5.4 hours). But Jackery estimates it charges in 7.5 hours “under standing light source conditions.” That’s because the 200W number on each panel is just the rated peak power -Jackery says you’re more likely to expect a maximum of 170W for everyday use.

A surplus of solar power charges the Jackery battery in addition to a MacBook and two phones.

The solar panels are rated for 400W, but 351W was the maximum I’ve seen.

In reality, I was able to charge the battery from zero to full in 9 hours on a mostly sunny day. The slower charge rate was certainly affected by panel temperature, panel angle and light intensity here in Northern Europe (I was also too lazy to reposition the panels more than 3 times). At one point I saw a solar input reading of 351W on the battery display when I carefully placed both 200W panels at a 90 degree angle to the sun. But this number was short-lived as some wispy clouds gathered and the sun made its long arc across the sky.

Still, 9 hours to charge from 0-100 percent isn’t bad if you’re at a beach, campground or remote cabin and don’t have another power source. However, it’s no good when you need backup power at home due to a power outage caused by a severe storm that blocks the sun for days.

The Jackery kit is portable like Hank the Beagle, only quieter.

Even a single 200W panel rated at around 170W is enough to balance the power required for Starlink RV internet (around 42W) while supporting a phone (18W) and a professional business laptop ( 90 W) charge. A second 200W panel is a safeguard to fully charge the battery when briefly powering high power devices such as a portable induction hob (over 2000W) or charging an electric mountain bike (around 800W).

Jackery says six of its 200W solar panels can charge the Explorer 2000 Pro in just 2.5 hours. But again, your mileage will vary and this flavor of Solar Generator 2000 Pro kit will set you back $6,199 and weigh over 150 pounds overall, which stretches the definition of “portable” quite a bit.

The Jackery SolarSaga modules I tested are made of high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells and are equipped with stands and handles. They are a marvel of portability, easily positioned and connected in about 30 seconds per panel. The panels fold together with the help of magnets and snaps. Each panel weighs 18.3 pounds and measures 21.3 x 91.3 x 1 inches when unfolded or 21.3 x 24.2 x 1.6 inches when folded and comes with a protective case that includes an inner pocket for you to store the proprietary DC input cable that connects each panel to the battery.

I much prefer traveling with two of Jackery’s 200w panels than a single foldable 400w panel from others. 200W panels are portable while 400W panels are portable.

Other notable mentions:

  • The battery can also be charged from zero to full in about 2 hours via a wall socket or in 24 hours via the 12V output of your moving car.
  • Jackery points out that the solar panel and car charger inputs on the Explorer 2000 Pro battery cannot be used at the same time to speed up the charging process. Just in case you were hoping to hack this into an RV.
  • The Explorer 2000 Pro battery has its own MPPT controller with 97 percent conversion efficiency for solar charging. It also uses pure sine wave inverter which is better for your equipment.
  • The fan is quiet compared to other large batteries I’ve tested.
  • The Explorer 2000 Pro battery features a proprietary 8mm solar panel connector. Using third-party solar panels for charging requires an MC4 adapter, which isn’t sold by Jackery (but is easy to find on Amazon).
  • There’s no app to remotely monitor input and output, which is a shame.
  • The Explorer 2000 Pro’s battery is not waterproof – but the panels are IP67 rated.
  • Charging more than two panels requires the purchase of an adapter from Jackery, which allows two or three panels to be connected in series to the battery.
  • The battery has an integrated flashlight with three intensity levels and an SOS mode.
  • The battery turns off after 12 hours if not used.
  • The rubber caps covering the ports are fiddly and sometimes difficult to place. As such, I imagine impatient owners just leave them hanging loose, which can cause problems with dirt, sand, and moisture getting into ports down the road.

Why work from home when you really can work from anywhere?

Jackery’s $3,599 two-piece Solar Generator 2000 Pro kit offers an excellent balance of portability, storage capacity, power output, and options to keep the Explorer 2000 Pro’s battery charged. When the weather is nice, it can also replenish the energy you used up during your outdoor adventures.

Jackery’s solar generator kit also compares well to 2200w gas powered generators. The Jackery setup can produce just as much AC power, but runs quietly and with no emissions, making it suitable for use in a home or RV. However, Jackery’s heavier generator kits are at least twice the price and depend on the sun to replenish the battery, while traditional generators keep running as long as you add gas.

I think the choice boils down to this: if you prioritize clean portable power for your gadgets and devices,jackery wins. If you prioritize backup power for your home, gas generators win.

Yes, the Explorer 2000 Pro battery is heavy and about the size of a small microwave. But even with a broken collarbone, I could squeeze it into the storage niches of an RV and the footwell behind the driver’s seat of a small car. The panels are easier to handle because they fold into a relatively flat package less than two inches thick.

If you choose the 1200w Solar Generator 2000 Pro Six Panel Kit then you are my guy. Sure, it’s almost double the price at $6,199, but everyone needs to get out into nature once in a while.

All photographs by Thomas Ricker / The Verge