Devices like Jackery’s portable power station – essentially a big battery that lets you charge USB and mains-powered devices – are seemingly only useful in an emergency. After all, who needs a heavy battery that can last a few hours on a charge unless you’re in the middle of a hurricane.
That’s what I thought when I tried Jackery’s Explorer 240, a 240Wh backup battery with car and mains inputs. Basically I thought I’d never use it.
Then came the outdoor picnic where my portable speaker wasn’t charged. And the time I wanted the kids to watch a movie using our projector outside and the extension cord couldn’t reach. And the time we went camping and we wanted to charge our phones. In fact, now that the scales have been cast from my eyes, it’s clear that a big, fat battery inside a fairly small case is actually a great thing to have.
You’ll also want this thing for the obvious emergency situations but the idea that you can have power anywhere is a compelling thing. While you won’t be able to power your entire village using one of these, a tent or cabin can use this for a little extra power. Because it’s not very heavy you could very well use it to power outdoor gear and I could definitely see a use in camping and hunting. Interestingly, they also recommend it for powering CPAP machines where there isn’t an outlet.
The battery isn’t cheap: $249 gets you the pack, a car charger, and wall charger. It’s also compatible with Jackery’s solar panel charger which allows for a trickle charge that comes from the sun. Jackery writes that the battery will last about 3 hours while charging a 60 Watt device and far longer charging USB devices. The best thing? The interface is so simple that it’s fire and forget – you plug something in and it start charging.
The bottom line? It’s a great way to get a little extra power in places where there is none. I’m not quite sure this is an emergency device that you’d want to leave in your car – it definitely can’t cycle an engine – but it’s a great camping companion and it’s saved my hide multiple times during this summer. My recommendation? Pick one up and leave it by the back door for the next time you need a little music in the back yard.