Tech review: If you're stuck at home, make sure you're prepared if the power goes out
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Tech review: If you're stuck at home, make sure you're prepared if the power goes out

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The Jackery Explorer 1000.

The Jackery Explorer 1000. (Jackery Inc./TNS)

Being prepared means different things to different people.

I like to think I'm prepared for most situations, but then a global pandemic happens, and suddenly I start thinking of what I might have missed.

There isn't a lot of technology that would have helped us prepare to stay at home or keep our distance from each other, although technology is helping people work from home.

One thing we should be grateful for is that we have plenty of electricity, cellphones and internet service. But even a temporary power outage can cause lots of grief when you're trying to work from home.

Today I'm reviewing three gadgets that provide power. The first two provide portable, sustained power, and the last one can keep you from getting stranded.

Jackery Explorer 1000

Jackery is a company known for its rechargeable power stations and solar panels that can keep almost everything in your house running when the electricity goes out.

A few months ago, I reviewed the Jackery Explorer 240 and the SolarSaga 60 solar panel. They provide a great combination of portability and power.

Jackery has introduced its largest portable power station, the Explorer 1000 ($999), with 1,002 watt-hours of rechargeable power and eight assorted power outputs.

The Explorer 1000 has three AC outlets and four USB ports (two USB-A and two USB-C) as well as a 12-volt accessory output (like the output in your car). The combined outputs have a capacity of 1,000 watts of power with a 2,000-watt surge capacity, which is useful if you are powering something with a motor that needs a jolt of power to start, then levels off when it's running.

The Explorer 1000 will shut itself off if you exceed the 1,000-watt capacity.

There's an internal fan to keep the Explorer from overheating, so when I was powering my Vornado room fan, for example, the Jackery's cooling fan kicked on for 20 to 30 seconds every five minutes or so.

The fan wasn't too much of a bother, but you should know that the Explorer 1000 isn't silent when it is providing power.

The Explorer 1000 is the size of a small drink cooler, and it weighs 22 pounds.

Pass-through power

One great thing about the Explorer 1000 is its ability to provide power as it's being charged. That enables it to run like an uninterruptible power supply.

I sleep with a CPAP machine, so my most frequent use for a power station this size is to keep the machine working if the power goes out at my house.

I plug the Explorer 1000 into the wall, and I plug my CPAP into the Explorer. If my house loses power, the Explorer will keep the power flowing to my CPAP with no interruption at all.

You can use all the power outputs at once up to the 1,000-watt limit.

The inverter that powers the AC outlets on the Jackery produces pure sine wave power.

According to Jackery, "Pure sine wave inverters use more sophisticated technology to protect even the most sensitive electronics. Pure sine wave inverters produce power which equals - or is better than - the power in your home."

The Explorer has a nice LCD screen to show you the battery's current capacity and the amount of power in and out. It is interesting to see the power output go up as you power more things at once. The display helps you figure out when you are getting close to the limit.

Charging

Keeping the Jackery plugged into your wall will mean that it's always fully charged and ready for use. Jackery recommends that you discharge the Explorer 1000 every three months to keep the batteries in good shape.

If you charge from a wall plug, it will take about 7.5 hours to fill up an empty Explorer 1000, and you can also charge it from the 12-volt plug in your car. It can be used outdoors, since it will charge in about 14 hours from solar panels, although the charging time will vary depending on the panels' power output.

Jackery's 100-watt SolarSaga panel will charge the Explorer 1000 in 17 hours. You can use two panels to cut the charge time to eight hours, depending on the amount of sunlight.

Pros: Not too heavy, small, easy to charge and use, lots of outputs.

Cons: Fan isn't exactly quiet.

Bottom line: A nice mix of size vs. power.

Maxoak EB240 2400Wh/1000w Power Station

If you need even more power, take a look at the Maxoak EB240, a 2400-watt-hour power station with a 1,000-watt pure sine inverter. The battery in the EB240 is a lithium polymer cell with a life cycle of more than 2,500 charges.

It has two AC outputs, one 12-volt accessory output, one USB-C output with 45 watts of power delivery and four USB-A ports.

It can be charged from the wall, which takes about 15 hours, or from solar panels. Charge times from solar will depend on the capacity of the panels. The WB240 includes the wall charger and a cable to connect solar panels.

It can charge and provide power at the same time.

Hefty

The EB240 measures 19.4 by 14.4 by 6.5 inches. It has a handle, but it weighs 48.5 pounds, so you can carry it around, but it will definitely give your arms a workout. The case is made of aluminum, so it is pretty tough.

It has a cooling fan inside that flips on when things get too warm inside. This happens when the inverter output exceeds 400 watts, the 12-volt outlet exceeds 80 watts or the USB charging ports exceed 100 watts.

It has a LCD screen to monitor charge level as well as power levels of inputs and outputs. Note that a load of less than 30 watts won't register on the display.

The EB240 has been a good seller, and the company warned me that it might be in and out of stock for a week or two.

Maxoak provided a $300 promo code to drop the price from $1,999 to $1,699. The code is bluetti15. You can buy the EB240 on Amazon.

These two power stations are aimed at different users. The Jackery is smaller and lighter and really designed to be carried along out to a campout or afternoon at the lake. The Maxoak is heavier, more expensive and has a battery with more capacity. It's about the size of a desktop computer, so I think it's more suited to more stationary uses because of its weight. They'll both do a great job at keeping the power flowing, but your choice will likely come down to price and size.

Pros: Huge battery, simple to use, well built.

Cons: Heavy, expensive.

Bottom line: When you need a lot of portable power, this is the one for you.

DBPower G15 2500A Portable Car Jump Starter

Think of this battery pack as a really big external phone charger that can jump-start your car.

The G15 has a 21,800-milliamp-hour battery that can start up to an 8-liter gas engine or a 6.5-liter diesel.

It's small, at 7.5 by 3.5 by 1.4 inches, and it weighs just 1.35 pounds. It comes in a very nice semi-hard carrying case with jumper cables and four power outlets (two USB-A, one USB-C and a laptop DC charging port).

Before you can use it, you'll need to charge it via USB-C with the included cable.

Once you charge it up, simply press the red button to turn it on and plug in to the output of your choice.

The G15 has five LED lights to show the battery's charge level.

The jump-start cable has a built-in digital display to show how much voltage the vehicle's battery is holding.

It also has a built-in LED flashlight, which is helpful for jump-starting a battery in the dark.

The G15 sells for $99.95 on Amazon. Until April 18, you can apply the promo code SP7336RJ to buy it for $59.99.

Pros: Small, light, powerful.

Cons: None.

Bottom line: Pick one up before you need it.

Note: Neither I nor The Dallas Morning News have any financial interest in the links or promo codes in this review.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.

Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.com

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