Review: Jackery Explorer 240 power station

When I travel or camp, I bring a CPAP machine with me. So I’ve long been looking for a way to power one of these on camping trips or in an emergency evacuation. I have some of the smaller lithium-ion packs that we recommend for go-bags, but to power a medical device or an appliance I need a lot more juice than those can provide. Enter the Jackery Explorer 240, which at 240Wh of charge is just the right size.

We reviewed two smaller Jackery power packs in the 10 amp-hour to 20 amp-hour (at 5V) range in our big review of portable power banks, and both units did very well (though neither were our top picks). The Explorer 240 is considerably larger than the others we reviewed. It’s still “portable” in the sense that it’s easily carried by hand, but you won’t be stuffing it into a go-bag any time soon. We’ll call it semi-portable.

Why get the Jackery Explorer?

Power stations in the Explorer 240’s size range — about 6.6 pounds — can make excellent preps. These products are small enough to be recharged off of portable solar panels, yet are big enough to power some small appliances and medical devices that require a regular AC wall plug (e.g. a 60W mini-fridge for 4-5 hours, depending on the circumstances).

A product like the Explorer is also good for topping off smaller packs that are packable — e.g. the larger bank is left at a base camp, while the smaller banks are packed out into bush.

Specs:

  • Capacity: 240Wh, (67ah at 14.4V)
  • Weight: 6.6lbs
  • Price: $250
  • Power ports: 2X USB (5V, 2.4A), 12V car outlet, AC outlet (110V, 200W)
  • Charging ports: Proprietary input with adapters for AC wall outlet and 12V car outlet. Also compatible with Jackery’s companion solar panel.

Note: Jackery sent us the Explorer 240 for review. As always, our Prepared Promise means the source of any one piece of review gear has no bearing on the review itself.

Features and functionality

The Explorer is a very simple, no-frills station that’s basically a cluster of 18650’s attached to some basic output ports and charging circuitry. Packs in the ‘semi-portable’ product category don’t really call for any extras, so Jackery hasn’t added any “outdoor” features like built-in LEDs and whatnot. The result is better for its simplicity.

LED screen

The unit has a nice LED screen on the front that shows you the current charge level, as well as which inputs or outputs are active.

In the shot above, I have a load tester and USB multimeter hooked up to the bank. The load tester is set to draw 2.4A, and the USB multimeter shows a 5V/2.4A power draw. The LED shows 13W on that port, which is about right. I think this wattage display is a nice feature that can help you manage your use of the bank, so it’s good to know it’s accurate.

One of the features that adds size to the Jackery 240 is the 120V AC plug. The circuitry required to turn the internal lithium-ion pack’s DC current into AC is not small, so this bulks up the unit considerably.

Buttons, handle, and shell

The Explorer gives you a set of small buttons to switch on and off the different output port types. I tested them and confirmed that they work. This is a good feature because it gives you another way to control what you’re powering and when, without plugging and unplugging things.

The Explorer’s plastic shell is sturdy, but I wouldn’t want to drop it from too high. It looks like it will hold up to general outdoor use, but it’s not an overbuilt “survival” or “ruggedized” product.

At the top of the battery is a long carry handle, and on the bottom are four rubber feet. The feet are a nice touch, as it helps the unit stay securely in position on slick surfaces, without interfering with outdoors use.

The product comes with a small zipper pack that includes a 12V car charger cable, and an AC cable.

Abusing the Jackery Explorer 240

I don’t have the hardware capability to do a real load test of the Explorer’s AC ports the same way I did the USB ports on the smaller packs, so this review is not quite as systematic as our big portable roundup. However, it has something that the other roundup lacks: a real-world torture test.

Not long after Jackery sent me the charger in late November 2019, I charged it all the way up and put it in a poorly sealed toolbox in the back of my truck… where I accidentally left it for six months. Oops.

This wasn’t just any six-month stint in rattling around in the back of a Nissan Titan. It encompassed all the extremes of weather and climate, from 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the snow to the early summer Texas heat.

See, I packed that charger in the toolbox back in November because my family and I were headed to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. We went to spend Christmas in a cabin we Airbnb-ed along with all the other Texans who crowd that area every winter. I wanted to take the Explorer along for the ride as a kind of backup prep. I thought it could come in handy at some point during the trip.

It got down to zero at Pagosa Springs and it snowed quite a bit. We had so much fun that I totally forgot about the charger. I drove around with that thing in the back of my truck, getting all dirty and basically exposed to all sorts of outdoor temperature and moisture variations until the weekend before last when I went camping with my oldest daughter.

I had been thinking for a while about the Explorer. I had no idea where it was, and I wondered how I was going to explain to Jackery and the team at The Prepared that I’d totally lost this review unit. Then it hit me that I should look in that black toolbox, and there it was.

Results of the ‘torture test’

I was not optimistic about this thing’s ability to still work, but I turned it on and lo and behold, it was at 100 percent charge. Amazing.

So I packed it for our campout, and I ran my CPAP off of it (including the humidifier) for 8 hours straight. This drained it down to only 33 percent.

As of right now, I can confirm that all the ports still work, that it recharges just fine. Other than the fact that the plastic is all scuffed up from being knocked around, it’s in like-new condition.

Conclusions

This is a solid power station at a good price. And now that I’ve actually put it through a bit of an accidental torture test, I have a lot of confidence that it’s going to hold up in an outdoor setting without flaking on me. I’d definitely carry the Explorer 240 in a car-based bug-out, and it is now my standard semi-portable power station recommendation in this size range.

Jackery Explorer 240

Jackery Explorer 240

The Explorer 240 stands up to abuse pretty remarkably. You can take our word for it.

  • 24 Comments

    • hankstom

      Operating Usage Temperature 32-104F (0-40C) may not be adequate for all year around outdoor

      It can’t be used for CPAP or timer loads as <10W power draw would trigger auto shutoff after 6 hours.

      7 |
      • Jon StokesStaff hankstom

        It’s not going to shut off if it gets above 104, but yes ideally no Li-Ion battery should really be out in +100F heat. It’s bad for the chemistry.

        As for the claim about auto shutoff after 6 hours, I’m not sure what to say about that other than I used it for my APAP with humidifier for 8 hours and it did not shut off. Or if it did, then I briefly woke up and turned it back on and went back to sleep and don’t remember it.

        7 |
    • hankstom

      Jackery 240 charging is quite slow (42W max when using solar). That’s 8 ~ 10 hours to fully charge it even on grid power. Charging it with solar during the day won’t be enough if the battery gets fully drained overnight.

      It can take a Solar Panel with output rated higher than 42W. 100W panel would not damage the charging system.

      3 |
    • Jonnie PekelnyContributor

      Jon, I am wondering how you managed to run a CPAP with a humidifier on so little power. Humidifiers are power-hungry and my CPAP wouldn’t last a full night with a 250 W battery.

      8 |
      • Jon StokesStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Here is my secret weapon: https://www.cpapman.com/cpap-supplies/power/philips-dreamstation-cpap-12v-dc-cord-p-1521.html

        Here’s why this works:

        When you use the AC power outlet on the battery, the DC current from inside the device has to be converted to AC, and you lose a lot of power during that conversion (it’s pretty wasteful). Then, compounding the problem is the fact that your CPAP itself runs on DC, so that black box in the middle of the CPAP cord is converting the AC back to DC and you’re losing even more power.

        What you need, then, is a direct DC power cable for the unit that you can plug straight into the battery so that you run the entire thing with zero AC/DC conversions. It’s all straight DC.

        Because I run mine that way, I can go 8 hours with the humidifier running the whole time, and only drain that 240Wh battery by just 2/3rds. It’s great.

        7 |
      • Jonnie PekelnyContributor Jon Stokes

        Wow. So, that brings up a question for me. I measured my CPAP power usage from the regular AC outlet and came up with about 41 watts per hour. Does that mean that if I plug the CPAP into a power station like the Jackery it will actually draw more current than that because of the conversions? And, conversely, if I use your DC cord, will the power used be about 41 watts, or less?

        5 |
      • Jon StokesStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        I’m not sure, actually. 41W per hour sounds high, and if it was that way on DC then you’d need 41W x 8h = 328Wh.

        I wonder if there’s not something else at work, like your pressure is higher than mine. Or maybe your unit isn’t as efficient. (I have an APAP actually, so it adjusts the pressure over the course of the night.)

        3 |
    • Karla Robertson

      Hi Jon, Thanks for all this info. My dad and I have the same CPAP, mine adjusts through the night like yours and Dad’s is set at 12. I clicked on the link for the DC power cable. There are two options: 1 with a battery a battery cable and one without. Which one do I get? I want to get the right one. Please advise.  Thank you.

      7 |
    • M. E.

      I have the Jackery 500 and it is not at all clear to me what the best way to store it is. I’ve read dozens of opinions online – can’t seem to find any solid research – and it seems to me pretty clear that I should let it get down to a small percentage (maybe 10) once every six months and then recharge it to keep it operating at its best. But should I store it FULLY charged or PARTIALLY charged? The Jackery site is no help. Some battery geek sites seem to imply that storing such a battery at an ~80% charge is best for longevity, but that means it’s less useful in an emergency. Advice welcome. 

      6 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff M. E.

        Hey M.E., when we researched our guide on battery basics, we found out that Li-Ions should be stored with a partial charge (instead of empty), with a partial recharge every six months to keep the chemistry from failing. 

        Here’s more:

        https://theprepared.com/gear/guides/battery-basics/

        5 |
      • M. E. Carlotta Susanna

        Thank you! Very disappointed that my sister was right. I’ll never live it down. 

        6 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff M. E.

        Ha ha ha, or you could consider your sister as an asset in a SHTF situation lol

        2 |
      • Albert D Carlotta Susanna

        Side question – can/should they be stored full? It’s been about 6 months since I got my Jackery.

        5 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Albert D

        Hi Albert, this is a question that comes up a lot.

        When we researched our guide on battery basics, we found out that Li-Ions should be stored with a partial charge (instead of empty), with a partial recharge every six months to keep the chemistry from failing. 

        Here’s more:

        https://theprepared.com/gear/guides/battery-basics/

        3 |
    • M. E.

      One thing the CPAP users of the world might want to explore is an “oral appliance” (google “oral appliance for sleep apnea”)  It basically looks and feels like a mouth guard for sports, or the mouth guard that people use if they grind their teeth at night.  What it does is hold your jaw in a certain position as you sleep to keep your airway open.  They cost around $2500, and to my complete surprise mine was covered 100% by my insurance (this will vary by insurance provider of course)

      The good news: It does not require any electricity and is completely silent so is great in off-the-grid or stealth situations.

      The bad news: It takes a minimum of four weeks to adjust to – you start at one setting, then gradually adjust the settings over four weeks so your jaw can handle the change in angle.  So it’s not the kind of thing you can just keep in a BOB and use as needed – you kind of have to commit to using it all the time.  It is also not suitable for all types of apnea and requires a prescription.  You’d get the Rx from your sleep doctor and then it is “filled” by a dentist as it will be customized to you.  A set lasts about five years. 

      I had great hopes for mine but discovered that my jaw did not like the settings required for me to give up the CPAP entirely.  However, I know others that swear by it.  And in my case, the combination of the oral appliance on a “low” angle with the CPAP has been magical and given me the best sleep I’ve had in years.  I have also used the oral appliance on its own when my CPAP was being repaired and it was better than nothing at all.  I like having it as a backup for extended power outages or if the CPAP stops working in a SHTF situation and repairs are not available. 

      2 |
      • Peter 44 M. E.

        I’ve been seeing some ads on social media for that oral appliance as an alternative to a cpap. You say it will last about 5 years, how long does a cpap last?

        My one concern, if I had to use one, would be that moving your jaw in your sleep would change your bite and then during the day your teeth might not align properly anymore.

        Smart thinking by the way on an electricity-free method to sleep better.

        1 |
      • M. E. Peter 44

        From what I understand CPAPs also last around 5 years if they are well cared for; most insurance companies will only allow a replacement once every five years.

        You are correct that it can change your bite. They even give you simple exercises to do to prevent that. One of them is simply to chew gum!  They also have you do a “starting point” bite that they can then check later to see if your jaw is getting out of alignment. I haven’t had any problems with that so far. 

        2 |
      • Karla Robertson Peter 44

        Hi Peter

        I have had experience with the oral appliance and had the exact Issue you are concerned about. Result: I was out $2400. No refund from Orthodontist who I shared this concern with in beginning and he said no issue. My jaw was misaligned for 4 months over which time I made several visits back for adjustments. My mouth would not close right, my bite was off and teeth hit each other at times and my jaw was always stiff and sore. Chewing was an issue. Such a shame as it is more convenient that cpap. Doc also made a “realign” piece to help in morning to push jaw back into place but didn’t work. A real drag. 

        2 |
      • Peter 44 Karla Robertson

        That is scary Karla. Sounds like M.E. didn’t have any issues but you did, so it probably depends on the person. 

        1 |
    • A

      Jon, just wanted to thank you for putting this together! I went with your suggestion of using the cigarette lighter power adapter for the Dreamstation into the Jackery E240. After over 8hours on the CPAP, I still had 70% juice left on the Jackery! I was a bit concerned before finding your article because most information I read about the Jackery E240 made it seem like it wasn’t the right choice for CPAP use.

      Thanks again!

      3 |
    • Nicole Birtwistle

      Thanks! Huge help. I’m about to get my first CPAP and am going to need to use it in a country with interrupted electricity supply. Amazing timing to find all this info in one place. Thanks for sharing!

      Sorry if this is a stupid question but I searched for a 240 power backup. Does the Jackery work on 240v?

      2 |
      • Gideon ParkerStaff Nicole Birtwistle

        Not a stupid question at all! There are many terms thrown out with power backups that make them confusing. We are currently working on an entire article about these units and hope to clear up some of the terms in there. 

        The 240 in the Jackery refers to the watt hours or I like to think of it like the capacity. Just like the tank of your car might hold 12 gallons of stored fuel, this particular Jackery holds 240 watt hours of stored electricity.

        This Jackery can run traditional wall outlet devices at their normal 110v. Pretty sure that’s what your CPAP will use.

        Hope that makes sense, and if you have any further questions feel free to ask them! 

        2 |
      • M. E. Nicole Birtwistle

        In addition to what Gideon wrote about below, I think what you are asking is if you can plug the Jackery in to the 220 V socket in non-US countries. Let’s start with the fact that you cannot take the Jackery 240 on an airplane. Assuming you’re getting to your destination another way, I would definitely send a note to Jackery support about this. I have reviewed the user manual and it is unclear at best.

        You really don’t want to give it 220V if it is not rated for that. The adapter plug on mine says “100-240VAC and 50-60Hz), so chances are good it is okay, though you would need an adapter plug if you plan to plug it into the wall. Of course if you brought the solar panel then it doesn’t matter, because you would be charging it with solar and not the wall socket.

        As for the CPAP itself, I have two different ones and both have a power brick that allows it to use either 110V or 220 V electricity. I’m a fan of the ResMed AirMini. For travel it is great; it’s not really suitable as an everyday machine – too drying – but you can get a much smaller battery pack (than the Jackery) to go with it that would be suitable as a backup if there were a power outage. If you do keep the “big” CPAP for travel and need to use the battery, turning off the humidifier and heating element is a huge power saver and not a big deal for a short period of time.  Regardless, be sure the battery you select will be allowed on an airplane if that is in your travel plans. 

        2 |
      • Gideon ParkerStaff M. E.

        Thank you so much M.E. for chiming in about that. I think that’s what they were asking so I appreciate you clarifying things.

        2 |