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I tested the world's smallest power station, and it's a solar-charging beast

Normally, I'm looking for the biggest power stations with the greatest capacity, but the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus made me appreciate the smaller things.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Jackery Explorer 100 Plus

Jackery Explorer 100 Plus

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Jackery Explorer 100 is available from Amazon for the discounted price of $129.
  • Expect the very best quality, flawless performance, and a large capacity despite being compliant with air and train travel.
  • The rather bulky design doesn't sit well in laptop bags, and there's no AC output.

Regular readers are well aware of my fascination with power stations. These products are colossal power banks that can carry vast amounts of power off-grid and harness the sun when connected to solar panels.

I never imagined that a compact, petite, palm-sized power station would capture my heart. But indeed, it has.

Also: This portable battery station can power your home for 2 weeks

The diminutive device that has stolen my affection is the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus

View at Amazon

Jackery Explorer 100 Plus features

  • Capacity: 31,000mAh (99Wh)
  • Total output: 128W
  • Ports: 2 x USB-C and 1 x USB-A output ports, capable of charging 3 devices simultaneously
  • Low current charging: Supported
  • Battery chemistry: LiFePO4
  • Battery lifespan: 2,000 cycles to 80%+ capacity, allowing for daily recharges for approximately 8 years
  • Recharge time: Approximately 2 hours using a SolarSaga 100 solar panel, 1.8 hours using a 100W PD charger, 2.5 hours using 12V in-car charging
  • Weight: 2.13 lbs / 965 g
  • Dimensions: 4.96 x 3.41 x 3.43 in / 12.6 x 8.65 x 8.7 cm
  • Air/rail travel compliant: Yes, certified to UN38.3 shipping standards

Unfortunately, the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus does not feature AC power outputs. The smallest Jackery power station with AC output is the Explorer 240.

Jackery Explorer 100 Plus specs

Jackery Explorer 100 Plus specs

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

In the realm of power stations, Jackery is unparalleled. The company has over a decade of expertise in the field. I've rigorously tested nearly every portable power station Jackery has produced and have yet to be let down by their construction, quality, or reliability.

Also: Jackery Solar Generators: Are they any good?

While Jackery's most compact offering yet -- the tiny Explorer 100 Plus -- may resemble a power bank, it's truly a solar generator, built to the rigorous standards of its larger counterparts. The Explorer 100 Plus can even be recharged using solar panels like the SolarSaga 100.

The Jackery Explorer 100 Plus is tiny!

The Jackery Explorer 100 Plus is tiny!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The Explorer 100 Plus houses an array of LiFePO4 batteries, capable of storing 100Wh of power -- the maximum allowed on an airplane without additional regulatory paperwork -- and features three USB outputs: two USB-C ports and one USB-A port.

The Explorer 100 Plus also features a compact yet fully functional LCD display that presents all the essential information you'd want from a power station. This includes power input and output, remaining charge and discharge times, a low battery indicator, and warnings for high and low battery temperatures.

The LCD display of the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus is a tiny version of what you'd expect on the larger units

The LCD display of the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus is a tiny version of what you'd expect on the larger units

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I've rigorously tested this power station, examining everything from the accuracy of its specifications against what's promised on the box, to its operational safety and heat management, including its ability to handle overloads without overheating. It passed all these tests with flying colors, meeting the high expectations I expect from any Jackery product.

Also: Can you safely revive a dead lithium-ion battery? Yes - here's how

The only downside I can come up with for the Explorer 100 Plus is that it's bulky, and a shape that doesn't lend itself well to being carried in a laptop bag. But this is a different animal to a power bank, and if you want something to carry around with you in a laptop bag, there are better bits of kit for that application

ZDNET's buying advice

Finding fault with the Jackery Explorer 100 Plus is challenging. It's a compact power station ideal for adventures where its larger, more rotund counterparts might not be suitable. It looks like a power station and performs like a power station. And with its 31,000mAh of power capacity, this is undoubtedly a serious bit of kit. 

Even for those simply in the market for a power bank, the build quality of this unit makes the $129 price tag difficult to beat. There are several smaller or less robust power banks out there that demand a higher price. 

This compact Jackery unit is not only ideal for adventures but also serves as a fascinating yet practical conversation piece on any desk.

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