Portable power stations, aka solar generators, are essential when you’re preparing for emergencies. Here’s an in-depth comparison of Jackery vs Goal Zero – by far the two most tested and trusted brands. Here you’ll find all the details to make the best decision for you.
Obviously, you don’t need one of these units along if you’re roughing it in the woods. But camping with the family could be a lot more fun if you have power. And camping or hunting with some comforts can still give you a great opportunity to practice the skills you’ll need in emergencies.
More than this, having a solar generator at home is a great investment for those times when power outages happen. And blackouts are one of the most likely types of crisis to affect you.
First of all, we’d all love to have a larger unit, with enough capacity to take care of most home appliances in a crisis. However, not all can afford this.
You must decide what you can afford and how you plan to use your power generator. There are small, inexpensive, portable units. And then there are large, more expensive, less portable units.
Goal Zero has the newer type of USB ports. For example, all the Goal Zero “X” models have USB C PD ports for 60W power input and output. Most Jackery models only have the older USB A ports. And only the larger Jackery models have a USB C port. This may or may not be an issue. It all depends on the devices you plan to charge. This means you should take inventory of the devices you plan to charge and see what kind of connectors they use for charging. Keep in mind that adapters can make this less of an issue.
Goal Zero units, on average, charge about 30% faster than Jackery units. However, there are size and weight compromises to achieve this advantage. This means you must look at all the factors and decide what features are more important to you.
Goal Zero makes higher capacity models than Jackery. Goal Zero makes 3000-watt and 6000-watt units, while Jackery’s largest unit is 2000 watts. If you need to power more appliances and you’re okay with the extra size, cost, and weight, then Goal Zero is the way to go.
Jackery weighs less than Goal Zero.
If you compare units with the same power capacity, Goal Zero is heavier. In fact, with the larger units, they are as much as 10 lbs heavier.
If having a more portable unit is important to you, then Jackery is the winner.
Jackery costs less than Goal Zero. If you compare the cost to power output (watt-hours) between units of the same capacity, then Jackery costs nearly 25% less than Goal Zero.
Jackery solar panels are smaller, lighter, and more rugged. When you compare panels of the same power output, Jackery is a clear winner – for all the different sizes of panels. Let’s use the largest 200W panels as an example.
.Goal Zero’s Nomad 200 (designed to travel) weighs a whopping 22 pounds. Jackery’s SolarSaga 200 weighs only 6 pounds. The Nomad folds up to 28″x22″x2″. The SolarSaga folds up to 21″x25″x2″.
Side by side, it’s obvious the Jackery panels are built more rugged. Reviews and field testing also prove this.
People often compared the older Goal Zero Yeti 150 with the Jackery Explorer 160. However, it seems the Jackery 160 is no longer available on Amazon.
The Yeti 150 uses a heavy, inefficient lead-acid battery, and weighs almost twice as much as the Jackery Explorer 240, yet they cost about the same.
Additionally, the Yeti 150 takes longer to charge (6 hrs vs 5.5 hrs, using a wall charger.) With a 50W Boulder/Nomad solar panel, the Yeti takes 5-10 hours to charge. The Nomad 20W panel takes 12-24 hours to charge. However, the Jackery 60W SolarSaga panel averages about 7 hours to charge.
The Jackery Explorer 240 offers almost 100 watt-hours more power. For all these reasons, Jackery is the obvious choice between these two. I do not recommend the Goal Zero Yeti 150.
The Yeti 200X is newer technology.
Many of the newer phones, tablets, laptops, and cameras use the USB C and PD ports that this power station offers. The Jackery 240 does not have these ports.
Both units have a 12V 10A car adaptor port. Yet the 200X has a new 6mm port with the same 12V 10A output.
However, inexpensive adaptors allow you to use your newer devices with the Explorer’s older USB ports.
Jackery claims their unit at 100% battery can recharge a phone 24 times. Goal Zero offers a much more conservative claim of 14 recharges for a phone. Experience shows about 14 recharges for both is more accurate.
The Yeti 200X charges faster, whether with a wall charger or by a solar panel. The optional 120W wall charger for the Yeti cuts charging time to 2 hours instead of 4. The Jackery unit requires 3.5 hours to charge with a wall charger.
The Yeti 200X takes 4 hours to charge with a 50W solar charger. The Jackery takes 5.5 hours with a 60W solar charger. Yet I’ve found these numbers vary greatly depending on the quality of sunlight you have. But the Yeti does charge faster.
For the AC plug, the Yeti has a modified sine wave inverter. This is not ideal for most AC appliances like fans and lights – as this does not provide smooth power like the pure sine wave inverter in the Jackery Explorer 240. Also, the Yeti provides only 120 watts of continuous power, where the Jackery gives you 200 watts of continuous power.
As you might expect from a unit that delivers almost double the power, the Jackery is heavier than the Goal Zero unit by about a pound and a half.
However, neither of these units is beefy enough to power the typical blender, electric grill, refrigerator or microwave.
About the cost: once you buy solar panels for the unit, you’ll pay about $160 more for the Goal Zero than the Jackery setup.
Conclusion: It seems like you pay a steep price for the Yeti’s faster charging time, some newer USB ports, plus several disadvantages. This is why I prefer the Jackery Explorer 240 for a power station of this size.
People often compare these two units because of the somewhat similar power output.
However, as you’ll see, there’s no real similarity here.
Like the Yeti 150, the 400 is much older technology. It uses a lead-acid battery that’s super heavy and has a far shorter life expectancy than the lithium-ion battery in the Jackery.
Yes, you can replace the battery in the Yeti 400. However these batteries cause this unit to weigh a whopping 29 pounds. (Compared with the Jackery unit’s 7.1 lbs.)
The Yeti has the older USB A ports, while the Explorer has the new USB C PD ports. Some Jackery units have the older tech, but the Explorer 300 is one of the updated units.
In fact, the Explorer 300 will recharge 80% in only 2 hours when plugged into the wall charger and the PD port, simultaneously. It also works with the higher capacity SolarSaga 100 watt solar panels.
The Yeti does offer a bit more power than the Explorer 300, but the Yeti also costs about $100 more. If you want more power, for just a few dollars more, there is the Jackery Explorer 500. It seems Goal Zero has no other options in this price range.
Conclusion: I would not recommend the Yeti 400 at all.
Both of these units can power small appliances, like a kitchen blender, a small rice cooker, a CPAP machine, or a mini-refrigerator. A generator of this size is very popular for home emergency preparations.
Units smaller than these are great for camping and recharging small devices. But this size and larger will actually run small home appliances during emergencies.
Car Charging Ports
Specs in Common: Both units have lithium-ion batteries with an expected life of 500 charges. Both have pure sine wave inverters.
Each has regulated 12V and USB ports, except for the Yeti’s 6mm ports. Both also have MPPT charge controllers.
They can recharge a 12W cell phone 40+ times, a 30W tablet 17 times, or a 50W laptop about 10 times. Each can also run a 65W CPAP machine for about 8 hours or a 100W LED TV for about 5 hours.
Notes About The Differences:
Differences in USB ports can easily be compensated for with inexpensive adapters.
If you need more AC ports with the Explorer, you can carefully use a power strip and make sure not to overload the battery.
The Explorer offers 200W more continuous power, and continuous power is the important number here. Some point to the higher 1200W surge power rating of the Yeti. However, if you keep plugging in an appliance that causes even a 1000-watt surge, don’t expect your battery to last very long.
Conclusion: After you buy the solar panels, the Goal Zero Yeti 500X currently costs at least $300 more than the Jackery Explorer 500. To me, the small difference in charging times and the extra AC plugin does not justify the extra $300 for the Goal Zero unit. For this reason, I prefer the Jackery Explorer 500.
A 1000-watt solar generator is a great choice for preparing your home for emergencies. However, there’s no clear winner between these two units.
Each has clear advantages, but also disadvantages.
If this is the right-sized power station for your budget and preparations, pay careful attention to the differences listed here and decide which one is better for you.
Car Charging Ports
What can a 1000W generator run?
It can run lights, recharge your camera, phones, tablets, laptop, power your internet modem/router, as well refrigerators and medical devices.
It can also handle charging drones, GPS devices, as well as powering fans, kitchen appliances, power tools, stereo systems, and grills.
Obviously, you can’t plug all these in at once. Be sure to check the power requirements for your devices before you plug them in. Some would immediately overload your generator while others will work just fine.
Specs in Common: Both units have lithium-ion batteries with an expected life of 500 charges. Both have pure sine wave inverters, regulated 12V and USB ports, and MPPT charge controllers.
Notes About The Differences:
The difference in the number of AC ports and the type of USB ports can easily be solved with adaptors and even a power strip. (Just be careful not to overload the unit by plugging too much into the power strip.)
The Explorer has one Anderson port: 12-30V, up to 8.33A, which is 163W max. This is the only Jackery model that has an Anderson input.
Yeti also has an Anderson input port, which Goal Zero calls a High Power Port, however this is 14-50V, up to 50A (600W max).
These Anderson input ports are very handy because they allow using other brands of solar panels with your charging unit.
Yeti also has an app for the 1000X that works with your phone or tablet, allowing you to monitor recharging and battery usage.
Both of these units are heavy. However, most people find having a unit that’s 10 pounds heavier is not as much of an issue for a generator of this size.
Currently, you’ll pay about $500 more for a Goal Zero generator and solar panels to get approximately the same recharging time as the Jackery system (8 hrs).
The advantage of the Goal Zero system? If you’re willing to spend about $2000 more on solar panels, you can reduce recharge time to about 3 hours. That’s truly amazing.
Plus, the Goal Zero unit offers about 500W more continuous power than the Jackery system.
Keep in mind these are solar generators. When your home electricity fails, one thing is certain: you’ll wish your generator would charge faster. So be sure to invest in the fastest solar charging you can afford.
Conclusion: If price is a bigger factor and your max budget is about $1500, go with the Jackery system. If you want more performance and you’re willing to pay for it, then the Goal Zero system is the clear winner between these two power stations.
This is the largest unit Jackery currently makes. Goal Zero makes units larger than this.
Each of these two 1500 Wh units has real advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at some factors to help you decide between the two.
What Can A 1500W Generator Run?
It can power an electric stove or grill, a coffee maker, mini cooler, space heater, microwave, blender, refrigerator, TV, medical equipment, lights, game consoles, laptops, as well as recharging all the smaller electronic gadgets and more.
Of course, it probably won’t handle all these things at once. You will still have to be careful how many items you have plugged in at one time and what power they pull – so you don’t overload the battery.
The good news is, it’s powerful enough to run most of the appliances and gadgets in your home.
Car Charging Ports
Specs in Common:
You’ll find that both of these units have lithium-ion batteries that are expected to recharge 500 times. Both have pure sine wave inverters, regulated 12V and USB ports, as well as MPPT charge controllers.
Looking at the front of each, it’s obvious the Jackery has 3 AC ports while the Goal Zero has 2. The difference in the number of these AC ports and the type of USB ports can easily be solved with adaptors and even a power strip. (Just be careful not to overload the unit by plugging too much into the power strip.)
Both of these units are heavy. Yet many people who want a generator of this size might not mind the 10 extra pounds of the Goal Zero. Beefy handles make the load easier to carry.
The Yeti offers 200W more continuous power than the Explorer. This can become important when you need to use larger or more appliances and devices.
Yeti also has an app for the 1500X that works with your phone or tablet, allowing you to monitor recharging and battery usage. Jackery does not.
Currently, you’ll pay about $700 more for a Goal Zero generator and solar panels to get approximately the same recharging time as the Jackery system (8-10 hrs).
The Jackery Explorer allows you to use 2 wall chargers at once, reducing the wall charging time to only 3.5 hours. If you’re using your generator mainly for convenience, such as when you’re camping, this makes the Explorer far more useful and cost-effective than the Yeti.
However, if you’re preparing for a time of crisis – when there’s no electricity in those wall plugs – you’ll want to look at Goal Zero’s system a little closer.
Goal Zero offers superior 200W solar panels, while Jackery’s largest only has a 100W capacity.
This is a crucial difference when you’re preparing for the time when your home utilities fail. Goal Zero’s higher wattage panels mean faster recharging.
And since these are solar generators, you’ll want to have the fastest recharging times you can afford.
However, there are ways to expand the capabilities of both Jackery and Goal Zero systems. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Jackery has a far more proven product record with consumers than Goal Zero.
Conclusion: If you are preparing for a time of crisis and you can afford a generator this size or larger, I strongly recommend you read the next section before you decide whether to get a Jackery or Goal Zero system.
These are complicated pieces of tech. Murphy’s Law says at least one of them will fail when you need them most. No matter what your warranty or all those reviews say.
The only way to build escape velocity and break free of the gravity of Murphy’s Law is to have more than one generator and solar panel.
I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m rich and I don’t care, because I’m just trying to be real. Yes, I know this solar equipment is expensive.
However, there’s a reason you’re looking at solar generators rather than those gasoline generators for a few hundred dollars.
Whether it’s stealth and quiet, the freedom of not relying on a limited fuel supply, cleaner air, and less health risk, or all of the above – you’re willing to invest more to go solar.
Multiple Solar Panels
Using multiple panels doesn’t just protect you when a panel fails. To make solar energy work for you, you’ve got to have quick recharging. The only way to do that is with multiple solar panels.
For the Jackery unit, the specs on Amazon suggest four 100W SolarSaga panels, which charges the unit to 80% in an estimated 4 hours (in perfect sunlight.) Why don’t they suggest Jackery 200W panels?
For some reason, the 200W SolarSaga panels are not available on Amazon, but only from Jackery. However, these 200W panels also work with the Explorer 1500.
The Explorer 1500 can take in up to 500W of solar input. This means you’ll get faster recharging from three 200W plus one 100W Solarsaga panel.
Or get the fastest recharging time from four 200W panels instead.
Why get 800W of solar panels for a unit that only accepts 500W?
Because you can’t believe the power wattage stamped on the panel. Most all solar panels operate at only 80% efficiency. This means in the strongest, direct sunlight, you’ll only get 160W from a 200W panel.
And most of the time you’ll want to use your panels, you’ll have indirect sun because it’s winter time. Or you’ll have partial shade, cloudy weather, etc. This means often you’ll have far less power than 80% from the panels. This also means you’ll have to wait even longer to get your unit recharged.
Even in ideal sunlight, four 200W panels, working at 80% capacity, will give you only about 640W of power. The built-in MPPT charge controller will reduce this excess to a safe 500W for charging the Explorer battery.
...This is how you fully charge an Explorer 1500 in 3 to 4 hours.
This same principle applies to other Jackery models. Just find the maximum input power, make sure that the model has an MPPT charge controller, get the cable connectors that let you use multiple panels, get the right sized panels, and then connect them to your unit.
This also applies to Goal Zero solar generators. For example, the Yeti 1500X accepts a max 600W of input power. The built-in MPPT charge controller will reduce the power to a safe 600W. So add 4 to 6 of the 200W panels to charge your battery in 2.5 to 4 hours.
Multiple Solar Generators
There are at least two reasons why you should have more than one solar generator when preparing for crisis.
We saw one great reason above: equipment tends to fail when you need it most. Get a second solar generator to beat the odds.
To understand another reason why you need at least two generators, follow me for a second.
Let’s say the power fails and you want to keep the food in your fridge safe. The battery on your one and only solar generators says 50%. You plug your refrigerator into the battery. Then you realize you only have a little time before the battery runs out.
Better eat that prime rib in the freezer before it goes bad. Uh oh, you don’t have enough juice in the battery to cook the meat.
If you have two generators, and you keep them charged, you can stay a lot more comfortable when the utilities fail. One unit can be charging while you power your appliances with the other unit.
However, unless you have fast recharging, lots of sunlight, and a careful plan, you might still run out of power.
This is why careful people might get a third generator – one that burns fuel and doesn’t rely on the sun. You have power whenever you need it. Plus, you have your solar generators to keep giving you power, so you’re not totally reliant on gasoline.
If your budget for emergency solar power is less than $5000, get one solar generator and at least one panel. If you choose a generator that is 1000W or less, I recommend Jackery.
They had better keep improving, though. The competition keeps getting better. As things change, I’ll try to keep you updated.
Why Jackery? They cost less, any disadvantages can easily be compensated for (with power strips and adaptors), their solar panels are better, and they have a more proven track record.
With 1500W generators, Goal Zero’s Yeti 1500X gives you more power than Jackery’s Explorer 1500. However, you’ll pay more than $4000 for a proper Goal Zero system, including 3-4 of the 200W solar panels. The choice here is between the extra power and saving a few hundred bucks.
If your budget is more than $5000, then disregard Jackery and compare Goal Zero with Bluetti, Rockport and the emerging brands.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share this info with others. There are still a few more people out there who need to get prepared.
As you see, with Goal Zero vs Jackery, the answer depends on a few things. Now you know what you need to make a good decision. Go forth and get prepared!