Whether you’re going out camping and want a reliable source of energy or you just prefer your generator to be a bit more portable, you may be in the market for a solar generator. Two great choices are the Goal Zero Yeti 150 and the Jackery Explorer 160. While both have plenty of advantages, you may find that one has a bit of an edge over the other.
In this article, we’ll compare the two to help you determine which battery suits your needs the most.
- The Verdict
- Amount of Power
- Overall Build Quality
- Watt-Hour Expectations
- Recharge Time
- Recommended Uses
- Options for Charging
- Screen Displays
- What Do You Get In the Box?
- The Price
- Sum Up
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While both generators do a great job at charging devices, the Explorer has a few more advantages over the Yeti. It’s lighter. That makes it a more portable choice for hikers and campers. However, if you plan on keeping your tent in one place, then the Yeti will serve you just fine.
The Explorer also comes with a relatively fast charging time. No matter what power source you’re using, you can count on the generator to be ready to charge and power your devices after five hours. The Yeti is ideal if you know that you only need to power your devices a few times.
Finally, the Explorer is able to generate a bit more power. This enables it to power things like a mini-fridge which could be a great luxury for campers. While the Yeti may be able to do the same, you’re going to need to charge it more often.
Overall, if you want the most for your money, you may want to choose the Jackery Explorer 160. Just be aware that you may have to buy another one all over again when the battery stops charging.
Amount of Power
When determining the amount of power that the solar generators can produce, you need to consider their battery capacity and the inverter rating. With regards to the Goal Zero Yeti 150 versus Jackery Explorer 160, they’re almost evenly matched.
The Yeti has a battery capacity of 168Wh. That means it can produce 168 Watts per hour, but you’re responsible for knowing how much wattage you’re going to need. Unless you’re hooking up the device that needs to be powered to the battery directly, you also need to consider a slight loss in efficiency due to the conversion between direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) power.
In this instance, there’s a formula you can use to determine how long your devices can be powered for on a single charge from the battery. You take 168 and divide it by the known wattage of the device you need to be powered. Then you take that number and multiply it by .85. The .85 stands for the 85% efficiency that you’ll receive from the battery. The remaining percentage is lost due to the conversion between DC and AC.
If you’re hooking the device up to the battery, then you can ignore having to multiply it by .85.
The end number that you receive is how many hours your device will be powered for before the charge runs out. Obviously, if you have a lot of devices that need charging, then the battery will be drained faster.
The inverter rating on the Yeti is 80W with a 160W surge. This determines just how powerful the outlet is. You can compare it to a standard outlet that can power standard 120-volt devices.
The surge rating doesn’t matter much when determining if the battery can produce the amount of power that you need. This just tells you how much power can be drawn from the battery safely. Anything above that can damage the battery.
Since the Yeti has a power rating of 80W, it can power anything that draws 80W or lower. You can perform a quick search on Google to determine how much wattage your device needs to be powered. You can also find it on its packaging or the power brick.
The Explorer provides just a bit more wattage that can be drawn. It has an inverter rating of 100W and 150W surge. It’s able to generate 20W more than the Yeti. Those who are looking for camping power stations that are worried about not having enough power should be satisfied with the Explorer’s capabilities.
However, the Yeti will likely suffice for those who only require a few devices to be powered.
Overall Build Quality
An important part of portable power stations is determining if it’s too heavy or bulky to be actually portable. If you plan on hiking while you’re camping, then you don’t want to have to carry a heavy battery with you across the trail and up hills. There’s a stark difference between the two different generators in this regard.
The Yeti comes in at about 12 pounds. Its dimensions are 7.8 x 6.8 x 5.8 inches. While that isn’t the heaviest thing in the world, when you consider carrying that on top of your other camping gear, it can be a serious weight.
The Explorer fares better. It has a weight of around 3.9 pounds. Its dimensions are close to that of the Yeti at 7.4 x 4.6 x 6.8 inches. It’s slightly smaller and definitely a lot lighter.
The reason for this difference in weight and size has to do with the type of battery that’s used in the generators. Standard lead-acid batteries are used in the Yeti. These are bulkier and significantly heavier than other types of batteries.
For example, the Explorer uses a lithium battery. These are an improvement on lead-acid batteries. They’re lighter and more efficient.
The unfortunate trade-off of using lithium batteries over lead-acid batteries is that you can’t replace them. Certain individuals may prefer the heavier Yeti because they can always carry additional batteries with them and change them out as needed. Unfortunately, it also means you’re going to be carrying even more weight with you.
With the Explorer, once that battery is dead and refuses to charge anymore, you’re going to be stuck with a dead generator. You’ll have to either buy an entirely new generator again or take it to a professional who may be able to replace the battery for you.
However, because lithium batteries can last for several years, this isn’t a problem you’re going to be running into for a long time.
While the generators may list that they’re able to produce a certain wattage over a certain number of hours, the truth is a little less than their claims. As mentioned before, the Goal Zero Yeti has 168Wh with a power of 80W. The Jackery Explorer has 167Wh with a power of 100W.
Neither will produce that amount exactly because the solar generators store their power based on DC. It needs to convert itself to AC power since most electronic devices in the United States run off of AC. You can expect a 15% loss of efficiency because of this.
An example might be if you have a device that requires 30W to be charged and used. The result would be 4.76 hours when the inefficiency is calculated into the formula.
Between the two, you’re going to get a little more power from the Explorer. It’s able to last a few more hours than the Yeti.
One of the most important aspects of a solar generator is how long it takes to recharge. Both generators allow you to charge the battery in a few different ways. This is beneficial in that it means you can hook the battery to your standard wall outlet and charge it before you head out for your camping trip. You can then recharge it in a different way based on the power sources available to you when you’re on the trail.
The Goal Zero Yeti 150 has a few different charging times that are determined by the power source. An AC wall charger will charge the battery for 6 hours before it’s fully charged. A car charger will take 8 hours to fully charge the generator. If you bring a 50W solar panel with you, it will take the generator anywhere from 5 to 10 hours to fully charge.
This is because charging with a solar panel is variable. If you’re unable to get a lot of sunlight where you’re camped, then it may take longer for the generator to charge. The duration is also determined by how dead the battery is. Obviously, if the battery is only half-dead, then it’s going to take less time to fully charge it than if it was fully dead.
The Jackery Explorer 160 is different than the Yeti. No matter what power source you use, it only takes 5 hours to fully charge it. This may be ideal for campers because it ensures that no matter how they’re charging their generator, they know that it will be ready to go after 5 hours.
Solar Panels for Portable Camping Power Supplies
If you intend to use a solar panel to charge your batteries, then you want to make sure that you’re using the right kind. Both of the generators come with an 8mm input. That means that as long as the solar panel has an 8mm output, it should be compatible with the generators.
One example may be the Goal Zero Boulder 50 rigid panel. While it may be more efficient in charging both generators, its rigidity does make it difficult to carry around. It’s delicate.
A more portable panel is the Jackery SolarSaga 60W. Not only does it produce more power, which means potentially faster charging, but it’s easier to pack and carry around.
You can also buy solar panels that come with an MC4 connector. This enables you to hook both generators up to the panel with a SolarEnz adapter. Of course, this means that you’ll have more to carry. That might not be ideal for long or difficult hikes while camping.
The Yeti is ideal for smaller electronics like phones and tablets. You can get around 15 recharges for these devices on a single charge. For many campers, that may be more than what they need. It can also charge a laptop once or twice, depending on the power of the laptop. Even DSLR cameras can expect around 8 charges on a single charge from the generator.
You’ll find that the Explorer can charge a bit more. While it can also recharge electronics like smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it can also recharge larger devices. Those who love to use their drones to capture incredible photography can recharge their robot with the Explorer. It can also handle powering mini-fridges, small fans, and radios.
This is due to its large 100w power supply. One of the most ideal aspects of both solar generators is that you can use them while they’re charging, too.
Options for Charging
There are several different ways to charge your generator as described earlier. Each generator has several ports as well. Both have a single AC outlet. However, you can extend how many devices are charged by that AC outlet by plugging it into a power strip first.
Both also have the same amount of USB A ports. The Explorer has a slight advantage in that it also contains a USB C port.
While the Explorer only has one DC port, the Yeti has a slight advantage here. It has two DC outputs. One is the standard size for a cigarette lighter port. Unfortunately, neither of them a regulated.
Instead of having a secondary DC output, the Explorer uses a regulated 12V output with a 6mm cigarette lighter port adapter. This allows you to charge 12V devices that you would normally plug into the 12V port in your car, anyway.
Although both generators can be used while they’re charging, the Explorer does not allow you to use the DC output port. The other ports operate just fine. You just won’t receive any power from the DC output when the generator is charging.
It’s always nice when screens tell you important stuff about your battery. Unfortunately, the Yeti only tells you basic information. It will show you the battery bars of the generator. This is useful in determining how much life the generator has left, but it doesn’t provide any more details.
The Explorer offers a bit more information. It shows you the watts of the inputs and outputs as well as the battery percentages with the battery bars. You’re able to glean a bit more information as to how the generator is performing and how much life it has left.
If efficiency is something that you’re interested in, then you may prefer the Explorer’s detailed screen. However, if you only care to know how much life the generator has left, then the Yeti will do just fine.
What Do You Get In the Box?
When you buy the Yeti, you’ll find that it comes with a wall charger. That’s it.
The Explorer has a few more goodies inside. You’ll receive a wall charger, the DC to cigarette lighter adapter, and a car charger. It gives you everything you need to charge the battery anywhere.
When comparing the base prices for the batteries, the Jackery Explorer 160 is just a bit cheaper than the Yeti. Retail costs put the price of the Explorer at around $125. You can also purchase the SolarSaga panel to bring the price up to $304.
The Goal Zero Yeti 150 is typically priced at $200.
However, you also need to consider that the Yeti’s batteries are replaceable. When you buy the Yeti, the only purchases you need to make in the future are more batteries. When you buy the Explorer, you may need to buy the entire generator again since you can’t remove the batteries on your own.
Both the Yeti and the Explorer are great choices for a solar portable generator. They can power your electronics for a decent time throughout your camping trip. Each is made with high-quality materials and is built to last.
With various ports and ways to charge the generators, you don’t have to worry about being stranded without a power source.
They both have a compact size and, regardless of weight, storing them is easy. Here are the main pros and cons of both Goal Zero Yeti 150 and Jackery Explorer 160.
Goal Zero Yeti 150
Here are a few quick pros and cons of the Yeti.
- Replaceable battery
- DC output can be used while charging
- May be more affordable overall
- Less powerful power inverter
- Less charge capacity
Jackery Explorer 160
Here are a few quick pros and cons of the Explorer.
- Higher power inverter
- Large charge capacity
- Comes with everything you need to charge it (minus solar panel)
- DC output doesn’t work when charging
- Batteries are not replaceable
- May need to replace the entire generator when batteries no longer hold a charge
Portable power station guides
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Mins Lukas Savela is a travel writer whose main focus is adventure travel. His passion for wildlife and nature has carried him to many countries in the world. He loves hiking the best trails on earth and sharing his experiences through writing. He hopes his experiences will help more people to start their own adventures and appreciate the world surrounding them a little bit more.
Mins Lukas Savela (also known as Lukas Saville) has written numerous articles that have been published on websites like Wandrly magazine, Go Nomad, Osprey.com, RAD Season, Wilderness Society, The Los Angeles Beat, California.com, Nature Conservancy, and many others.