Off-the-grid ain’t what it used to mean. We now have the ability to go far from civilization and still hold some of the good comforts that come with a steady supply of electricity to power our devices and appliances, often with a pretty darn good view to boot.
Enter the portable power station, a glorified battery that can bring all the comforts of home to a campsite, or allow for remote work in very remote places. Portable power is booming. These days there is a whole host of companies, both new and well-established, claiming that their products are the best deal, have the most reliable power, or the best features.
This year we have been testing a wide array of portable power stations to electrify off-grid adventures without needing to lug around gasoline and a noisy generator. Since there are so many models from each brand, we did our best to standardize testing and test models in the 500 watt-hour range. The following guide is the result of our findings over hundreds of hours of charging and powering all kinds of devices far away from civilized society.
For more information, check out the How We Tested section, or view all the best portable power stations side-by-side in our Comparison Table. If you would like to learn more about how to choose the perfect portable power station for your needs, see below for our Guide to Choosing the Best Portable Power Station.
The Best Portable Power Stations of 2023
Best All-Around Portable Power Station: Ecoflow River 2 Pro
Best Value Portable Power Station: Bluetti EB55
Most Portable Power Station: GoalZero Yeti 500X
Best Heavy-Duty Power Station: Jackery Explorer 500
Best Lightweight/Compact Power Station: FJD Pony 500
Best All-Around Portable Power Station
Models Available (Wh): 256, 512, 768 (River series), 1800, 2400, 3600 (Delta series)
Model Tested: River 2 Pro (768 Wh)
Charge Time: 70 Min
Ports: 4 AC, 3 USB-A, 1 USB-C
Weight: 17 lbs
Pros: Super fast charging time (70 min), 4 AC and 4 USB ports
Cons: Extended handle makes for wasted space
Ecoflow has quickly established themselves as a leader in portable power stations with their impressive lineup of offerings. The River series is the more portable class of power stations under 1000 Wh, and the Delta series offers some great large-scale options. With excellent stack-ability, the Ecoflow line would be best for those needing to transport and store many units at once. The River 2 Pro had the fastest charging time of all the units tested, so it’s an ideal option when needing a good portable unit that can be swapped out, such as a remote photoshoot. It also has the most ports in its class, with 4 AC, 3 USB-A, and a 100W USB-C. For the best combination of available ports, charging time, and portability and ability to stack, we couldn’t find much wrong with the EcoFlow River 2 Pro. If you want to keep it consistent with watt hours for the sake of this review, check out the River 2 Max, which has 512 Wh, but not what we tested.
Also worth noting is their larger-scale Delta 2 Max model which we also tested. The 2000W literal powerhouse of a unit can recharge with up to 2400W when combining solar panels and AC. And if you find yourself truly off-grid, with a 1000W input you can recharge it using only the sun in just over 2 hours, making this device perfect for high-capacity off the grid activities like powering a home away from home, or as an incredible home backup for when the grid goes out.
Best Value Power Station
Models Available (Wh): 268, 537, 716, 2000, 5100.
Model Tested: EB55 (537Wh)
Charge Time: 50 min
Ports: Output: 4 AC (2 3-prong, 2 2-prong), 4 USB-A, 1 USB-C, 3 DC, Wireless phone charging.
Weight: 16.5 lbs
Pros: The most outputs in its class. Wireless charging. Multiple DC input options (wall/solar)
Cons: AC charging adapter is bulky and noisy
If you have too many devices to keep track of and they all need to be recharged at once, Bluetti’s EB55 might be the clear winner for you. With 13 total outputs, it’s a power station that would suit a big family on a camp trip or a busy event situation where constant recharging is needed. The first situation that comes to mind is a large event with a comms squad needing to recharge radio batteries. For those who have done this and know the pain of getting remote power to an event, the more recharging options, the better. On top of that (literally), you can charge phones wirelessly by placing it on the top surface, saving valuable output space for other devices.
All of that would be enough to be in our good books, but add in the fact that this unit had the lowest price in its class. Thus, we consider this to be the best value portable power station, giving you incredible options at an impressive price. However, if you are limited on space, the AC adapter for charging was quite a bit larger than the others. It also has a loud fan noise while plugged in, which might be enough for some people to look for a more premium model. To others, it’s an easy tradeoff to save some of their hard-earned money.
Best Heavy-Duty Power Station
Jackery Explorer 500 ($499)
Models Available (in Wh): 240, 293, 518, 1002, 1512, 1534, 2160, 3024
Models Tested: Explorer 500 (518 Wh) and Explorer 2000 Pro
Charge Time: 5.5 hrs (240 model), 7.5 Hrs (500 model) 2.4 hrs (3000 Model)
Output: 500W (1000W Peak)
Ports: Input: DC Output: 1 AC, 3 USB A, 2 DC
Weight: 13 lbs
Pros: Durable casing, large operating temperature range
Cons: Long charge time for smaller units, only 1 AC output, no USB-C on smaller models
The Jackery line looks most at home on a job site with a color scheme that closely resembles a certain big-box hardware store. While aesthetic shouldn’t really be a deciding factor, the orange motif does have a benefit in helping people see the inputs in low-light situations. Speaking of low light, the Explorer 500 was the only model in it’s class with a side-facing flashlight—meaning you can illuminate a path while carrying it. This feature could come in handy on more than one occasion for power outages.
The drawbacks to the Jackery line are the lack of outputs. The Explorer 500 is the only device in its class without a USB C, and these days that’s kind of a big deal since most newer devices don’t have a USB A option. Furthermore, there is only one AC output. But what it lacks in output options it makes up for in output power – the single AC output can handle 500W consistently and surge up to 1000W. So for this reason we recommend this power station if you are just trying to power one device such as a power tool or a set of speakers.
Having a fixed handle on top has both benefits and drawbacks. The main benefit is the easy grab-and-go portability, which could serve well in an emergency situation. But if space is an issue it makes stacking difficult, so this is the one to use when you need fast portability and have plenty of storage room.
The larger Explorer 2000 Pro was impressive in the power output, handling any household item from a vacuum cleaner to a Vitamix blender with no apparent power weakness. It also has a folding top handle to allow for better stacking and storage. It’s a great pick for more industrial uses.
Most Compact/Lightweight Portable Power Station
FJD Pony 500 ($299)
Models Available (in Wh): 504
Charge Time: 4-5 hours
Output: 140 W
Ports: Input: USB C and 58V XT 60 DC (Solar), 3 USB-C, 2 USB-A, 2 XT 60
Weight: 7.9 Lbs
Pros: Ultra compact, retro design, no noise
Cons: No AC port or display, long charge time
For those who don’t need an AC plug and just need some reliable, quiet, and compact USB power, we are huge fans of the Pony 500 from FJ Dynamics. By not having any bells and whistles, it’s able to come in a much smaller package than others.
The unit also allows input/output via 2 XT ports, which are most commonly used on other power stations for input from a solar panel. However it’s important to note that it can’t take more than 48V – a mistake we made by blowing out one of the ports when trying to charge via a solar panel. That’s more our fault as they did have the warning in the manual; but there’s a good chance that many won’t read the fine print and blow a port if not careful.
The Pony 500 uses NMC chemistry rather than LiPo, which has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is energy density – you get more watt-hours per pound with NMC. It also is rated to withstand a bigger temperature range, boasting the ability to withstand -20º up to 60º celsius. But the downside is that the batteries don’t last as long, and usually end up degrading after 2500 cycles. There are also numerous ethical issues with cobalt mining these days, although with the negative press the industry is starting to catch on. At the time of writing, FJD was unable to confirm whether or not the cobalt in the Pony 500 was ethically sourced or not.
Best of the Rest
Models Available (in Wh): 256, 512, 1024, 1229, 2048
Model Tested: PowerHouse 535 (512 Wh)
Charge Time: 2.5 hours to 80% (Using AC and USB C together)
Ports: Input: AC and USB C, Output: 4 AC (500W shared), 3 USB A, 1 USB C, 1 DC (120W)
Weight: 16.8 lbs
Pros: Switching to recycled and bio-based plastic
Cons: Handle makes stacking difficult, can only use half the AC outlets for 3 prong plugs at a time
Anker was founded by a former Google employee who wanted to make better batteries for laptops. Since then, the company has a vast quiver of power supply solutions and accessories. Their latest innovation is the Powerhouse line of power stations, and they continue to provide reliable power on-the-go. With a huge array of ports, this is a great option if you have a lot of small devices between several people. It’s rated to hold up for 3000 cycles, so it has great value that will last many years down the road.
Models Available (Wh): 187, 505, 983, 1516, 3032, 6071
Model Tested: Yeti 500x ( 505 Wh)
Charge Time: 6+ hours
Output: 300W, 1200W peak
Ports: 2x USB A, 1 USB C, 1USB C pd (input/output), 2x 120V AC
Weight: 12.9 lbs
Pros: Small and portable, solid reputation
Cons: Charge time from the wall was significantly longer than other models
GoalZero is the O.G. of this scene. They have been doing it for much longer than the others, and have a range of products helping show that they are leaders in the field. That track record alone is worthy of attention, knowing that they are in it for the long haul with a genuine desire to make the world better. The name “Goal Zero” comes from their mission to help eradicate poverty by bringing sustainable power solutions to rural villages in developing countries: a noble cause, indeed. They are also the only company in our review to be born and bred in the USA.
Over those years of innovation they have come up with their Yeti line of power stations that is one of the best options, design wise. The Yeti 500x was the lightest and most compact unit and allows for easy stacking if wanting to join forces with other units. Having inputs on both sides also provides multiple options for storage and not needing to remove the unit from its chosen home to store. The interface is sleek and easy to read; and it was the only power station that allows you to cycle through different units such as volts and amps for those who want to know.
Everything about this power station was great, although it’s worth noting that the charge time using the wall adapter was significantly higher than other units in its class. Solar charging is another story; but to keep things consistent for our study we measured input from the wall and it took well over 6 hours to get a full charge. Also worth noting, is that the device is rated to 500 charge cycles, whereas some other brands in this review boast up to 6x the amount. But if portability is your main factor, you can’t go wrong with the sleek design and established “Born in the USA” reputation of the GoalZero line.
Models Available: 622Wh, 1521Wh
Model Tested: Basecharge 600 (622Wh)
Charge Time: 7 hours to 80% (AC) 3.5 hr (AC + USB C)
Output: 600W, 1000W Surge
Ports: 4 AC, 2 USB-A, 2 USB-C, 3 DC out, DC in (solar)
Weight: 14 lbs
Pros: Clean design, wireless phone charging on the top deck
Cons: Side handles makes carrying it with other stuff awkward, slow charging
Biolite makes much more than power stations, from fire pits to camp stoves. But they see the future in combustion-free power and have come up with two power stations and the solar panels to charge them While not having as many models as the competition, they seem to have dialled in on two crowd-pleasing models to handle most people’s needs. The BaseCharge 600 was light and easy to carry, however the side handles made it awkward if you are loading up with other gear. It was also only one of two models tested that has wireless charging on the top deck – great for adding juice to the phone in a pinch without having to compromise a plug elsewhere.
It’s nice that they have the 30v DC solar panel input that is fairly standard these days. That means you can use either Biolite’s own panels to charge or any other panel with the two-prong +- input to charge the device, a feature that only the EcoFlow devices also had. There is also no app available at the time of writing.
Models Available: This is the only one in the Dometic line.
Model Tested: PLB40 (480Wh)
Charge Time: 6 hr to 100%, 4hr40 to 80%
Ports: DC in, DC out, USB out
Weight: 16 lbs
Pros: Small size, quiet
Cons: DC Power only, need additional inverter for AC power, not designed for direct sunlight
Dometic doesn’t really market this as a “Portable Power Station” as other companies do, and perhaps that’s selling them a bit short. The “PLB” in the model name stands for “Portable Lithium Battery”, which is true to its claim. The PLB40 is intended to serve as a power source for Dometic’s wide range of powered coolers, but really it can power anything and everything one would need on a roadtrip or weekend away. Thanks to its sleek profile , cube-shaped design and easy carrying handle, it’s one of the best options for those with tight spaces like a car or overloaded RV. In fact, it was close to half the size of comparable models. Is the higher price tag worth saving space in your tiny home or van? For many folks, absolutely.
That said if you’re using multiple devices and can afford the extra volume of a larger power station, this wouldn’t be our first pick. The lack of output options means it’s best used for one larger device (such as a cooler/fridge), with a bonus USB output to charge a phone or other small device. The good news is that it does that job very well, so if that’s all you need, this unit is more than capable without any extra bells and whistles adding space and weight.
|Company||Price (Model Tested)||Watt-Hours||Charge Time||Charge Cycles||Models Available (in Wh)|
|Ecoflow||$599 (River 2 Pro)||768 Wh||70 min||3000 to 80%||256, 512, 768, 1800, 2400, 3600|
|Bluetti||$399 (EB55)||537 Wh||3 hr||2500||268, 403, 537, 716, 2000, 5100.|
|Jackery||$499 (Explorer 500)||518 Wh||7.5 hr||500 (standard models)
1000 (pro models)
|240, 293, 518, 1002, 1512, 1534, 2160, 3024|
|FJD||$299 (Pony 500)||503 Wh||5 hr||2500||503|
|GoalZero||$549 (Yeti500x)||505 Wh||6+ hr||500 to 80%||187, 505, 983, 1516, 3032, 6071|
|Dometic||$680 (PLB40)||480 Wh||4:40 hr to 80%||2000||480|
|Anker||$499 (Powerhouse 535)||512 Wh||3.5 hr||3000||256, 512, 1024, 1229, 2048|
|Biolite||$560 (BaseCharge 600)||622 Wh||7 hr (AC), 3.5 hr (AC + USB-C)||1000 at 80 %||622, 1521|
How We Tested The Best Portable Power Stations
There are many different devices one can use to test these out, from cell phones to blenders and portable fans to AC units. We tried tested a range of everyday devices for the smaller models, from a phone and a laptop, to drone batteries, to lights, and a fan. For the larger models, We cranked up a Vitamix blender to see how it could hold up, as well as charged an e-bike battery to test its wherewithal on larger batteries. This part of the testing phase was fairly boring; as all the units were fairly true to their specs on power capacity and the displays being accurate. That’s good news to us consumers since evrything tested was fairly true to what is advertised.
Where we found differences was in the time to charge it up, the total battery cycles they guarantee, and its portability. Charge time is a fairly objective measurement; it’s easy enough to record how long it takes to fill up when plugged into the same outlet. Other factors, such as portability, are subjective in that we measured how easy the handle is designed for moving the power station amongst other gear, and how well it packs into a storage bin when on the go. Weight is also a factor, and the lighter units were favorable for obvious reasons. For charging cycles we will just have to take the manufacturer’s word for it, as charging and discharging for up to 3000 cycles (as Ecoflow claims) is next to impossible amongst all of life’s other demands.
How many ports is also a factor, or at least having different options. Some brands (such as Ecoflow) had plenty to choose from, while others (Dometic and Jackery) were limited. That’s not to say those didn’t have a purpose, so if you are just using the power station for one or two units it may not be as much of a deciding factor.
The other factor we included was whether or not the devices came with an app to control and monitor the power input and output, and how user-friendly it is. That info is noted in the descriptions for the respective companies.
Best Portable Power Stations Buyer’s Guide
Portable power stations have become a staple for outdoor enthusiasts, remote workers, and anyone needing reliable power on the go. They’re the perfect companion for camping trips, tailgating, power outages, or simply charging your devices when there’s no outlet nearby. Let’s dive into understanding how they work and what you should consider when shopping for the best portable power stations.
Decoding the Jargon: Watts, Watt-Hours, Voltage, and Amps
Before we delve into specifics, let’s clarify a few concepts. Think of electricity as water flowing through a pipe. The water’s volume (electricity amount) is analogous to Amps, the pressure (energy level) equates to Voltage, and the flow rate (power) equates to Watts. Finally, the total amount of water that has flowed over time (energy over time) is akin to Watt-Hours.
What’s a Watt-Hour?
Energy comes in many forms throughout our daily lives. We even create energy just by being alive. But to measure capacity and what these portable power stations are capable of offering, we use the unit Watt-hours (Wh) to have a standard that is easy to communicate. But what exactly is a watt-hour?
Relating it into human terms, Let’s picture hiking. Imagine our watt-hour is a mountain. Everyone will reach the summit at a different pace. Some people will sprint up and be there in a half hour, while others might take a more casual pace and take half a day. If you think of energy output at any given moment in watts, you have to expend a lot more energy to go fast, but it will require less time to do so. Same goes in these power stations – a 50 W device can run for 10 hours on a 500 Wh battery. But a 100 W device will only run for 5 hours on the same battery. You can mix and match any amount of wattage, and the capacity (Wh) divided by the total watts will tell you how long that battery can run on one charge. Yes, it’s not a totally apples to apples comparison, but hopefully it can paint a bit of a clearer picture if it otherwise seemed a bit confusing.
For us as consumers, the watt-hour is our best measure of a portable power device’s capacity, and translates (roughly) to certain dimensions, prices, and how big of an external device you’ll be able to power/charge. Portable power stations that have a 500 Wh capacity (or something similar) are about the size of 4-5 laptops, weigh about 12-15 lbs, and can usually charge devices as large as a portable fridge or CPAP device. Power stations with a 1000 Wh capacity can power devices as powerful as a full-sized fridge or microwave, are about the size of a small microwave, and weigh around 30 lbs.
What’s the Difference in Battery Chemistry?
Each of the power stations uses lithium as the primary ingredient for the rechargeable batteries. However, there are slightly different variations in the chemistry with different effects. It can seem confusing to those of us (like me) without a chemistry degree. But here’s how it breaks down:
Lithium-ion (Li-ion): These are a type of rechargeable battery that use lithium ions as their primary component. During discharge, lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode. The reverse occurs during charging. Li-ion batteries have high energy density, little memory effect, and only a slow loss of charge when not in use. However, they can have safety concerns if not properly managed, as they may overheat and potentially explode – which is why batteries over 100Wh aren’t allowed on airplanes.
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP): This is a specific type of lithium-ion battery that uses lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) as the cathode material. The advantages of LFP batteries include good thermal stability, safety features, long cycle life, and not containing any expensive or toxic metals. The energy density is somewhat lower compared to other lithium-ion chemistries, and the voltage is also lower, but they are widely used in applications where safety and lifecycle are more critical than energy density and initial cost.
Lithium Polymer (Li-Po): These are a type of rechargeable battery of lithium-ion technology using a polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid one. Li-Po batteries can be made thinner and lighter, and can be manufactured in different shapes and sizes. They also generally provide higher specific energy (more capacity for the same size), but can have shorter lifespans and less stable chemistry, potentially leading to safety issues if damaged or improperly charged or discharged.
Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC): NMC batteries are a type of lithium-ion battery characterized by the inclusion of three metals: nickel, manganese, and cobalt, in the cathode. These batteries blend the best attributes of nickel, manganese, and cobalt to offer a balanced approach. They typically have a higher energy density than other lithium-ion types, meaning they can store more energy for their size or weight. This makes them ideal for applications where size and weight are crucial factors, such as in electric vehicles and portable electronics. NMC batteries also offer good thermal stability and a long cycle life, although they can be more expensive due to the cost of cobalt. Additionally, the presence of cobalt raises concerns about sourcing and sustainability, as cobalt mining has been associated with ethical and environmental issues. Overall, NMC batteries are favored for their balance between energy density, power, and safety.
Of the power stations we tested, they were primarily made up of either LFP or Li-ion, with the exception of the Pony 500 (NMC):
What to Consider When Shopping for Portable Power Stations
The main factors to consider include the power station’s capacity (measured in watt-hours), its power output (measured in watts), the number and type of ports it has, its size and weight, and the type of battery it uses.
Power Station’s Capacity and Output
The capacity (measured in Wh) indicates how much energy a power station can store, while the output (measured in W) determines how much power it can deliver at a time. In essence, capacity dictates how long a power station can power your devices, while output determines what devices it can power.
The Ecoflow River 2 Pro has the best combo of available ports, fast charging time, and guarantees up to 3000 charge cycles to 80%. It’s our pick for the best all-around portable power station.
Number and Type of Ports
Look for a power station with the types of ports you need. This could include AC outlets, USB ports, DC ports, and more. Also, consider how many ports it has—can it charge all your devices simultaneously? Some models also include wireless phone charging, which can be nice if you’re the type of person who tends to misplace phone cables (we’re including ourselves, here).
Size and Weight
Consider your use case. If you’re going camping or want to maintain a portable lifestyle, a compact and lightweight power station is your best bet. But you might sacrifice capacity and durability as a result. If it’s for home backup power and it’s not moving much, then extras like a big handle or wheels won’t be as much of a deciding factor.
Type of Battery
Most power stations use lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries because they’re lightweight, compact, and efficient. However, some models use lead-acid batteries, which can be bulkier but also cheaper. We didn’t test any lead-acid batteries so we can’t comment on them, and chose to stick to the leaders who use lithium for the above mentioned reasons.
What is Surge Output Wattage?
In the simplest terms, surge output wattage or peak power is the maximum power output that a portable power station can handle, but only for a very short period—usually a few seconds or minutes. It’s akin to the power station’s adrenaline rush, giving an extra boost when needed.
Why is Surge Output Wattage Important?
Certain devices, particularly those with electric motors like a fridge, a drill, or a blender, require a surge of power when they start up—much more than they need for their regular operation. This initial power draw, often referred to as ‘inrush current’, can be several times higher than the device’s rated power requirement.
This is where the surge output wattage of your power station comes into play. If the power station’s surge output is too low, it might not be able to handle the initial startup power requirements of such devices. So, if you’re planning to power motorized appliances, you should definitely consider the power station’s surge output.
How Does Surge Output Wattage Impact Your Choice?
When comparing different portable power stations, keep in mind the type of devices you plan to power. For powering small electronics like phones, tablets, or laptops, the continuous wattage (the power it can deliver consistently) is usually more than sufficient. However, if you intend to use devices with electric motors, make sure to check that the station’s surge output wattage can handle the startup power draw of those devices.
Bigger isn’t always better. A higher surge output wattage often means a more expensive, larger, and heavier power station. So, choose a station that fits your needs—providing enough surge output for your devices without unnecessary excess.
Understanding surge output wattage is an essential part of finding the perfect portable power station. By taking this into account, you can ensure a seamless power supply for all your devices, from the smallest smartphone to the largest refrigerator, giving you the freedom and flexibility to explore, create, and live your life unplugged.
Power Consumption Rates: Estimating Runtime for Your Devices
It’s crucial to understand how much power your devices consume to ensure your power station can accommodate your needs. Here are a few common devices and appliances to help you understand what a 500Wh battery can provide in terms of time running if it needs to be plugged in, or charge cycles if it’s something with a battery to charge.
The iPhone 14 has an estimated battery capacity of about 12.7Wh
With a 500Wh power station, you could theoretically charge the iPhone 14 about 40 times (500Wh / 12.7Wh = 39.3 times).
GoPro Hero 11
The GoPro Hero 11 has a 4.4 Wh battery.
Using a 500Wh power station, you could theoretically charge the GoPro Hero 9 approximately 93 times (500Wh / 4.4Wh = 113.6 times).
Sony A7iii Camera
The Sony A7iii has a battery capacity of approximately 16.4Wh.
With a 500Wh power station, you could theoretically charge the Sony A7iii around 30 times (500Wh / 16.4Wh = 30 times).
Medium-Sized Bluetooth Speaker (Bose SoundLink Revolve)
The Bose SoundLink Revolve, a medium-sized Bluetooth speaker, has a battery capacity of approximately 7.4Wh.
With a 500Wh power station, you could theoretically charge the speaker about 67 times (500Wh / 7.4Wh = 67 times).
A typical Dewalt cordless drill uses a 20V battery with a 1.5Ah capacity, which equates to around 30Wh (Voltage x Ampere-hours = Watt-hours).
With a 500Wh power station, you could theoretically charge the Dewalt drill approximately 16 times (500Wh / 30Wh = 16 times).
MacBook Pro 15″
A MacBook Pro 15″ has an approximate battery capacity of 83.6Wh.
With a 500Wh power station, you could theoretically charge the MacBook Pro about 6 times (500Wh / 83.6Wh = 6 times).
The consensus seems to be around 50-75 watts on average for the starlink hardware, which impressively includes both the dish and router.
With a 500Wh battery, the Starlink Satellite could run for approximately 6.6-10 hours 500Wh / 50-75 watts).
This is also an approximation, and if you’re using the internet all the time with multiple devices, the power consumption rate could be far greater.
Keep in mind, these are all simply rough estimates. Actual power consumption will vary with different factors such as device settings, temperature, and usage patterns. Also, the power station’s efficiency can affect the actual runtime. A more efficient power station will provide more effective power, enabling longer device runtimes.
Determining the efficiency of a portable power station involves a bit of technical know-how, but don’t worry—it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Essentially, power station efficiency refers to how well a power station converts the energy stored in its battery into usable electrical power.
Efficiency and Energy Conversion
Power stations, like other electrical devices, can’t convert 100% of their stored energy into usable power—there are always losses due to factors like heat generation, internal resistance, and the energy required to run the station’s own electronic components. This means that a power station’s actual output capacity might be lower than its stated battery capacity.
For instance, let’s say you have a 500Wh power station. If it has an efficiency of 85%, the maximum energy it can deliver to your devices is actually 425Wh (500Wh x 85%).
How Do I Find Out the Efficiency of a Power Station?
Manufacturers often state the efficiency of their power stations in the product specifications or manual. If not directly specified, they might provide a ‘conversion efficiency’ or ‘inverter efficiency’ figure, which essentially serves the same purpose.
If the manufacturer doesn’t provide an efficiency figure, you can calculate a rough estimate by fully charging the power station, running a device from it until the station is depleted, and then comparing the energy the device used to the power station’s stated battery capacity.
However, keep in mind that this method can be inaccurate due to various factors, such as the device’s power draw, the power station’s discharge rate, and the environmental conditions.
Power Efficiency: The Bigger Picture
While efficiency is an important factor, it’s only one piece of the puzzle when choosing a portable power station. Other factors like power output, battery capacity, portability, and the type and number of ports are also crucial. In the end, a power station is only as good as how well it fits your specific needs.
While the world of power stations can seem a bit complex at first, understanding key concepts like efficiency can help you make informed decisions, ensuring that you get the most out of your portable power station. After all, the ultimate goal is to empower you to live life to the fullest, with reliable power always at your fingertips.
Other Notable Features Worth Considering
We’ve discussed a lot about portable power stations—capacity, output, efficiency, device power consumption, and more. However, a few other factors could be important to you depending on your specific needs and circumstances. Here are a few additional considerations to round out your checklist:
Check the power station’s recharging options. Can it only be charged from a wall outlet, or does it also support solar charging or car charging? Multiple charging options can provide more flexibility, especially if you’re going to use the station for camping or emergencies. Also, different power sources can take different amounts of time to charge. Sometimes a power station will allow multiple inputs simultaneously for an even faster charging time. Many more are cluing into the demand for fast charging time, and wall outlet charging is now the speediest option if you have access to an AC power source.
Environment and Temperature Range
Most power stations are designed for use in a fairly wide range of temperatures, but performance can decrease in very cold or very hot conditions. If you plan to use the station in extreme weather, check the manufacturer’s temperature recommendations.
Look for safety features such as overcharge protection, short circuit protection, and temperature control. These features can protect both your power station and the devices you’re powering.
Some power stations have built-in fans for cooling, which can produce noise. If you’re sensitive to noise or plan to use the station while sleeping (for example, while camping), check whether the station has a quiet or noiseless operation.
Display and Indicators
A clear and intuitive display can make it easier to check the power station’s status, such as the remaining power and input/output power. Some power stations also have indicator lights or alarms for certain conditions, like overloading or overheating.
In the end, choosing the best portable power station is all about considering your unique needs and circumstances. By taking into account these factors and those discussed earlier, you can find a power station that not only powers your devices but also enhances your experiences—whether you’re on a camping trip, working remotely, or simply want a reliable backup power source at home. So get out there and enjoy life off-the-grid, knowing you’ve got the power to stay connected, wherever life takes you.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.