A battery pack with outlets is what we call a portable power station or “indoor generator”. Some folks also call these devices indoor generators or solar power stations because you can hook up solar panels and “generate” electricity. No matter which naming scheme you use, I see these as the future. A green, noiseless, maintenance-free alternative to gas powered generators. Do they have drawbacks? Sure. Every product does. In the case of solar generators or portable power stations, you don’t have access to immediate power like you would with a gas generator. If its empty, you need to recharge the battery which often takes hours. A gas generator just needs a quick refueling which takes minutes. Plus, large portable gas generators like the DuroMax XP12000HX or Westinghouse WGen9500DF generate a lot more power than even top-end solar generators like the Yeti 6000x. If it’s raw power that you want, gas/ propane can’t be beaten.
Work in progress…
However, let’s take a look at the advantages afforded to you by one of these battery packs. They are 100% emissions free which means you can operate them indoors. Think about that for a second, you have a portable backup power source that runs indoors with zero fumes. Indoor operation has 2 main benefits-
- You don’t need to run lengthy extension cords. This removes the hassle of having to deal with a bunch of cables.
- You don’t have to step outside to turn it on/ off. So when it’s raining or snowing outside, you don’t have to brave the elements in order to operate the generator.
Plus, there’s a hidden 3rd benefit- reduced chances of theft. Believe me, when the grid goes down after a natural disaster or civil unrest the last thing you want to do is leave your expensive generator out in the backyard without any chains attached. Because some guy is going to sneak up when you’re relaxing on the couch, and steal your shiny new generator. It happens more often than you think. When pushed to the limit, humans are capable of some real nasty deeds. Going days without heating, refrigeration, plumbing, etc. will force people to do all sorts of things. This one time I read a story of a guy who’s generator got robbed while he was taking a nap. Turns out the thief replaced it with a rusty old lawnmower, so an engine noise would still be heard inside the house. The owner didn’t realize his generator was missing until the lack of air conditioning woke him up.
I just showed you three ways a battery station/ solar generator is better than gas-powered generators. And all 3 benefits stem from it being able to work indoors. But hang on, there’s more. Battery stations produce clean sine wave energy. What’s that and why is it important? Most of the appliances in your kitchen, garage, and living room run on AC power. Some transform that AC into DC (electronics) but that’s a separate topic. My point is that the quality of AC power matters. An alternating current changes its direction several times per second (typically 60Hz or 60 times per second). And the rate of change in magnitude of this current can be plotted out as a sine wave. The power provided by your utility company matches a pure sine wave signal. Basically, it means the power is smooth with no sudden shifts in flow of current.
Approximated vs pure sine wave power:
The power you get from a conventional open-frame generator with a regular old alternator is what we call an “approximated sine wave”. Its wave form looks a lot more block-like (square), so there are more spikes in the power. These spikes can damage sensitive electronics that rely on consistent and precise power delivery to function at peak efficiency. Think computers, smart TVs, laptops, phones, etc. You don’t want to run expensive electronics on crude AC power. It’s fine for the pump in your basement, but not for your laptop. Instead, you want clean or pure sine wave power like the kind you get from your home outlets. There are two options- inverter generators, and portable power stations. Both have inverters built into their design, so they generate pure sine wave energy. The most common metric used to measure the “purity” of power is THD or Total Harmonic Distortion. This tells you how much a certain waveform deviates from the standard, in percentage. Less deviation is better, so a lower THD percentage is what you’re looking for. In the case of conventional generators, it’s over 20%. But with inverter generators and portable power stations, you get THD figures under 3%.
An important point about running electronics with the wrong generator:
Certain generators advertise themselves as “electronics safe” but don’t have inverters. They may be of higher quality than their peers, but conventional generators are several tiers lower than inverters in terms of power quality. And just because a conventional generator CAN run electronics doesn’t mean you should use it to power your computer or TV. Approximated sine waves are a cheap stand-in for the real deal. Your electronics will run hotter, and they will be noisier with the power from a regular generator. They also consume more power if the sine wave isn’t pure, so you’ll waste gas. And if there are too many surges, you could end up frying microprocessors in your computer or stereo system.
In summary- if you’re looking to power your electronic devices, either get an inverter generator or a portable power station. I prefer the latter because I can use it indoors and it charges from solar.
Choosing A Portable Power Station / Battery Pack with Outlets
Now we get to the part where you have to make a decision. There are so many battery packs/ indoor generators to choose from, but which one is right for you? Well, first I must tell you what an indoor generator/ power station does. Rather, how it works. You see, an indoor generator or portable power station doesn’t actually “generate” anything. It’s more of a storage unit where electricity is kept for future use. There are 3 main components in any portable power station or battery pack-
1. The Battery: This is where the energy is stored. Whenever you recharge your indoor generator from the wall or with a solar panel, electricity is stored inside its internal battery pack. Capacity of this battery pack is measured in watt-hours, i.e. how many watts it can deliver over an hour. There are two kinds of batteries you’ll find in portable power stations- Lead Acid (AGM), and Lithium Ion. Lithium Ion is the better choice since it’s lighter and more energy dense, plus it has a higher depth of discharge. I will explain what all of this means, don’t worry.
2. The Inverter: Batteries discharge electricity in DC form, so if you’re using the power station to run a laptop or phone it’s fine. But most appliances in your home require AC 120V 60Hz. Think refrigerators, TVs, blenders, air conditioners, microwaves, etc. In order to take that low voltage DC power from the battery and turn it into 120V AC at 60Hz, an inverter is required. This inverter also determines the power rating of your indoor generator, i.e. how many watts of power it can deliver. There are two wattage ratings- continuous and peak. Peak power can only be deliver for a few seconds and comes in handy while starting any device with a compressor or motor. Since inductive loads draw a lot more volts and amps while starting up, your starting or peak power should be at least 30 to 50% above continuous power. Continuous power is the maximum amount of watts that the inverter can reliably output over an extended period (several hours or days). All indoor generators/ portable power stations have pure sine wave inverters which means the power you get from them is suitable for delicate electronics.
3. The Charge Controller: Essentially, a component that monitors and regulates the amount of power coming into your power station. It makes sure the batteries are being charged at optimal voltage and current levels. This increases charging efficiency and boosts battery health. The charge controller also prevents accidents by having built-in overcurrent and overvoltage protection for batteries. There are 2 types of charge controllers you’ll find in most power stations- PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) and MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking). MPPT charge controllers are the best, especially if you’re recharging with solar panels. They offer the highest efficiency, so more power goes to the battery which reduces charge times. However, they are also more expensive.
Apart from the 3 primary components, you also want to consider factors like portability and outlets. Does your power station have enough 120V AC ports? Do you need USB Type-C? I say USB Type-C is essential in any modern power station/ solar generator because you can charge your phone or laptop without the need for an adapter, which frees up the AC outlets for other appliances. How many charging options do you have? Some power stations have the ability to recharge from 12V automobile ports. Most can charge from both solar and 120V AC outlets. Always go with the power station that offers the best power-to-weight ratio because in the end these are meant to be devices that you can easily carry around with you. If you can’t even lift the thing into the back of your car without another person helping you, it may not be the best choice for a bug out or emergency situation.
Larger, premium power stations offer luxury features like remote control via smartphone. If your power station has Wi-Fi built in, you can control it from anywhere in the world as long as your phone has internet access. Some premium power stations have expandable battery capacity, allowing you to hook up external battery packs to get 2X or even 3X the storage capacity.
Before I move on to where you can use a portable power station, let me tell you about “peak capacity” and what it means in a portable power station.
Peak Capacity: Think of the battery in a power station as a bucket full of water. Capacity is measured by how much water you can pour out of it over a given time period until it runs empty. In electricity terms, that’s demonstrated by watt-hours. Let’s take the Goal Zero Yeti 6000X as an example. This is a behemoth of a power station, weighing in at 106lbs. Which means it must have a massive battery with lots of capacity. Indeed, it does have a huge battery- the Yeti 6000X is equipped with a 6071Wh battery. What does that number mean? It means the 6000X can power a load of 6071 watts for exactly one hour before its battery runs dry. In practice, that won’t be true since we’re looking at an efficiency of around 90% after losses in the inverter. So it’s more like 0.9 x 6071 = 5463 watts for one hour. But if you’re powering a DC load like a laptop, you will get 100% efficiency from the battery since there are no conversion losses.
A 3000Wh battery can power a 3000W load for one hour, or a 30 watt load for 100 hours. If you have a 1000Wh battery in your power station, you can charge your 100Wh laptop battery 10 times. These are all peak capacities, so they will only hold true if the power station is charged to 100 percent. And remember, like all batteries the battery in your power station will start losing capacity after a certain number of charge cycles. For instance, the Goal Zero Yeti 6000X battery drops to 80% capacity after 500 charge cycles. Some power stations like the Energizer PPS240W2 use LiFePO4 batteries which don’t lose capacity until after 2000 charge cycles (4 times the endurance of a regular Lithium ion battery).
Remember, just because you have a 4000Wh power station doesn’t mean you can power a 4000W load. Let’s go back to our bucket analogy for a second. The battery capacity merely gives you the size of the bucket, the amount of water you can pour out of it every second is decided by the size of the hole in your bucket. That “hole” is the inverter, a larger inverter means you can have higher peak and running watts. For instance, your 4000Wh power station might have a 2000W continuous/ 3000W peak inverter which means plugging in a 1200W toaster will take up 60% of the continuous output capacity. And with a peak/ starting power of 3000 watts, you can draw up to 3000 watts for a few seconds. This comes in handy if you have to start stuff like RV air conditioners, air compressors, table saws, etc.
Where Can I Use A Solar Generator/ Portable Power Station?
A portable power station isn’t just something you use inside your home for powering the fridge or CPAP machine, it’s perfectly suitable for camping, fishing, boondocking, tailgating, etc. The built-in inverter lets you run delicate electronics with your portable power station. And while it excels at indoor usage due to the lack of fumes and noise, a portable power station can work just as well outdoors. Especially on campgrounds where you have noise regulations. Nobody at a campground wants to listen to your 80 decibel gas generator while they’re cooking a meal or having a conversation with family. And if every RV owner revs up their generator, imagine the racket it would cause. A portable power station is perfect for campgrounds since it’s completely silent and you can always carry a few solar panels in your RV/ camper. You want to relax outdoors for a day or two? Modern portable power stations will recharge from solar panels while simultaneously delivering power to devices. Thanks to portable power stations, you can bring modern conveniences such as laptops, phones, radios, space heaters, fans, etc. with you on your outdoor trips.
Reviews | Best Battery Packs With Outlets
Westinghouse iGen Series of Portable Power Stations
In December of 2020 Westinghouse announced their entry into the portable power station market. The Westinghouse iGen line of portable power stations has 5 different models:
- iGen160s (155Wh) : The smallest portable power station that Westinghouse makes. This little guy will charge a 50Wh laptop battery 3 times and a 10Wh cellphone battery 15 times. It’s perfect for running LED lights, radios, GPS, etc. while you’re out camping. You can even use one of these to run a mini fridge. The iGen160s is small and light enough to carry around in your backpack.
- iGen200s (194Wh) : This one’s really special because it’s shorter and narrower than the iGen160s while also packing 25% more capacity. That’s why I believe you should consider the iGen200s over the iGen160s if you want a compact power station to charge your phone, laptop, etc. while traveling or camping. Yeah, it’s taller than the 160s but not by much. And the weight increase is just 0.28lbs (3.75lbs for the 160s vs 4.03lbs for the 200s). The iGen200s is more expensive than the iGen160s, but that’ reasonable considering the extra power you get for next to no increase in size.
- iGen300s (296Wh) : While the iGen160s and iGen200s are designed primarily for charging phones and laptops, the iGen300s packs sufficient power to run small appliances. It has a larger inverter than the previous 2 models which means it can output more continuous and rated power. If you want, you can run a 300W blender with the iGen300s because it has 300W continuous and 600W surge power. It can also power a small fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
- iGen600s (592Wh) : Going from the iGen300s to the iGen600s is a massive jump. Not only are you getting close to twice the battery capacity, but the inverter in the iGen600s puts out twice as much power. While the iGen300s can handle 300W continuous and 600W surge, the iGen600s doubles those figures at 600W continuous and 1200W surge. I wonder how Westinghouse managed to put an inverter like that in such a tiny package. For some perspective, the Yeti 500X does 300W continuous and 1200W surge. It also costs more than this Westinghouse while having slightly less capacity.
- iGen1000s (1008Wh): As of writing this article, the iGen1000s is the biggest portable power station that Westinghouse sells. As you can judge from the name, it has a peak capacity of 1000Wh (1008 to be precise). And it also packs a massive inverter, rated at 1500 watts continuous and 3000 watts surge. Those numbers boggle my mind. Not because they are the best in the industry, but because most portable power station inverters aren’t rated above the capacity of their own battery. For instance, a 1000Wh power station generally has a 800 to 1000W continuous power rating. If you run the iGen1000s at peak capacity, you will drain that battery in 40 minutes flat. But you can power larger appliances and even some tools, which you can’t do with the other Westinghouse iGen models (or most other 1000Wh power stations for that matter).
Today, I shall only review two iGen portable power stations- the iGen200s and iGen300s. These are the models most readily available online. And I assume that you don’t have the luxury of walking into a store and actually testing these devices during the ongoing pandemic. So if possible, you’ll want to buy online. Besides, the iGen200s and iGen300s are your best options for truly portable power stations. The rest only have portable in their name, you wouldn’t want to hold a 31lb iGen1000s in your hands for more than a couple of minutes. The 600Wh and 1000Wh Westinghouse power stations are designed to be used in your home for running TVs, lights, refrigerators, CPAP machines, etc. In contrast, the iGen200s and iGen300s can actually be carried around in a backpack. And don’t worry, I’ve reviewed larger power stations from other brands in my article if you want that extra power for running large appliances.
Review : Westinghouse iGen200s / Best Battery Pack with Outlets
- Perfect for camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, road trips, tailgating, music festivals, or outdoor parties
- Use as an emergency backup at home or anywhere without access to utility power
- 194 Watt-hours with 150 continuous watts and 300 peak watts
- Charges up to 9 devices at a time that can power up to 40 hours of lights, 3 hours of TV, 14 smartphone charges, 3 laptop charges, and 6 drone charges
- 4 lb. of sturdy, compact construction allows for easy transport and storage
- No fuel, no fumes, and no noise for indoor and campsite friendly use
- LED display provides all controls and power station information in one place
- Three USB ports including USB-C and Quick Charge 3.0 port, one 12V car cigarette outlet, DC outputs, and two 120V household outlets
- 3 ways to charge with included car charger, wall charger, and optional solar panel charger for sustainable use
- Lithium-ion batteries provide long-lasting maintenance-free power
- Built-in safety features protect the battery and connected devices
- Lock or unlock your power station by holding the AC and DC buttons for 5 seconds to prevent accidental power drain
Let’s start with the iGen200s, since it’s possible the most compact power station for this capacity. At 200Wh, there is more than enough juice to charge a premium laptop + phone combo two times. So if you’re off-grid and still want to be connected with the rest of the world, an iGen200s will keep your phone and laptop running for at least 2 days. And when the iGen200s drops low, you can recharge it from the 12V port in your car. Or with a solar panel. It takes around 4 to 5 hours with either option, or 4 hours if you’re using a 120V AC outlet at home.
The iGen200s doesn’t produce pure sine wave power, which is a real disappointment. It says so right in the manual, that the inverter in this power station generates a modified sine wave. Yeah, you can still charge your phone and camera batteries with this device but I wouldn’t recommend using it to run a laptop or phone for extended periods of time. Think of it as an emergency charging device for your essential electronics when the grid is down. Plus, it can be used indoors unlike a regular generator. I guess the lack of a pure sine wave inverter is why these low-end Westinghouse power stations cost less than the competition. And their charging times aren’t that good either. Four hours to charge from a 120V AC outlet just isn’t that impressive anymore. At least it has 2 AC outlets and a USB Type-C port.
The iGen300s is a slight upgrade over the iGen200s in terms of capacity, you go from 194Wh to 296Wh. However, the main improvement lies in the inverter. The iGen300s packs a 150W continuous and 300W surge rated inverter. For reference, the iGen200s can only manage 100 watts continuous and 150 watts during surge. Good luck running anything other than a laptop and a couple of lights with that. However, with 150 watts of continuous power the iGen300s can handle refrigerators- something the iGen200s can’t (unless we’re talking mini fridges). Plus, you can use the iGen300s to run a desktop PC. Once again, the iGen200s cannot do that. Oh, and here’s the best part- the iGen300s is equipped with a pure sine wave inverter. So it generates power comparable in quality to what you get from the utility company. Virtually no spikes or dips, your electronics will be able to operate at peak efficiency and they will run cooler. So if you want a portable power station that fits into a backpack, the iGen200s makes more sense since it’s smaller. But if you want something for your RV or home to power electronic devices when the grid fails, the iGen300s is a far better choice. Plus, the iGen300s has a 12V cigarette lighter outlet, something that’s missing from the iGen200s.
Shell Portable Power Station
Ok, I’ll admit that I was slightly intrigued upon reading about this “Shell” portable power station. After all, since when did the multinational oil and gas company start investing in battery banks for homeowners? I know Shell for their motor oil, not renewable energy generation. Turns out these power stations with the Shell branding are actually manufactured by Ten Pao Group, based out of Hong Kong. Sky Intelligent, which is a licensee of Shell, handles all the marketing, supply, distribution, etc. for these power stations in the North American region.
But the badge on this power station isn’t what I’m really concerned with. What I and you want to know is whether it’s any good for powering stuff. Thankfully, this power station is very well made and has quite a few intelligent systems onboard that allow it to punch well above its weight class. For starters, it has an excellent capacity to weight ratio. At just 13lbs for a 583Wh lithium ion battery, you’re getting a lot of juice in a relatively lightweight package. It is pretty compact too, at just 12 x 7 x 9 inches.
This Shell portable power station has a pure sine wave inverter that can deliver up to 1500 watts of surge power. Continuous power output is a respectable 500 watts. You can run a blender, box fan, desktop PC, 55” TV, coffee maker, and other equipment with this power station. It will even power a 5000 BTU window air conditioner. But it can’t handle your RV air conditioner or central heating system.
A BMS or battery management system protects the Shell 500W power station from overcurrent, overvoltage, overheating, etc. It also has a dual fan cooling system that keeps the battery at optimal temperature, increasing its lifespan and charging speed. The top handle folds to the side, which decreases the overall footprint of this power station. Rubber grips make carrying a comfortable experience. The shell is made from UL94-V0 flame retardant plastic which is both tough and lightweight. A UV resistant coating keeps the power station safe from sunlight if you use it outdoors. One thing I really like on this power station is the flip-up outlet covers that keep children or pets from coming into contact with exposed sockets. And for additional security, the AC power from the inverter won’t turn on unless you press the AC button for 3 seconds. This way, if a child or someone else accidentally presses the button, it won’t activate the 120V AC outlets. The designers sure didn’t cut any corners on safety or build quality with this power station.
The Shell 500W power station can recharge from solar panels, 120V AC, or a 12V automobile outlet. One neat feature is the ability to recharge using both the AC adapter and USB Type-C power delivery port. When you combine both inputs, you can take this 583Wh power station’s battery from zero to full in just 4.5 hours. That’s a lot faster than the Westinghouse iGen600s which has a similar battery capacity.
Finally, this power station has a built-in light that might come in handy. There’s a hazard light on the side that glows in a bright red triangle pattern to draw attention. There’s an SOS mode with a buzzer sound. It even has a flashlight mode where 3 white lights inside the triangle light up to provide illumination (for a dimly lit workplace or navigating outdoors in low light conditions).
Review : Jackery Explorer 240
Another ultra-portable power station just like the Westinghouse iGen200s, the Jackery Explorer 240 is perfect for camping and off-grid living. If you’re out in the boondocks and want to power your phone or laptop, this is a very compact backup power solution. It will easily fit into a backpack and you can carry it around a campsite in your hands. The whole unit weighs just 6.6lbs thanks to a light lithium ion battery pack and plastic shell. And because the handle stretches across the entire length of the shell, you can easily grip it without cramping your fingers. There is sufficient space between the grip and shell to hold this power station while wearing thick winter gloves. And the exterior is fairly weatherproof, as long as you don’t toss it into a lake or leave it outside in a hailstorm.
So the Jackery Explorer 240 is lightweight, robust, well-built, and compact. What else does one look for while purchasing a power station? Why, performance of course. You don’t just look at the outside and make your purchase. Things like capacity, wattage ratings, port types, etc. matter to the discerning buyer. Which is not a problem for the Explorer 240. It has everything you need…except for USB Type-C and a built-in flashlight. The flashlight isn’t much of an issue, but no Type-C? This power station is starting to show its age, I can’t imagine someone releasing a new power station today with no Type-C ports. An MPPT charge controller was added to later versions of the Explorer 240, the initial model had a PWM charge controller. Thanks to the new charge controller, the Explorer 240 can charge from zero to full in 7 hours with a single 60W solar panel. You could use a 100W solar panel and charge it a lot quicker. With an AC 120V supply, the Explorer’s 240Wh battery takes 5.5 hours to recharge. Again, this recharge speed is behind the times. New power stations from EcoFlow and Goal Zero recharge a lot faster even though they have larger batteries.
The Explorer 240 then, is a slightly dated platform that Jackery has attempted to keep relevant with an updated charge controller and aggressive pricing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of nice things to say about this power station. It’s well built, has a 200W continuous and 400W surge pure sine wave inverter, and a good battery management system that checks for things like overheating, overcurrent, overvoltage, etc. The size is pretty compact and it weighs less than a newborn baby while packing sufficient power to charge your MacBook Pro + iPhone twice. Are there better 200 to 300Wh power stations? Yeah. But for the money, few beat the Jackery Explorer 240. And since this is a Jackery, you’re guaranteed excellent build quality with solid after-sales service no matter where you live in America.
Review : EcoFlow River / Exceptional Value
If you ask me which power station manufacturer is consistently making the largest leaps in performance between each successive generation of products, I’ll say it’s EcoFlow. They are industry leaders in charging speed and inverter performance. And all three EcoFlow River power stations have Wi-Fi connectivity built in so you can control them remotely using a phone app from any place that has internet access.
River is a already a premium product; you don’t gain any features as you go up the ladder. Instead, you gain capacity and inverter performance. Things like wireless connectivity and MPPT charge controllers are standard on all River models. They even share a similar shell design and use the same LCD display for showing data like voltage, watts, remaining charge, load, etc. All River models can accept an external battery to double their peak capacity. There are 3 different River models-
- River (288Wh)
- River Pro (576Wh)
- River Max (720Wh)
All 3 of these have the same port layout. You get three 120V AC outlets, a fast-charge USB port, a USB Type-C power delivery port, two USB-A ports, two DC5521 ports, and a cigarette lighter port. River power stations share the same inverter- 600 watts peak and 1200 watts surge. There’s a special X-Boost mode which temporarily increases the output of the River beyond even its surge rating, all the way up to 1800 watts. This comes in handy when you’re starting a table saw, air conditioner, air compressor, etc.
There are two things about these River power stations that really stand out. First, the charging speed. The base 288Wh River can go from zero to full in just 1.6 hours if you use a standard 110/ 120V AC outlet. Same for the 576Wh River Pro. Ok, take a guess how long the 720Wh River Max takes to charge from a standard AC wall outlet. Once again, 1.6 hours. How does EcoFlow do it? I’ve seen 240Wh power stations that take thrice as long to charge as the River Max (cough, cough, Jackery Explorer 240). The 288Wh River charges faster from your car’s 12V port than the Jackery Explorer 240 from a 120V AC outlet. And with solar? These EcoFlow power stations blow their competition out of the water. Each River model can accept up to 200W from solar panels, which is pretty impressive.
Now, let’s talk about the 2nd most impressive thing about these River power stations. They are incredibly compact for the amount of power they pack. The largest one, the River Max, it measures just 11.4 x 7.1 x 9.3 inches. And it weighs just 16.8lbs, which is only 3lbs more than the Shell 583Wh power station. And despite this compact, lightweight design, none of the EcoFlow power stations feel cheap or flimsy. On the contrary, they are built with tough ABS plastic and finished with this nice matte black coating that feels premium. Even the carry handles are shaped in an X-pattern with 4 mounting points. The digital data display is sharp and bright.
Review : Energizer PPS320W01 / Best Compact Power Station
There’s one thing that Energizer power stations have which you won’t find in any other power station. And that’s the lithium iron phosphate battery (LiFePO4). What makes LiFePO4 so special you ask? Primarily their long lifespan. If you recall, most lithium ion batteries start losing capacity after a certain number of charge cycles. Charge cycle is simply the process of discharging and recharging a battery. For standard lithium ion batteries like what you find in Goal Zero, Jackery, EcoFlow, and Westinghouse power stations, the peak capacity drops to 80% after 500 cycles. So let’s say your battery has a peak capacity of 1000Wh when it’s brand new. Approximately 500 days later (assuming one complete discharge + recharge cycle each day), the capacity will drop to 800Wh.
With a lithium iron phosphate battery, you don’t get any reduction in capacity until 2000 charge cycles. So your Energizer power station won’t require a battery swap for at least 5.5 years. By that point, most people will have replaced their entire power station for a newer and more efficient model. Energizer power stations look even better when you consider how cheap they are compared to similar power stations from other brands. For instance- the PPS320W01 costs about the same as a Yeti 200X despite having 71% more capacity and 4 times the battery lifespan.
The only real downside to the PPS320W01 is its weight. At 9lbs, it weighs more than the Jackery Explorer 240 and Goal Zero Yeti 200X. But you also have to factor in the increased capacity compared to the aforementioned power stations. I feel the PPS320W01 sits in a scarcely populated zone within the power station market. You have plenty of 200 and 500Wh power stations, but not many 300Wh models. And this 320Wh power station only costs slightly more than most 200Wh models from other brands. In terms of value for money, it is unrivaled especially if you consider the LiFePO4 batteries. Oh, and it’s much safer than a traditional lithium ion power station. That’s because LiFePO4 batteries are less prone to catching fire when you compare them with li-ion. So even if you overcharge the PPS320W01 beyond its limits, it won’t blow up on you. Even if you puncture a LiFePO4 battery, it won’t catch fire. The downside to LiFePO4 is lower energy density compared to li-ion, so you need a larger battery for similar capacity. That explains the 9lb weight of the Energizer PPS320W01. But hey, with 4 times the lifespan, cheaper cost, and increased safety I feel like the pros outweigh the cons. This Energizer power station also has a built-in flashlight and USB Type-C power delivery ports that can handle up to 60 watts. I highly recommend the Energizer PPS320W01, it’s the ultimate all-rounder and extremely affordable on top of that.
Power Stations For Heavy-Duty Users
Sometimes, you need more than 500Wh of capacity. Or even more than 1000Wh of capacity. If you’re powering the air conditioning, oven, electric range, etc. in your camper or RV for a multiple-day trip out in the wilderness, you need a lot of battery. Which is why I created a separate category of power station for this task. There are two models I’m reviewing in this category-
- The Yeti 1500X
- The Jackery Explorer 1000
If even these two aren’t enough for you, there’s ultra high-end power stations like the Goal Zero Yeti 6000X and EcoFlow Delta Pro. The EcoFlow Delta Pro isn’t out for release on online shopping sites at the time of writing this article, you can only get it via a Kickstarter pledge. But it’s also the world’s most advanced portable power station. And the fastest charging power station ever. Oh, and it also has a port that lets it charge from EV stations (like Tesla Superchargers). The Delta Pro is also equipped with a 30amp RV outlet, something you won’t find in any other portable power station.
Review : Yeti 1500X / Portable Power Station with Outlets
This is Goal-Zero’s mid range Yeti and it packs the same inverter as the larger 3000x and 6000x. This is an all-new inverter design for the top 3 Yeti X models (1500X, 3000X, and 6000X). It can deliver a whopping 2000W continuous and 3500W surge. Pure sine wave of course, so you can run electronics. However, I don’t know of any laptops that require 2000W of power to run. This is the kind of power you use to run an oven or electric range. You could even power a central air conditioning system or 15000 BTU RV air conditioner with your Yeti 1500X. The built in 1516Wh battery won’t run your air conditioner for more than a couple hours but that can be fixed with the Yeti expansion module. There is an expansion port built into the top of all high-end Yetis like the 1500X. So you can add external batteries and increase the peak capacity. A MPPT charge controller ensures excellent recharge speed, whether you’re using solar or 120V AC. The fastest charging time possible with solar on the Yeti 1500X is 3 hours if you use 6 Boulder 200 panels (6 x200 = 1200W of charging). However, six of those panels will cost a literal fortune. A more realistic setup would be a Yeti 1500X + two Boulder 200W panels.
So, what can you power with the Yeti 1500X? Just about anything in your home or garage. Yes, this beast will even run tools like corded chainsaws and table saws. Want to run a 1/2hp air compressor? No problem, the Yeti 1500X can handle it. How about a 1200W oven? No issues there. In fact, you can run your refrigerator and air conditioner at the same time while watching TV and the Yeti 1500X will handle all of that load without breaking a sweat. Thanks to the 3500W surge rating on its inverter, even when the compressors for both the AC and fridge kick on at the same time, it won’t trip a breaker. And despite being so powerful, the Yeti 1500X isn’t all that heavy. At just under 46lbs, I’d say it’s one-man portable. And its small enough to fit in the back of your car for a picnic or tailgate party.
Review : Jackery Explorer 1000 / Battery Pack with outlets
The Explorer 240 is cute and all, but it’s not a serious backup power source if your area has been hit by a storm or hurricane. For those of you living in hurricane country, a 1000Wh power station is the minimum. That’s if you want to run your fridge and lights for more than a day. The Explorer 1000 isn’t just a 240 with bigger batteries and a larger shell, it’s an entirely new design.
How do you know the Explorer 1000 didn’t just copy the 240’s homework? Well, look at the port layout. You now have USB 3.0 quick charge and USB Type-C, so you can actually charge your phone or laptop without hogging up one of the AC outlets. Talking of AC outlets, you now get 3 of them. And these 3 outlets are fed by an all-new pure sine wave inverter that delivers 1000W of continuous power and 2000W of surge power. That’s a lot, for a 1000Wh power station. It lets you run blenders, coffee machines, toasters, pellet grills, and more. If you connect a fridge, it will keep running for 2 to 3 days. And you can even power medical equipment like CPAP machines, health monitors, etc.
Charging times have been improved significantly over old Explorer models. The Explorer 1000 can charge from zero to 80% in 5.5 hours from a 120V AC outlet. For perspective, the Explorer 240 takes 3.5 hours to charge from 0 to 80%. The Explorer 1000 has 4.1 times the capacity but only takes 1.5 times as long to charge. I call that progress. Well done Jackery. You’re still not on the level of EcoFlow when it comes to charging speed, but at this rate you’ll eventually get there.
Personally, I’d love to see Jackery or one of the other big power station manufacturers start using LiFePO4 batteries for that increased lifespan and safety. Jackery’s power stations don’t weight a whole lot to begin with, the Explorer 1000 weighs just 22lbs. And that’s pretty manageable for a backup power source that runs your fridge, air conditioner, TV, etc. The weight would probably be closer to 40lbs with LiFePO4 for the same capacity, but you get to use your device for much longer before you have to replace its expensive batteries. Remember, LiFePO4 is also cheaper than NMC lithium ion batteries. Maybe give the customer an option to choose between LiFePO4 and regular li-ion NMC variants of the same power station? That would be pretty cool. I understand it would increase production costs, but the customers would be a lot happier with more options. Either way, the Explorer 1000 is perfect for taking with you on your RV since it’s large enough to actually power stuff without running out of juice in 1 hour. And it’s also a viable home backup option since it can run the fridge/ lights/ CPAP machine for extended periods of time. I don’t recommend using a CPAP machine with any portable power station that has less than 1000Wh of capacity.