TABLE OF CONTENTS
- The Top Portable Power Station Brands
- Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
- Anker 533 Powerhouse II 300W Portable Power Station
- What Is a Portable Battery Power Station?
- Why Should You Invest in a Portable Power Station?
- Tips for Choosing the Right Portable Battery Pack
- Invest in a Trustworthy Portable Power Station
The Top Portable Power Station Brands
The largest manufacturers of power stations are Jackery, Goal Zero, and Anker. When providing options on size, power capacity, and type of battery, these companies are leaders in their field. They each offer different styles, power options, and price points, so you can decide what works best for your needs.
Jackery was started in 2012 by a group of engineers who wanted to make electricity not only clean and portable but accessible for outdoor adventures.
Jackery is known for its larger capacities that can produce high operating power. Its popular Mighty Explorer Series has a positive rating and provides massive power to run larger appliances like refrigerators, freezers, water pumps, air conditioners, and more. These mightier generators can also power sensitive electronics and mainstream appliances for extended periods of time.
After 10 years of experience in the field, Jackery has developed into a global energy leader related to climate change. Redefining the use of clean energy for outdoor living has had an incredible impact on their success, particularly with their introduction of lithium batteries in 2015 and their incorporation of solar panels and solar generators in 2018.
Jackery’s Mighty Explorer Series can produce significant power, but its portable battery power generators are much larger and substantially heavier. You can move them, but their portability is limited to strength on hand, and they take up more space to use and store.
Jackery Pick: Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station
In contrast, the Compact Explorer Series may produce less power, but its reliability, portability, and versatility push it into the number one spot in terms of buying a top portable power station that you will use in whatever situation you may encounter.
The Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station provides reliable, steady power for all electronic devices and even small appliances. It’s roughly the size of a basketball, but the design and solid handle make it easy to carry. The orange and black color gives it a stylish retro look. It is equipped with a versatile AC outlet (110V 500W 1000W Peak) and 3 USB ports.
Product Design and Specifications
|Dimensions||11.8″ x 7.6″ x 9.2″|
|AC Power Outlets||110VAC, 60Hz, 500W (1000W Surge)|
|USB Ports||5V, 2.4A|
|Battery Life Cycle||500 cycles to 80%+ capacity|
|Optimal Operating Temperature||14-104F|
- Solar potential
- Supports all devices up to 500W
- Rugged build quality for outdoor use
- Impressive pass-through chargeability
- Great for camping and blackouts
- No USB-C port
- Only one AC outlet
- Limited input for recharging
- May stop working after a year
Anker is a well-known brand that sells its charging products in 146 countries, with 200 million products being sold worldwide in 2020 alone.
Anker Pick: Anker PowerHouse II Portable Solar Power Station
The Anker PowerHouse II Portable Solar Power Station sports a design that includes an ambient light on the back of the battery unit. In addition, it also has an easily convertible solar power adapter should you choose to purchase the required accessories.
A customer favorite on the Anker power stations is the easy-to-read LED display where, at a glance, you can keep track of the Anker PowerHouse’s internal workings. Follow real-time information, including current input and output, the remaining charge capacity, and the estimated time left to fully recharge the battery.
The maximum power output of the AC port on this budget pick is 300W. If you use the AC port for a range of devices greater than 300W, the power station will automatically shut off for safety purposes.
Product Design and Specifications
|Dimensions||10″ × 5.8″ × 5.5″|
|Solar Panel Support|
|AC Power Outlets||110V~ 2.72A, 50Hz / 60Hz, 300W|
|USB Ports||5V 7.2A (2.4A Max Per Port)|
|USB-C Ports||5V 3A / 9V 3A /15V 3A / 20V 3A (60W Max)|
- Extremely lightweight
- Built in ambient light
- Covered sockets
- Solar power potential
- All cables included
- Less power than larger units
- Only supports devices rated less than 300W
3. Goal Zero
The Goal Zero Yeti 400 power station runs on a 396Wh lead acid battery and can power up to 7 devices at once. These portable power stations are an alternative to gas generators, have no noise, no fumes, and require no maintenance.
When it comes to other power stations, size and weight are a trade-off. While the Goal Zero power station is 27% smaller than the Jackery 500, it weighs 29 pounds, which is more than double the Jackery and nearly triple the weight of the Anker Powerhouse station.
Despite the added weight, the fact that it comes with a user-replaceable battery is an immeasurable benefit over the long term. Unfortunately, not all of the Yeti power stations support an easy battery replacement by the user. You can replace the batteries in the Yeti 400, but you can not replace the batteries in the similar Yeti Lithium power stations.
Goal Zero Pick: Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station
Goal Zero Yeti 400 batteries can store and release a lot of energy in a short period of time. The batteries are carefully placed in a protective enclosure with an advanced battery management and protection system controlling their ports. The Yeti 400 allows for chainable and replaceable sealed lead-acid batteries for those who need more long-lasting power.
The Yeti 400 lead-acid AGM battery has a life cycle of 4-6 years, or 500-800 cycles before it should be replaced. This is important compared to lithium battery power stations which move toward complete depletion after just 500 cycles. If you’re a camper or adventurer or use your Yeti 400 daily, it may go through 300 cycles in a year, resulting in battery life in the range of two years before you would see a noticeable drop in battery performance.
While stations powered by lithium batteries generally have a three-month shelf life, the Yeti 400 lead-acid battery has a six-month shelf life until it needs to be charged again before use.
Product Design and Specifications
|Dimensions||10.25″ x 8″ x 8″|
|AC Power Outlets||110V, 2.6A (300W continuous, 600W surge max)|
|USB Ports||5V, up to 2.1A (10W max)|
|Battery Life Cycle||hundreds of cycles|
|Optimal Operating Temperature||32-104F|
- 2 AC outlets instead of one
- Compact small size
- Chainable batteries for longer power
- Last much longer after 500 cycles
- Equipped with user-replaceable battery
- No USB-C port
- Extremely heavy
What Is a Portable Battery Power Station?
A portable battery power station is a generator that will power your electronic equipment and appliances practically anywhere. The power station is manageable, rechargeable, and battery-powered. Even the most basic models come equipped with an AC outlet, a DC carport, and USB charging ports. They weigh between 10 to 30 pounds and can hold an internal charge for three to six months.
A portable power station is essentially a rechargeable battery that is encased in a rugged lunchbox-sized case that is easily transportable. Similar to money you deposit in a bank account, a power station allows you to bank electrical energy using a typical 110-volt outlet. This power is then available for use at a later date to charge devices and power appliances.
When needed, a power station can simultaneously charge all of your essential electronic devices. These include devices like your smartphone, laptop, camera, mini-fridge, heavy-duty lights, fans, electric grills, lanterns, heaters, and more.
Portable battery power stations are also known as battery-powered generators, portable power banks, portable power battery packs, or a portable battery power bank.
Why Should You Invest in a Portable Power Station?
You should invest in a portable power station for the peace of mind it brings. Investing in a power station will immediately ease any uncertainty related to continuing and rolling power outages and destructive weather conditions that could interrupt service.
Overall, even a day without electricity is something we strive to avoid. We are so connected through our electronic devices that many power stations also have WiFi capabilities. Ultimately, staying connected with the office or with your family is just as important as having access to emergency power at home or wherever your adventure takes you.
You Experience Unexpected Power Outages
Most of us have experienced unexpected power outages, brown-outs, and black-outs. They can be sudden and frightening. All of a sudden you’re plunged into darkness, and a mad scramble for candles and flashlights begins. With a portable power station, you can comfortably keep the lights on, keep the fridge plugged in, and keep your mobile devices continuously running.
You Want a Backup Power Source
Even in areas where power is in no danger of failing, having a backup power source can be an effective and proactive decision. Consider the need to supply continuous power to safety devices and medical equipment like heart monitors, CPAP machines, GPS locators, or to keep fridges operating so as to keep medicines cold or chill IV medicine bags.
In addition to having a secure backup power source at home, a reliable power station can enrich all outdoor activities. For example, if you’re out glamping, camping, or exploring and notice that your battery is running low on any device, you can plug it into your portable power source and stay connected.
You Need Additional Power for All Your Electronic Devices
We are more attached to our electronic devices now than at any time in our previous history. In addition to the non-exclusive list below, there are many more items that can be powered by a portable power source, whether by necessity or simply to enrich outdoor experiences:
- Mobile devices
- Camp lights tho
- Heavy-duty lights
- Bright LED lights
- Digital cameras
- Small televisions
- CPAP machines
- Heart monitors
- Solar panels
- Electric grills
- Power tools
- Coffee makers
- Lunch box ovens
- Slow cooker
- Rice cooker
- Beard trimmers
- Blow dryers
You’d Like an Emergency Power Supply on an Outdoor Adventure
Whether for an emergency or for added convenience and comfort during an outdoor adventure, a portable power station can keep all your devices running smoothly. For example, an emergency power supply can be a lifesaver if you’re on a solo or family camping trip. The power supply can send power to small cooking equipment, coffee makers, phones, heavy-duty lights, radios, and fans. Some power stations even have WiFi capability to keep you connected.
Incredibly, an emergency power supply can be charged by AC before you leave the house, by solar energy when you’re out and about, or in a car port when you’re traveling.
You’re Off-the-Grid But Need Power to an Essential Appliance
When you’re off-the-grid, you’re not using or depending on a public supply of electricity, water, or gas. By owning a portable power station, you can be self-sufficient and live privately while still running essential appliances like a mini-fridge or desktop computer.
Most importantly, a portable power supply can run safety medical equipment like heart monitors, CPAP machines, or even shortwave radios.
Tips for Choosing the Right Portable Battery Pack
Choosing the right portable battery pack or power station will depend on the amount of power you may need and whatever price point you’re comfortable with.
The best power station provides fast rechargeable mobile power in a compact portable design that is lightweight and easy to manage. All things being equal, it may come down to aesthetics, as each battery pack sports a different design.
Ensure There’s a Wide Range of Port Options
Consider the electronic devices you own and what ports will be needed to recharge them. While USB-A ports are common in power stations, the newer USB-C ports are not always included. These power the newer iPads and MacBooks.
Remember that your power station will always have one or more AC outlets. This allows any device to be plugged into the power station. You can also use a protected power strip to plug in more devices if you have a sole AC outlet.
Solar compatibility is another port option you may wish to consider to add versatility and longevity.
Find Out the Charging Time
The speed with which your portable power station will fully charge your devices is also a critical factor in your decision making process. Look for strong output ports.
For example, the Anker Portable Power Station includes an incredibly powerful 60W power USB-C port. In 40 minutes, this port can charge a 2020 MacBook laptop up to 50%. The original MacBook recharging time is considerably slower because the output is 20W. This is true for smartphones, tablets, and other devices. These will recharge faster because their original chargers have less watt output, usually from 5W to 20W.
Consider a Power Station With a Rapid Charger
Most portable power stations require many hours of charging, usually overnight, to provide a full battery charge for your appliances and maximum runtime for simultaneously charging devices. Some portable power stations internally recharge faster than others, which is a significant benefit.
For example, the Anker Powerhouse will recharge in 6.5 hours with the included power adapter. However, if you attach a 60W power wall charger, which is not included, to the built-in USB-C port, the Anker will fully recharge in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
The Jackery 500 recharges quickly, at a time of just 7.5 hours from an AC wall outlet. The Jackery also provides two additional recharge backup choices, allowing for 16 hours from the car port, and taking approximately 9.5 hours to recharge from the Jackery Saga 100W solar panel, which is sold separately.
With its smaller battery, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 can fully recharge within 5 hours.
Check the Power Capacity and Watt Output
The total wattage of your electrical appliances should be less than the wattage of the power station. For example, if you see that the total energy consumption of your device is 400 to 450 watts, it’s safe to run the devices and small appliances on a 500-watt power station.
If you plan to simultaneously charge devices, simply add the total energy consumption of all the electronic devices you plan to recharge and ensure that the wattage is less than that of your power station. As expected, the lower the wattage required means that the devices can charge faster and run longer. For example, the following devices require on average:
- Cell Phone: 4 watts
- WiFi router: 6 watts
- Laptop: 60 watts
- Lights: 200 watts
- Refrigerator: 700 watts
- Mini-fridge: 60 watts
- Radio: 50 watts
- Heater: 1000 watts
- Modern TV <40”: 500 watts
Please note that if you are running your portable 500W power station with its maximum output, it will only last about one hour. If you are running it at a 250W load it will run for two hours, and so on. The trick is that your devices and appliances don’t take 500 watts to run; they use considerably less, which will increase the hours the devices will keep running.
Separately, a 500watt power station certainly has enough power to run a laptop, a mini-fridge, small freezer, television, heavy-duty power tools, game consoles, drones, or a movie projector. All of these electronic gadgets use fewer than 500 watts.
Select the power station that makes the most sense for the devices you’d like to charge or continuously power. Pay attention to the estimated watt-hours each portable power station provides and consider whether spending a bit more money will allow for more powerful or longer charges.
Determine How Long You Need Continuous Power
There is some tricky math here, but essentially, if a portable power station has 300 watt-hours, this means the station should be able to power an electronic device with a 1-watt output for about 300 hours. Most devices require more than 1-watt to run, so be sure to check the specifications on the item itself or the written specifications that came with the product.
Keep in mind that the more power your devices require to charge, the less time they will stay powered. For example, the following times are approximate:
- Cell phone: 50 hours
- Mini-fridge: 6 hours
- Lantern: 29 hours
- Laptop: 8 hours
- Movie projector: 3 hours
- Flying drone: 4 hours
Think About a Solar Generator vs. Lithium Generator
In 2015, the first lithium generator was invented. While they provide a relatively inexpensive means of providing portable lithium battery power, they do degrade over time. A lithium generator will not last forever. They are equipped to run about 500 full recharging cycles, so depending on your use, they’ll each last two to three years on the road.
On the other hand, a solar generator works by harnessing the sun’s power and converting it into a viable electrical charge. Although it provides indefinite clean energy, the initial investment is high, it requires unobstructed sunlight, and it is slow to recharge. Despite these disadvantages, a solar generator is a forward-thinking way to provide power in times of power outages and climate change. In addition, there are tax benefits to homeowners who install solar panel power systems on their homes.
Invest in a Trustworthy Portable Power Station
For a comparatively small sum of money, investing in a portable power station can not only enhance outdoor adventures, it can also help you cope and keep you safe. With the option of solar panel charging, it’s conceivable that you could have a free portable clean energy solution that can keep electronic devices, laptops, lights, and small appliances powered indefinitely.
You can’t go wrong purchasing any of the high-quality power stations described in this article.
In many ways, a portable power station is better than a gas generator because it provides continuous clean energy without the fumes, noise, and troublesome setup of a traditional gas generator. For some users, the safety and convenience of the battery-operated power station is a better choice, whether charging outdoor power equipment or as an immediately accessible home backup system.
A good power station should be able to power three items at once, depending on the voltage needed to power each item. Most newer power stations have connections that easily charge more than three items at the same time. Look for power stations that have simultaneous recharge capabilities to ensure you have as much power as possible at all times.
Generally, a good watt battery capacity is 300W to 500W. Ultimately, it all depends on what items you are trying to charge. For example, a cell phone will require less power than a laptop and less power than a portable lighting system would. You may have a small fridge, television, or even a movie projector that will pull more on the battery and therefore run for fewer hours.
Consider the wattage of the devices or appliances you want to power, and then consider whether you want to charge them all simultaneously. You can then use that as a guide for a good watt capacity that will meet your needs.
If your portable power station is not working properly, refer to the user’s manual or any troubleshooting guides that may be available online. There is always a Contact Us feature on a manufacturer’s website in order to seek expert guidance.
If you have a power station with a USB-C Power Delivery port or a 3.0 Quick Charge port, you can use these charging formats to make your power station charge considerably faster.
Power stations must be specially designed to be waterproof as they don’t repel water naturally. If moisture and water get into the battery, the protective circuitry could be bypassed and compromised, so it is critical that your battery does not get wet.