TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Is a Portable Power Station?
- Why Should You Invest in Portable Battery Power for Your RV?
- Solar Power and Battery Power Is Clean Energy
- You Need Additional Power Output Ports and USB Ports
- You’re Annoyed With Using an Adapter Cable
- You Want a Power Supply Outside Your RV
- You Have an Extra Appliance or Two and Need More Power
- You Need to Power a Wide Array of Equipment
- You Can Get Continuous Hours of Use With a Simple Charge
- You’re Tired of the Loud Noises From a Gas Generator
- A Portable Power Device Is a Reliable Backup Power Source
- What to Do When Investing in a Portable Power Source for Your RV
- Determine Your Budget
- Consider Your Power Requirements
- Understand the Capacity of Various Portable Power Stations
- Think About the Length of a Typical Camping Trip
- Review Warranty Options
- Consider the Charging Time
- Know the Different Types of Portable Power Devices
- Choose the Right Portable Power Station for Your RV
- Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station
- Goal Zero Yeti 6000X Portable Power Station
- Ecoflow Delta 1300 Portable Power Station
- Best Portable Power Station For Your Next RV Trip
Whether you’re living on the road or you’re a weekend road tripper, you know the importance of having a reliable power source. Turning to campsite hookups or other public outlets can power up your RV, but you can’t always rely on having them everywhere. At remote or primitive campsites, you’ll need to find other means of powering your appliances.
That’s what makes a portable power station such a valuable investment. With a portable power station, you’ll have lots of power whenever you need it — no generator required.
This portable generator could be the next big investment for your RV that you didn’t know you needed. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting a portable power station for RVs, including how to buy the right one for your travel needs.
What Is a Portable Power Station?
Portable power stations, also known as rechargeable battery-powered generators, will allow you to use your equipment in the backcountry without risking a power shortage.
A portable power station combines everything you need — battery, solar charge controller, inverter, charger, charging ports — into one package. These versatile and compact batteries can power devices and appliances around the RV.
While some are smaller, designed to charge phones or power low-draw devices like fans, others can handle much more. Some of the largest portable power stations can power toasters, fridges, heaters, and much more. They can be charged using solar panels, standard home outlets, or 12 volts supplied by a vehicle while driving.
Many RVers will use generators as a source of power when they don’t have access to hookups. While both have pros and cons, some prefer power stations for their efficiency. Unlike generators, which run on fuel like gasoline or propane, portable power stations feature their own built-in battery. As a result, they tend to be less bulky and more compact. They also produce less noise than their fuel-burning counterparts do.
They may be quiet and convenient, but power stations are often limited in their battery capacity. While some portable power stations can run relatively high — up to 3,500 watts — some of the most efficient generators on the market can go up to 20,000 watts.
Why Should You Invest in Portable Battery Power for Your RV?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re exploring remote campsites or going fully off-the-grid. With the right portable power source, all your devices and electronics can stay charged, wherever you are.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the bulky, fuel-powered generator, a portable power station could make a great investment. Here are just a few of the reasons why so many RVers are turning to RV portable power stations to keep them charged on the go.
Solar Power and Battery Power Is Clean Energy
The main difference between a solar-powered generator and a gas-powered generator is simple: one burns fuel while the other doesn’t. If you’re looking for a cleaner and more energy-efficient alternative, a portable power station might be the best option.
While gas generators may have larger capacities on average, this can also come with a high price tag — not to mention the toll they take on the environment.
You Need Additional Power Output Ports and USB Ports
No matter how many ports your RV has, it probably needs more. If your RV is more than a few years old, it might be lacking in power outlets for the modern lifestyle. An older RV might have a power outlet in the kitchen, bathroom, and one or two in the living areas.
But today’s outlet requirements far exceed what most RVs can provide. With each member of the family needing to charge phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, kitchen gadgets, hairdryers, and more every day, you don’t want to be left fighting over the last available outlet or searching for a power back to get your devices back up and running.
With a portable power station, you can use the wide array of charging ports to accommodate several devices at the same time. That means nobody gets left out when it’s time to charge.
You’re Annoyed With Using an Adapter Cable
Not everything runs on the two-prong AC plugs anymore. Nowadays, you’ll need an adapter cable to convert AC power to USB ports.
More recent RV models may have other ports available to accommodate people, but your RV might not have this feature. With a portable power station, you get a wide range of options to fit most charging needs, from 12-volt to USB.
You Want a Power Supply Outside Your RV
Unless it’s pouring outside, most RV trips don’t involve only sitting around indoors. The whole point of most RV getaways is to see the outdoors, whether you’re lounging outside or going for a hike.
When you have a portable power station, your charging needs aren’t just limited to the inside of the RV. You can step off the vehicle whenever you want, and still keep all your devices charged. To enhance your outdoor experience, you can also use a power station to run outdoor lights, a portable cooler, stereo speakers, and more.
You Have an Extra Appliance or Two and Need More Power
While some people go RV camping with only the basics, sometimes you want to bring all the comforts of home. But handling the power requirements of all those appliances, from toaster ovens to refrigerators, can take a toll on your grid. If you’re using something with a huge draw, like an air conditioning system, you’ll need even more power.
Even if you already have a solar setup or a generator, having a power station lets you bring a few extra appliances without worrying about drawing too much power.
You Need to Power a Wide Array of Equipment
From microwaves to heated blankets, you might have a lot to power up your next trip. Each device has a different power draw and charging needs.
Some devices can put an undue strain on your current power supply. Take hair dryers, for example. Hair dryers are known for blowing fuses and tripping breakers in the RV. If you try to run the wrong device at the wrong time, you could end up losing power entirely.
This can be avoided by using a portable power station. By utilizing another power source to charge certain pieces of equipment, you can take the strain off your current power supply. That means you can bring all of the equipment you want — no need to leave the hair dryer at home.
You Can Get Continuous Hours of Use With a Simple Charge
Many people point toward the high energy capacity and many hours of use as benefits of traditional generators. While you might get less power with a portable charging station, it may actually be the more efficient choice.
With just one charge, you can put your power station through continuous hours of nonstop use. While it depends on how much you’re using it and what you’re using it for, most power stations can run for far longer than it takes to charge them. And with a 12-volt charging port, it’s easy to charge up the station while you drive to your destination. Alternatively, you can charge ahead of time using shore power.
You’re Tired of the Loud Noises From a Gas Generator
Nobody likes the loud, annoying sound of a fuel generator. And if you don’t like hearing that buzz, your neighbors definitely don’t.
In contrast, power stations run very quietly — if not completely silently. This allows you to enjoy all the sounds of nature, completely uninterrupted. If you’re parked anywhere near your neighbors, this also means you can enjoy using appliances early in the morning without worrying about disturbing them.
A Portable Power Device Is a Reliable Backup Power Source
From external hookups to solar power systems, you may already have a means of getting power on your travels. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still benefit from a power device.
A portable power station can also act as a backup source of power. If you ever find yourself without a hookup for a few days, you end up with a blown fuse, or you run out of power on your solar grid, the power station ensures that you’re never left fully powerless. It’s better to not need power and have the option for it than it is to need the power and have nothing.
What to Do When Investing in a Portable Power Source for Your RV
If you start looking for a portable power source — online or in-person — you’ll find plenty of them on the market. Now that RV and van travel are rising in popularity, more people are looking for compact, powerful options to keep their devices charged.
However, not all of them will have the features you’re looking for. Some are better suited for campers, while others are for full-fledged RVs.
Before you start your search, you’ll need to know what factors to look for. Here are a few important steps to take before investing in a portable power station for your RV.
Determine Your Budget
As always, budget is one of the first things you’ll need to consider. Know your budget and browse accordingly — you can always upgrade later down the line.
Some solar power generators come with a more modest price tag, including units that are $500 or even $250 or less. If you want greater power capacity, however, the price can quickly increase. You can expect moderate generators to land around $1,000, while high-powered stations can cost up to $5,000.
Consider Your Power Requirements
The power capacity of whatever unit you buy is an equally important factor. The more power it has, the more expensive it will be. And most importantly, the more it can do for your RV.
That being said, not everybody needs massive amounts of power. It all depends on what devices or appliances you need to power and for how long.
Most inverters are rated in watts, which is calculated with this formula: watts = (amps x volts).
Keep in mind that if your RV fridge takes 200 watts to run continuously, it might take even more just to get started. Make sure to calculate starting and continuous wattage into your calculations, or you might find that you don’t have enough power to even get your devices powered up.
Before you buy, take a moment to sit down and look at all your appliances and devices. How much power do they need to run? To start and power these devices for several hours, what’s your best estimate for how many watts you’ll need?
Understand the Capacity of Various Portable Power Stations
Once you’ve added up all the amp-hours you expect to consume, you’ll want to buy a power station with enough capacity to meet your needs.
If you only need something for light use, like charging phones, running a small fan, or charging a small device once a day, you could get away with 300 watts. To charge more devices or power something bigger, like a mini cooler, 500 watts might be a better choice. To manage a full-size refrigerator, electric grill, or other high-powered devices, you might need 1000 watts or more.
To help you understand the capacity of each device, some companies will give you a basic breakdown of how much their product can charge. For example, some 1000-watt power stations can charge the average smartphone about 100 times.
Think About the Length of a Typical Camping Trip
The next factor you’ll need to consider is how long you’re using the device. Even if you only need a lower-capacity generator like 300 or 500 watts, what if you’re going to be gone for a week or more?
This can also help you decide whether or not to get a solar-charged option. For longer trips, you might need a way to charge your power station on the go. While most units can also be charged through a wall outlet or your car’s outlet, you may not have access to those options while camping somewhere remote.
Review Warranty Options
While most portable power stations are designed to run long hours, they’re still complex pieces of equipment. That means they’re prone to damage, wear and tear, or technical malfunctions. It’s important to consider what each device offers in terms of a warranty.
Review what kind of warranty each company offers. How long does it last? What kind of damage does it cover?
Consider the Charging Time
Something that consumers often miss when considering a portable power station is the charging time. In addition to calculating how much power you need, you’ll also need to know how quickly your device can recharge.
This is especially important if you’re going on a longer trip or you need the station for the long term. You may have to rely on solar panels or other power sources to recharge the station as needed.
The charging time can depend on what method you use. Some models will let you charge with a regular outlet, which is the fastest, while others include a DC port for charging it as you drive your car. Others will let you hook up the battery to a solar array, which tends to take the longest but is the most sustainable when you’re camping outdoors.
Know the Different Types of Portable Power Devices
When you start to look at the different portable power devices on the market, you may notice there are different types of devices available. Some might be lithium batteries, while others are rechargeable deep cycle batteries. Others will run off solar power, while others need to be recharged with an outlet.
How do you know which is right for you? Here are a few different types of portable power devices to consider.
Solar-powered generators essentially include everything you need for a solar array, but condensed into a single package. These stations include a battery, charge controller, inverter, and panels.
As the panels draw the energy from the sun, it’s then transferred and stored in the high-capacity battery. There, the inverter converts that energy into AC energy, which can be used to power anything from smartphones to refrigerators.
The Best Solar Power Generator Buying Guide: the Top 5 Best Picks
The best part about these generators is in the name — solar power. Whether you’re close to home or in the remote wilderness, you don’t need to find a hookup to recharge this power station. With enough time and sunlight, you can recharge it whenever you need to.
Lithium Power Stations
The ability to recharge a power station with solar panels can be a huge benefit. But what about the battery itself?
Many power stations run off of a rechargeable deep cycle battery, or a lead acid battery. However, some power stations use a different kind of battery: lithium.
Here’s the Complete List Of The Top-Rated Lithium Power Stations Worthy Of Your Attention
Lithium power stations can outperform most original lead acid batteries in many ways. They typically run much lighter than traditional batteries do, while also offering much higher electrical efficiency — up to 98% charge efficiency, compared to about 75% with lead acid batteries.
This means that lithium power stations can charge much faster and perform for much longer. While good-quality lithium batteries can be much more expensive, they may be worth the price tag in terms of energy efficiency, performance, and lifespan.
Choose the Right Portable Power Station for Your RV
Once you know what to look for, now it’s time to actually pick out a power station.
While the type of battery, power capacity, and charging type can go a long way toward helping you narrow down the best choice, there are dozens of different brands out there that offer portable power stations. How do you know which ones you can trust? To help you start your search, we rounded up the top three best portable power stations for your RV.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is one of the most well-known portable generators, and it’s not hard to see why. At 22 lbs, this generator is surprisingly compact for the power it provides — over 1,000-watt-hours. It also has space for three three-prong outlets, two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and more.
It goes for about $999, and for an additional $500 you can add on a portable solar panel pack to charge on the go.
|Dimensions||13.1″ x 9.2″ x 11.1″|
|Battery Capacity||1002Wh (21.6V, 46.4Ah)|
|Solar Panel Support||Yes|
|AC Power Outlets||110VAC, 60Hz, 1000W (2000W Surge)|
|USB Ports||5V, 2.4A|
|USB-C Ports||5V, 9V, 12V up to 3A|
|Battery Life Cycle||500 cycles to 80%+ capacity|
|Optimal Operating Temperature||14-104F (-10-40℃)|
The Goal Zero Yeti was designed for heavy-duty use. With an impressive 2,000-watt output, it features seven different types of outlets to charge up anything in your RV. According to the brand, their generator can keep a full-size refrigerator running for over 100 hours, which is no easy feat.
While compact for the power it provides, keep in mind that this comes in at a hefty 106 pounds. It’s mounted on a wheeled trolley to make it easier to transport, but it may be harder to find space for it in your RV.
|Dimensions||15.3″ x 10.1″ x 17″|
|Battery Capacity||6071Wh (10.9V, 556Ah)|
|AC Power Outlets||120VAC 60Hz, 16.5A (2000W, 3500W surge)|
|USB Ports||5V, up to 2.4A (12W max)|
|USB-C Ports||5 – 12V, up to 3.0A (18W max)|
|Battery Life Cycle||500 Cycles to 80% capacity|
|Optimal Operating Temperature||32-104 F (0-40 C)|
Goal Zero Yeti 6000X Portable Power Station
The EcoFlow Delta 1300 has a high-capacity battery in a compact size. What really sets this power station apart, however, is the charging speed. It can go from 0% to 80% in less than an hour — a speed that’s practically unheard of in the industry. This means whether you’re hooking it up to solar panels or you’ve managed to get a few minutes on grid power, it won’t take long to get this power station back to 100%.
With that being said, some reviewers have pointed to the fact that the battery isn’t as powerful as some of its competitors. Some also noted that the arrangement of the ports — with inputs on one side, USBs on the other, and AC outputs on the other side — make it awkward to use more than one port at the same time.
|Dimensions||15.7″ x 8.3″ x 10.6″|
|Battery Capacity||1260Wh (50.4V)|
|AC Power Outlets||100-120Vac (50Hz/60Hz)|
|USB Ports||5V DC, 2.4A, 12W Max|
|USB-C Ports||5V DC, 9V DC, 15V DC, 20V DC, 3A, 60W Max|
|Battery Life Cycle||800 Cycles to 80%+ capacity|
|Optimal Operating Temperature||32 to 113°F (0 to 45°C) – Charge, -4 to 113°F (-20 to 45°C)- Discharge|
Best Portable Power Station For Your Next RV Trip
Making your RV journey come to life doesn’t have to be hard. If you want to enjoy even the most remote campsites without having to worry about powering up your favorite appliances, a portable power station can provide the energy independence you’ve been looking for.