The holidays are just around the corner! This year, you’ve decided to put up a festive display of lights, and you want to know how to power outdoor Christmas lights off the grid. After some research, you’ve decided to invest in a battery power station or generator and some light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. How will you find the portable power station that best suits your needs? Read on to learn more.
Planning Your Holiday Light Display
There are many kinds of Christmas lights and many opinions about what sized bulbs you should use, how many you need, and how to arrange them to create the best effect. Fortunately, there are some standard lighting categories and conventions you can use as a baseline for decision-making. In the end, your Christmas light display will only be limited by your budget, creativity, and power supply.
LED vs. Incandescent Lighting
It’s fairly common knowledge that LED lighting uses less energy than incandescent lighting. If you plan to use incandescent Christmas lights in your holiday display, the difference in power consumption is large enough to affect your energy costs and limit the kinds of power sources you can use. Battery power stations can provide thousands of watts of power, but the electrical grid provides much more. If you want to run hundreds or thousands of lights for hours at a time off-grid, LED lighting is the obvious choice.
How Big Is Your Display?
The number of lights you need depends on the size of your house, the amount of landscaping you have, and your ambitions. If your goals are modest and you only want to light the front of your house, you will only need a few strings of lights that don’t consume much energy. If you want a more complete display, it will help to calculate the number of lights and amount of power you need ahead of time.
Estimate the Number of Lights You Need
In general, to discover how many Christmas lights you need, you should first decide what you want to illuminate and how many linear feet of lighting it will take to do the job. You can use a laser tool to measure the linear features of your house. Make sure to account for the lengths of all the edges you want to light.
To discover the length of lighting you will need for your trees, bushes, and driveway, wrap or trace them with twine and then measure that length with a yardstick. Think about how you want the light to be distributed throughout your display so that you can choose the right type of bulb for each feature. Then, select the kind of bulbs you want, decide how far apart they should be spaced, and determine how long the lights will be. For instance, 100 mini lights spaced 6 inches apart fit on a 50-foot string.
Choose the Right Size and Number of Lights
You can decorate the front of a smaller house with 200 LED mini lights on two 50-foot strands, or two 32-foot strands if the bulbs are closer together. Each bulb consumes 0.07 watts of power. If you choose to use larger, brighter C9 bulbs, you will only need half as many bulbs spaced further apart on the same total length of wire. C9 bulbs consume 0.09 watts of power each, so a string of 100 lights will consume 9 watts.
If your house is large, or if you want to create a bolder or more festive display by decorating the sides of your house, bushes, and trees, you will need to hang more lights. The front and sides of an average-sized house may require more than double the number of lights, pushing power consumption up to 35 watts.
How Much Power Do You Need?
Here’s where things get a little tricky. When your lights are consuming 35 watts, or 350 watts of power at any given moment, you need to know how long you can continuously run those lights from the battery before you drain its power. If you only use a few LED lights, the power you source from your battery power station could last a week or more.
If you are lighting your house and landscaping, your display could easily consume 250–300 watts. To enjoy your lights from sundown until bedtime, you may want to run them for five to seven hours every night of the holiday season. You’ll need to make sure that your battery power station has the capacity to keep up, or you can adjust your lighting plan to accommodate your battery.
Which Battery Power Station Will Power My Lights?
Generally, the capacity of a battery power station is measured in watts, not kilowatts. To run a holiday LED light display, you will need a power station that provides at least 1,000 watt-hours, which means it can deliver 1,000 watts per hour. A high-capacity battery is better, but it could also be a more expensive investment.
As you consider your options, think about how a battery power station will serve your needs in the off-season. Will you use it as backup power in case of a storm or take it camping? If so, then spending a little more could be an obvious choice.
Create A Power Budget
You can determine the amount of power you will need by multiplying the wattage of your holiday light display by the number of hours you plan to run it. You can also divide the power rating of your battery power station by the number of hours you want to leave your lights on per day to make sure it has sufficient power to run your lights.
For instance, a 1,500-watt-hour battery power station running for five hours can power a 300-watt light display. C9 LED lights use 0.09 watts per bulb and mini-LED lights use 0.07 watts per bulb, so you can run 3,333 C9 LED bulbs or 4,285 LED mini bulbs on a 1,500-watt-hour battery power station.
Choose the Best Battery Power Station for Your Holiday Light Display
Most battery power stations use lithium-based cells coupled with an inverter to deliver the alternating current (AC) used by most household appliances and Christmas lights. They need to be weatherproof and easy to charge from the grid, solar panels, or your car. They should be safe, reliable, and have enough charge and discharge cycles to be useful for several years. If your lighting display is relatively large, you may go through a discharge cycle every evening and need to recharge the battery during the day.
The Jackery Explorer 1500 is a lithium-ion-based battery power station with a 1,534-watt-hour capacity. It can charge fully in four hours when plugged into the grid, but it only provides 500 charge cycles to 80% capacity. Typically priced at $1,500-$1,600, the cost per watt hour may seem high if you use your power station frequently. This fan-cooled power station can also be a bit noisy. Nevertheless, with three AC sockets, the Explorer 1500 should be sufficient to power a moderately sized holiday light display. Jackery is an extremely popular brand that has a good reputation for quality and customer support.
With six AC sockets, you’ll have plenty of room to plug your holiday lights into the Bluetti AC200P. This 2,000-watt-hour power station could be the perfect choice to run your lights for hours, and at 3,000 charge cycles, it will provide you with years of service. The lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) AC200P charges quickly in two and a half hours and boasts an inverter efficiency of 88%. The biggest downside to this power station is its bulk; it’s sized at around 60 pounds, not including its hefty AC charger. The list price is $1,699, but you can often find this device on sale. The cost per watt-hour is less than one dollar, making the AC200P a great value.
The Oukitel P2001 is another LiFePo4-based 2,000-watt-hour battery power station with six AC outlets that rivals the Bluetti AC200P listed above. It can be fully charged in two hours, features 3,500 charge cycles, and is relatively compact. Unfortunately, this unit is known for being much louder than its counterparts. The P2001 can be found for $1,399, although its list price is higher. The cost per watt-hour is under a dollar. If you don’t mind the noise, this power station is definitely worth a look.
The Zendure SuperBase Pro 2000 is a lithium-ion, nickel, manganese, and cobalt (Li-NMC) 2,100-watt-hour battery power station that is styled like a wheeled carry-on bag with a telescoping handle. It can charge to 80% in one hour and reach full capacity in two hours. At 46.5 pounds, the SuperBase Pro 2000 is somewhat large. It boasts a best-in-class 93% inverter efficiency and six AC sockets. With a $2,099 list price, this model is considerably more expensive than our other choices, but its feature set, construction, and capabilities make it worth a look.
If you really want to go all out with your holiday lighting and insist on using a battery power station to make everything glow, then the EcoFlow Delta Pro may be just what you need. With a capacity of 3,600 watt-hours, it has over twice the ability of the Jackery Explorer to power your lights. The Delta Pro has five AC sockets, so you’ll need to plan your lighting scheme carefully. This 3,500-charge-cycle lithium iron phosphate (LFP) powerhouse costs around one dollar per watt hour to run. It’s a large power station at over 62 pounds, but it’s also expandable and a great choice for year-round use.
- 【Expandable Capacity】Featuring a 3600Wh LFP battery capacity, DELTA Pro provides strong electrical storage for home battery backup power supply and outdoor camping. Applied with DELTA Pro Extra Batteries or Smart Generators, the electric generator can expand its capacity from 3.6kWh to 25kWh.
- 【Maximum Output Flexibility】A single DELTA Pro unit packs a 3600W AC output. With X-Boost technology, it can power domestic appliances up to 4500W. You can even pair two units together to achieve 7200W. Power 99.99% heavy-duty devices at home, outdoors, or at work. With 15 output methods: 2*USB-A, 2*USB-A Fast Charge, 2*USB-C (100W), 5*AC Outlets, 2*DC Outlets, 1 car power output and 1 Anderson port, the solar power station grants the ability to power multiple devices at the same time.
- 【X-Stream Fast Charging】Fully recharge the lifepo4 battery in 1.8 hrs with 240V outlets(3000W), 2.7 hrs with 1800W wall outlets or solar charged in 2.8 hours with 4*400W solar panels thanks to the industry-leading solar conversion efficiency of up to 23%. EcoFlow’s X-Stream charging technology isn't just fast, it's safe too with the battery management system.
- 【5 Ways to Charge】Pick from EV station charging, solar, wall outlets, using the smart outdoor generator or via a car outlet. Faster than any other 3000 watt solar generator. Keep going for miles when your electric vehicle runs out of battery. Either at home or on the go, DELTA Pro will have you back on the road in no time.
- 【Smart App Control】Use the EcoFlow app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Monitor the status of all your devices and power sources that are charging your portable power station. Check on charge level, temperature and charge/discharge times. Control from afar and customize all settings, such as battery life, input/output, and more. Break down your energy habits or customize your energy usage to fit your needs.
Other Off-Grid Options for Powering Your Light Display
If, after all your research and planning, you remain unsatisfied with the battery power stations on the market, you may look to a portable generator as an off-grid option for powering your holiday lights. Per watt-hour, portable generators cost less than battery power stations, but they also tend to be noisier and less user-friendly because they run on gasoline. On the other hand, portable generators do tend to be more powerful than battery power stations, so if the price of fuel is low, they could be a very cost-effective option for powering large numbers of lights for several hours at a time. Check out these two fantastic generators for Christmas lights.
Generac is known for having the most reliable and best-built generators in the marketplace. The GP3500iO provides 3,000 running watts of continuous power, which is plenty of power for your holiday light display. The caveat is that with only two 120-volt, 20-amp AC outlets, you will need to carefully plan your lighting circuits to ensure your loads are evenly matched. The GP2300iO has a 212cc engine that runs on a little over 2 gallons of gasoline for up to 11 hours. It is half as loud as most generators of its size and is priced right at $839.
- PowerRUSH Technology: Experience the advantage of PowerRUSH Technology, delivering over 50% more starting capacity. Accomplish more with less effort, making it perfect for various applications.Engine RPM : Variable. Fuel Shut Off : On Control Panel.
- Quieter and Lighter Design: Enjoy a quieter operation with up to 50% reduced noise levels, ideal for noise-sensitive environments. It is also up to 25% lighter, ensuring easy portability wherever you go
- True Power Technology: Ensure clean and stable power supply for sensitive electronics. True Power Technology provides reliable power, safeguarding your valuable devices from potential damage
- RV Ready: Connect directly to your RV and power most RV air conditioners up to 15,000 BTU. Stay comfortable and enjoy the conveniences of home while on your camping or road trip adventures
- Enhanced Convenience: Benefit from USB outlets for convenient charging of electronic devices. The generator is also parallel ready, allowing you to connect two units for double the power output. Experience enhanced versatility and performance
At 1,800 running watts, the Pulsar G2319N is a powerful and affordable inverter generator priced at $399 that can provide plenty of power for a small, yet cheerful holiday light display. This small generator has an 80cc engine with a 1.18-gallon fuel tank that runs for up to eight hours. It is quiet and relatively lightweight, weighing in at 47 pounds. The G2319 provides two 120V AC outlets, so carefully plan your lighting circuits to evenly distribute the load.
- 2,300 peak watts/ 1,800 running watts
- Capable of up to 4.8 hours of operation at Half Load on 1.18 gallons of fuel
- Compact suitcase design, weighing less than 47 lbs For easy handling
- Stable sine WAVE Technology provides pure, safe electrical power for powering and charging laptops, cell phones, and other sensitive electronic devices
- Ideal for Tailgating, Camping, and Small 120V Appliances
The Best Power Station for Your Holiday Display
The best portable power station for your holiday light display is the one that is a perfect fit for your needs and makes you happy. It’s great to know that you can spread holiday cheer without plugging into the grid. Using a portable power station to power your holiday lights is a fun and practical way to enjoy the season.