A portable power station is a device that stores power in a battery and provides you with electrical power output when you need it. A fully charged power station can have enough power to run small appliances, C-PAP machines, and charge numerous electrical devices for hours at a time.
Therefore, what do I need to know before buying a portable power station? Those are top features to look for when buying a portable power station.
Of course, portability is very important when it comes to portable power stations, it’s in the name. What we mean here is the degree of portability. Pay special attention to the size and weight of the units. Generally, portable power stations are all portable. For instance, the unit has a carrying handle, then it’ll make it easy to carry from room to room as needed, or toss into the car as you escape the dystopia your neighborhood becomes with the lights off. This also means they have a wider use-case than gas generators because they can be brought along on non-emergency trips. Moreover, When comparing portable power stations, make note of their dimensions and weight. Imagine how the unit will serve you in a real-world scenario. Can you easily lug around a 40-pound generator as you backpack through the wilderness? If not—or if your outdoor excursions don’t require high-powered appliances—then save the cash and buy a smaller unit.
The most important consideration when shopping for a portable power station is its capacity. Output capacity is measured in watt-hours (Wh), which indicates how much energy the battery can supply. Essentially, this tells you how many hours the battery will last if powering a device equivalent to 1 watt of energy. For instance, a portable power station has a 512Wh capacity, which can power a 10W LED light bulb for roughly 50 hours continuously; or a 45W mini fridge for about 10 hours. Or both of them together for just over 8 hours of uninterrupted use. The higher the capacity, the longer it can charge your devices.
Another important factor to consider is the unit’s total AC Output, measured in watts. This number determines the maximum energy load that the power station can handle, meaning that all of the devices connected to it cannot exceed this amount.
While the Crafuel Alto500 can handle laptops and phones with its 500W of AC power, it will reach its limits when you throw a 700W microwave into the mix. That’s where a higher output device like the Crafuel Alto1000 comes in, with its massive 2000W total output.
As a general, the more watt-hours you have, the longer you can power your devices. Likewise, a larger total output capacity allows you to power more devices at once.
The peak power is the maximum power that the power supply can sustain for a short time and is sometimes called the peak surge power. The peak power differs from the continuous power which refers to the amount of power that the supply can supply continuously. The peak power is always higher than the continuous power and only required for a limited amount of time.
Operating the power supply at full load for extended periods deteriorates its components and increases the risk of failure. It is always recommended to use a higher wattage power station, and then run it at half capacity as opposed to using a lower wattage supply that is run at full capacity.
The power station with a peak power rating has the ability to supply a current that exceeds its normal rating for a short period as specified. Instead of buying a power station with a very high power rating just to take care of a few seconds, peak demand, a power station of a lower rating but with the ability to supply the peak power, can be used.
For example, a 600 W continuous-rated power supply with a high peak power rating can support a peak demand of two to three times its rating and provide up to 1200 Watts peak power for a short period. This will obviously cost less than a 1200 Watts continuous-rated power supply.
Charging Speed And Options
The primary methods of charging a portable power station are plugging into a wall outlet, connecting a solar panel, and plugging into a vehicle's cigarette lighter or 12-volt accessory socket. Use the AC charging cable of a portable power station to charge the device, it takes 1.8 to 2.5 hours to full capacity.When the LCD shows that the battery power is 100% it means that the battery is will be fully charged and the input power will turn off after several minutes.
But being able to recharge during a blackout is essential. Look for multiple options—solar is a must-have, though most solar panels are an additional cost. But having adapters included that allow you to recharge from your car, for example, gives you one more option for cloudy days and having the ability to combine two or more recharging methods to speed things up is a great feature.
Charging through the cigarette lighter socket in a car might be very slow, yet it’s still working and could be a good option while you’re in an emergency.
Most portable stations will offer a plethora of outputs—USB ports, wireless charging, AC ports, DC ports, etc. Think about what you’re going to need to power and make sure the model you choose offers it. 8 to 12 output ports are sure to meet your needs for charging different devices simultaneously, including 110-volt outlets, USB-A and USB-C ports, 12-volt accessory ports, and 12-volt barrel connectors. A 15-watt wireless charging pad at the top greatly facilitates the charging of cellphone. From mini-refrigerators to LED lights, it is a great storage option for camping and emergency use.
What size solar generator should I get?
When determining the size of generator, you’ll want to look at output measured in watts, as well as storage capacity measured in watt hours (Wh). As a general rule of thumb, generators with under 1000 Wh can keep electronics charged, and are great for camping. To power many devices in your home for longer, you’ll want a large generator with around 1500 Wh capacity.
To determine exactly how many watts you need, figure out the devices you want to plug in at once, how many watts they draw, and add it up. An average household refrigerator requires 100 to 400 watts. Most devices manuals will say how many watt they require) or use this handy calculator offers info on the watts needed to power other commonly used items.
How many years will a solar generator last?
Solar generators should last at least 10 to 20 years. Many manufacturers offer warranties that cover repairs and replacements should anything malfunction within the first few years of use.
And most units would use cycles to indicate the battery’s lifespan. One cycle means using the product from fully charged to zero charge (or at least 80% in some cases). Therefore, if you use your portable power station several times a week, it might only last a year or two. But if you use it less frequently, it could last for much longer.
How long can you run a portable power station?
You can get close to the answer with some basic math. If you have a power station that is rated at 1,000 watt-hours, and you plug in a device, let's say a tv, rated at 100 watts, then you can divide that 1,000 by 100 and say that it will run for 10 hours.
However, this isn't usually the case. The industry 'standard' is to say that you should take 85% of the total capacity for that math. In that case, 850 watt-hours divided by 100 watts for the tv would be 8.5 hours.
The reality is that you should expect somewhere between 8.5 and 10 hours in this example.