Portable power stations 2021
Whether you’re camping, hosting a backyard get-together or need to power devices during severe weather, a portable power station is a valuable device and possibly life-saving. Portable power stations are battery-powered devices, about the size of a microwave, that allow users to charge or power electronic devices.
You should keep fuel-fed power generators as far from gathering areas as possible to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. This isn’t an issue for portable power stations, as they produce no emissions and are charged via a typical 110-volt wall outlet, making them a safer and more environmentally-friendly alternative.
Before buying, consider where and how you intend to use your power station, what devices you need or would like to power and for how long. You may also prefer a device you can charge in multiple ways, such as the EcoFlow Delta 1300, which you can charge via a wall outlet, solar panels or car charger.
What to know before you buy a portable power station
The capacity of a portable power station is usually measured in watt-hours and refers to how much power it can store at one time. The higher the capacity, the more power the device can hold.
Watt-hours is the number of watts available for one hour. For example, if you have a portable power station with a capacity of 120 watt-hours, it can power one 60-watt light bulb for 2 hours or two 60-watt light bulbs for 1 hour.
Before purchasing a portable power station, make sure it outputs enough energy to charge or power all the devices you intend to connect. Output, also known as a power rating, is measured in watts and is the maximum amount of power the device can provide at one time. The higher the output, the more powerful a device or devices you can power or charge.
Though it might seem obvious, consider how often you plan to move your portable power station. The smaller and lighter the device, the easier it is to move and use. However, lightweight, portable power stations usually have less capacity and output.
If you plan on using the device as a backup battery to charge your cell phone or laptop during a long car trip, a smaller, lightweight model might be preferable. If you plan on using the device to power fans, lights or medical devices during a power outage, a larger, heavier power station with higher capacity may be more beneficial.
What to look for in a quality portable power station
A portable power station made of high-quality, durable materials will ensure that the device will continue to work and provide power regardless of the terrain or conditions. To help decrease weight and increase portability, this typically means a case and body made from sturdy plastic. Some models also have thin rubber padding on the bottom of the device to prevent scratches and dings.
Though all portable power stations have at least one port to power or charge a device, some models have more ports and various types. High-end models have over 10 ports to plug-in devices, including AC outlets, USB-A, USB-B, USB-C and car power sockets.
Many portable power stations have an LCD screen that displays the amount of energy left in the device. Some models also show the current output and, if the device itself is charging, current input.
Some portable power stations allow users to attach solar panels to recharge the device. Solar panels are ideal for extended use away from the typical 110-volt outlet in emergencies and are an environmentally friendly way to recharge the power station.
Yet another way to recharge a portable power station, some models allow for a car or truck to provide power to the device. Car adaptors are helpful for long car rides, extended camping trips and in the event of an emergency.
Some portable power stations have built-in flashlights and are ideal for those intending to use the power station during power outages or severe weather.
How much can you expect to spend on a portable power station?
The price of a portable power station can vary greatly depending on the capacity, output, number of ports and other features. Typically, you can expect to spend anywhere from $200-$1,000.
Portable Power Station FAQ
How long will a portable power station power my devices?
A. The amount of time a portable power station sustains devices is influenced by many factors, such as the model’s capacity, output, amount of energy needed to power a device and the number of devices being supplied power. Typically, you can expect your portable power station to last anywhere from 3-13 hours.
Can I charge my portable power station while I use it?
A. Yes, however, this may lead to a longer wait time before fully charged.
What’s the difference between a portable generator and a portable power station?
A. Portable power stations are entirely electric and do not generate any emissions. Portable generators typically use fuel to generate power and produce emissions like carbon monoxide.
Which portable power station should I get?
Best of the best
Our take: This is a high-capacity power station that doesn’t sacrifice portability as it weighs in at 30 pounds.
What we like: It’s sturdy and durable with 13 ports, including AC ports, USB-A, USB-B, USB-C and a car socket.
What we dislike: The six AC outlets sit closely grouped, making it difficult for larger plugs to use them without overlapping adjacent outlets.
Where to buy: Amazon
Best bang for your buck
Our take: It weighs less than 4 pounds but can still keep small electronic devices powered for up to 3 hours.
What we like: Its small size is perfect for camping or on-the-go use and offers various power ports.
What we dislike: The lower output means the power station can’t handle mid-size electronics.
Where to buy: Amazon
Our take: This option is lightweight but powerful enough to keep your mid-size electronic devices running for hours.
What we like: It’s sturdy and durable while weighing 13 pounds, so it’s light enough to carry with one hand.
What we dislike: Though it offers various power ports, the power station only provides one AC outlet.
Where to buy: Amazon
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Gerrad Frei writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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