Who needs the best portable power station, why, and how to choose one?
Before we tackle these questions, let’s do a little mind game. What do you usually do in case of an extended power outage? There are myriads of guides out there with instructions on what to do depending on different scenarios that may cause blackouts.
You can follow the steps from these guides, or you can just use your portable power station. Of course, it’s not that simple, nor is it the only thing you need to do. However, a backup power source provides immediate relief and peace of mind to consider potential further steps.
Today, I will talk about portable power sources that can be used indoors as well as outdoors. Portable gas generators are the best outdoor backup options.
If you’re interested in this kind of portable generator, you can read all you need to know in our article on best portable generators. Here, we’ll discuss non-fuel power stations and how to choose one.
What Is a Portable Power Station?
Portable power stations are basically giant rechargeable batteries. They have charging docks and lithium-ion batteries. Commonly, they can be charged in several ways and hold charge for a long time. They are considered more eco-friendly than gas generators, as they don’t need fuel. However, they can’t deliver as much power as gasoline-fueled generators. So, if you want a lot of power to supply most of your appliances, gas generators are a way better choice. But, portable power stations have a couple of aces up their sleeves.
Besides being an eco-friendly option, there are few more upsides to these devices. First of all, you can safely use them indoors. Gas generators produce toxic fumes so they need to be 20 feet away from your house. On the other hand, you can use a portable power station and its supplies anywhere – indoors, outdoors, or wherever you can take it. As long as it is charged, that is.
While gas generators are pretty noisy, portable power stations do their job in complete silence. This is probably not a game-changer but it’s a nice feature.
So, there’s a trade-off. Depending on your needs, you might need a gas generator – or you could be just fine with a portable power station.
Why (and When) You Need a Portable Power Station
Let’s make it simple – it’s good to have a backup power source. Our power grid will always be vulnerable, so an alternative source will make sure that you have at least one alternative power source when you need it.
We rely on power for almost everything. Just think about it, without power there’s no TV, no lights, no phone charging, and no internet to begin with. Whether you just want to charge your phone, save your food in the refrigerator, or keep your gadgets running on camping trips, portable power stations will come to the rescue.
Disaster and Emergency Scenarios
In SHTF scenarios, a portable generator will not be at the top of your list of priorities. But, if you want to be prepared, you should have one for your bug in or bug out location. Small details can make all the difference when it gets ugly.
However, if your phone battery dies out, you may find it impossible to reach your family members. As a consequence, you may panic or quite the opposite, display the normalcy bias. It means downplaying the danger and pretending as if everything is fine and will remain fine. It’s just one scenario where a portable generator can save you the trouble.
Portable power stations are also useful in ‘normal’ circumstances. People often use them on their camping trips. Most of us enjoy camping adventures, but we don’t really like to part with some of our electronic devices.
Even if you want to stay away from your phone or laptop for a couple of days, an action camera and GPS device can be useful. The only problem is – they run on batteries. Or, no problem, if you have a portable power station.
Whether the power outage lasts long or not, it is convenient to have a backup power source. Even if there’s no kind of emergency, you will feel better when you can have some essential appliances running.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Portable Power Station
Whatever you’re buying, at the end of the day, it pretty much comes down to your preferences and needs.
However, there are things to consider to make sure that the chosen model will meet your needs. And some essential qualities are necessary, regardless of your specific desires and requirements.
Battery Capacity and Type
Battery capacity is probably the most important feature of portable power stations. How long will it last, and how many devices you can charge? It makes all the difference. So, obviously, the higher the capacity the better.
However, more powerful power stations are pretty expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, think carefully what you’re planning to charge with a power station. Once you’ve figured it out, you’ll be able to buy a power station powerful enough while not spending a fortune.
As for the type of battery – it’s simple. Choose lithium-ion battery, end of the story. Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable, have a long life, and can hold a charge for a long time.
This is another crucial feature. Power output is measured in Watts and it denotes power capability. In other words, it shows which or how many appliances you can run off of your power station.
Each appliance or gadget needs a certain amount of electricity to run. For example, LED or LCD TVs typically need between 30 and 100W, depending on the size and technology. So, with a 300W power station, you can run a 100W TV and two more appliances of the same power.
You can use your portable power station almost indefinitely, as long as you can recharge it. That’s why it’s important to choose power stations that offer versatile recharging options.
All of them can be charged through regular wall outlets. In cases of power outages, once your station gets exhausted, you can’t use wall outlets to recharge it. Solar panels and car chargers are the most common backup recharging options.
Number and Types of Outlets
Different devices have different ports and outlets. So, a higher number of outlets will allow you to charge more different devices, as well as several devices at the same time.
Size and Weight
Portability depends on size and weight. So, naturally, you’d want a smaller, compact, and lightweight power station. On the other hand, more powerful power stations are a little bit larger and much heavier. So, it’s an inevitable trade-off. Once again, your needs will determine which way to go.
Our Top 7 Picks
1. Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500 – The Most Reliable
Jackery Explorer 500 is a lightweight, powerful, and reliable power station. While user ratings can’t tell the whole story, until now, I’ve never seen a product with virtually no negative reviews. It is also very popular with RV owners.
With a battery capacity of 518Wh, it can provide enough power for a large number of small appliances. Also, it has a Pure Sine Wave Inverter that ensures clean, steady and stable electricity. It means that your sensitive devices such as laptops and tablets are completely safe to charge.
- Fantastic user ratings.
- Three ways of recharging.
- Car charging cable included.
- It is a little bit slow to recharge (8 hours from an AC outlet, 14 hours in full sunshine, and 16 hours from a carport).
2. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station – The Most Versatile
Goal Zero is the leader in the power solutions industry. Their Yeti 400 power station lives up to their outstanding reputation. It is a very versatile power station with great capacity.
Modern design is just an additional nice touch, but this device stands out for its excellent performance. Charging 7 devices at once? No problem. CPAP machines? Sure. Small home appliances? Not for days, but yes. With 300 running watts and an excellent battery, it is a reliable and powerful mid-sized power station. More or less powerful variants of this model are also available – check them out here and here.
- Charges 7 devices at the same time.
- Charging via AC outlet, car charger, or solar panel.
- Can run while recharging.
- Fast recharging.
- Chainable for more power.
- Rugged and durable.
- Not the lightest model.
- Car charger and solar panels are sold separately.
3. ROCKPALS 300W Portable Power Station – A Budget-Friendly Option
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, Rockpals 300W is a great choice. It weighs 7.3 lbs, so it’s really lightweight and portable. This power station is a great combo of portability and power. While it is not as powerful as models from above, it is much lighter and more compact. Add affordability, and you get a great result.
At the end of the day, it depends on what you want to run with it. However, it is powerful enough to charge all your sensitive electronic devices, CPAP machines, and appliances that need less than 300W to run. Three-way charging allows you to charge it at your convenience.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Reliable and convenient.
- Three charging options.
- Versatile outlets.
- Not the fastest charging.
4. SUAOKI S270 Portable Power Station – The Most Lightweight Model
All power stations are portable. After all, that’s why they are called “portable”. But some are more portable than others, so if you want the most compact and portable power station, look no further.
SUAOKI S270 is as lightweight as it gets. Weighing under 3 pounds, it is so light that you won’t even notice it. Besides being compact and lightweight, it is a reliable and reasonably powerful power station. It is limited to devices under 100W, so if you want to power stronger appliances, you need something more powerful. But, if you need a backup for your phone, tablet, drone, GoPro camera, and similar devices SUAOKI S270 does a great job.
- Extremely lightweight and compact.
- Three ways to charge it.
- All types of charging cables included.
- Plenty of outlets.
- Limited capacity.
5. Webetop 167Wh 45000mAh Portable Generator Inverter Battery 150W
This model is actually very similar to the previous one. It is just a little bit more powerful, and a little bit heavier. Although, it’s ridiculous to use the word “heavy” for a 3.5lbs power station. It is also affordable.
So, basically, if you need just a little bit more power than SUAOKI S270 offers, but the same versatility and portability, Webetop 167Wh is the best choice.
- Extremely lightweight.
- Versatile outlets.
- Three recharging options.
- Large capacity considering size and weight.
- Little bit slow recharging.
6. BALDR Portable Power Station 330W – The Best Overall Solution
BALDR 330W is a jack of all trades among portable power stations. It is neither the most powerful, nor the most compact, nor the most affordable model. Yet, it might be the best one, overall. It shines in all categories so it can’t be overlooked.
You can recharge it pretty quickly and its battery will last long. So, it’s a perfect choice for camping or emergency situations. It can charge all personal electronic devices as well as plenty of small appliances. You can even charge your smartphone without cable with a wireless charging function.
- Large capacity.
- Fast recharging.
- Variety of ports and outlets.
- Three recharging methods.
- 2-year warranty.
- None that we observed
7. KYNG Portable Power Station 540wh Solar Generator
Even though it has “solar” in the title, you need to buy a solar panel separately. But, that is the case with all portable power stations. It has a large capacity and it can charge all you can think of up to 500W. You can safely charge up to 9 devices at the same time! It takes about 6-7 hours to charge it from an AC outlet, about the same time from a carport, and 10 to 14 hours from a solar panel.
- 9 ports and outlets.
- Fast recharging.
- Long running time.
- A little bit pricey.
Portable power stations are convenient little things. They are clean, harmless, and portable, so you can use them indoors and outdoors. Obviously, there’s a wide variety of models from affordable, ultra-lightweight and compact to powerful (and pretty expensive) models that will run just about anything.
Now you know all upsides and downsides of all types, so hopefully, you can make a perfect choice.