Going camping and hiking is a great way to make a return to nature. You have fresh air, warm sunshine, and boundless wilderness to explore. What more could you want?
However, going off the grid doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make a complete break from civilization. Your phone and tablet are great ways to take your complete library of books on a trip. There are also tent heaters, lights, and other essentials that run off of electricity.
The best portable power station can provide the necessary power without taking up too much space or weighing too much. Some of them have enough ports to charge your devices all at once.
Here are five important things to keep in mind when looking for a portable power supply.
1. How Long It Lasts Fully Powered
One of the biggest factors in buying the best portable power station is its battery. Even if it has all the best features you can find, it won’t mean much if it doesn’t sufficiently charge all your devices. There’s no point in a portable power supply that doesn’t hold much power.
In some cases, you may find some models provide as much as three times as much power as the competition. You also shouldn’t necessarily expect a more expensive portable power station to perform better than a cheaper one.
Keep in mind that a portable power station is different than a portable generator. Portable generators run off of gasoline and aren’t safe to use indoors.
A power station has an internal battery that uses electricity. As such, they’re completely safe to use wherever you need them. However, you won’t be able to refuel them with gasoline like a generator.
The Duracell Powersource 660 is an example of a gasless portable power station that can charge off of solar energy. However, some online reviewers claim it doesn’t provide enough power on its own.
2. How Many Devices It Can Charge
A portable power supply isn’t that useful if it can only charge one thing at a time. If you have multiple appliances or devices that run on electricity, you don’t want to have to lug multiple power stations to compensate.
The best portable power station doesn’t only let you charge multiple devices. It should also provide multiple types of outlets so you don’t have to worry about adaptors and the like.
Purchase based on what you’ll need to be powered. A USB port won’t work for charging your laptop, which needs a wall outlet. You may also want to avoid power stations that run hot if you’re planning on using it for appliances that need constant power.
Some power stations are even powerful enough to jumpstart a vehicle.
3. Solar Panel Support
One of the most convenient features you’ll find in a power station is solar energy support. This is especially helpful if you’re planning on using it while you’re camping or hiking for extended periods of time. Your power station is less likely to run out of juice if it’s constantly refilling itself with solar energy.
Solar generators are a clean alternative to gasoline or electricity. You also save money on recharging them.
However, there are some drawbacks to solar-powered power sources.
For starters, solar power stations cost more than traditional ones. They also generally don’t charge as effectively. Often, the solar-powered function is on top of normal charging methods, but you may find it underwhelming compared to the alternative.
A solar-powered battery may also hold less energy, which can limit its usage.
4. The Unit’s Size
Even though portable power stations are as their name implies, they aren’t as portable as you may expect. Most power stations come about as big as a microwave oven and weigh more than 80 pounds. They’re not exactly something you’ll shove in your backpack for later.
Generally speaking, a larger power station will have a much better battery life than a smaller one. It’s also likely to have more ports, allowing you to charge more devices at once.
Regardless of what you purchase, expect to transport your power station in the back of your vehicle. You’ll probably need a friend to help you get it in there as well.
Keep an eye out for power stations with wheels, as well. That’ll make moving them around much easier.
Portable power stations can prove a hefty investment for most people. While some can be found as affordable as $100, others can go up for as much as $3,000 or more. However, that doesn’t mean the affordable one is the better option for your average consumer.
One power station on Amazon costs $90 and has two AC outlets. It has a 146Wh/39600 mAH battery pack.
Another power station on Amazon costs over $1,200 and can support up to 3000W. It has 3 AC outlets and has an LED display that shows its runtime.
Needless to say, the more pricey model performs much better than the $90 one. More expensive models offer more wattage and longer battery life. The smaller and cheaper power stations operate much like power banks for recharging your smart devices.
Take the time to compare models within a certain price range. The best portable power station may cost a couple of hundred dollars less than a competitor.
Finding the Best Portable Power Station
The best portable power station depends on your specific needs and budget. Do you need to keep multiple smartphones charged over a long camping weekend? Or will this portable power supply be used in case of an emergency?
There are a lot of options out there, and it’s easy to get taken in by lofty promises. Make sure to do your research and invest in a trustworthy brand with a solid warranty.
For more information on tech and more, check out our other articles.