A portable power station is a great alternative to the grid-connected electric system, saving plenty on energy bills. Portable power stations are perfect for charging any small to big appliances, depending upon the capacity of the unit. Although they are commonly used for backup power in case of an emergency, the best portable power station can still be a great source of energy for people who are living off the grid.
Determine the reason why you need a portable power station
Before purchasing a portable power station, it is important to consider what it will be utilised for. This will help determine the features that will be needed in the selected model.
Some models work great with smaller devices such as phones and tablets, while others are used for more important purposes, such as powering home appliances like a TV or a refrigerator for example.
When the climate is volatile in a certain area and power outages are common, it is essential to have a backup unit to power the appliances.
It is also important to understand how much energy will be required to power those electronic devices. A bigger power station with higher capacity will last longer while powering a refrigerator.
For example, a 1000Wh power station can power a 100W refrigerator for 10 consecutive hours. This will be the ideal power station for a place where power goes out frequently.
A portable power station can be a great source of energy during emergencies when the grid power is disrupted. They are versatile and can provide hours of power to electronic devices and appliances to keep them running for a long period of time.
They can also be very useful for carrying on a camping trip, especially if someone extends the plan. A small, low-capacity unit can help charge phones and other small lamps and flashlights during the trip.
Benefits of portable power stations
The most important advantage of power stations is that they are easily rechargeable from a power socket in a home, a car’s cigarette lighter socket and renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines.
The portability of these power stations is a great advantage over other types of generators. Other generators are difficult to transport because of their size, which limits where they can be used. Portable power stations can be carried on camping trips, road trips or events where power might be needed.
Portable power stations are comparatively safer than traditional generators, most notably because they do not release harmful fumes.
This makes them an ideal choice for those looking to power home, office or recreational vehicles without having to worry about noise pollution or harmful emissions.
Power stations practically require zero maintenance in comparison to fuel-powered generators, which require frequent filter and spark plugs changes.
Apart from checking the battery level and keeping it clean, there is no need for ongoing servicing with portable power stations, making them a great option for those who want the convenience of energy.
Portable power stations’ prices may have higher upfront charges; however, they are much more cost-efficient in the long run.
They do not require fuel, maintenance or upkeep. Moreover, their longer battery timing helps minimise energy wastage and reduce electricity bills significantly.
How to choose the best portable power station
The best portable power station would be the one that would fulfil all the requirements, such as appropriate unit size, power enough devices, number of devices it can charge simultaneously etc. Here is how to choose the desired portable power station that would suit all the needs.
Calculate Expected Usage
The best way to determine which portable power station would be ideal is by identifying what needs to be powered. Take stock of all the devices and appliances that are intended to be used. Write them down in a list, along with the required wattage for each device.
Once their total power consumption is added, divide the total capacity of the power station by the total power consumption. This will provide the number of hours that can be expected to continuously use the power unit.
Total Capacity ÷ Watts Required = Hours of Usage
Understanding a portable power station's capacity is essential in order to charge desired devices properly.
A portable power station's capacity is measured in watt-hours. The amount of capacity one may require can be calculated by multiplying the watts of the devices with the usage (in hours).
Watts Required × Hours of Usage = Total Capacity
For example, a small fridge of 25W that runs for 8 hours continuously will consume a total of 200Wh. This means the total capacity of the portable power station should be equal to or above 200Wh to run that appliance for 8 hours. Such power stations are great for small devices during camping trips. The GoalZero Yeti200X is an example of a lightweight portable power station.
Portable power stations are typically powered by lead-acid or lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries; however, some contain lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. The latter has a longer lifespan and can endure more wear and tear and higher temperatures.
Most portable power stations have a lifecycle of 500 or more full charges. The type of battery used will determine the capacity, size, lifespan and performance of the device. A power station with a LiFePO4 battery can have a lifecycle of 2000 charges, which is three times more than a lithium-ion battery.
Generally, power stations come with an adapter to plug into the wall, which is a helpful way of making sure the battery remains full in case of a power outage.
However, being able to recharge a battery with multiple sources like a portable wind turbine or a solar panel is key. These options can be ideal for serving as a backup if there are no other reliable sources. They can also be great for those who frequently go on camping trips.
Portable power stations usually come with several ports which allow them to charge various devices simultaneously. Common ports include USB-A, USB-C, an AC outlet and a 12V output. Some also come with an additional DC port for powering more specific items such as laptops.
It is important to note that not all portable power stations have the same ports. Some have more and others may have less, depending on their capacity. Bigger power stations that are 1000Wh and above will have more ports compared to smaller power stations.
The size of a power station is as important as its capacity. Going out on a casual hiking trip may only require travellers to charge lamps or mobile phones, so a small power station of 200Wh will be enough and would be easy to carry.
In such a case, a bigger power station will be very inconvenient. However, living off the grid or in a recreational van is an entirely different case. There is a greater need for powering various electronics, and there is also more space to accommodate a larger portable power station. Living off the grid will require a bigger portable power station that can charge bigger appliances, such as a TV, fridge and heater.
Right energy sources for the best portable power stations
A portable power station is a great alternative to gas or fuel-powered generators if the right size and capacity are considered while choosing it. Most importantly, it is perfect for people who are living an off-the-grid life, as it is noise-free and safe to use indoors.
The best portable power station is the one that fulfils all emergency needs. If the power station is only needed for emergencies, a small-sized power station can work just fine.
However, if someone is dependent on a power station, such as living in a campervan, and requires power all the time, then it is important to choose a bigger power station that can charge all the main electronic devices and appliances. It is important to consider possible sources that can charge the power station when the battery power is dropping.
A great power source to charge a portable power station can be a renewable energy source, such as a solar panel. It work great for off-the-grid life and create a powerful charging system. A portable solar panel would be an excellent choice of charging source to power a portable power station.
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