Whether you're an avid camper (and still enjoy some material pleasures) or you feel better knowing you have a back-up power source at home in case of an unexpected power outage, a portable power station can come in handy. While most generators are gas-powered and can only be used outdoors, most of these power stations are powered by large batteries that are safe to use indoors. In addition, they are more portable, so you can actually take them with you on off-grid hikes.
While most power stations are powered by batteries (some are even capable of being charged using solar power), gas power is often referred to as a generator. However, there are some gas-powered models that are just as portable as their battery brothers.
While gas generators are often cheaper and can provide more energy over a longer period of time, they tend to be noisy and should only be used outside at a safe distance from your home to prevent carbon monoxide emissions from entering the house. Gas generators are a great solution for temporarily restoring power during a power outage, but they - plus the fuel you need to run them - can be cumbersome on camping trips.
Portable Power Station
Battery-powered power stations are more environmentally friendly - especially when powered by solar panels - they are quiet and can be used safely indoors. They often come in a variety of sizes, so you can get smaller, more portable packs for short camping trips or a day at the lake.
There are many factors to consider when buying a portable power station. The first and most important is the amount of power it can store, which is usually measured in watt-hours. The higher the number of watt-hours, the more energy you can use. For example, a power station with a capacity of 150 watt-hours can charge a smartphone about 10 to 12 times. Meanwhile, a 1500 Watt-hour battery pack will provide more than 120 charges.
This means that more batteries are needed in order to obtain a higher number of watt-hours. This translates into a larger and heavier power station, which reduces its portability. It also means that it takes longer to charge the battery pack, whether from a wall socket or a solar panel.
Portable Power Station
The next thing you will want to look for in a power station is the number and type of charging ports that the station offers. Not only do you need enough ports to accommodate all your devices, but you also need a variety of ports. This includes USB-A, USB-C and at least one AC wall outlet. Another common port is a 12-volt power port, such as the so-called cigarette lighter socket in cars.
Many models have a built-in LCD screen that shows the current charge level and how the power is distributed to the various devices plugged into the charging port. Some also offer a dedicated port for connecting the power station to a solar panel, providing an alternative method of charging in the field. Others are equipped with a built-in light, which is a particularly good feature in case of emergency.
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