We all love do go on our solo camping adventures or go on that long camping trips with family but it’s always so frustrating when u end up with a dead Cell phone or iPad with no electrical outlet in sight to charge them from. Most people know what a power bank is but what are portable power stations?
Some people would argue that taking electronics with you is taking away from the experience, since most people go on camping trips to escape technology, but you should always keep a smartphone on hand for emergency purposes. Most people also want to document there experiences by using their smartphones built in HD cameras and sometimes small quadcopters like the dji spark.
In a previous article we made list of the 15 best foldable solar panel chargers that can be used to charge all of your electronics and gadgets on the go using solar. But what if you want to store that solar energy so that it can be utilized later on? That is what we are going to discuss in this article by asking ourselves what a portable power station really is.
What are portable power stations?
A portable power station is a square shaped object containing lithium-ion battery cells, charge controller, BMS and inverter creating a lightweight and compact rechargeable battery-powered generator equipped with USB charging ports, DC carports and sometimes AC outlets depending on the model and make.
How does a portable power station work?
Inside of the portable power stations Direct Current is inverted and increased to Alternating Current before it is sent out of the device, like your laptop and TV. The direct current input port collects and store the electricity/energy from an Alternating Current outlet or a solar panel and output through buit-in USB ports, DC carport or an AC outlet.
What are the advantages of using portable power stations?
Using portable power stations driven by lithium batteries have a few advantages.
- Due to their weight and compact size of most power stations makes them easy to transport.
- A very crucial advantage of battery-powered generators is that they create no carbon monoxide gas like your gas powered generators making them safer to operate indoors.
- They can easily be stored and used indoors and inside your vehicle.
- Battery-powered stations are quiet, making for easy conversation around the campfire or inside of our living room
- The new generation of power stations requires little to no maintenance while old-school generators require filter and spark plug changes.
What are the disadvantages of using portable power stations?
Using portable power stations driven by lithium batteries have a few disadvantages.
- Power stations with large battery sizes are going to take longer to charge, sometime 3 – 9 hours depending if u charge the stations using solar or using a AC adapter. If your power bank is charging slowly it could be due to using a wall charger with lower AMPs/power.
- Battery driven portable power stations do not come cheap and can cost between $1,500 and $3,500.
- If u don’t have direct sunlight for a long durations at a time, charging the portable power stations with Solar Panels can be lengthy. It would be advisable to charge the power stations using the AC wall adapter at home and then use the solar panels to top it up when u are in the field.
What ports/sockets can be found on most portable power station?
USB Charging Ports
Portable power stations usually comes with your average 5v/2.4 USB ports depending on what power station you are planning to buy. If u decide to go all out and have more money to spend u can find portable power stations that comes with USB – C and USB quick charging ports like on the Jackery 1000w, making it possible to charge your smart phone or small quad copter at maximum efficiency.
The DC socket are the same type of 12V/10A port that u would find in cars giving you the capability to use appliances that uses more power like:
- Electric Kettle
- Alexa Enabled USB Charger
- Mini Fridge
- Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Charger Adapter
- Water Pump
I also just want add that if u use a adapter and charge your smartphone using the 12V/10 socket it will be allot more efficient than using the standard 5V/2.0A USB port.
DC Input Socket
The best rated power stations comes with the ability to connect Photovoltaic (PV) Panels, using 8mm port or the classic anderson connection to charge the solar station using sunlight. U can also connect an 8mm adaptor that steps voltage down so that u can safely charge the power station using an electrical home outlet.
AC Output Socket
The AC Socket found on most portable power station are 110V/120V Pure Sine Wave giving you allot more juice to power televisions, larger fans, laptops and more.
What safety features does portable power stations have?
The Battery Management System is constantly checking on the health of the battery by checking for loose connections, checking for shorts, breakdowns in wire insulation, and weak or defective battery cells that need to be replaced. It monitors how many energy goes in and out of the the power station by monitoring cells voltages.
The primary functions of the BMS is that it protects the battery pack from overcharging thereby extending the life of the batteries. It is constantly monitoring how much current can safely go into the source and come out of the battery pack without damaging it.
Charge Controller (MPPT)
If the power station u choose have the ability to be charged using solar energy then it will come with a charge controller.
A charge controller is used so that the batteries inside the power station can be safely charged using solar panels by regulating the energy flowing from the PV panel and transferring it directly to the batteries as a DC-coupled system.
What are the best rated portable power station in 2020?
I already know the answer before i asked the question. If u are based in the USA or you live in a country where most appliances run on 110V, then the Jackery range of portable power stations and foldable solar panels are for you!
Jackery was founded by a former Apple battery engineer in Silicon Valley in 2012. With state-of-the-art R&D and manufacturing expertise, Jackery launched the world’s first Lithium Portable Power Station in 2015. As an industry leader in eco-friendly portable power, Jackery specializes in providing outdoor green power solutions for the explorers.
There is a reason i started this website and that is because i love everything about solar panels and solar power banks. The idea that i can take the energy that is radiating from the sun, convert it to electricity and store it just pushes all of the right buttons. It excites me to see how this technology is going to be implemented in the future.
With technology developing so fast batteries are going to only get smaller and more efficient which mean that power stations are also going to get smaller and lighter, making it even more convenient to carry around.