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The best portable power stations

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The best portable power stations

We have some tips and advice on what to think about before purchasing a portable power station.

Price: Portable power stations can be very expensive, but discounts, sales and sales are common. If you can afford to wait, there’s a good chance you can get your chosen power plant for less money.

Ability: Calculate how much energy you need. Capacity is indicated in watt-hours (Wh) or sometimes kilowatt-hours (kWh). By thinking about the devices you want to run and how much time you need to run them, you can start to calculate the capacity you need. Manufacturers often show data such as 12 hours of television or 30 minutes of using an electric chainsaw, but they take into account that not all televisions consume the same amount of energy. You need to calculate how much the devices you own are actually using.

Portability: The term “laptop” is sometimes an exaggeration. Batteries are heavy. Larger capacity power stations often have wheels and telescoping handles, and are still difficult to transport. If you’re looking for something you can carry on foot for a distance, you may need to temper your expectations about capacity.

Battery technology: There are several battery technologies, but the main ones used in portable power plants today are types of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, often lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (Li-NMC). ) or lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP). . The latter is safer (less prone to combustion) and tends to last longer (more cycles) before starting to degrade. Overheating can be a problem for Li-NMC batteries and they degrade faster, but have a higher energy density. Zendure also offers semi-solid state batteries in its top-of-the-line SuperBase mentioned above, which promises to be more stable and resilient, therefore safer, and has a higher energy density.

Ports: While you’ll find certain ports on all portable power stations, from AC outlets to USB-A, it’s essential to check the maximum charging speed and supported charging standards to avoid disappointment. You might find USB-C ports, car ports, cylindrical ports, and maybe solar inputs, but don’t assume anything. Please check specifications before purchasing.

Loading speed: Large capacity power plants can take a long time to recharge. Make sure you understand how quickly your chosen power station can charge from the grid and from other sources if you plan to use solar panels, a car battery or another power source for recharges. Some power stations allow you to fast charge from two or more inputs.

Heat and noise: Batteries generate heat. If you’re charging your power station quickly or have half a dozen things plugged in, things will heat up quickly. Every power station we tested has fans to keep the temperature down, and these things can be surprisingly loud even under relatively low load, especially if you have them in an enclosed space with you. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it.

Maximum output: If you want to use power tools, an air conditioning unit or, in the UK, a kettle, you need to be able to consume thousands of watts. All power stations indicate maximum power, but will often have a surge function that allows them to ramp up for a short period of time. Sometimes they give him a silly name. For example, Zendure calls it “AmpUp” and EcoFlow calls it “X-Boost.” Make sure your chosen power station can handle the power you need.

UPS and EPS: Some power plants can act as uninterruptible power supply (UPS); others are classified as emergency power supply (EPS). If you have your power station plugged into the mains and then the devices connected to it, they will run from the mains, but if there is a power outage, a UPS will switch to battery power instantly (less than 10 milliseconds). An EPS will also change when there is a power outage, but it may take a little longer (about 30 milliseconds).

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