Winter is coming, and I’m not talking about a Game of Thrones rewatch. As the cold weather approaches, we need to be prepared for the power outages that often accompany it. And never mind the growing number of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other scary weather events. All it takes is one bad storm and a couple days in the dark to start thinking seriously about a backup system.
For years the gas generator has been the go-to solution, but those things are loud, inconvenient and not suitable for places like apartments, condos and RVs. Thankfully, battery-based power stations are here to save the day, with optional solar panels to keep the juice flowing cleaner and quieter than a gas tank can. Read on to discover the best power station option for you and your home.
Who I am and how I tested
I’m a consumer-technology writer with over 30 years of experience covering all manner of products, everything from massage guns to wireless earbuds to personal blenders. When it comes to power stations, it’s not super-challenging to pick one — they’re all just big batteries, after all — but of course there are certain features and options you’ll want to consider. Scroll down past the reviews to get more details on all that.
As for testing, it’s extremely difficult (outside of a laboratory setting) to determine real-world performance: charge time, power output and so on. So my tests leaned more into real-world stuff. Is the power station too heavy to be practical? Are the fans loud? Does it come with decent instructions? How hard is it to work with solar panels? The good news is that virtually all the products here are varying degrees of, well, good; they wouldn’t be on the list otherwise.
(Note: Although I tested several power stations bundled with solar panels, the prices shown below are for the stations alone; the add-on cost for solar is listed within the review. Similarly, the weights listed for each power station don’t include the panels.)
Battery type: LiFePO4 | Capacity: 288Wh | Output power: 300W | Weight: 8.3 pounds | AC outlets: 1 | USB ports: 3 | Expandable: No | Solar panel tested: 40W (adds $100)
PROS: Small and light; very quiet; excellent printed instructions
CONS: Limited number of outputs; no way to prop up solar panels
About as small and lightweight as these things come, the Explorer 300 Plus moves easily from one room to another — great for those times when it’s inconvenient to stay tethered to a big, heavy power station. Weighing in at just over 8 pounds and equipped with a convenient folding handle, Jackery’s little lunchbox goes wherever you need it to.
Of course, a small form factor means limited space for ports. The Explorer has just three USB ports (only one of them Type-A), one AC outlet and one 12-volt DC port. You could potentially charge the unit via your car’s power port (via USB-C), but Jackery doesn’t supply the necessary cable. The good news it’s very quiet while charging or operating, even when its fan kicks on.
I tested another charging option, Jackery’s optional SolarSaga 40W folding solar panel, which has a magnetic clasp that makes it easy to store and tote. The company estimates 7.5 hours to fully recharge the 300 Plus using sun alone, but of course that’s based on having 7.5 hours of unobstructed light and optimal positioning the entire time. Unfortunately, there’s no stand or any other means of propping up the panels. I tried leaning them against the power station itself but couldn’t get them to stay fully extended and or angle toward the sun. For what it’s worth, the larger SolarSaga 100W panels ($250) have a built-in kickstand, much like others I tested.
There’s a Jackery app that can connect to the power station for status monitoring and customization, but both an Android phone and an iPhone produced error messages in the final step of the pairing process. I checked Jackery’s support site for help, but at this writing there was no information whatsoever pertaining to the Explorer 300 Plus. For the record, the same phones had no trouble pairing with the Jackery 2000 Plus, so I suspect my review sample was defective in this respect.
Although you lose some versatility with a smaller power station like this, it’s worth considering if you want something that’s easy to move from room to room and suitable for powering small devices.
Battery type: LiFePO4 | Capacity: 403Wh | Output power: 600W | Weight: 20 pounds | AC outlets: 2 | USB ports: 3 | Expandable: Yes | Solar panel tested: No
PROS: Fast AC recharging; IP65 water-resistant; covered ports; useful companion app; Qi charging pad; supports up to 2 expansion batteries
CONS: On the heavy side; limited main-unit capacity; expansion batteries require main unit for AC charging; flashlight not very bright
As a general rule, water and electricity don’t mix well. But splashes and such aren’t a problem for Bluetti’s AC60, which is IP65-rated against dust and water and comes with every port covered by a removable rubber cap. If it gets caught out in the rain or snow, a quick towel-dry gets you back in business.
That’s one of the AC60’s major benefits; the other is expandability. You can connect up to two Bluetti B80 external batteries, each supplying an extra 806Wh of capacity (for a maximum total of just over 2,000Wh). This option lets you keep your up-front cost on the lower side but not lock yourself into the capacity afforded by the main unit.
Speaking of which, the AC60 offers a modest 403Wh on its own. But its output power is impressive: up to 600 watts (or 1,200 in “Power Lifting” mode), enough to run something as substantial as a refrigerator (though not for very long). Meanwhile it weighs a very manageable 20 pounds and carries easily thanks to its folding handle.
I tested the AC60 with one B80 expansion battery. The former stays almost silent while charging, but when you plug in a B80, its fans kick on and definitely make some noise. It’s unfortunate that the B80 lacks a dedicated AC charging input; you have to connect it to the main unit, or use something like solar panels or a car port if you want to charge on its own.
You can, however, use a B80 on its own; each one has a high-output USB-C and USB Type-A port, plus a 12V car outlet. I like that added versatility; not many power-station expansion batteries support this kind of stand-alone use.
I’m a little disappointed, though, by the sizable rear flashlight, which has only two brightness settings and just isn’t very bright overall. Deeno’s S1500, in comparison, features a similar LED panel that produces considerably more light.
Bluetti’s companion app pairs easily via Bluetooth and provides useful status information, controls and so on. It also provides quick access to customer support, user forums, warranty information and more.
Whether you’re concerned about water or dust mucking up the power-station works, or you want a portable system that can grow as your needs do, the Bluetti AC60 is a top pick.
Battery type: Li-ion | Capacity: 648Wh | Output power: 600W | Weight: 15.4 pounds | AC outlets: 2 | USB ports: 4 | Expandable: Sort of | Solar panel tested: No
PROS: Lots of outputs; supports hot-swappable replacement batteries
CONS: Only one AC outlet is 3-prong; using batteries outside unit requires optional adapter; poor printed instructions
Most power stations suffer from a key problem: When the power runs dry, you have to wait for it to recharge — if you even have the means to do so. Runhood’s 600 employs swappable batteries, an effective solution and an interesting alternative to dealing with solar panels (though you can easily add those to the mix).
The unit resembles an oversize orange lunchbox, with a carrying handle built into the top and an LED flashlight facing front, just above the control panel. It’s a good design overall, and I like how many outputs Runhood managed to squeeze into this thing. Just one gripe: The stacked AC outlets limit you to just one three-prong plug (the other must be two-prong).
With both batteries installed, the Rallye 600 weighs a manageable 15 pounds. Batteries slide into separated compartments inside the main unit (referred to as the “Host Engine”) and slide out again with ease by pushing a release button. The AC adapter will charge those batteries while they’re inside, as will an included car-port charging cable.
To recharge a battery outside the Host Engine, you’ll need Runhood’s UE256 adapter, which is included with select bundles or available separately. It’s basically a USB port replicator that snaps onto the battery, effectively turning it into a smaller, more portable power bank — but also allowing for external recharging via USB-C. Runhood’s optional solar panels can also recharge a battery outside the Host Engine.
Thus, in something like a camping or power-outage situation, you could swap additional batteries into the Host Engine as needed, charging depleted ones via solar without having to schlep the entire unit outside.
And that’s really the secret sauce here. While something like the Bluetti AC60 can be expanded by way of an external battery pack, the Runhood Rallye 600 affords a more compact and mobile-friendly solution.
Battery type: LiFePO4 | Capacity: 1,036Wh | Output power: 1,500W | Weight: 31 pounds | AC outlets: 3 | USB ports: 5 | Expandable: No | Solar panel tested: 200W (add $400)
PROS: Lots of ports; Qi charging pad; extra-large status screen
CONS: No companion app; odd handle design; a little noisy while charging
To borrow a car analogy, the Deeno GT S1500 is the efficient midsize sedan in this roundup, combining a solid selection of ports with some muscle under the hood. It’s comparatively affordable and, er, easy to fit in the garage. (Even its name is car-like!)
Although it weighs only about 30 pounds, the S1500 delivers an impressive 1,500 watts of output power. I like the large, easy-to-read status screen that’s flanked by all available AC, DC and USB ports. There’s also a 15-watt Qi pad up top, awesome for phone charging.
I can’t say I fully understand the handle design, though: The two corner grips telescope up about 2 inches when you lift the S1500, to no discernible advantage. I guess if you’re wearing heavy gloves, now you have more room to slip your hands in. But if the handles didn’t move the way they do, the unit wouldn’t be any easier or harder to carry.
There’s a large LED panel on the rear of the station with three light levels (the highest being quite bright), and it can also produce an SOS flash.
Deeno promises a full recharge (via AC power) in just two hours, a number my informal testing bears out. (In fact, I went from 23% to full in just one hour, so it would appear to be even faster than Deeno’s claim.) There’s an included car adapter for recharging while driving, but that takes roughly three times as long.
As for solar, the optional 200W solar panel array (which is a bit less expensive than most) includes three separate kickstands and a convenient zippered compartment that holds the permanently affixed charging cables. When paired with the solar cables included with the S1500 itself, you get a run of nearly 20 feet — very handy if your solar setup needs to have some distance from the station.
Do I wish Deeno offered a companion app for monitoring, settings and all that? Sure. Would I let that stop me from choosing this “midsize sedan”? Definitely not. Deeno may not be a household name, but the S1500 is a superb portable power station.
PROS: Superb design; unrivaled output power; supports up to five additional batteries; good printed instructions
CONS: No flashlight; no Qi charging pad; buggy app; proprietary solar connection; expensive external batteries
At first glance you could easily mistake the Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus for a beverage cooler, what with its distinctive shape, telescoping handle and convenient rear wheels. No beer in here, though, just a massive battery and even more massive power inverter, one that can crank out a whopping 3,000 watts — more than any other power station in the group.
The Explorer is also one of the most expandable products here, supporting up to five external batteries for a whopping 12,000Wh. You can even link a second Explorer, with five extra batteries of its own, and bring your available power output to 6,000W and capacity to over 24,000Wh — while also adding 240V support for the likes of clothes dryers and well pumps. That’s a lot of juice, enough to run an entire house. (That said, the total cost of such a setup — in the neighborhood of $20K — might require you to remortgage it.)
Back to the power station itself: It has ample AC and DC ports, plus a 25-amp circular AC outlet for use with RVs and various appliances. Unfortunately there’s no Qi charging pad up top, despite there being ample room.
Jackery’s SolarSaga 200 panels are a bit easier than most to set up thanks to a simplified weather-resistant cable that connects to the Explorer. However, although it’s less hassle than the multi-connector cords employed by most panels, it’s also proprietary, meaning it limits your ability to go third-party if you’re looking for cheaper options.
The Jackery app is useful for basic monitoring and enabling settings like battery saver and quiet charging, but it proved a bit flaky, often failing to accurately reflect what was happening on the device. When I manually powered on both the AC and DC outlets, for instance, the app showed only the latter as active. Later, after returning to the home screen, the device showed 0% power remaining, even though it was still fully charged. Hopefully Jackery will address these bugs in either a firmware or app update.
Although it’s priced roughly the same as the power stations from Anker and EcoFlow, the Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus edges out both thanks to higher output power and greater expandability. If those features rank high for you, this is the power station to pick.
PROS: Fast charging; lots of outputs; bright status screen; excellent companion app; double-sided solar panels
CONS: Ports inconveniently spread out across three sides; no wheels; challenging solar panel setup
If you’re looking for a power station that charges quickly, serves up an abundance of outlets and pairs with an easy-to-use mobile app, the EcoFlow Delta 2 Max answers the call. It can also accommodate up to two external batteries for even more capacity. Without those benefits, it might be harder to overlook some of the usability frustrations I encountered in my testing.
This 50-pounder is lighter than the Anker and Jackery models, which is good because it lacks wheels. But even with the two sturdy built-in handles, it requires considerable muscle to move around. What’s more, because the handles protrude to the sides instead of up, it’s more difficult to see the status screen that’s embedded in one end. That screen is plenty bright, but you either have to crouch down or tip the unit awkwardly.
Also awkward: EcoFlow put the AC outlets and 12-volt port on end and the USB ports on the other. Expansion-battery ports live on the side. I can’t say I see any advantage to this design; indeed, it’s annoying having to check both ends to find what I want, especially on a heavy, wheel-less unit. Nearly all other power stations arrange everything front-and-center, which I find far more convenient.
EcoFlow’s 220-watt solar kit is interesting in that the four folding panels are bifacial, aka double-sided, which could potentially result in more sun absorption and higher input wattage. But the execution is strange: The carrying case doubles as a stand for the panels, but it’s not super obvious how it works, and the printed quick-start guide offers little help. You need to clip four included carabiners (all made of flimsy plastic) to both the stand and the panels. If you want to change the angle to better meet the sun, you partially zip the case closed to make it stand up straighter. I have concerns about the long-term durability of this design; zippers are notoriously troublesome, and the clips seem likely to break.
Because the Delta 2 Max relies on standard connectors, you could potentially choose different panels. In the end I found EcoFlow’s to be heavy, cumbersome and an overall pain.
Lest I sound too harsh about this power station, I’ll borrow Han Solo’s description of the Millennium Falcon: She’s got it where it counts. There’s plenty of power on board, room for more outboard and a useful companion app to let you monitor and tweak things. I just don’t love some of EcoFlow’s design decisions, especially with regard to the solar panels.
PROS: Impressive output power; fast charging; excellent companion app; good printed instructions
CONS: No port labels; no Qi charging pad; supports only one expansion battery
The Solix F2000 (also known as the PowerHouse 767) is a heavyweight in every sense of the word, starting with actual weight: It’s 67 pounds on its own, and if you tack on the massive 400-watt solar panel array, that’s another 35. Thankfully, in addition to a pair of carrying handles to help you lift this monster, it has wheels and a completely hidden telescoping handle that extends from the front. It’s a clever design, though that handle could get in the way if you’re trying to wheel the unit into a tight space.
Like the Jackery Explorer, the F2000 serves up four standard AC outlets and a TT-30R outlet for use with RVs, though the latter’s amp output isn’t specified anywhere. Is it 20 amps like the other outlets, 25 like on the Jackery or 30 because it’s a “TT-30”? Unfortunately, Anker chose not to label any of the ports — AC, DC, USB or otherwise — with power output numbers. It’s a small thing but definitely inconvenient if you want to make sure any given outlet has the power you need.
I also found myself wishing for a Qi charging pad up top, but you’ll have to use a cord to charge your phone.
If you end up needing more than 2,048Wh the F2000 provides out of the box, you can double it by adding a second battery — but only one, which is a bit limiting. EcoFlow’s power station can accommodate two, while Jackery’s Explorer supports up to five.
Anker’s HyperFlash technology promises an 80% recharge in under 90 minutes (using AC power), which is extremely impressive. And the company’s solar array brings in almost double the charge of others I tested, but it’s large, heavy and cumbersome — difficult for one person to set up and difficult to reorient toward the sun throughout the day. If you live on your own, you could opt for a pair of 200-watt panels instead.
The nicely polished Anker app shows not only power remaining but also the consumption for each individual port, not just AC or DC on the whole. From the main screen you can quickly toggle power-saving Mode on or off and choose from any of the three flashlight brightness settings. (The LED strip is pretty dim overall, though — useful for seeing what you’re doing with plugs and such but hardly a camp light.) Take note that the app relies on Bluetooth connectivity; it doesn’t do Wi-Fi, so your phone needs to be in close proximity.
Although it’s not the most expandable power station in the group, the Solix F2000 provides ample power for lots of devices, large and small.
Not to be confused with mobile chargers, those little pocket-size batteries many people carry while traveling, power stations employ larger, heavier cells designed to run more and larger devices. Depending on how much capacity it has, we’re talking anything from a laptop or fan to a space heater or refrigerator. Shoot the works and you might be able to power your entire home — or at least most of the major appliances.
This stuff can be confusing, though. You’re going to see a lot of numbers pertaining to things like watts and volts, a lot of terms like “peak power” and “LiFePO4” and prices ranging from around $300 on up into the thousands. For purposes of this roundup, we’re focusing less on the techie aspects of this gear and more on the real-world applications: keeping your devices and appliances powered during a power-outage situation and finding the best bang for the buck in terms of capacity, number of ports and ease of use.
Whenever possible we tested solar panels as well, because the sun might be your only lifeline in an extended outage situation. Just be prepared for some added expense, because these panels can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of your setup. (Good news, though: They may qualify for tax rebates.) They’re also a far cry from a standard AC outlet in terms of power supply; it takes far longer to recharge a power station via solar than it does via a wall plug. (See below regarding the promise of solar versus the reality.)
Before we dive into the stations themselves, let’s review some of the important features and options:
Battery capacity: This is the big one. More capacity equals more juice for your stuff. (Think of it as the, er, gas tank.) It also equals a higher price, more weight and usually more ports, features, etc. The challenge here is determining how much capacity you need, especially because there are different metrics used to identify it: mAh (milliamp hour), Wh (watt hour), kWh (killowatt hour) and so on. Some power stations are also expandable, meaning you can connect supplemental batteries to expand the overall capacity. Bottom line: Buy the highest-capacity power station you can afford, ideally one that’s expandable, while also keeping in mind the next item:
Size and weight: This should come as no surprise: The larger the battery capacity, the larger and heavier the power station will be. So-called lunchbox models — named for their shape and integrated handles — might weigh anywhere from 5 pounds on up to 20, which makes them relatively easy to tote where needed. But a big power station like the Anker Solix F2000 can tip the scales at nearly 70 pounds — not to mention any supplemental batteries you’ve added. If you’re planning on something like that to take up semi-permanent residence, it might behoove you to also purchase a smaller, lighter model that can move around. Also, look for wheels and a luggage-style telescoping handle, which makes relocating the big batteries much easier.
Battery type: More power-station makers are switching to lithium iron phosphate (aka LiFePo4) batteries, which are known to be safer for home use than their lithium-ion counterparts. They also charge faster and have much longer lifespans, by most estimates anywhere from 3-5 times longer. That means a better return on your investment, even if you pay a little more up front.
Total output power: Different devices and appliances consume different amounts of power. A mini-fridge, for example, might use around 45 watts, while a full-size one might need more like 500. A simple space heater: 1,500 watts. A laptop: 90 watts. A CPAP machine: 30-60 watts. Consider numbers like those when evaluating a power station’s total output power. A 300-watt model has a much more limited scope than one capable of 2,000 watts. (But it’s also cheaper and lighter — so, you know, trade-offs.)
Number and type of ports: What do you need to plug in? Most power stations have at least one AC outlet and multiple USB ports. You might also find things like a 12-volt car socket (which used to be called a cigarette lighter), a DC5521 port, a TT-30 outlet (sometimes known as an RV30) and possibly even a Qi charging pad for phones and other devices. Needless to say, more ports and outlets give you more flexibility. Take note, however, that some power stations do a better job than others at labeling; in a few cases it’s not clear exactly what’s what.
Display size and readability: Most of the power stations here employ an LCD status display, showing remaining battery life, input and output measurements, and so on. Readability is usually quite good indoors, but some are harder to see outside, especially under bright sun. And because they’re almost always mounted on one side of the power station, you usually have to tilt the unit up or squat down to see it. That’s why I’m partial to models that have companion apps, which let you monitor everything from your phone and, in some cases, enable or disable ports, tweak settings and so on.
Printed instructions: Even I get confused by tech sometimes, and power stations can be a little intimidating — especially when it comes to things like solar panels. Unfortunately, not all companies bother to supply decent instruction manuals, even with products costing $1,000 or more. Below I’ve shouted out the ones that are particularly good — or particularly bad.
3 important things to know about power stations
While I wish I could say that big batteries are the ideal alternative to gas generators, there are three caveats I think you should know.
Power stations aren’t “generators,” at least in the traditional sense. Although some manufacturers use that terminology in their product descriptions, these are not machines that convert mechanical energy into electricity. They’re rechargeable batteries, ones that can themselves be recharged via electricity. Now, if you add solar panels to the mix, you can more accurately describe the setup as a generator, because the sun is indeed generating power. But as you’ll see in the next item, solar doesn’t always pay the rent.
The promise of solar charging is different from the reality of solar charging. In my testing, the various panels rarely produced anywhere near their rated maximum watts — and that means sun-powered charging may take longer than expected. The panels included with Jackery’s Solar Generator 300 Plus, for example, promise up to 40 watts, but when I placed them under direct sun, I never saw the input number climb above 25. On a slightly hazy day, it typically ran around 16-17 watts. Anker’s mammoth 400-watt array, meanwhile, rarely went above 270. Deeno’s 220-watt panel topped out around 150 watts. Yes, there are lots of variables that affect solar charging — and that’s the problem. Even under the most optimal conditions — clear skies all day, perfect panel positioning, unobstructed exposure throughout that day — you’d need a lot of hours to fully recharge a power station on solar alone.
Whole-home setups aren’t really here yet. When I started working on this story, my hope was to equip my modest-sized suburban home with an off-the-shelf battery backup system that would live in the basement and keep the lights on during a power outage. Unfortunately, even if I invested thousands of dollars, I wouldn’t get the output power or capacity needed to run the whole house. I learned I could offload certain circuits (furnace, well pump, refrigerator, etc.) to a secondary breaker box, then set up a transfer switch to manually flip when needed, but even then I might get only one or two days’ worth of power. (Better than nothing, to be sure.) And these folding, portable solar panels aren’t really intended for permanent installation; they’d have to be hauled out and set up whenever needed.
One more thought on the whole-home plan: Here in Michigan, I had a hard time finding an electrician who was experienced with this kind of thing. More than a few declined to provide an installation estimate because they weren’t familiar with the equipment.
Make no mistake, systems like this are almost certainly the future, and they can be extremely useful as they are right now. If you live someplace where a gas generator isn’t practical or desirable, they’re an excellent option. But it might be another year or two before you can flip a switch and let a battery do the heavy lifting for your whole house.
Gary Rose is a lifestyle connoisseur who celebrates the art of living well. She explores topics ranging from travel and fashion to home decor and culinary delights. Gary’s passion for aesthetics extends to her hobbies, which include photography and interior design.
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