A portable power station is a fantastic tool for making camping more fun and making working while camping much easier. As an added benefit, it can also be helpful around your home or for any type of work in the field.
You probably have some questions about these devices, too. What exactly is a portable power station? What makes a it different compared to a generator or a power bank? How does solar energy fit in with using one for camping?
I’ll answer these questions and more, so let’s get started!
Table of Contents:
- What Is a Portable Power Station?
- Compared: Portable Power Station vs Power Banks
- Compared: Portable Power Station vs Generator
- Adding Solar Energy to Your Camp
- Getting the Most Out of Your Portable Power Station
What Is a Portable Power Station?
In the simplest terms, a portable power station is a super high-capacity rechargeable battery system with regulated power outputs. In other words, it’s a giant battery you plug things into. We can get a good idea of the basics of a power station by taking an in-depth look at one I’ve been testing: the FLEX 1500 Power Station from Inergy.
The FLEX 1500 Power Station is a modular system consisting of the FLEX 1500 Power Console and a FLEX Battery. The FLEX Battery is a Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery that holds a vast reservoir of power and can be charged in about 3 ½ hours or as quickly as 1 ½ hours with the optional MPPT Supercharger.
There are four different methods by which the battery pack can be recharged. You can charge up using the 12V DC power output available in most vehicles, or you can plug into an AC power wall socket. Solar panels can be used for recharging, or you could combine all three of these at the same time. These methods can all be made faster by means of the MPPT Supercharger.
The Power Console has a powerful 1,500-watt pure sine wave inverter allowing the use of many electronic items at the same time. It has 6 110/120V AC outlets, 2 USB-C ports, 2 USB-A ports, 2 DC outputs for mini plugs, and 2 DC cigarette lighter-style accessory ports. All of these outputs provide regulated power.
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Compared: Portable Power Station vs Power Banks
As you’re reading this, you may be thinking that a portable power station isn’t much different from a power bank, like what many of us use for recharging our smartphones when we’re away from power sources for a long time.
And you are correct in seeing it that way. They are very similar in use and intent. However, the power bank doesn’t have as much capacity as a power station. That power station also has many more regulated connections and can power multiple items simultaneously.
Compared: Portable Power Station vs Generator
Both a portable power station and a generator provide power, but one stores it while the other makes it. Generators are powered by fuel, usually gasoline, diesel, or propane, which raises various concerns for campground use.
Noise is a major concern. If you’re camping in the great outdoors, hearing a generator running constantly can be bothersome. A portable power station provides power silently.
Heat and pollution are two more issues. An internal combustion engine puts off a lot of heat, especially from the exhaust, which can also be a fire hazard. Fumes pollute the air and can become toxic and deadly without proper ventilation.
Adding Solar Energy to Your Camp
Adding solar panels to a portable power station allows you to recharge the power station batteries during daylight hours without adding any pollution, noise, or noxious fumes. In the case of the FLEX 1500 Power Station, solar panels are the quickest and most efficient way to charge the batteries.
They’re easy to set up, too – deploy the built-in kickstand, point them at the sun, connect them to your FLEX 1500 power station, and off you go!
Getting the Most Out of Your Portable Power Station
In addition to using a portable power station for camping, they can also be used for supplemental power in a home or as a power source while working. A charged-up power station is a great fail-safe for residential power outages caused by weather or accidents.
These portable power stations work well for doing things on the go, such as powering a circular saw hundreds of feet from the house, plugging in everyone’s computers and camera battery chargers when on a remote photo shoot, or powering lights when on location with a film crew.
Going camping, working outdoors, or when the power grid fails, a portable power station will keep you working and provide you with the comforts of the modern age you like.