As we enter the dog days of summer, keeping ourselves cool and our devices on is top of mind (especially if you live in an area with rolling blackouts). If you're looking for dependable power at an approachable price point, you're in luck: there's a new power station on the block.
Biolite has made a name for itself providing off-grid power in a number of iterations, each well-designed with the end user in mind. Today's release is no different; the brand is debuting two new power stations and a solar panel, built to address the growing needs for portable power that can be used in the backcountry, or at home.
The Basecharge 600 and 1500 were built with the intention of building safe, reliable power solutions that can be used in a variety of environments and conditions. Both the Basecharge 600 and 1500 feature an internal AC converter, essentially providing an on-the-go wall outlet. The rechargeable power stations also come with multiple DC ports, which are commonly used in RV and overlanding devices, as well as USB-A, USB-C, and USB-C PD at a full 100W rating, ideal for laptops and hungrier personal electronics. The power stations also come with an easy-to-use wireless charging deck built into the top of both models, allowing users to "cut the cord," or charge their smartphone even when they forget said cord.
I tested Biolite's Basecharge 1500 ($1,699) for a month this summer, using it to charge a variety of outdoor gear from my Dometic fridge to a Yamaha electric bike, and many things in-between. I found the power station was easy to use and understand, and like many of Biolite's products, intuitively designed.
Here's what I liked, and didn't, about Biolite's new product.
The Biolite Basecharge 1500 is easy to use and intuitive
I tested the Basecharge 1500, which was designed to provide 1500 watt hours of power, whether you're off-grid or without power at home. Set-up was simple, thanks to the easy-to-read front LCD interface; it calculates inputs, outputs and battery life in real time, and features a digital messaging message center that alerts users to port activations, system notifications, troubleshooting actions, and warnings as well as a resettable energy odometer that measured my usage over time.
Using Biolite's new 100-watt-hour SolarPanel 100 ($399.95) with the power station provided endless power: I didn't have to plug it into the wall once to charge, and kept a portable fridge running continuously for a month — as well as charging multiple electric bikes, power tools, walkie talkies and more. If you live in a consistently sunny area and want a stream of off-grid power, this set-up will appeal.
The Basecharge 1500 is lighter and better-designed than competitors
I've used other power stations before, and none have impressed me as much as Biolite did with its design. The first thing I noticed about the power station was its integrated, concave carrying handles; rather than sticking out the side (which can make packing a challenge) like other portable power stations, Biolite's version has concave carrying ports that also house the vents that keep the lithium-ion battery cool during use.
It's a clever design feature that speaks to the level of attention Biolite places on usability and function. The Basecharge 1500 is only 26.5 pounds — that's half the weight of other competitors. I could move the power station around at will, depending on my activity and need. The weight cut offered way more use cases for the power station; I didn't feel like I had to set it and forget it. Rather, it integrated naturally into my routine.
Both models of the Basecharge come with a 12-point safety checkpoint system that prevents circuit overload, and keeps your devices safe if you plug too many in at a time.
The Basecharge's wireless charging is finicky
The Basecharge's wireless QI charging (10W) allows users to charge any wireless-capable single device by placing it on the wireless charging icon, thanks to the invisible induction field created by powerful coils underneath. In theory, wireless charging is quick and easy: set your device down on the icon, get a charge. Biolite says its power stations can charge smartphones and tablets with up to a 10 inch diagonal screen with BaseCharge 600, and up to 14 inch diagonal screen with BaseCharge 1500.
I had a hard time using the wireless charging deck — half the time, after placing my phone down on the designated symbol, I would come back to find that my phone wasn't charging at all. I experimented with multiple placements and even with taking my case off, which seemed to work a little better, but is a hassle (especially if you're overlanding and need to keep your phone protected). One benefit is the lack of a cord: using wireless charging leaves extra ports open for your other devices (if it cooperates).
Although the deck wasn't as perfected as the rest of the portable power station, when it did work, it charged my phone in about two thirds of the time it normally takes to get a full charge. If you can figure out the best placement for your device so it actually charges, you'll be impressed with the power output.
*I discovered post-testing that the reason my charging my not have worked properly was because I had multiple devices on the wireless deck. After experimenting with a single device placed on the icon, wireless charging was much smoother.
The Biolite Basecharge 600 and 1500 will be available for pre-order starting September 7th, 2022 on Biolite's website.