In our continuously connected world, portable power is appealing for a number of reasons: With your own power station, you can stay independent from the grid and its intermittent blackouts, power your ever-expanding cadre of electronic accessories on the go and integrate clean energy into your routine.
However, not all portable power stations are created equal. Gone are the days of your dad's loud, toxin-spewing gas generator — today's portable power stations are sleek, small and quiet, and offer an array of ports that will power just about anything you can think of.
What to Look For in a Portable Power Station
As you're shopping for the portable power station that's right for you, consider a few factors: capacity, number and variety of ports and size. There are plenty of other factors that go into these highly engineered machines, but covering the basics will ensure you get maximum enjoyment out of your power station.
When it comes to modern power stations, most are equipped with lithium ion batteries, whose capacity is measured in watt hours (Wh). This measurement is calculated by multiplying the number of Amps with the battery voltage, with one watt hour being equivalent to one hour of average power flow. Goal Zero gives this example: a 100 Watt light bulb on a 400 Watt Hour battery (like the Yeti 400) would last, on paper, 4 hours.
Power stations come with two main types of ports: AC and DC. AC refers to alternating current, while DC refers to direct current (two different types of power). Direct current power is always constant, with energy flowing in one direction. By contrast, alternating currents periodically change from positive to negative and from negative to positive, and the direction of the current also periodically changes accordingly. When it comes to ports, most power stations will have a variety of both, but before buying, check out which most of your devices use, and shop based on need.
Size and weight are fairly straightforward: what are you willing to carry (or cart) around, what makes sense for your living situation, and how does size compare with capacity? If you prioritize a smaller footprint, you're going to be left with a smaller battery, and therefore lower capacity. If size or weight aren't an issue, you can shop for power stations that have larger batteries and therefore, far more capacity.
- Rugged and efficient
- Longer charging time
Whether it's indoors or out, power any off-grid project with this beefy, capable power station. Goal Zero is well-known in the portable power space, and the 1500X is one of the brand's most popular products to date.
We keep ours in our F350, hooked up to a solar panel for charging on the go. With seven different port options, including fast-charging 60W USB-C Power Delivery, multiple USB-A ports, regulated 12V, and two 120V AC ports, the 1500x powers our fridge, laptops, cell phones and lighting systems with ease. If the days are gloomy and the solar panel isn't charging as we'd like, we plug it in overnight into an extension cord for a full charge in 14 hours.
One of the many positive attributes of the 1500X is the absence of noise — unlike gas generators, which require, well, gas (duh) and spew out a ton of noise and emissions, Goal Zero's power station is silent, efficient and ready to roll at a moment's notice. At 45.64 pounds, it's not light — this is definitely a set-it-and-forget-it kind of power station. I have a hard time pulling it out of our truck, but other than the weight, this is easily one of the most useful and effective items in our overland kit.
Charge time: Full charge 14 hours
Weight and volume: 45 pounds
- Integrates with home system for easy backup power
- Heaviest power station on the list
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, this power station became a fan favorite thanks to a couple factors: a quick charge time (only 2.7 hours), universal solar output and enough power to charge an electric vehicle. EcoFlow also offers a bevy of accessories that can take the Delta Pro from a 3.6kWh capacity all the way to 25kWh. The Delta Pro can also be integrated directly into your home panel via its Smart Home Panel, which makes puts it high on the list of home backup.
The Delta Pro manages to combine top-tier portable power with affordable price, when put in perspective: the initial $3,699 is an investment, but once you factor in money saved from avoiding the cost of fuel to power a gas generator, the Delta Pro starts to look more and more appealing.
At just under 100 pounds, the Delta Pro is easily the heaviest on this list: you'll want to think twice before taking it on the go. But if you're looking for dependable, stable power for off-grid living or emergency preparedness, the Delta Pro is the way to go.
Capacity: 3600Wh / 3600W
Charge time: Full charge in 2.7h
Weight: 99 pounds
Ports: 6 DC, 5 AC sockets
- Cost effective
- 1/3 the power of its competitors
If you're more of a weekend warrior than a fully off-grid aficionado, going budget can be the smart move while you're still figuring out what you need and what you don't for intermittent adventures. Rockpals makes a power station that's easy to use, lightweight and packs just enough juice for a quick weekend away.
At less than 10 pounds, the Rockpals is far lighter than our top picks, and while that makes it easier to move around on a whim, it doesn decrease its capacity for charging devices. This power station can charge your smartphone 28-29 charges, your iPad Mini about 14 times, 12'' MacBook around 5-6 times, can power your mini car refrigerator (40W) for about 5-6 hrs, or charge additional small home appliances on the go. New for 2022, Rockpals added an USB-C port for additional charging capabilities.
If you're planning on spending more than a week on the road, or want to feel more secure in the case of an emergency, this may not be the power station for you. But if you don't have many devices to power, or don't require a backup system for your home at the moment, having a little extra power for weekend camping trips or gatherings never hurt.
Capacity: 3oo watts
Charge time: Full charge from AC wall outlet about 4.5-5.5 hours
Weight: 7.7 pounds
- Widely available
- Solar panels sold separately
Anyone even semi familiar with portable power has heard of Jackery. The brand has made a name for itself providing reliable power on the go at an affordable price. With a 1002Wh capacity, the Explorer 1000 is one of the most powerful options from the brand and can supply 1000 watts of power to multiple devices. What sets this power station apart from competitors is its middle-ground mix of power, price and capability: the Explorer 1000 can support most high-power electrical devices, weighs in at less than 30 pounds and costs just over a grand.
Notable features include the solid handle on the top of the station. which makes it easy to carry from car to camp, as well as an easy-to-read LCD screen that displays battery level, input and output. Like the other power stations on this list, you can pair the Explorer 1000 with Jackery's foldable SolarSaga 100w solar panel for ultimate off-grid efficiency.
For those looking to get as off-grid as possible, connect two SolarSaga 100W solar panels to the power station to create a Solar Generator 1000 system.
Capacity: 100o watts
Charge time: 7 Hours with AC adapter
Weight: 22 pounds
- Companion app allows for remote control
- Only available for pre-order at the moment
Thanks to the wheels integrated into its base and telescopic aluminum handle, Zendure's ergonomic power station is easy to move around the campsite or the house. Convenient transportation aside, the Superbase Pro is also a damn capable machine.
Available in both 2000Wh and 1500Wh options, this portable power station is able to charge up to 80-percent in one hour using an AC outlet, and can reach a full charge in just two hours — so for folks who leave things like prep to the last minute, this is the on-the-go power station for you. Featuring eight DC and six AC sockets, the SuperBase was built to provide prolonged power to a variety of devices.
If you plan on using your portable power station frequently, the Superbase can handle 3,000 cycles of battery life: this unit can run 6,000 cycles to 60-percent capacity, or 3,000 cycles to 80-percent capacity. The Superbase also comes with a companion app, which allows you to track its location, turn ports on and off remotely, turn on Sleep Mode and more.
Capacity: 2100Wh / 2000W
Charge time: Full charge in 2 hours
Weight: 46 pounds
Ports: 8 DC, 6 AC sockets