Whether you’re planning an upcoming camping vacation or getting prepared for the potential of a power outage, you may be wondering how you’re going to power all the electronics and appliances. With a wide variety of different generators, battery packs, and portable power stations on the market, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to focus specifically on portable power stations, sharing our top five choices in 2021. We’re also going to take a close look at the different factors to consider when shopping for a power station to help you find the best solution.
The Backyard Boss Top Portable Power Stations for 2021
|Jackery Explorer 1000||Check The Price!|
|NEXPOW Portable Power Station||Check The Price!|
|EcoFlow Delta 1800W||Check The Price!|
|Jackery Explorer 240||Check The Price!|
|Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator||Check The Price!|
Why You Can Trust Us
Here at Backyard Boss, our team includes a wide variety of outdoor lovers, such as campers, hikers, or hunters With a passion for spending time in nature, we appreciate the tools and gadgets that allow us to travel and explore the great outdoors. It’s this passion that first interested us in exploring the available options for portable power.
My husband and I are both outdoor travel lovers, and we spend most of our vacation time camping. While we love a backcountry trip where we unplug completely, other trips include working from remote locations to extend our time away.
To make this happen, I went on the search for the best portable power station for our needs. This included researching, asking for recommendations from other outdoor travelers, and, of course, trying out different products. I’ve combined everything that I discovered during this time with the opinions of the rest of the team to put together this list of the top portable power stations for every situation.
Best Portable Power Station for Camping
Why We Like It: The Jackery brand was founded in 2012 and has quickly come to be known for its high-quality and dependable power solutions for outdoor enthusiasts.
Offering the largest battery capacity in the Jackery line, the Explorer 1000 provides the ongoing power needed by campers and RVers of all ages. While the large battery comes with a higher weight than many of the other options on this list, weighing approximately 22 lbs, the slender design and built-in carry handle ensure that the unit is highly portable when you’re on the go.
A digital panel on the front of the device reveals the percentage of battery life that is remaining on the current charge. The power station provides a wide variety of different options for all your devices including 3 AC outlets, 1 standard USB port, 1 quick charge USB port, and 2 USB C ports. It’s capable of powering a 60W television for approximately 13 hours or charge a standard phone 100 times on a single charge. When you see it running low, it can be recharged in 4 different ways including with a wall outlet (7 hours), car outlet (14 hours), generator (7.5 hours), or solar panel (8 hours).
Who Should Buy It: Anyone who is planning on camping and requires a portable power station that offers a lot of power without taking up too much space will find that the Jackery Explorer 1000 is a great option.
Best Power Station for CPAP Machines
Why We Like It: The NEXPOW Portable Power Station is small and lightweight, but it doesn’t mean it’s not powerful.
With a wide variety of different output options including AC power, DC power, USB ports, and a USB C port, it’s capable of charging or powering a wide variety of tools and electronics. However, with only 296 Wh, it’s not a suitable choice for larger appliances that demand more power. It can be charged with a wall plug, car charger, or solar panel. In addition to supplying power when you’re off the grid, the unit also includes LED lighting with 4 modes: white steady light, yellow steady light, white SOS, and yellow SOS.
The real stand-out for this power station is the DC output option. The company recommends that CPAP users power their CPAP machines using DC power while removing both the heater and humidifier during use. By doing so, the device will be able to last 2 or more nights. This makes it a great solution for using your CPAP machine while camping, traveling, or handling a power outage situation.
Who Should Buy It: If you’re looking for a power solution to support your CPAP machine while on the go, or simply searching for a reliable backup option at home, consider buying the NEXPOW Portable Power Station.
Best Portable Power Station for Van Life
Why We Like It: Highly versatile and able to support higher demand devices, the EcoFlow Delta 1800W can perform where other options fall short.
Most power stations are limited to devices rated under 1000 W (or lower) due to their power capacity. This prevents them from powering blenders, coffee makers, and hair dryers, among other options. It includes 6 AC power outlets, 4 USB ports, and 2 USB C ports, supporting multiple devices at once for those who are living on the road.
With the higher battery capacity, there is also a higher price point. It’s larger and weighs more than the alternatives on this list. However, it’s still significantly smaller and lighter than the standard gasoline generator, making it a great option for camper vans, RVs, and travel trailers. It can be recharged using an AC wall charger, car charger cable, or solar panels. It charges faster than many other power stations, charging from 0% to 80% in just an hour, or 100% in 2 hours, using the standard AC cable.
Who Should Buy It: The EcoFlow Delta 1800W is a great choice for RV campers and van lifers that are looking to buy a portable power station that can support all of their power needs for a life on the road.
Best Portable Power Station Under $200
Why We Like It: Another product from Jackery, the Explorer 240 is a more compact version of the previously discussed Explorer 1000.
With a 240 Wh battery capacity, this unit is the perfect entry-level portable power station for those who are interested in charging their phones, powering a laptop, or running light while camping. The output options include an AC outlet and 2 USB ports. Weighing approximately 6.6 lbs, it’s a lighter unit for campers to move about the campsite or carry from destination to destination.
According to the company, this model can charge an average laptop twice or charge a smartphone 24 times on a single charge. When it’s time to recharge the device, the options include an AC wall charger cable, a car charger cable, or connecting it to the Jackery solar panels.
Who Should Buy It: This entry-level portable power station is a great choice for those that are interested in charging their devices on the go without investing in the large price tag that comes with most of the alternatives.
Best Lightweight Power Station
Why We Like It: Weighing just 5.5 lbs and measuring 8.86” x 394” x 6.3”, the Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator is the smallest of the options on this list.
Despite its surprisingly small size, this power station offers several options. The 240 Wh battery capacity is strong enough to power or charge your phone, laptop, fan, television, or CPAP machine. It can recharge a smartphone 25 times or a laptop 3-5 times on a single charge. The output options include 2 AC outlets, 4 DC outlets, and 2 USB ports, providing more than enough options for all your devices.
Small in size, this is the perfect solution for travelers or backpackers, easily slipping into your bag or backpack while you’re on the go. When it needs to be recharged, you have three options including an AC wall charge cord, a car charge cord, or the hook-up necessary for any 60W or 100W solar panel. You can check the current power level at any time using a 5-light system on the front.
Who Should Buy It: If you’re looking for a small and easy-to-pack portable power station for your next backpacking adventure or road trip, the Rockpals 250-Watt Portable Generator is a good alternative.
What Should You Consider When Purchasing a Portable Power Station
The battery capacity of a portable power station is measured in watt-hours, a measurement of energy over an hour. This is important to understand as it will help you to realize how long each unit will last, determining how big your power station needs to be.
For example, if you were looking for a power station to power a 40 W fan, and you’re considering a unit with a 240 Wh battery capacity, it would be able to power your fan for approximately 6 hours (240 Wh divided by 40 W). To determine the battery capacity start by taking stock of the devices that need to be powered and use this simple calculation.
Power Output Options
There are 4 common output options that you may find on your power station. This includes AC outlets, DC outlets, USB ports, and USB C ports. Take note of the power cords used by the devices that you are planning to power. Some devices will have multiple options while others will only offer one fixed option for charging.
Check if the portable power station that you’re considering will support the type of cord that you need, and look at the number of output options. Most power stations will support charging multiple devices, but only if there are enough outputs available.
Power capacity refers to the maximum amount of output that your portable power station can provide at any given time. Each device that you plan on charging or powering will operate with its own power requirements. To determine the power capacity needed, check the peak usage that your device would require to operate at any stage of operation.
For instance, if you were considering running a standard coffee maker in your camper van or RV, the peak usage is the power needed when it’s heating up for the first time after being powered off. The average coffee maker requires approximately 600-1200 W. Therefore, it would be safe to assume that any portable power station rated below 1,200 W would be unable to support the needs of the brewer.
A standard fan or LED lighting in your travel trailer will require less power capacity than a blender or coffee maker, as they operate with a lower peak usage.
Size and Weight
If you’re planning on backpacking or paddling to your campsite, it can be important to keep the size and weight of your gear down. On the other hand, if you’re simply looking to keep a power back at home for power outage emergencies, the overall size and weight of the unit can be irrelevant.
The options included in our top picks range from 5.5 lbs to 31 lbs, while some options on the market will significantly exceed that.
However, choosing a smaller or lighter-weight power station also means sacrificing some of the battery capacity, as it’s the battery itself that adds the additional weight. You will have to decide which is more important to you, a higher battery capacity or a more portable unit, based on your planned use.
Finally, look at the charging options that are available with the portable power station that you’re considering, as well as what additional accessories they have to improve your experience over time. Most power stations can be charged by both AC wall and car charging cables. Additionally, some units are compatible with solar panels for easy charging when you’re off the grid and the other options are no longer possible.
Portable Power Station Vs Fuel Generator
There are many different power stations and generators on the market, so you can feel overwhelmed while choosing the best one for you. Gas and propane-powered generators are a popular solution for those who are looking to move away from an AC electrical grid
Both portable power stations and fuel generators have their pros and cons. Fuel generators can provide significantly higher levels of power output. They can be a good choice if you want to power larger appliances like a fridge or freezer during a power outage. Another advantage is that they don’t require recharging. You simply have to keep topping up the fuel required.
These fuel-powered units, however, are much noisier than the silent portable power stations available on the market. For this reason, there are currently many seasoned campers fighting back against their use in parks and campgrounds. They also contribute to the pollution levels with the burning of fuels.
Portable power stations are often smaller and lighter than the fuel generator options, making them a more desirable option for travel. More importantly, they’re a safer solution for powering camper vans, travel trailers, and RVs because they don’t produce carbon monoxide while operating.
Charging Your Portable Power Station with Solar Panels
As our society continues to shift towards green energy sources, we’re starting to see solar power emerging as a solution in a wide variety of items for our home and recreation needs. People are harnessing the sun to power the lights around their homes, including everything from garden lighting to security lighting. Meanwhile, solar water pumps for both our home plumbing and our pools are growing in popularity.
Thanks to this innovation, you can also use solar power as an option to recharge most portable power stations. Many companies offer optional solar panels that can be purchased to charge your unit easily while off the grid.
The downfall of using solar power is that it isn’t always reliable. If you’re camping on a rainy or cloudy day, you may find that the panels simply can’t keep up with the amount of power that you’re using. They’re also an additional piece of gear that needs to be packed and brought with you when traveling. It’s a big disadvantage for backpackers and travelers with limited luggage capacity.
Solar panels are an investment. However, you will earn back that money over time with no operating costs to continue running your power station. While some solar panels are designed solely for charging the power station itself, others can be used as an independent charging solution for phones and tablets. They help to ensure that you won’t be caught without power available, even in the most remote locations.
How We Picked
With so many different power stations currently available, we had to look at the specific features and performance markers of each unit to narrow our list. This includes looking at the design, ease of use, battery capacity, power capacity, remaining power indicators, output options, charging options, size, and weight.
Recognizing that there are many different situations for which a portable power station is purchased, we also had to keep in mind that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Instead, we aimed to focus on the best option for the most common situations including camping, van life, and traveling with a CPAP machine.
We also considered the experiences of those who have used the power stations in real-life situations. The experiences of the Backyard Boss team as well as the reviews left by other customers that have purchased these units. In the end, we were able to narrow this list to 5 power stations that stood out from the rest.
Our Top Choice for A Portable Power Station
Choosing the best portable power station is going to rely largely on your unique energy needs. Someone that is looking at full-time van life is going to need a much larger power solution with a significantly higher battery capacity than a hiker that simply wants to charge a cellphone. In our opinion, a power station that is effective in a wide variety of situations is Jackery Explorer 1000.
While this unit is larger than some of the other power stations on the list, the company was able to combine different options in a single device. The relatively small size for its capacity and built-in carry handle make it a great option on the go when camping or traveling. At the same time, it’s capable of powering multiple devices with ease at home during a power outage or in your travel trailer.