Power Station Buyer’s Guide
There are plenty of reasons to buy a portable power station, whether you’re camping, living off the grid, or just being smart about emergency preparedness. But with a rapidly growing number of options on the market, how do you decide which one is right for you? Many factors come into play, including specs, performance, reliability, and extra features. Let’s discuss some of the basics.
Capacity indicates how much energy a power station can hold. This is typically indicated in Watt-hours (Wh). As the name suggests one Watt-hour is equivalent to using one Watt of power for one hour. A home energy bill can tell you the monthly power consumption of your household. You can also find this figure by measuring your home’s energy meter a few days or weeks apart.
Consider how long you anticipate needing to use your power station between recharges. If you want something that can power major appliances during a power outage, or several days of camping, you’d want a power station with more capacity than if you were, say, powering some speakers for a beach party. If you undershoot, you might run out of juice. If you overshoot, your power station is going to be a little bit larger and heavier.
SuperBase 500 from Zendure has over 500Wh of capacity and is good for a low-power trip over the course of one or two days. You can charge your phone or laptop, power some entertainment products, and even charge up a drone. If you need more capacity, then SuperBase Pro 2000 is an excellent choice. It has four times the capacity of SuperBase 500.
Generally speaking, the more capacity a power station has, the larger and heavier it will be. If your usage scenario doesn’t require moving the station around from time to time, this might not be too much of an issue. But if you need to get it in and out of storage, deploy it to a work site, or load it into your car, then portability is vital.
Despite its large capacity, SuperBase Pro 2000 is surprisingly easy to move around. It has an extending handle and large, industrial grade wheels, so you can roll it around just like a suitcase. The handle shrinks down to almost nothing when it’s retracted, making storage a breeze.
It’s important to consider how you’ll plan to charge your power station… and how often. You may only need one charge per use, or you might be running several charge cycles, for example during a long trip. A fast-charging power station lets you spend less time charging, whether you’re topping off in the middle of an adventure or you just need a quick charge for a spontaneous outing.
SuperBase Pro 2000 can be charged through its AC port–either from the grid or from solar panels–at up to 1,800W, so you can charge it to 80% in just one hour, with a full charge in only two hours. If you use AC power from the grid and DC power from solar at the same time, you can charge it even faster, up to 2,400W.
It’s probably no surprise to learn that different types of devices require different amounts of power. For example, a portable air conditioner or heavy-duty electric saw needs more power than a set of outdoor speakers or a tablet. But when it comes to those heavy-duty items, the figures can be a little bit mysterious.
Products that contain big electric motors (including refrigerators, air conditioners, and many power tools) draw a lot of extra power when starting up, to get that motor spinning, and then the power usage quickly settles down to a lower level.
Many power stations on the market have enough power for that lower level, but not enough to start the device up in the first place. SuperBase Pro 2000 from Zendure has a nominal output power of 2,000W, and can power devices that require up to 3,000W thanks to its patented AmpUp technology. What’s more, Zendure’s power station can deliver up to 4,000W briefly, for that extra “oomph” at startup. That little boost can make all the difference.
Number of Ports
Sometimes, less is more. That’s not really the case when it comes to output ports on your power station, though. SuperBase Pro has 14 output ports to handle a wide range of applications. Of course, you may never need to power 14 things at the same time, but without those numbers, you can’t get as much variety. SuperBase Pro has six AC outputs (four in the EU model), two 100W USB-C PD outputs, two 20W USB-C PD outputs, three 13.6V DC outputs, and a 12V “cigarette lighter” port. Zendure’s power station is designed to handle just about any situation.
You might be considering using solar power to charge your power station. This is where all power stations are definitely not equal. Some only accept a small amount of power, or only work with a limited selection of solar panels. SuperBase Pro from Zendure accepts DC solar power or AC with the included AC adapter. And with up to 1,800W of charging power on the AC input, you can unleash the true potential of your solar array. Plus, SuperBase Pro works with a variety of panels, whether they’re Zendure’s own portable 200W panels or a third party system.
Since rechargeable power stations don’t have to burn fuel to generate electricity, you might assume they’re all relatively quiet. But with so much power to convert between the battery, the inputs, and the outputs, the larger power stations usually need an internal fan to keep things cool. If your power station is near where you sleep, this can be a noisy nuisance. Fortunately, SuperBase Pro has a quiet mode that keeps the flow of power low to reduce or even eliminate the need for the fan to spin. We all need to recharge our own batteries with a good night’s sleep.
Bells and Whistles
Power station brands often include their own unique or uncommon features to stand out in the market. Some of these are just fluff. SuperBase Pro from Zendure has many key features that are actually useful:
- UPS Mode (offline) - If the power goes out, SuperBase Pro can switch from grid energy to the internal batteries in just a few milliseconds. Many types of devices connected to the power station may continue operating smoothly, without interruption.
- Remote Monitoring and Control - SuperBase Pro has built-in Wi-fi and 4G communication hardware, so you can use the companion app to check the status of your power station, receive notifications, and control various settings, from just about anywhere.
- Anti-theft Tracking - Zendure’s power station has a GPS chip that allows you to track its location through the companion app.
- Charging Timer - Your local power company may charge different rates throughout the day, to encourage shifting use to off-peak hours. With SuperBase Pro’s companion app, you can save money on your energy bill by timing recharges for those cheaper windows.