Once you’ve made the life-enhancing decision to buy a portable power station, how do you figure out which model/size is the right fit for your needs? How do you find the perfect combination of cost-efficiency, capacity and longevity?
Usually measured in watt-hours (Wh), this value is used to indicate the total amount of energy a battery can store. Knowing the watt-hour rating of your portable power station is important to help you choose one that can handle your power needs. Consider how much power you need. Look for a portable power station with a high watt-hour rating.
Consider the types of devices you will be charging and their power requirements. Look for a portable power station with multiple USB ports and AC outlets, and check the wattage of the AC outlets to ensure they can handle your devices.
If you plan to take your portable power station on the go, consider its size and weight. Look for a compact and lightweight model that is easy to carry.
Look for a portable power station that is built to last. Consider factors such as the type of battery used, the materials used in construction, and whether it has any additional features like water resistance.
Look for a reputable brand with good customer reviews. This can give you an idea of the quality of the product and the level of support you can expect if you encounter any issues.
The number of times a battery can be charged and discharged before its capacity begins to drop below acceptable performance levels.
A key component for solar generators is solar panel charging. When choosing solar panels for a solar generator, it's important to consider the following factors:
The wattage of the solar panels will determine how much power they can produce. Make sure to choose panels that can produce enough wattage to meet your needs.
The size of the solar panels will determine how much space you have available for them. Consider the size of your solar generator and the amount of space you have available.
Solar panels should be able to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as high winds and heavy snow. Look for panels that are built with durable materials and have a good warranty.
Solar panels can vary in cost, so it's important to find a balance between cost and quality. Determine your budget and look for panels that offer the best value for your money.
Overall, it's important to do your research and carefully consider your needs when choosing solar panels for your solar generator.
To estimate how much power you’ll need each time you use your power station, make a list of the devices/tools/appliances you expect to run each time – along with their wattages. If your usage needs might vary, calculate for the highest energy load you might have at any one time.
(Some of your devices will have their wattage information easily accessible – others will require a little detective work. The product pages for your devices/tools/appliances, and resources like the Appliance Energy Calculator from the US Department of Energy, are a great place to start.)
The next step is to multiply the wattage required by each of your devices with the estimated number of hours you expect it to be pulling power from your power station. Adding all of the estimated wattage totals from your list will give you an idea of what kind of capacity you’re looking for in a power station.
Watts Required x Estimate Hours Expected = Total Expected Capacity
THERE’S NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL
Even if your current capacity needs are relatively modest but fairly frequent, you might still decide to choose a higher-capacity model because its cycle life will be longer. For example, if you use only 10% of your power station’s capacity each time, then you have roughly 10 uses for each cycle. However, if your battery has a lower capacity, and you use most of that capacity each time, then the battery cycle life will be used up more quickly.
If your goal is to extend the total amount of time before replacement, and given two devices with similar cycle life, you may want to lean towards the device with a capacity that exceeds your needs for each use. If, however, your usage will be infrequent and calendar fade is more of a threat than using up your capacity, a lower-capacity model might be a better fit.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But when you’re trying to figure out the best power station for your needs, take a good hard look at your total capacity requirements for each use, how often you plan to use portable power, and the projected battery cycle life of the models you’re considering. Armed with that information, you can make the most informed choice possible – and begin to take advantage of the many benefits of having an efficient, portable, eco-friendly, “off the grid” power source.