HOW TO CHOOSE THE MOST SUITABLE PORTABLE POWER STATION FOR CAMPING?
Portable power stations are ideal for camping, as they provide a reliable source of energy to charge various domestic appliances and devices and keep them running. They are available in a variety of sizes with different power capacities and features. In order to choose the most suitable portable power station for camping, it is important to consider the following factors:
FEATURES OF PORTABLE POWER STATION
A portable power station is a battery-powered unit that supplies power to the devices. In order to supply power, it needs to have enough capacity, depending upon how big or small a device is.
This capacity of portable power stations is usually measured in watt-hours (Wh), indicating how much energy it can provide. Watt-hour refers to how many hours a device will last.
For instance, if a tiny light bulb is equivalent to one watt of energy, and the portable power station has a capacity of 250Wh, the battery will continuously power the bulb for 250 hours.
This means that the popular GoalZero Yeti 1500X, which supplies 1,516 Watt Hours on one charge, can power a mini fridge of 35W for almost 44 hours uninterrupted.
Portable power stations have batteries installed inside which indicate the maximum charge of these power stations. The battery type signifies the overall stability, safety, reliability, and environmental impact.
Batteries deteriorate over time because of continuous use and recharge, affecting the battery cycles the unit can withstand before it fully drains. Most portable power stations for camping are equipped with ternary lithium-ion batteries that have a lifecycle of 500 charges.
Whereas lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, also known as LiFePO4, have six times the lifespan, offering an impressive 3000 cycles, compared to commonly used lithium batteries.
Outputs and Inputs
Portable power stations possess multiple electrical outlets to charge devices simultaneously. A big unit will have an AC outlet, similar to the wall socket, to charge power-hungry appliances. Although it may not be important in casual camping, campervans may require at least two sockets to power their appliances while traveling.
There is a USB-A port that charges smaller devices, such as cameras, phones, tablets, and light bulbs. Comparatively, a USB-C port charges larger devices, such as modern laptops which previously used the traditional wall socket. The newer USB-C transfers data faster, supplying higher amounts of power.
During camping, a portable power station can be easily charged with a car port via a car's cigarette lighter socket or the high-power input port to charge via sustainable sources, such as portable solar panels or portable wind turbines.
Note that the input power capacity is dependent on each power station and should be taken note of. A 1500Wh portable power station for camping may not allow connecting with an input power source of more than 600W.
Size and Weight
Portable power stations carry a variety of sizes and weights ranging from 160Wh (3.97lbs or 1.8kg) to 2000Wh (43.2lbs or 19.5kg) or more. The selection depends upon the campers' travelling options and usage.
For instance, if campers are planning to trek with their backpacks on, the lightest option is preferable.
However, if the journey has short hikes and is mostly about enjoying a campfire or bonfire, weight becomes a secondary consideration. In such cases, a bigger portable power station for camping may an ideal choice.
BENEFITS OF PORTABLE POWER STATION
Campers usually prefer light and functional energy sources that can power most of their appliances and other devices. Most portable power stations that are lightweight, for example, the GoalZero Yeti 500X (5.85kg), can charge almost any appliance, such as a mini cooler, mini fridge, and TV to name a few. Their portability allows them to be carried and transported easily anywhere, anytime.
Portable power stations are battery-operated units and are easily rechargeable, depending upon the source of charge. Usually, a portable power station for camping is charged by a solar panel or a portable wind turbine. In a sunny region, a portable solar panel would be the ideal option; however, for a cloudy area or where there is more shade, a portable wind turbine would be preferred. An alternative charging process, although slow, would be a car's cigarette lighter socket.
Campers would be happy to know any energy source, such as a portable power station, should be easy to maintain. Unlike generators, portable power stations require little to no maintenance. All they require is to be recharged. If one properly manages a portable power station by not using it to charge devices that have a higher voltage than the station can support, years of clean and green energy for camping trips can be obtained.
CHOOSING A PORTABLE POWER STATION
Campers who are planning on camping for multiple days – and those who are frequent travellers – should opt for a power station that has high capacity. A unit of 500Wh to 1500Wh should be ideal, depending on what appliances and devices they will need to power during their stay.
However, if camping is for a single day and only small devices are required to be charged, such as a lamp, light bulb, or phone for a few hours, a 160Wh portable power station should be adequate for camping. Its weight is light enough to be carried in a backpack.
Most portable power stations use lithium-ion batteries, which are widely used in the electronic industry. However, some companies have begun using lithium iron phosphate batteries that last longer than the former. These types of batteries are better at handling high temperatures too.
There are two main categories of batteries for portable power stations: a lithium-ion battery and a lithium-iron-phosphate battery. A lithium-ion battery can charge about 500 times, whereas a lithium-ion-phosphate battery can be charged and discharged about 3,000 times before the battery starts to degrade.
For instance, Jackery 500 carries a lithium-ion battery whilst Anker 535 PowerHouse uses a lithium iron phosphate battery, lasting six times longer than Jackery.
When choosing a portable power station, try to look for those with a lithium-ion-phosphate battery. This will ensure the most value for money before the portable power station has to be replaced.
A PORTABLE POWER STATION AS AN IDEAL POWER SOURCE DURING CAMPING
A portable power station for camping can be a great source of energy. While there are many sources of portable energy available; in particular, wind energy can be more reliable in charging a portable power station. They are lightweight, easy to assemble, and can generate energy even with wind speeds as low as 8mph.
Portable wind turbines like the Texenergy’s Infinite Air 18 can charge portable power stations in most weather conditions in an environmentally friendly way, with maximum power capacities of 18V. In addition, the portable wind turbine includes a 12V adapter that can charge 12 volts devices too.
A portable power station with a portable wind turbine can be a great combination during camping, as it is a reliable power source and is capable of generating energy day and night.