WHICH IS THE BEST FOR YOU: PORTABLE GENERATORS OR PORTABLE POWER STATIONS
Portable generators and portable power stations are great options for powering your devices while away from the main grid. However, they have different strengths and weaknesses. Portable generators are better at powering larger devices like air conditioners or refrigerators, while portable power stations are better at powering devices that consume lesser power, such as smaller refrigerators, TVs, or household electrical tools.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PORTABLE GENERATORS
For off-the-grid living, a portable generator can power high-wattage appliances and tools while easily carrying it around your house to your workshop.
What is a Portable Power Generator?
A portable power generator is a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical power. It is used to provide power in locations where there is no available grid power or where the grid power is not dependable.
It typically consists of an engine, alternator, fuel tank and control panel. The engine runs on gasoline, diesel or propane, and the alternator produces AC voltage which is then converted to DC voltage by the control panel. Portable generators are popular for use in construction, event management, disaster relief and off-the-grid living.
The wattage of the generator is important, as you need to make sure the generator can handle the load of the devices you plan to use it with. You also need to consider how often the generator will be used and how long it will need to run.
Portable generators come in gasoline, diesel, and propane models. Gasoline generators are more common, but propane generators are more efficient and can run longer on a tank of fuel. It is important to ensure that the proper type of fuel is available for the type of generator used.
When choosing a portable generator, be sure to consider the wattage needed, the type of fuel required and safety precautions.
Advantages of a Portable Power Generator
Portable power generators are highly mobile, making them ideal for carrying with you on camping trips, outdoor events or even tailgates. They are also relatively lightweight and easy to operate. For example, WEN 56235iX and Honda EU2200i portable inverter generators weigh only 39lbs (17.6kg) and 47lbs (21.3kg) respectively. Hence, they can be easily transported in a trunk of a car.
- Reliable: Portable power generators are a reliable and convenient source of energy in off-the-grid living. Keep an additional can of gasoline and you are good to go with off-the-grid life.
- Easily Operable: They are easy to operate and maintain with minor maintenance. All you need to do is add gas, turn on the choke lever, vent the gas cap, set the eco throttle in the right place, enable the engine and pull the cord. Slowly turn off the choke once the generator starts working.
- Cost-effective: To run heavy-duty appliances that cost you a lot of money with a regular bill, portable generators can be a very cost-effective alternative.
- Power Big Appliances: They can easily power a wide variety of small to heavy appliances and equipment, such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners.
Disadvantages of a Portable Power Generator
Despite having many advantages such as powering high-wattage appliances without connecting to a grid, you may not be able to power multiple high-wattage appliances simultaneously. By doing so, it may not generate enough electricity to power the appliances, but, most importantly, it may damage the generator.
Moreover, portable generators also require regular maintenance to ensure proper operation. They can be expensive to purchase and operate, and they can be dangerous if not used properly.
- Limited runtime: Most portable generators have a runtime of 3-8 hours on a full tank of gas, depending upon the item’s wattage load. This means you will always have to keep additional gas with you in case you are planning on running heavy appliances.
- Loud: One big downside of all regular and portable power generators is that they are extremely loud. For off-the-grid life, it may not be suitable because you are supposed to spend a quiet, tranquil time, not deafening. Most importantly, you and your family will have to take some time to get used to its noise while sleeping.
- Produce fumes: Portable generators produce dangerous fumes that may contain carbon monoxide, an odourless, colourless gas that can kill without warning. As a safety precaution, it is crucial to ensure that portable generators are placed outside, in a well-ventilated area.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PORTABLE POWER STATIONS
A portable power station provides some of the same benefits as a gas-powered generator, but it is much more versatile, cleaner, and easier to use.
What is a Portable Power Station?
A portable power station is a battery-powered electrical generator. Typically, it consists of a battery pack, an inverter, and a DC adapter. The battery pack is usually lithium-ion. The inverter converts the battery's DC voltage to AC voltage so that the power can be used to run standard household appliances.
Since it is battery-powered, it needs to be charged through an external source. For people living off the grid, this source can be a solar panel, a vehicle's cigarette lighter socket or a portable wind turbine.
Portable power stations are available in a variety of sizes and capacities. They range from a small power station of 300 watt-hours, 800 watt-hours to a bigger 1500 to 2000 watt-hours to power any small or large appliance. Watt-hour (Wh) means that a device of 1 watt will run up to 300 hours on a smaller power station and 2000 hours on a bigger portable power station.
Practically, a refrigerator's wattage per hour is nearly 150. Thus, a smaller power station of 800Wh will run a domestic refrigerator for almost 5.3 hours, whereas the 2000Wh will run the same refrigerator for about 13.3 hours at one charge.
When choosing a portable power station, it is also important to consider the weight and size of the unit. Some units are very heavy and bulky, while others are lightweight and easy to transport, but they all are designed to charge devices of different wattages. For example, a 300-watt power station can only charge a mobile phone, camera, and lamps, but it cannot charge bigger devices like laptops, iron or heater. Be sure to consider all your needs and choose the unit that is right for you.
Top portable power stations and their capabilities:
- Jackery Explorer 1500: It features a 1534Wh capacity that can power up to 85% of the home appliances and power tools. Explorer 1500 comes with additional 400W solar panels to charge the battery up to 80% within 4 hours.
- GoalZero Yeti 1500X: It has a 1516Wh capacity with a 2000W output rating that can charge power-hungry devices and appliances conveniently. For example, a 1000W microwave can be powered for up to 2 hours on a single charge, whereas a full-size refrigerator (71W) can run for 21 hours.
- Anker 757 PowerHouse: This power station features a capacity of 1229Wh. It has a total output of 1500W with 6 AC outlets. It can power a 700W microwave for 1.4 hours. The power station can be charged up to 80% in 3.6 hours with 300W solar panels.
Advantages of a Portable Power Station
A portable power station is a silent and safe alternative for people living off the grid. It will provide you with a peaceful and hazard-free environment. Here are some common advantages of portable power stations.
- Charges Multiple Appliances: A portable power station can simultaneously charge a wide range of devices, including laptops, cell phones and small appliances.
- Zero Emission: It does not require gasoline or any other type of fuel, keeping the environment unpolluted.
- Easily Chargeable: It can be charged using an automobile auxiliary power outlet, solar panels or portable wind turbines.
Disadvantages of a Portable Power Station
There may be a few issues with charging time or cost, depending upon the size of the power station and the source of power.
- Longer Charging Time: A portable power station can take a long time to charge if you do not have a powerful external source, such as a solar panel to a portable wind turbine.
- Costly: It can be expensive if it is the only source of energy during your off-the-grid living, as you will have to invest some additional capital at the beginning for solar panels to run your devices smoothly.
- Increased Downtime: If a portable power station dies, you will have to wait a couple of hours until it is fully charged to power your devices.
CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS OF PORTABLE GENERATORS AND PORTABLE POWER STATIONS
Portable generators and portable power stations are becoming increasingly popular because of their off-the-grid lifestyle capabilities. However, it is important to understand the limitations of these devices before relying on them as your primary source of power.
Capabilities and Limitations of Portable Generators
Portable power generators can generate enough energy to run heavy appliances and equipment, but they are limited by their fuel source. If you are using a gas-powered generator, you will need a constant gasoline supply. This can be difficult if you are living in a remote area. Additionally, they produce harmful emissions that can be dangerous if inhaled, so portable generators should only be used in well-ventilated areas.
Capabilities and Limitations of Portable Power Stations
Portable power stations can conveniently run domestic appliances. However, to run heavy appliances for a long time, you will need to purchase additional solar panels, so the power station can charge fast, with minimum downtime.
Yet again, the limitation occurs with the amount of sunlight solar panels can capture. If you live in an area with limited sunlight, a portable power station may not be able to provide enough power to meet your needs. In such a case, a portable off-grid wind turbine will be the best option. They are lightweight, compact, efficient, durable, portable and, most importantly, can charge power stations at any time regardless of weather conditions.
Key Differences Between Portable Generators and Portable Power Stations
Portable generators and portable power stations are both utilised to power the devices off the grid. However, the energy source harnessed to power both the generator and the power station are different. Some other key differences are as follows:
|Attribute||Portable Generator||Portable Power Station|
|Power Generation||Creates electric power||Stores electric power|
|Usage||Outdoor only||Indoor and outdoor|
|Runtime||Indefinite (if fuel is available)||Limited number of hours|
|Appliances||Unsuitable for sensitive electronics, unless inverter supported||Suitable for all electronics|
CHOOSE A PORTABLE ENERGY SOURCE BASED ON YOUR NEEDS
Portable generators and portable power stations are both essential for off-the-grid living. However, preferences may vary, depending upon the needs, activities and lifestyle.
An occasional camper with a few-days stay can easily benefit from a portable generator. Just a few cans of gasoline or fuel can keep the generator running for a couple of days.
On the other hand, a portable power station is a more viable option for someone who travels for a longer period or lives off the grid. It is economical as it can be powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines.
The main benefit of utilising a sustainable energy source like a wind turbine is its reliability. Unlike other forms of energy generation that are susceptible to environmental conditions, wind turbines can generate power even in low-wind areas. For example, Texenergy’s Infinite Air 18 is a portable wind turbine that generates energy in any weather condition. This is due to its 360 degrees of rotation which allows it to capture wind from any direction and convert it into usable energy.
These energy sources harnessed to power portable power stations save a substantial cost on gas or fuel that is exclusively associated with portable generators.
Therefore, portable power stations are much more efficient, economical and eco-friendly in the long run. Find out how Texenergy’s Infinite Air 18 portable off-grid wind turbine adapts to wind directions to provide renewable energy even at a limited wind speed.