In a nutshell, portable power station is an equipment that can charge electronics and appliances. They do this by equipping rechargeable batteries on their system.
They have similar mechanisms to power banks but on a higher capacity and output. They also have a number of outlets that normal power banks don’t have. Top portable power station manufacturers today also integrate advanced safety features and battery management systems on their power stations to ensure their optimal performance.
Learn more about these portable power stations so that you can understand their uses and potential benefits to specific applications.
Is A Portable Power Station Similar To Batteries?
A portable power station has a battery on it – usually in the form of lithium-ion. But at the same time, you can’t say that it is similar to batteries.
After all, these power stations have several technologies and components installed on their systems. In this way, the machine can store energy efficiently. At the same time, the architecture of portable power stations is suitable for charging your equipment, tools, and appliances as safely as possible.
Depending on the model, these power stations can optimize the charging speed. Some of them have digital interfaces, as well, so that you can monitor their overall status. Meanwhile, others have apps that let you remotely monitor and configure the power stations.
Are Portable Generators Similar To Portable Power Stations?
Though their respective job is to power your electronics and equipment, power stations and generators are not actually the same.
As mentioned, power stations use batteries to store energy, which is then used later on when you plug items into their outlets. They don’t generate electricity, and by any means, they don’t have mechanisms that could make this possible. These power stations get their energy from charging them either to wall outlets, car outlets, or solar panels.
On the flip side, generators are capable of creating their own energy. You don’t need to charge them; you simply have to fill their fuel tanks and start running them. After that, these generators would be able to create electricity that would eventually power your items.
When it comes to generators, brand does matter, too.
As long as the generators have fuel, they can have an indefinite runtime. When it comes to emergencies and long-term power generation, these generators are the best route. On the other hand, power stations are more suitable for on-the-go power needs.
What Batteries Are Being Used On Portable Power Stations?
When it comes to power stations, efficiency is a must. Therefore, manufacturers often use battery types that offer better lifespan and output than their counterparts.
Specifically, portable power station manufacturers often use lithium-ion batteries (or simply Li-ion). This particular battery is known for its lightweight design, allowing these power stations to shave weight and maintain their compact construction.
Furthermore, lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density, meaning they can efficiently store energy. Their output is impressive, as well. Despite having a small size, they can still provide high electrical output.
Of course, these lithium-ion batteries are not just used for industrial and manufacturing applications. They are virtually used anywhere. Even EV manufacturers utilize them.
The long cycle life of these lithium-ion batteries also optimizes the performance of portable power stations. You can use these machines many times before you have to replace their batteries. One variant of lithium-ion batteries is lithium iron phosphate or the LiFePO4 battery. This one has better performance than standard lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium-polymer, nickel-metal hydride, and lead-acid are other types of batteries equipped in these portable power stations. All of these battery types can provide a reliable power source and are commonly used in portable power stations.
What To Look For In A Portable Power Station?
There are certain aspects of portable power stations that you need to check. From their lifespan to their overall portability, these things will determine the overall efficiency of these machines.
As mentioned, portable power stations are a desirable option for applications that require power on the go. Hence, they need to be lightweight and compact. Fortunately, advancements in battery technology allowed these machines to move away from lead-acid batteries that are commonly used in cars. Lead acid is technically heavier than lithium-ion batteries.
Of course, some portable power stations are larger than other models of portable power stations. The larger the battery, the longer it can operate your equipment. In fact, there are power stations that can run a television for one straight day.
Meanwhile, smaller power stations will let you bring them on your travels and outdoor trips.
By the way, the portability of these power stations lie in their brand, as well. Some brands specialize in making portable power stations, such as SunlyPower, Jackery, and EcoFlow. At this point, you should realize that brands do matter, regardless of what product you want to buy.
Technically speaking, the capacity of a portable power station is measured in watt-hours (Wh). Specifically, watt-hours tell that one watt of electricity is being utilized per hour. For example, if you charge a 20-watt iPad for 2 hours, then the entire energy used is 40 Wh.
Now, if you are going to camp and you need to operate certain equipment, such as cookers and lights, then you need to measure their wattage first. Once you have summed up their wattage, check if the portable power station you have the capacity to run them.
But don’t just match the figures equally, though. For example, if the total wattage is 500 watts, then a 500Wh portable power station will not be sufficient. Around 10 to 20 percent of the batteries are lost when starting your equipment. So in this context, you would need at least a 550Wh portable power station.
However, if you want to optimize the lifespan of your power station and devices, you would need to keep the load between 80 percent to 20 percent. Hence, you would need a bigger power station or model with around 900Wh capacity.
The cycle life of a battery determines its lifespan. So when checking for portable power stations, make sure that you look for their respective cycle life. Most of the time, it is stated as 500 cycles to 80 percent capacity.
Keep in mind that rechargeable batteries, regardless of their technology, will eventually lose their capacity. A reason for this is the natural charge-and-discharge cycle. One cycle of battery happens when you consume 100 percent of its capacity.
So if you just used 40 percent of the battery, then it hasn’t completed a single cycle. You need to drain the remaining 60 percent for one cycle to take place. And this process repeats until 500 cycles.
So after 500 cycles, what will happen to the battery of the portable power station? Will it die? No. Its health is just reduced to 80 percent. So if the power station can operate an item for 50 hours in the past, this runtime would be decreased to 40 hours.
However, keep in mind that other power stations have batteries with a higher number of cycle life. Some even have 3,000 cycle life on 80 percent of their original health, which is fairly impressive.
When comparing batteries, 80 percent is usually the standard. So a battery that has 500 cycles to 80 percent capacity is better than a battery with 600 cycles to 50 percent capacity.
In a nutshell, portable power stations can truly be an invaluable asset for various industrial applications. They are incredibly reliable and can provide a consistent power supply even in remote locations. They are also incredibly versatile and can be used for various operations, from powering tools and machinery to emergency services.