Best Portable Power Stations for December 2023 – CNET

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Which is the best portable power station?

While options are numerous, I’ve found the Jackery 2000 Plus to be the best portable power station overall. That’s because Jackery’s offerings are usually solid in this arena. I have felt in the past that some models have been lacking, or omit features like wireless charging options, but the company has now added the ability to expand the 2000 Plus by adding on external batteries, thereby increasing overall capacity and capabilities.

In general, as electronic devices become ever more integrated into our daily lives, the need to keep those devices charged and online increases, but we can’t bring the power grid with us wherever we go. Portable power stations are the perfect solution to keep us electronically powered on the go. These devices have enough bells and whistles to justify adding one of these to your everyday life, as well.   

If you’re looking to juice up your devices, you’ll have way more options than bulky, simple power banks with basic outlets. Portable power stations have undergone major improvements since we first started reviewing them here at CNET. As the industry has matured, it’s brought even more portable power station options. Now, you’ve got features like USB ports, solar panel inputs and wireless charging. You can even daisy-chain some models for even more power or connect them to your home’s electrical system, giving you backup power in an emergency or power outage

Five power stations in front of a brick wall

Chris Monroe/CNET

Gas-powered generators used to be your main option for “off-grid” power where electricity is needed, especially in more temporary situations like camping, if you didn’t have an RV or another power supply for your campsite. 

I put each power station through its paces and considered factors such as battery life, power output and input charging options, plus output options for juicing up my gear. Power stations that only sport AC outlets and force you to use adapters are no longer viable. Each is more than just an on-the-go phone battery charger or glamping must-have. These power bank performers have wide-ranging uses, from building and construction to staying connected with the office or family to having access to emergency lighting and power wherever you roam or call home. 

Best portable power stations for 2023

Steve Conaway / CNET

Jackery has been busy with new releases this year, and for some, it might be easy to get confused by its naming system. At first, I thought the Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus was an incremental update to the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro, but no; this is a decidedly different product. The standard specs and performance are similar at a glance, but coming in at around 20 pounds heavier, the 2000 Plus is built to do more. 

First and foremost, with the added weight also comes a telescoping handle and durable wheels. You will also notice the inclusion of a round RV-type AC output rated at 25A. What’s more, if you’d like to pick up two of these, you can also use the new Jackery expansion connector to connect both units and supply yourself with two separate 240-volt outlets (each rated 30A). We have seen this from a few other manufacturers, but I’m happy to see Jackery doing this early in the game. 

Similarly, Jackery has thrown in on the modular game by offering external expansion batteries. For now, the 2000 Plus is the only unit that will accept these batteries, but we can assume more are to follow. Each external battery has the same capacity as the base 2000 Plus unit, and currently, you can link up to five additional batteries to the main unit for a staggering 12,256.8Wh. Additionally, you can still combine two sets of the six-piece combos together for that 240-volt capability and an even larger capacity of 24,513.6Wh. 

For these reasons and more, the Jackery 2000 Plus is our best large and best overall portable power station. 

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This model is the first new “best small portable power station” in two years, unseating the previous titleholder; the Togo PowerAdvance 346. 

In addition to having the wireless charge capability, I’m so fond of (especially on smaller units), the Flash300 did well in our tests and sports a blazing fast 0-100% charge time of around 45 minutes. 

It has all the ports you’d expect, 600 watts of power, in and out, and a clean and informative LED display; a feature highly Recommended.

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Insert your favorite quote about big things and small packages here. 

The 1000 Plus has a stated capacity of 1264Wh paired with a 2000W output. The new “Plus” line also supports capacity expansion through external batteries. With this unit, you can add up to three extra batteries for up to 5kWh. 

Charge via wall outlet in about one and a half hours; double that if you max out the 1000 Plus’ 800W solar charging input and go that route instead. 

Modular is the way to go for most people who need serious power. Jackery’s Plus line continues to impress with its full suite of expandable products.  

Steve Conaway/CNET

The capacity and capabilities of portable power stations continue to evolve, so I’ve reconfigured the sizing categories for this category and added in “extra-large” since we’re regularly seeing extra-large portable power stations. 

The first model to catch this title is the Mega 5 from Oupes. The Mega 5 maxes out at 5040Wh, with a single expansion battery option, the B5, bringing the total to 10.08kWh. At 4000W output with a 7000W surge, you’ll be able to power pretty much anything you want (as long as it uses either a standard 120v plug or the round RV type). 

It also has a large solar charging capacity (4050W) and in our tests, proved to be one of the fastest charging units we’ve tested (second actually), going from 0-100% in 214 minutes, or 3 hours and 54 minutes. That ends up being 23.55-watt hours per minute charged, which is the second-highest rate we’ve recorded. 

If you have serious power needs, consider the Mega 5. 

Steve Conaway / CNET

The EcoFlow River 2 Pro takes the best budget title.

The River 2 Pro is about what you expect based on manufacturer claims. You’ll find a usable 635.1Wh out of the stated 768 (just under the industry standard of 85% usable capacity). Lots of options for charging outputs. EcoFlow’s claims of “70 minutes to fully recharge” we found to be true. In our tests, the process was completed in only 69 minutes.

The straight-up features in this smaller package make it a value, and the sale price drops make it a great budget pick; currently listed for $100 off at $649.

Bluetti

We have seen several Bluetti models take titles in this list over the years. 

The AC200 MAX did not initially make our winners list when we first tested it earlier this year, but after a price drop of $400, and currently being on sale for another $200 off, this unit with a $1,399 price tag is quite the value. 

2,048-watt hours of capacity (expandable to 8,192Wh), 2,200W output (4800W surge) and 900W of solar charging power (1400W solar plus AC) are nothing to laugh at in this price range. Most offerings with similar specs sit closer to $2k and often are missing the expandability aspect. 

This unit is comparable in form to Bluetti’s larger format AC300 and AC500 units. The AC500 has more to offer, even going as far as showcasing a 50A outlet (still only 120V unless you want to join two units together for a split-phase 240) and the AC300 has more 120V 20A circuits, but the AC200 MAX is the only one of these that actually has any battery capacity built-in. For both the AC300 and AC500, an external battery is required. 

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These days, an increasing number of portable power stations offer UPS or EPS backup protection modes to offer backup power to critical pieces of equipment during power failures. You plug the power station into your wall outlet and the equipment in question into your power station. With UPS, EPS or Backup mode enabled, the power station will kick in and power whatever is plugged into it from its internal battery. Before you run out and replace your existing UPS units with one of these, you should know that it is almost the same as a UPS. But not entirely.

A dedicated UPS could have a transfer time (the amount of time it takes for its battery to take over once the grid power has failed) of anywhere from 0 to 12 milliseconds, and most of them try to stay at 8 milliseconds or faster. The majority of portable power stations now offer transfer times of “less than” 20 or 30 milliseconds. That’s great as far as portable power stations go. For a dedicated UPS that you might want to protect a core piece of tech or an important medical device, you might consider a different solution. By all means, your TVs, laptops, fridges and other devices will be well looked after.

That being said, the Zendure SuperBase Pro 2000 offers, in comparison, a blazing “less than 13ms” transfer speed for its backup mode. The Zendure suite overall is fairly impressive and offers lots of options for portable or even static and whole-home energy solutions. Check out a more complete look at the expanding landscape of these companies

Steve Conaway/CNET

By camping, I don’t mean “glamping.” I’m not trying to power your PS5, beer fridge and jacuzzi. Since solar panels are more common now, and almost every portable power station offers an option to charge with them, we don’t have to be quite as concerned about overall battery capacity or our ability to get to grid power to recharge. 

Even if it does carry a hefty price tag (although it’s currently on sale for $549, which is a big drop from its normal retail price of $999), I feel like this model hits a sweet spot of basic functionality, capacity and price. Even though you have the option of charging via solar panels, you can probably survive a weekend trip with a full charge, depending on what you’re powering. That helps when you’re in sub-prime conditions for solar charging, such as overcast or rainy days. 

A newcomer nearly unseated the Delta Mini this round and would have, if not for the Mini’s recent price drop. If you’re looking for a good camping option with a bit more power, check out the Pecron E2000LFP. It lists at $1,100 currently but has more to offer than the Delta Mini.

It’s also worth mentioning that even though the GoSun PowerBank 1100 didn’t finish at the top of our testing, GoSun offers a whole suite of camping and solar-friendly equipment, including a nifty folding solar table that I’m hoping to add to an upcoming solar panel best list.

Steve Conaway/CNET

The VTOMAN FlashSpeed 1500 is the fastest charging portable power station on our list. Now, looking at our test data, that doesn’t mean that it took less time to charge than any other unit, but, in using our residential AC charging method, it instead indicates the unit that charges the most watt-hours per minute. This method allows the large-capacity units to compete in this category with much smaller units that would obviously charge much faster. 

Charging from 0 to 100% in 64 minutes, the FlashSpeed 1500 sees 24.19 watts-per-minute charging from a standard 120-volt, 20-amp residential outlet. A close second was the EcoFlow Delta Pro at 22.64 watts-per-minute, and in general, different EcoFlow and Jackery branded units make up the bulk of the next-best contenders, with a couple of one-off exceptions in the Mango Power E, Zendure SuperBase Pro and Anker PowerHouse 767. 

If charging to recover your total capacity is a major concern for you, these are the units to look at. In addition, they all offer simultaneous charging from other inputs like solar or other DC inputs if you need to up your recharge game. 

I also can’t overlook the fact that this unit is currently listed at 50% off, making it only $849!

Factors to consider when choosing a portable power station

  • Capacity

    This is really the main point of a portable power station. How many times can you recharge that phone? Or how long will that light run?

  • Charging Outputs

    So many to choose from… AC receptacles, USB ports, wireless charging, RV connector, EV connector… make sure it has what you need!

  • Charging Inputs

    Other than the main AC charging via receptacle, some people specifically need DC charging on the road, or solar panel charging (check the input watts here).

  • Features

    Once all your basic criteria are met, check out the nice-to-haves. Ability to add additional batteries? Modular pieces to spread around your power?

Other portable power stations we’ve tested

Togo Power Advance 346 (346Wh): This unit held the title for best small portable power station for about two years on this list; solid performance, great features and an attractive price tag. 

Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro (1512Wh): With this Jackery you will get a dependable machine that performs well in our usable capacity tests at 90.4% and charges quickly: 0 to 100% in 2 hours, with AC-only charging. Toss in a couple of solar panels and you can drop that time down quite a bit. 

EcoFlow Delta Pro (3600Wh):The EcoFlow Delta Pro is one of the largest portable power stations on our list at 3.6kWh (expandable up to 25kWh), and also happens to be one of the fastest charging. Lots of power, and plenty of charge options to keep that power rolling.

Energizer PPS700 (626Wh): OK performance and features overall, but one of the lowest tested capacities, making the usable capacity closer to 477Wh.

EcoFlow River Max (576Wh): Blazing fast charging and a low cost per watt-hour make this a reasonable pick, although this unit did test lowest in measured versus expected capacity, putting it at 425 usable watt-hours. Where’d those extra 151 watt-hours go?

GoSun PowerBank 1100 (1,100Wh): I really wanted to like this unit more, partially because of GoSun’s extended offerings of solar-friendly devices, and as far as capacity goes, this runs in the middle of the pack, but man is it slow to charge. It took nearly 12 hours — over six times as long as our largest power station (Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro) — which offers nearly twice the capacity. At $1,299, I’d like to see a faster charging option and maybe more outputs or at least wireless charging.

Bluetti EB3A (268Wh): If you’re interested in something small to work for your personal charging needs but those pocket-sized battery packs just don’t cut it, this could be your option. As a previous CNET “best value” winner, the EB3A has what you need to keep rocking for a couple of days. 

Bluetti EB55 (537Wh): We’ve liked almost every unit from Bluetti, and three of them took previous titles in this best list, but this unit just got overshadowed by its siblings. Just as good or better offerings at better prices keep the EB55 out of the winner’s circle.

Fanttik Evo 300 (299Wh): This is a solid pick in the small power station category, and this unit sports my favorite display: extra large and easy to read. We did see average performances on our charging and capacity tests.

Rocksolar Nomad RS650 (444Wh): Until they update this unit, there are likely better options for almost anything you’re looking to do. It has a high price, low usable capacity, slow charge time and is low on features and options, but it does work. 

BigBlue Cellpowa 500 (537.6Wh): This is a better-than-average performing unit at better-than-average pricing: nothing outstanding to speak of. 

Jackery Explorer 240 (240Wh): We’ve been fans of all the Jackery units we’ve ever tested in the past, and that doesn’t change here. Just missing the best small power station title, this unit still boasts the second-best capacity rating of all the ones we tested. It was a little slow to charge but is offered at a great price.

Geneverse HomePower One (1,002Wh): This unit was the second slowest overall to charge, but did well on its usable capacity rating at 91%. Its display is small but offers all the standard input and output features you’d want.

Oupes 600W (595Wh): Not a bad little unit. I love that it has the LiFePO4 battery. It performed about average (maybe a hair under par) and I feel like it could be cheaper. The name can be hard to pronounce; “Oops” is our best guess.

Goal Zero Yeti 200X:: The Goal Zero products are solidly made, but we did get the lowest score in our ‘usable capacity’ tests from this unit; about 65% compared to the industry-accepted norm of 85%. There are better products in the small portable power station category. 

Rockpals 300W: This unit also came in under the line in usable capacity. Given the industry standard of 85%, Rockpals’ 78% is a bit lacking. In terms of charge speed, this unit is one of the faster small portable power stations. It has decent features and kind of looks like a handheld radio. 

BioLite BaseCharge 600 (622Wh): Here’s a unit that’s about average with an OK price. It has 87% usable capacity, a Li-ion battery, average features and is maybe a little slow on the charge time. On the plus side, it does have wireless charging.

Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro (1,002Wh): The 1000 Pro falls into our large portable power station, which begins at 1,000Wh (this Jackery weighs in at 1,002Wh; the same as its big brother, the 2000 Pro). I like the 2000 more than the 1000 for a few reasons, so the 1000 never really had a shot at taking the “large” category. That said, it still has good performance, nice features and pretty amazing charge times.

Anker 555 PowerHouse (1,024Wh): An increasing number of portable power stations are shipping with LiFePO4 batteries, and I love that. The 555 is slower to charge than most of its competitors but sports a 94% usable capacity and an attractive price versus the number of watt-hours; the better to power those six AC outlets!

DaranEner NEO2000 (2,073.6Wh): This unit didn’t win any categories, but it did perform in the top tier for our charge tests and came in about average for our usable battery capacity tests. This sturdy unit has plenty of features and one of the lowest prices per watt-hour.

EcoFlow Delta 2 (1,024Wh): The EcoFlow Delta 2 is very similar to the Anker 555 PowerHouse across the board — features, pricing, etc. The main differences you can see from our tests are the usable capacity percentages: Anker with 94% versus EcoFlow with about 70% and charging rates, with both being rated at 1,024Wh. The EcoFlow Delta 2 charged to full in only 86 minutes, 275 minutes faster than the Anker model. Another point for EF is that it can wire in a secondary battery module, taking the capacity from 1,024Wh to 2,048Wh. Expect to pay an additional $800 for that battery expansion. 

Bluetti AC200P (2,000Wh): This is one of Bluetti’s earlier large portable power stations and a previous winner for “best large portable power station.” It’s currently over $500 off on Bluetti’s site. It still offers plenty of power and options, but is likely nearing the end of its product cycle lifespan (hence the $500 discount). 

Geneverse HomePower One Pro (1,210Wh): This is the grownup version of the Geneverse HomePower One. The feature specs are about the same, but at $500 more, you’re only getting about 200 extra watt-hours. In addition, the standard One model comes in at 91% usable capacity versus the Pro model’s 73%. That gives you 912.6 usable watt-hours with the standard and only 886.7Wh on the Pro. The Pro did charge in almost a quarter of the time it took the standard version. 

BioLite BaseCharge 1500 (1,521Wh): Having tested both the 600 and 1500 models of the BioLite BaseCharge, I can tell you that this company is fairly consistent when it comes to their product manufacturing. The BaseCharge is about 2.5 times the capacity of the 600. That 2.5 modifier carries across the board fairly accurately from price to capacity, charge times, everything. If you like the 600 but you wish you had two and a half of them, save yourself the effort and just buy the 1500.

Renogy Phoenix 200 (189Wh): Slower to charge, but with 96% usable battery capacity paired with the lowest price of any unit we’ve tested, this a great option for smaller use cases or for people generally interested in checking out portable power stations at a reasonable price. 

Zendure SuperBase Pro 2000 (2,096Wh): The first unit we tested with the Li-NMC battery composition. This unit also just missed the best large portable power station title. It does have a weight-to-capacity ratio likely thanks to the NMC composition and boasts our highest solar charging capacity to date at 2,400 watts. Its telescoping handle and wheels make it easier to manage, but the form makes it a little more compatible with navigating paved walkways versus “off-road” terrain. 

Anker Solix F1200 (1,229Wh): This unit was previously known as the PowerHouse 757 from Anker, and was also CNET’s previous pick for “best portable power station for backup.” Its UPS mode was one of the earlier units to boast “less than 20ms” switchover time in the event of a power outage. It’s also currently $300 off on Anker’s site. 

Runhood Rallye 600 (648Wh): There are a couple of these types of units on the market now, and I’ve been waiting for their arrival. This Runhood unit is the first modular-style portable power station I’ve been able to get my hands on, and I love what it means for the industry. Performance-wise, this model was about average, but it could offer you more in flexibility and convenience than many other units. The batteries are swappable, so you can pick up extras, in addition to stand-alone AC and USB modules that can use those extra batteries without being plugged into the main power station unit. This could be a game changer for trips where every member of the family is off in a different area draining some electronic device. I look forward to adding a “best modular power station” category soon.

Anker Solix F2000 (2,048Wh): Previously known as the Anker PowerHouse 767 and previous winner of “best large portable power station” here on CNET. This model has lots to offer by way of features and options — pretty much anything other than wireless charging. It also performed quite well on our usable capacity and charge time tests. 

Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro (2,160Wh): This was a previous title-holder of the “fastest charging portable power station.” The Jackery units overall are great and dependable. If you’re looking for a model (really, their entire lineup) that will recharge fast with multiple, even combined options, Jackery is a no-brainer. 

Litheli PowerHUB B600 (562Wh): This one can be slow to charge, but otherwise, there is a lot to like here. It has good usable capacity at a decent price since it’s currently marked at about 30% off. Litheli is also offering a battery platform (U-Battery) with this unit. Two smaller batteries plug into the main unit that you can then use with a variety of other tools. Check out our upcoming coverage on handheld vacuums to see Litheli’s performance there. 

Jackery Explorer 3000 Pro (3,024Wh): Another beast of a unit and a great offering from Jackery. If you’re already a Jackery fan but need more battery capacity, this is an easy win for you. Otherwise, recent improvements include wheels, telescoping handling and that round RV plug we’ve been waiting for.

Mango Power E (3,530Wh): I mentioned this unit earlier as the runner-up in the “fastest charging” category. This thing is loaded with features, even allowing you to provide 240-volt service by linking a second unit. There are also battery expansions for the Mango Power E. The one downside is the price tag, as this unit also comes through as the most expensive portable power station with a list price of $3,999. 

Deeno X1500 (1,036Wh): The X1500 did not fare well in our tests. It came through with one of the lowest usable capacity scores we’ve collected so far at 69.88%, meaning you see about 724Wh out of the stated 1036Wh. For the price, there are better options. 

Oscal PowerMax 700 (666Wh): Another unit that didn’t perform particularly well in our tests, but does boast a ton of features including a “non-stop continuous power supply mode.”  

Monster Power Grid 300 (296Wh): The Power Grid 300 can be slow to charge but did test at over 90% usable capacity. It has all the bells and whistles you’d expect at this level at a price that’s potentially a tad high. 

Pecron E2000LFP (1,920Wh): I discussed this unit briefly earlier as the runner-up to the Delta Mini in the “best portable power station for camping” race. It has more options than the Mini and is suitably priced. I’m also a fan of any of the companies that adopt the modular approach with the capability to expand capacity with external batteries like Pecron has done. You can also pick up a rolling caddy for the unit if you’re on the go.

BougeRV Fort 1000 (1,120Wh): I’m a fan of BougeRV’s approach to camping and outdoor products in this space. It’s worth checking out especially if you’re looking for more flexibility in areas like solar panels or DIY options. The Fort 1000 did well in our tests but didn’t stand out enough to capture any titles. 

EcoFlow Delta 2 Max (2,048Wh): Another example of a great product that didn’t capture any of our titles. The Delta 2 Max performed well in all of our tests, and with the ability to expand to 6.144kWh, you’re really walking the line between a portable power station and a whole-home energy solution. 

Phyleko ENF1000S (1,024Wh): I’ve seen this body style before in the GoSun 1100 — it feels super sturdy and I do like the larger colorful display. Otherwise, this unit landed just under average in our tests. 

Ugreen Power Roam 600 (680Wh): This unit didn’t do great in our tests, but it does have a reasonable price. It does charge quickly, but to be fair, that has more to do with the smaller capacity than an elevated charging capability. 

Bluetti AC200 MAX (2,048Wh): This is (what I consider) the newer version of Bluetti’s AC200P. The features are all as great as before, and the test results were similar. It did come back with slightly less usable capacity than its predecessor and about the same charging speed. Again, I love the modular approach: you have a few external battery options here, getting you as much as 8.192kWh of expansion. 

Duracell Power 500 (515Wh): This is the first Duracell unit I’ve tested, but not the first battery brand (see Energizer at the top of this list) to put out a portable power station. So far, the results are similar. Test results come back slightly under average performance and slightly questionable prices. 

70mai Hiker 400 (378Wh): This unit didn’t fare too well in our tests, coming in at about 75% usable capacity (versus the industry standard of 85%) and taking about four and a half hours to charge its 378Wh. 

70mai Tera 1000 (1043.9Wh): The larger of the two 70mai units did test better, hitting the industry standard for usable capacity and taking about twenty minutes less to charge nearly three times the capacity of the smaller model. 

Enernova ETA 288 (288Wh): Another example of a hierarchy of models where the smaller units underperform, but larger models improve. This unit took about three hours and forty minutes to charge but did reach about 81% usable capacity. 

Enernova ETA Pro (1050Wh): Moving up a notch, 83% usable capacity and charges 1kW in about an hour and a half; a better showing and about 10 cents cheaper per watt-hour than its smaller sibling. 

Enernova ETA Ultra (2150Wh): Best of the three, sporting 2160Wh, 87% usable capacity and still charges in under two hours. 

Deeno GT S1500 (1036Wh): We previously tested the Deeno GT X1500 and we feel like this S1500 is a big step up. It has the same capacity and same pricing, but with nearly 20% more usable capacity than the previous model and it charges nearly five times faster!

Jackery Explorer 300 Plus (288Wh): Another nice entry into the platform, the 300 Plus offers a solid power option in small form. Not a ton of frills, but it does what you expect it to do. 

Jackery Explorer 700 Plus (680.96Wh): If you need more power output than the 300 Plus (300W/600W) then the 1000W (2000W surge) of the 700 Plus may be what you’re looking for. It will charge via AC in about an hour and a half, and sports one of Jackery’s higher usable capacity percentages at 88%. 

Yoshino B4000SST (2611Wh): This unit tested fairly well in our lab. 87% usable capacity, blazing fast charge speeds and a decent feature set; an option worth considering if you can find it on sale. 

Encalife YUE2000 (2048Wh): A bit of variation in our model hierarchy groupings with Encalife. As one might expect, charging capabilities do increase with the larger units. The YUE2000 being the largest of the three charges relatively quickly, at about 11.13 watt hours per minute. In this series, the usable capacities trend in the other direction, with this unit showing 73% usable capacity.

Encalife UAF1100 (992Wh): Industry standard usable capacity here at about 84%, but a bigger drop in the charge capabilities at 3.35-watt hours per minute from its larger sibling.

Encalife UAF550 (595Wh): Of the three, this one has the largest usable capacity percentage at 87% but the slowest charging at 1.98-watt hours per minute. 

Bluetti AC180 (1152Wh): This unit tested well enough, scoring 88% usable capacity and charging via AC outlet at 13.88 watt hours per minute, but one thing to clarify, unlike many of the other Bluetti units that use the same physical format, this unit does not support capacity expansion via external batteries. 

Anker Solix C1000 (1056Wh): Another good option from Anker. It tested well in our lab and I don’t have any real complaints about this one. You might be interested in knowing that Anker currently has this at $250 off, which is great, but also offers 30-day price matching. You could end up with an amazing deal this time of year. 

Dabbsson DBS2300 (2300Wh): I love that it’s a modular format, expandable up to 8.33kWh. The 87% usable capacity is good, and charges relatively quickly; 18+ watt hours per minute, for a total of 122 minutes to charge the entire 2300Wh.

Renogy 1000 (998.4Wh): This is another decent performer. It charges fast enough for its relative capacity category, but only offered us about 80% usable capacity. Normally I wouldn’t be too bothered, but the smaller Renogy unit we tested clocked in at 96% usable capacity, so I was hoping for more. 

How we test portable power stations

Every company that sells portable power stations provides the expected number of watt-hours its products are supposed to last. For the Jackery Explorer 240, that’s 240 watt-hours; for the Ecoflow River Max, it’s 576 watt-hours. Bluetti AC200P claims 2,000 watt-hours. 

That means if you run a device with a 1-watt output on the Jackery Explorer 240, it should last for about 240 hours. You’d get 576 hours from the Ecoflow model and an impressive 2,000 hours using the Bluetti generator. That would last you almost three months! For reference, a USB-C iPhone charger draws up to 18 watts, a 3-quart Instant Pot draws 700 watts and a standard microwave draws around 600 to 1,200 watts, depending on the model. 

Currently, we look at two main performance metrics for portable power stations: charge time and discharge capacity. A power station’s capacity should be a no-brainer. You should be able to look at a device’s rated watt-hours and purchase accordingly based on your needs. Generally, you can do that. I’ve found that you typically won’t see the entire capacity rating as usable power. 

Lots of factors can affect this, and most of them center on how the manufacturer chooses to build their units’ internals to manage their charged capacity. There is some (usually negligible) amount of power that goes to fuel the various indicator lights and readable LED panels on the units. Some of the larger units even have their own operating systems, so it’s almost like powering an additional mini PC on the inside. Other units can have power-saving features where they reduce outgoing bulk power as they near depleting their charge.

To run our capacity tests, we connect a number of 10,000-lumen LED work lights rated at 110 watts to each unit (the number of work lights is based on the overall watt-hour rating of the unit under test or UUT). We record the outgoing voltage and wattage using external measurement instruments or the UUT’s own measurements if available. Once we have this data, we can leverage the calculations into a dizzying array of information about the UUT’s performance. The main piece of information we look at here is the observed capacity, based on our measurements, compared to the UUT’s stated capacity.

usable-battery-capacity-comparisons-4.png

Percentage of usable battery capacity for all portable power stations we have tested

Steve Conaway/CNET

In every case, that percentage ends up at less than 100%. (Most manufacturers say you should calculate expected usage at 85% of stated capacity.) Two of our smaller units both clocked 98% capacity — the Jackery Explorer 240 and the Togo 350. Generally speaking, the midsize units didn’t fare well. The largest units did better, with the Bluetti AC200P scoring highest at almost 96%. If you blindly accept both a unit’s stated capacity and our work light wattage rating of 110 watts, the numbers look very different.

For example, we will take the GoSun PowerBank 1100 (to make the math easier) and attach four of the 110-watt lights. That load rating is now 440 watts and the GoSun’s capacity of 1,100 divided by 440 is 2.5. We would expect to see 2.5 hours of usage. The actual run time for this unit was 2 hours, 50 minutes — 113% capacity. Sounds great, Right? We’re missing some key factors. Without going into a long(er) explanation of how to more accurately measure power, the fact that this unit has an output of 110 volts AC (compared to 120VAC) and the actual output wattage to the four lights is 352 watts, our real expected run time is 3 hours, 8 minutes, which drops the capacity rating to 90%.

Here is the calculated capacity data for the tested units. One note for these numbers — the Oupes data might be slightly off. The unit turned off the lights at 9%. It would allow me to start the lights again but would turn them off again after some time. I repeated this process at least 20 times before the unit wouldn’t power the lights for more than a couple of seconds at a time.

Charging performance can be nearly as important as knowing your actual capacity stats. It helps to know how long your device will take to charge, especially if you’re crunched for time or need to be able to charge quickly for whatever reason. Will it take an hour? Two? What about 10? Or 12? (That’s an actual number from our tests.)

We report three data points for charging performance. Each unit is plugged in for AC charging and we record how long it takes to reach 50%, 80% and 100% charge. Half-full is probably the least amount of power you’re going to want, especially from the smaller units. 80% is the “magic number” for many rechargeable batteries. 

Keeping it simple-ish, imagine a swimming pool with room for 100 people, each person representing 1% of the total space. When you first start charging, and that first person dives in, you don’t really have much to worry about. You’re not going to run into anyone else, so dive, splash around, whatever you want. Now, as we add people, it gets a bit more crowded, and complicated. You’ve got less room for people. Once you have 80 people in the pool, that next person is going to take a few extra seconds to more carefully choose their entry so as to not cause any issues by just jumping and hoping no one is in the way.

Each manufacturer deals with this purposeful slow-down in their own way, so you won’t see the exact same performance changes from one manufacturer to the next. True to the analogy, person number 100 into the pool can sometimes be very slow, taking several times longer to get in than any of his predecessors.

Take a look at the charging data. Charge times in minutes are listed, with a bonus “watt-hours-per-minute” metric that no one asked for other than myself. In most cases, you’ll see how the charge rate is fairly constant between 0 and 50% and from 50 to 80%, then slows from 80 to 100%.

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Charge times for all portable power stations we have tested, from 0 to 50, 80 and 100%. Charging method – 120VAC 20A outlet.

Steve Conaway/CNET

Portable power station FAQs

How many years do portable power stations last?

How many years a portable power station will last depends on three key factors; how well the product is maintained, how often it’s used and the battery type.

We have researched and spoken with several manufacturers and most units boast a 500-cycle lifespan. In some cases, such as the Anker 757, a unit may use LiFePO4 batteries compared to the more common Li-ion battery and offer up to 3,000 cycles or beyond.

One cycle means using the product from fully charged to zero charge (or at least 80% in some cases). If you use your portable power station several times a week, it might only last a year or two. If you use it less frequently, it could last for much longer.

What can you run on a portable power station?

Portable power stations are generally designed to power smaller electronic devices and appliances, from phones and table fans to heavy-duty work lights and CPAP machines. Pay attention to the estimated watt-hours each brand provides in its specs to determine which model makes the most sense for what you’d like to power.

If a company says its portable power station has 200 watt-hours, it should be able to power a device with a 1-watt output for about 200 hours. I go into more detail on this in the “How we test” section below, but consider the wattage of the device or devices you want to power and then the number of watt-hours your portable power station would need to have. 

Can a power station run a refrigerator?

Possibly, depending on the fridge and the portable power station. 

For example, this standard LG refrigerator has an estimated annual energy consumption of 608 kilowatt-hours. That works out to 1.67 kilowatt-hours per day or 1,670 watt-hours per day. 

1,670 watt-hours per day works out to just under 70 watt-hours per hour. If you have a short-term power outage and only need to power your fridge, a 200-watt per hour power station could keep it running for nearly three hours. You’d need a power station with higher estimated watt-hours to run your fridge for longer. A mini fridge would last much longer than a larger model. 

Always confirm the electrical requirements for your specific fridge and portable power station before trying this, especially your refrigerator’s peak and startup watts. 

How long can you run a portable power station?

You can get close to the answer with some basic math. If you have a power station that is rated at 1,000 watts per hour, and you plug in a device, let’s say a TV, rated at 100 watts, then you can divide that 1,000 by 100 and say that it will run for 10 hours. 

This isn’t usually the case. The industry “standard” is to say that you should take 85% of the total capacity for that math. In that case, 850 watts per hour divided by 100 watts for the TV would be 8.5 hours. 

The reality is that you should expect somewhere between 8.5 and 10 hours, in this example.

How is a portable power station different from a generator?

A portable power station is essentially a big rechargeable battery that you carry around. Deplete it and it’s useless until you can recharge. 

A generator, by definition, is a device that actually converts some type of energy to usable electricity in whatever circuitry you have it connected to. Examples of this would be gas generators (commonly used as power sources for remote areas or as whole-home backups), electric generators (not very common, but they convert some type of mechanical action to electricity) and solar generators, which can use solar panels to power devices or homes — often using a battery to temporarily store the electricity. These batteries are often portable power stations themselves. 

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