I’ve been getting a lot of advertising for power banks that have standard wall outlets as an option and insinuate being able to bring your appliances with you out into the wild. You’re not going to. Let’s look at how these work.
TL;DR – most $350+ power banks with outlets are good for plugging a laptop, phone, and CPAP into and that’s about it.
You’ve got dreams of going out camping and powering a coffee pot, charging your phone, maybe inflating your mattress and having some toast.
In a pinch you want to be able to keep your refrigerator running and be hero of the neighborhood power outage.
Not happening. At least coffee and fridge, not with most portable power outlets.
OK, so let’s look at what most of them start at – I’m going to pick on one that’s advertising to me right now and this is the *only* reason I’m talking about the EcoFlow RIVER Portable Power Station. Seriously, they just popped up in my advertising. Nothing against them. I’d post the Jackery stats if I had them as I’ve reviewed this.
OK, let’s look at this – 360Wh battery (Plus version, $450,) 600W total AC outlet output. What does this mean?
The short of it is it has a 360 Watt Hour Battery. Watt Hours are how much power it holds, think gallons of gas. 600 Watt potential output is basically how much gas you can burn in an hour. Think Miles Per Hour / Speed of use.
I do not see on the ads if this is 600 Watts shared across 3 outlets or if each outlet is limited to 200 Watt output. This isn’t a gotcha piece so let’s just assume it’s 600 shared across 3 outlets and one plug can pull 480 and the other two pull the remaining and any one plug can pull 600.
If you’re pulling 100 Watts with a device, your charger will last for 3.6 hours give or take. If you’re pulling 600 Watts, you’ll run the battery down in a little over 30 minutes.
Think gallons and speed.
How much power do things actually use?
Toaster: 800-1500 Watts (not doable)
Mini fridge: 100-200 Watts (2 hours max)
Big fridge: 250-780 Watts (an hour)
Coffee pot: 750-1200 Watts (not doable)
Space heater: 1500 Watts (not doable)
Phone charger: 2-18 Watts (charge your phone for days)
CPAP: 30-60 Watts (5-10 hours of use, totally useful)
Nintendo 64: 19 Watts (but needs a TV)
50 inch Flatscreen LCD TV: 100 Watts (little over 3 hours, yes you can bring a smaller TV camping but why?)
Mattress inflator: 10-50 Watt (you can totally do this)
Just to be clear, these batteries are take anywhere, but what you can plug into them is not what most people think you can plug into them.
You’re taking a several pound laptop and phone charger into the woods. In most cases, barring CPAP I’m just saying you spent $400 or so to charge a phone and a laptop because at least most of the people I know never learned how big or little their power needs actually are. NO COFFEE FOR YOU CAMPER.
Watt Hours / Wh in battery = gas tank size
Watts = how fast you going son?
Don’t even get me started on charging these things via solar panel ($100 for a 100 watt solar panel that if you’re freaking lucky and in perfect conditions might generate 100 watts per hour.)
So, I’m not saying these are bad. They’re great for laptops, small electronics, CPAP in the woods so you don’t snore nonstop and have everyone wanting you dead. No seriously, $450 might seem like a lot for not snoring but you ruin a camping trip man, that’s on you. But mostly these are $450-800 so you can take a laptop an additional 2 miles from a power outlet.
Or maybe I’m missing a use case.