A portable power station is a device used to store an electrical charge in an internal battery for the purpose of transferring the stored charge into your various devices, such as a tablet, phone, or flashlight. The portable power station can be charged in several ways, including using a solar panel, a standard electrical outlet, or even with a gas-powered inverter generator.
The best portable power station for your next camping trip or just to keep around the house in case of a power outage will depend on the power output you will want, the number of devices you will be charging, and the power source. Take a look at the top products below, then read on to discover several important considerations before deciding on a portable power station.
BEST OVERALL: Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AIMTOM 42000mAh 155Wh Power Station
BEST UPGRADE: ECOFLOW Portable Power Station EFDELTA, UPS Power
BEST ELECTRIC: BALDR Portable Power Station 330W
BEST GAS POWERED: WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter
BEST SOLAR: Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station Kit
Types of Portable Power Stations
Portable power stations fall into three broad categories, based on the method they use to collect and store energy: electric, gas-powered, and solar.
Electric portable power stations are also known as battery portable power stations because they operate like a larger battery. Simply plug the portable power station into your wall outlet at home, and it will charge very quickly. These power stations may also have the option to be charged using a power outlet in your vehicle, provided they have the correct adapter. Using this outlet will charge the battery, though it will take longer than using a standard outlet.
This type of power station is the most commonly used for indoor purposes and when you have low power requirements, such as charging cell phones or flashlights. Some products can even be paired with a compatible solar panel so they can charge using solar energy as well.
This style of a portable power station is typically the heaviest and may feature a set of wheels so you don’t have to carry it. Gas-powered generators cannot be used inside your home or tent because they can produce carbon monoxide and other harmful exhaust as a byproduct of burning their fuel.
However, these portable power stations are the most powerful option available. They can be used with power tools, electric pumps, and even a portable dishwasher, enabling you to enjoy the great outdoors with all the comforts of home.
If you will be primarily using your portable power station for camping, then it’s beneficial to have a solar portable power station that can charge during the day while you enjoy the sun. Come nighttime, your generator will be ready to provide hours of power.
In the past, solar power stations only had the capability to charge using sunlight, which greatly limited their reliability. However, manufacturers have begun combining solar and electric portable power stations to give you the option to charge using a traditional electric outlet, a vehicle power outlet, or with detachable solar panels. Steadily, this hybrid idea has become the most frequently seen style of portable power station available, with very few power stations having the capability for only solar or only electric power.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Portable Power Station
Keep these important factors and product features in mind when you shop for the best portable power station to keep your devices charged.
Power Output (mAh)
The power output of a portable power station refers to the maximum amount of energy the station is capable of delivering to the attached devices. If this output is low, then the power station could hold an immense amount of energy, but you could only access it at a very slow rate.
Power output is measured in milliamp-hours (mAh), which gives you an accurate number to determine how long the power station will be able to provide power to a specific device and the capacity it has for additional devices. For instance, if you have a power station with a 2,000 mAh battery, you can use it to charge or power a device that draws 200 mAh. If the battery is fully charged when you begin and the device doesn’t reach capacity, then it will take only 10 hours for the power station to run out of energy.
Alternatively, the same 2,000 mAh battery would run out of power in just two hours if you have five similar devices attached, each drawing 200 mAh.
For any device to be considered portable, it needs to have a size and weight that are easily transportable. You should also note whether the power station has applicable features that make it easier or harder to carry the total weight of the unit. This can include wheels, a carrying handle, or even a cart for large, gas-powered portable power stations.
Electric and solar portable power stations are generally smaller and lighter than gas-powered generators, making them a great option to take camping or on a road trip. However, gas-powered portable power stations frequently come with wheels to offset their heavier weight, allowing you to simply wheel them to your destination.
Another consideration you will want to keep in mind is the amount of noise that your portable power station will produce. If you have it set up inside your home or workshop, you want to be certain it is quiet enough to operate without the need for hearing protection. Similarly, if you are using a power station for camping, you will want it to have a low noise level so you can sleep while powering your portable cooler or refrigerator.
Typically, electric and solar portable power stations are the quietest options available. These products don’t make much noise at all because they are only transferring stored energy. When they are in operation, you can expect a hum that is similar to that of a mini fridge. Gas-powered power stations don’t just store energy, they also generate it. This process can be very loud, depending on the individual product.
Whenever you are operating a device that uses electricity or gasoline, you need to be aware of the potential risks, like overheating. Look for portable power stations that have built-in safety features like an automatic shutdown function, overload protection, and an internal high/low-temperature gauge.
- An automatic shutdown function helps to prevent the premature degradation of the power station by turning the device off if it detects the fuel levels or oil levels are reaching a minimum.
Overload protection disengages the portable power station from the input current if it detects the current is exceeding a safe charge capacity.
- An internal high/low temperature gauge measures the temperature of the battery and stops all input and output functions if the battery temperature falls outside of a safe range as determined by the manufacturer.
Whether you are using your portable power station in your home, camping, or on the job site, you want to be sure you invest in a product capable of withstanding any method of transportation and any possible impact damage that could occur. If you are exclusively using the portable power station in your home or workshop as a backup power device, then a lightweight product would be fine.
However, if you are using a power station for camping, you will want to consider products that offer water resistance and UV resistance. And if the portable power station is for use on your job site, you need a heavy-duty product that won’t break down if a wrench or hammer is accidentally dropped on top of it.
Our Top Picks
The following products are considered among the best portable power stations in terms of quality, dependability, and price.
You can use this portable power station for a variety of common purposes around the home, on the job site, or you can even take it camping. Use it to power your tools instead of relying on a long extension cord, or charge your phone, laptop, drone, or mini cooler while you enjoy the great outdoors. This electric power station can be fully charged using a standard wall outlet, a 12V vehicle outlet, or with a compatible solar panel, though the solar panel is not included with this power station.
You can charge four devices simultaneously using one standard AC outlet, two USB-A ports, and one 12V outlet. This portable power station has a maximum power output of 67,000 mAh and weighs just 6.6 pounds. With the built-in handle, this lightweight product is easy to carry. The best part about this power station, though, is that you won’t have to deal with the noise and fumes produced by a gas-powered generator.
Charge up to seven electrical devices at once, and even power a built-in flashlight, using this compact and lightweight portable power station. The solid top handle and 3.5-pound weight make it easy to carry the power station with you to the campsite, tailgate party, or around the house. It charges in just seven to eight hours when plugged into a standard electrical outlet, and it can be charged with compatible solar panels, though these must be purchased separately.
The portable power station is a great choice that won’t leave your wallet empty. It has one standard AC outlet, three USB ports, and three 12V outlets with a maximum power output of 42,000 mAh. A built-in battery management system protects the device against overcurrent, overvoltage, and high or low temperature extremes to help extend the operating life of the power station.
With the premium-priced ECOFLOW Portable Power Station, you can finally get the high power potential of a gas-powered generator without the noise and harmful fumes. This powerful portable power station has an impressive maximum power output of 350,000 mAh and charges from 0 to 80 percent in one hour when plugged into a standard AC outlet. The power station fully charges in less than two hours and can then simultaneously provide power for up to 13 devices.
You can also charge this power station with a compatible solar panel (not included) or through the 12/24V port in your vehicle. It’s designed with a strong, durable reinforced aluminum chassis and rubber grips, yet it’s easy enough to carry the full 31-pound weight with the built-in carrying handle. This power station comes with six standard AC outlets, four USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, and one 12V outlet.
Electric portable power stations, like this BALDR Portable Power Station, have several advantages over gas-powered generators that make them ideal for use in the workshop, in your home, or on the road. This includes the silent charging of the power station and any devices plugged into it. You can have this electric power station running right next to you without having to worry about breathing in harmful fumes.
The power station weighs just 7.1 pounds and comes with a helpful fold-down carrying handle for easy transportation. It has a unique, wireless charging pad for your compatible devices as well as one standard AC outlet, three USB ports, one C-type port, and three 12V outlets with a maximum power output of 66,000 mAh. This portable power station has a built-in flashlight and a battery management system to optimize the function of the device.
While you won’t be able to safely use this portable power station inside your home due to the risk caused by the exhaust, you will get a lot more power generation potential with the gas-powered internal generator. This makes it an excellent option for camping or tailgate parties and, with just 1 gallon of gasoline, it’s capable of operating for up to seven hours.
This portable power station has an inverter generator that can produce a maximum power output of 400,000 mAh at a quiet 51-decibel operating volume. An automatic fuel shutoff function prevents blockages and reduces wear by ensuring that the remaining fuel from the carburetor is used up before shutting down. This power station also has a low-oil and low-fuel shutdown function and five outlets including two standard AC outlets, two USB ports, and one 12V outlet.
Using the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station, you have the option of charging the internal battery using a standard wall outlet, a car charger, or with the included 50-watt solar panel. Simply set up the portable power station on the ground, fold down the kickstand, and place the solar panel directly above the power station, at an angle facing the sun, to absorb solar energy while keeping your power station out of direct sunlight.
This power station has a power output of 33,000 mAh and comes with seven different outlets including two standard AC outlets, two USB ports, and three 12V outlets. The digital display on the front of the power station shows a real-time calculation of the current electrical input and output so you know when to connect the solar panel to recharge the internal battery.
FAQs About Portable Power Stations
Read below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about portable power stations.
Q. How long do portable power stations last?
The average portable power station will have a battery charge that can last from three hours to 13 hours depending on how it is being used.
The power station also has an average life of about 10 years before needing to be replaced, though this can be affected by several factors including care, storage, and frequency of use.
Q. What is the optimal power output you need for a portable power station?
Every person will have a different purpose for the portable power system, which influences what would be considered to be an optimal power output. However, for the average individual, the optimal power output for an electric portable power station should be about 40,000 milliamp-hours (mAh).
Q. How many devices can a portable power station charge simultaneously?
The number of devices you can charge simultaneously depends on the type of devices being charged, the power output of the battery, and the number of outlets available on the portable power station. The average portable power station is typically capable of charging two to three devices at one time. However, if the plugged-in devices are drawing more power than the portable power station is capable of outputting, then the power station will be unable to power all of your devices.