Whether you’re an avid camper (who still enjoys some creature comfort), or you feel better knowing you have an emergency power source backup at home for unexpected outages, a portable power station can come in handy. While most generators are gas powered and can be used only outside, most of these power stations provide electricity through large batteries that are safe to use inside. Plus, they’re a bit more portable, so you can actually take them with you on off-the-grid excursions. Here are the five best power stations on the market, ready to rev up your power tools, charge your electronics, or even keep appliances running when the power’s out at home.
Check out quick reviews below of the top five power stations, then scroll deeper for helpful buying info and full reviews of these models.
Gas Versus Battery Power
Most power stations are battery operated (with some even able to recharge using solar energy), while gas power sources are generally known as generators. However, there are some gas-powered models that are more portable like their battery brethren, such as the Wen inverter generator that we’ve included on this list. Though gas generators are typically less expensive and provide more energy for a longer period of time, they tend to be noisy and can be used only outside, a safe distance from your home, to keep carbon monoxide exhaust from getting inside. Gas generators are a great solution for temporarily restoring power during an outage, but they—plus the fuel you need to run them—can be cumbersome to take on camping trips.
Battery-operated power stations are often more expensive, but they also come with a slew of benefits. They are more eco-friendly—particularly when powered by solar panels—they’re quiet, and they can be safely used indoors. They typically come in a variety of sizes, so you can get a smaller, more portable pack for short camping trips or a day by the lake. For a battery station to get as powerful as a gas generator, though, you will have to spend big bucks—often well over $1,000. While these batteries are rechargeable, be prepared to wait up to or more than 8 hours for them to charge.
How Much Wattage Do I Need?
Before you invest in a portable power pack, have an idea of what you’ll be using it for. This will determine how much wattage you need. For example, if you’re looking to power small devices, like a phone or portable speaker, you can get away with a pack that provides about 100 watts. But if you want emergency backup power for tools or small appliances, like a mini-fridge, you need something with more kick. Most power tools range from 200 to 2,000 watts, and kitchen appliances such as a hot plate or fridge typically function at around 500 to 800 watts. Compare your electronics’ wattage rating with that of the power station you intend to buy.
How We Selected and Rated Them
We researched expert sources such as Wirecutter, Business Insider, and Digital Trendsas well as 3,500 consumer reviews to select the top five power packs of the year. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Home Depot, and manufacturers’ websites.
Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station
Consumer Score: 96% gave it 4 stars or more
Power your outdoors adventures with a pack that’s smaller than your cooler.
Wattage: 240 | Size: 5 x 9 x 8 in. | Weight: 7 lb.
At only 6.6 pounds, the Jackery 240 is easy to carry wherever you need power. According to Business Insider, the 230 watt-hour battery can “charge your phone 24 times, charge a laptop three to four times, and run small appliances, like a mini cooler or a TV, for a couple of hours.” If you are worried about running out of battery, you can even use it while charging—either by solar panels (which must be purchased separately) or by plugging it into your car. While it can charge multiple devices at a time, it won’t quite cut it for most larger appliances. But if you plan to use it for a small appliance or two, it’s hard to beat the Jackery’s portability and price.
Wen 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
Consumer Score: 78% gave it 4 stars or more
Get the power and low price of a gas generator with greater portability.
Wattage: 2,000 | Size: 18 x 17 x 11 in. | Weight: 39 lb.
If you are trying to run a bunch of power-hungry tools, gas is the way to go. Besides being able to handle more wattage (in this case, 2,000), this Wen inverter generator is also cheaper than a high-powered battery model. The one-gallon tank can run for up to 14 hours on a single fill, and despite what you may think, it is relatively quiet. Not only is this a great option for power tools, but it is also great for tailgates and can even power some of your house during a blackout. Since this is a gas apparatus, it is strictly for outdoor use. Keep in mind that while it may be more portable than the typical gas generator, it still weighs 39 pounds when filled with gas.
Ego Nexus 3000-Watt 56V
Consumer Score: 93% gave it 4 stars or more
This futuristic power pack is convenient and powerful.
Wattage: 3,000 | Size: 15 x 19 x 13 in. | Weight: 44 lb.
Need lots of power that you can use indoors and out? The Nexus 3000-Watt 56V has got you covered—for a price. At almost $1,200, this power station does not come cheap, but if you have the cash to drop, it is worth it. Using a battery means that it is both smaller and more eco-friendly than its gas counterparts, and it can be safely used indoors. This pack is capable of running several heavy-duty appliances at once, and even running a full-sized fridge for several hours. It does weigh 44 pounds, which is somewhat heavy, but it makes up for it in sheer power and durable waterproofing. While it may look futuristic, it is actually user friendly and can even be controlled with your phone. Should the batteries die, no worries, all four can be replaced, which significantly elongates the life of the pack.
Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Portable Power Station
Consumer Score: 82% gave it 4 stars or more
Control with your phone to run your heavy hitting power tools.
Wattage: 1,400 | Size: 15 x 19 x 14 in. | Weight: 46 lb.
Goal Zero is one of the oldest companies in the power station game, and while the Yeti 1400 may be painfully expensive, it is also a great addition to your outdoor entertainment system. Past Goal Zeros have weighed up to 100 pounds, but they have dropped the weight in recent years, and this one is only 46 pounds—heavy, but manageable. The lithium batteries can be charged by solar or by plugging into your car or at home. You will be able to tell when they need a recharge by looking at the easy-to-read LCD screen, which illustrates current charge levels and the rate at which the generator is being depleted or recharged. The Yeti is powerful enough to run fridges, power tools, and other appliances and devices in and out of the house.
—BEST BUDGET—Suaoki S270 150WH Portable Power Source
Consumer Score: 84% gave it 4 stars or more
A great, affordable option for newbies or technology lightweights.
Wattage: 150 | Size: 7 x 4 x 4 in. | Weight: 3 lb.
Don’t want to break the bank, but need something to charge your devices on your summer camping trip? This 150Wh Suaoki is the outdoor buddy you need. Weighing in at just under 3 pounds, it is easily portable and has a number of different receptacles for all of your electronics’ needs. While this certainly is not as powerful as a premium 3,000-watt machine, it is capable of charging or powering multiple devices at once—such as laptops, phones, and even a mini fridge! Note that since this is quite a small device, it is only capable of functioning for around 1 to 3 hours, depending on what it’s powering. It can easily be charged by plugging into a wall or car socket, but also takes up to 8 hours to fully charge.