A Comprehensive Guide for Using Portable Solar Power Stations as Backup Generators

portable power stations australia

Portable solar power stations are similar to solar generators in that they are both large battery banks that can be recharged through portable solar panels, among many other ways. These compact and versatile power sources usually come in lunchbox or briefcase designs and are light enough to be transported anywhere you might need them. Because of this, you will often find people using portable power stations for camping, powering off-grid cabins, and for other remote applications.

Typically, all portable solar power stations provide mobile electricity in a transportable package, however, each system can boast a different design and feature set depending on the manufacturer. This article will explain what portable power stations are, how they work, and some of their most popular applications.

Portable Power Stations Australia - What Are Portable Solar Power Stations?

portable power stations australia

In essence, portable power stations are large battery banks that house a portable form factor. Depending on the energy capacity of your power station, your system can power anything from small gadgets such as laptops and cellphones to larger power-hungry appliances such as air conditioners and electric grills.

With light to moderate usage, high-capacity systems, such as the ones offered by Bluetti, can potentially last you for days on a single charge. This means that you no longer have to bear the inconvenience or expense of carrying around gas with you whenever you go on a remote excursion.

Portable power stations also feature a range of outlet types such as AC outlets, DC outlets, USB type-A and type-C outlets, cigarette lighter ports, and even wireless charging pads. This means you can power your AC and DC devices off of your systems without requiring a separate inverter. You can even charge multiple devices at once.

Like the name suggests, portable solar power stations can be charged directly through solar panels. However, these systems also support other ways of recharging such as from a gas generator, vehicle, Lead-Acid battery, AC outlet, you can even charge the Bluetti systems through solar and AC at the same time.

This means that incase you ever find that your solar panels aren’t producing enough power to charge your system, perhaps due to an overcast day, you can charge your system by hooking it up to your car or any of the other mentioned ways.

Portable Power Stations Australia – How Do Portable Solar Power Stations Work?

portable power station for camping australia

It is possible that you may have developed the misconception that portable power stations are simple devices based on their straightforward designs. However, in reality, there are a number of complex parts that go into portable power stations and allow them to function as they do.

Here is a simple breakdown of how a portable solar power station works:

Charging

As mentioned above, portable power stations are basically the same as a large battery bank and so it is only natural that these systems would incorporate a battery.

As such, similar to how an ordinary battery works, your power station must be charged, or connected on an energy source such as solar panels, before they can supply you with energy. Fortunately, these systems are quite flexible when it comes to charging and are compatible with several ways of charging such as solar panels, gas generators, AC outlets, etc.

The batteries store energy from the power source you connect them to and allow you to use this energy at a later time when, for instance, when your solar panels are inactive and aren’t producing any energy. It is also worth noting that you don’t have to wait for your portable power station to fully charge up before you can use them.

Instead, you can use your system like a solar generator, i.e., you can directly use the power generated by the solar panels, or any other power input source, to power your appliances and the excess energy left gets stored in the battery. This way, you can charge your power station and power your appliances at the same time.

Just be careful that whichever mode of charging you use, you plug in the system through the correct port. For instance, if you’re using a gas generator or AC outlet, plug in the power station through the AC port since both these energy sources deliver AC power. On the contrary, if you’re using solar panels, connect the system at the DC charging port since solar panels deliver DC power.

Generally, there are two main types of batteries that are used in a portable power station, lead-acid and Lithium-ion batteries. The latter are usually preferred due to their greater lifespan and deeper discharge cycles.

This means you can draw more power from a lithium-ion battery compared to a lead-acid one of the same capacity. That is why Bluetti uses only high-quality lithium-ion (LiFePO4) batteries in its line of portable power stations, giving you a long, dependable backup even after a thousand charge cycles.

Regulating the Voltage

As discussed above, charging your portable solar power stations requires you to connect them to an energy source which could be solar panels, an AC outlet, gas generator, or something else. The problem, however, is that the voltage coming from these input sources tends to fluctuate and so, can damage the battery. This will accelerate the deterioration of your battery, and in doing so, shorten its lifespan.

To tackle this problem, portable power stations come with an integrated charge controller which helps regulate the voltage to and from the battery, thereby, preventing it from accelerated degradation. Bluetti uses MPPT charge controllers in its power stations as well as a Battery Management System (BMS).

The BMS technology, along with the charge controller, helps guard the battery from a variety of issues such as overcharging, over-discharging, excessive voltage, overheating, and more, and extend its lifespan.

Converting the Current

A battery always requires a DC energy supply for recharging, so how can you charge your power station using a gas generator or an AC outlet, both of which provide AC power. Furthermore, if a battery stores only DC energy, it must also supply only DC energy, then how can a power station power your AC appliances?

The simple answer is by converting the input and output electricity using an inverter. If you’re charging your power station using an AC source, the inverter will first convert this AC supply into DC before passing it onto the battery.

Similarly, when you want to power an AC appliance from your power station, the inverter will convert the DC energy stored in the battery to AC before sending it to the AC outlet port of the power station.

Of course, this conversion is not required when you’re charging your system using a DC energy source and are using your power station to power a DC appliance.

Without an inverter, however, your portable power station can only be recharged using a DC power source and can only power only DC appliances. As it stands, the majority of our appliances and electronic gadgets are designed to run on AC power. This makes inverters a key component of our modern-day portable solar power stations.

Cooling the Power Station

Some components of portable power stations, especially the battery, are very sensitive to temperature. This means that if the temperature of the station rises beyond a certain level, the battery will start to degrade and lose its efficiency rapidly. This is especially true for high-capacity power stations that store and supply large amounts of electricity.

That is why, a cooling system has to be accommodated into power stations in order to maintain the temperature of the system within a certain acceptable range and prevent it from rising too high. Larger portable power stations have dedicated cooling fans for this purpose while smaller devices usually have air vents and rely on natural air flow for cooling.

Utilizing the Power

Once the electricity has made its way to the outlet ports of your portable solar power station, you can power your appliances by simply connecting them to the correct outlet ports and turning on the system. As mentioned above, a power station houses multiple ports, of several different types.

This allows you to power AC and DC appliances simultaneously. Some power station models, such as the Bluetti AC200MAX even come with wireless charging pads allowing you to charge your smartphones and smartwatches without having to physically connect them to the system.

Most power stations also come with digital displays that showcase various information and figures regarding the performance of the system. This can include the remaining battery percentage, an estimate of how much longer your power station will last based on current usage, how many devices are connected, the output voltage and current, etc.

This way, you can use the display to monitor the performance of your system and determine how much longer your battery backup will last and when you should recharge it.

Portable Power Stations Australia – 5 Innovative Uses for Portable Solar Power Stations

1.     Emergency Backup Power

Storms, grid maintenance, and faults in the power lines are just some of the many reasons that can cause blackouts and power outages in your area. Depending on the intensity of the issue, the power outage could last from several hours to even days.

Portable power stations can serve as the perfect emergency backup power source in such a case and help you power the basic necessities of your home throughout the power outage. Since you can recharge your power station using solar panels, your power station can provide you with completely free energy, unlike gas generators.

2.     Power Your Camping Trips

Camping is a great way to get away from the busy and stressful city life. However, bringing along some of your modern living amenities, such as an electric grill, can make your trip even more relaxing and convenient.

Using a portable solar power station for camping, you have access to free, clean, and reliable backup energy which can help you power all your necessary technology and make your trip more convenient. You can also use the power station to power your phone, laptop, and portable Wi-Fi device, and stay connected to the world on your remote adventures if you want or need to.

3.     Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Not to be dramatic, but the planet, as it stands, is in a dire state owing to the carbon emissions we have released through our consumption of fossil fuels. As such, reducing our use of fossil fuels and going the greener way is the only way we can offset the damage we have caused and save the planet.

Since portable power stations can be run on solar panels, they can be the perfect clean and green alternative to gas generators. Using a portable solar power station, you can reduce your carbon footprint on the planet and play your part in remedying the dire health of the planet.

4.     Reduced Dependency on Power Grid

The surging rates of grid-supplied electricity have almost all homeowners worried. One of the best ways to tackle this situation is to use power stations to power your appliances through the peak hours when the cost of grid-supplied electricity is at its highest during the day.

Using a power station during the peak hours will reduce your consumption of the grid-supplied energy and help reduce your monthly electric bill.

5.     Outdoor Gatherings and Events

Australians are known around the world for their love of outdoor parties and events such as barbecues or movie nights in their backyard or at the beach. Needless to say, a portable power source is mandatory for most outdoor gatherings for powering the light, speakers, and other essentials.

The portability of portable power stations makes them perfect for such events. Their lightweight and compact construction and the ability to be placed almost anywhere makes them an easy, convenient, and reliable backup energy source for your outdoor events.

The large variety of ports offered by these systems also means that you can, basically, power almost any device you want to by simply connecting it to the station.

Final Thoughts

Using a portable power station for camping, emergency backup power, etc., in place of gas generators offers several advantages. This includes more savings since you won’t have to buy expensive gas, as well as environmental benefits owing to lower carbon emissions. In light of this, portable solar generators are an excellent alternative to gas generators and a worthwhile investment for all home and RV owners.

Shop Bluetti for all your solar needs!

 

 

 

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