Affordable and efficient portable power is a necessity these days, keeping our electronic devices operational while on the go. But, there are literally dozens of options to choose from, making it abundantly difficult to decide which mobile charging solution is best for you. We’ve sorted through countless options and came up with the six best portable power stations to keep your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets functioning while living off the grid.
The best overall
Goal Zero has been a mainstay in the portable power market for several years and today, the company continues to set the standard for others to follow. In 2017, GZ moved away from using lead-acid batteries in favor of lithium power cells, which brought an increase in versatility while also dramatically reducing weight. Previously, Goal Zero’s Yeti models weighed in excess of 100 pounds but the redesigned Yeti 1400 Lithium ($1,800) tips the scales at a svelte 45.7 pounds.
Another benefit of the battery upgrade is the life expectancy of a single charge. The lithium batteries in the Yeti 1400 provide more than double the shelf life and you can recharge the power station using an AC wall outlet, a DC port in your car, or a compatible solar panel. A built-in LCD readout also illustrates the current charge levels and the rate at which the generator is being depleted or recharged. This screen even displays the projected operational time of the charging devices. Read more about the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 here.
The best gas-powered alternative
Capable of producing 5,000 watts, the Honda EM5000S portable generator is one of our favorite gas-powered options on the market. The six-gallon tank gives you a little more than 11 hours of operational use, allowing you to keep appliances powered during prolonged outages. And unlike many gasoline models, the EM5000S features an electric, push-to-start ignition. Thankfully, there’s also a backup ignition rope in case the battery for the push button is low or dead.
One of the biggest knocks against gas generators is the excessive noise. If you’re running the generator at night, you run the risk of annoying your neighbors. Fortunately for those around you, the EM5000S is one of the quietest gas-powered options available. With an operational level of roughly 72 dBm, this model is about as loud as a normal conversation or vacuum cleaner. The downside is the voltage output with gas generators tends to fluctuate during use and these slight distortions may damage your appliances. With this in mind, Honda incorporated its iAVR technology into the EM500S, reducing the possibility of varying voltage. If you prefer a gas model to keep your home running on all cylinders, the $2,430 Honda EM5000S is our pick.
The best for your car
A backup generator for your home is a smart option but we also recommend carrying a portable power source for your car. The Ecoxgear EcoJump — just $176 — is a lightweight and compact device that has a variety of functions which come in handy during emergency situations. For example, the device comes with a set of jumper cables and, on a full charge, is capable of jump-starting a whopping 50 vehicles before its internal battery requires a recharge of its own.
The EcoJump is completely dust and waterproof and includes a built-in flashlight with up to 300 lumens of illumination. It can even serve as a blinking hazard light to warn approaching traffic of any roadside challenges. The power bank comes equipped with two fast-charging USB ports for keeping a smartphone or tablet juiced up while on the road, while a free app for iOS and Android keeps users informed of EcoJump’s current charge level. The app even sends a notification when it starts to get low on power and needs a recharge itself.
The best for smartphones
Sometimes we need a power station that’s a bit more portable than the other options on this list. That’s where the Anker PowerCore Speed comes into play. Compact and lightweight, this battery pack is equipped with a 20,000 mAh battery, which is enough to recharge an iPhone nearly ten times. And with its auto-sensing, surge-protecting circuitry, the PowerCore ensures our mobile devices stay safe while recharging their internal batteries.
Best of all, the $60 PowerCore Speed includes two USB battery ports, both of which support the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology. This allows devices to safely recharge at a rate nearly four times faster than usual, which is a handy option to have when charging on-the-go.
The best for the backcountry base camp
After a highly successful Indiegogo campaign, the EcoFlow River — priced at $600 — became one of the most interesting options for use at remote campsites. Relatively lightweight, the River clocks in at just 11 pounds, yet still manages to offer 412 watt-hours of battery life. When coupled with its 11 different charging ports — including two AC outlets — this portable generator actually provides enough juice to power small appliances such as an LCD TV or mini-fridge. Better yet, the battery stores that power for up to a year without losing a charge.
Designed to be incredibly travel-friendly, the River comes with a built-in handle that makes it easy to carry to and from camp. It’s also water resistant and durable, ensuring it can survive whatever the outdoors throws at it. It even operates in extreme conditions, continuing to function in temperatures ranging from -4 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you need a compact power station to keep your mobile devices, cameras, drones, and other devices running in the backcountry, the EcoFlow River is a great option.
The best for the mobile professional
Modern road warriors need a different level of portable power than others. In addition to keeping their smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets charged, they may also need to keep their laptops juiced and ready for work. The Jackery Explorer 75 is designed exactly for them, not only offering three quick-charging USB ports but an AC wall outlet, as well. Its compact and lightweight design — weighing in at just 1.5 pounds — makes it easy to tote along just about anywhere and it even has the option to recharge via a solar panel.
The PowerBar is equipped with a high-capacity battery and can also be used to charge camera batteries, drones, and Bluetooth speakers. For the mobile professional, this $150 battery pack is a godsend, keeping a bevy of technology functioning no matter where they’re off to next.
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