“The Bluetti AC180 combines high capacity with mobile-friendly extras.”
- High capacity
- Polished mobile app
- Wireless charging
- Power supply mode
- Fast charging via AC input
- Not built for the outdoors
- Some clutter in mobile app
My apartment building’s air conditioners have been humming nonstop for about a month now, and I’ve been half-expecting the local grid to buckle any day. The Bluetti AC180 has been sitting on standby, offering plenty of assurance if the lights go out. This power station is big enough to keep the essentials running for a useful amount of time, but there are a lot of alternatives that claim to do as much. Let’s see what Bluetti brings to the table.
- 1,800W total, 2,700W surge, 1,152Wh capacity
- 4 x AC out, 120V, 15A each
- 1 x USB-C out, 100W
- 4 x USB-A out, 5V, 3A
- 1 x car DC out, 12V, 10A
- 15W wireless charging
- Up to 1,440W AC in
- 12-60 V DC solar in
- 12/24 V car input
The design is sensible, and not overly flashy. The most panache you’ll find comes from a wipe animation on the built-in LCD when turned on. Two handles offer good grip, and they’re built flush with the chassis for easier packing. The flat top works for stacking in storage or transport, plus keeping your phone in one spot during wireless charging. Extra generous AC outlet spacing means they’ll fit all sorts of chunky, awkward plugs simultaneously. Putting the solar input on the same side as the AC input would’ve been nice, but you can’t win ’em all.
The side-mounted fans are pretty quiet, even under heavy loads. You can activate a quiet mode if you’re especially picky about noise. Besides the listed inputs and outputs, there’s also a port for a grounding pole and fuse protection for AC input.
In terms of performance, the Bluetti AC180 can easily handle a full day at a work desk. I had my laptop, monitor, and phone all plugged into the AC180 for a day with over 30% still there at clock-out. My higher-powered gaming PC got through a full charge in four hours. I was especially excited that this was the first power station I’ve tested that has been able to run my decrepit high-wattage microwave.
Charging time was quite impressive given the AC180’s high capacity. I was able to top it up from empty within two hours. Our Emporia smart plug measured the AC180 putting out 976 Wh during a full discharge from 100%, which is about 15% less than its rated capacity. Disparities between the capacity we measure and what’s listed on the box are relatively common. I chalk it up to some capacity being held in reserve in order to protect the system from ambitious power-suckers taking the battery down to an actual 0% charge and damaging it.
The battery chemistry is lithium iron phosphate, which is ideal at this capacity. While it doesn’t offer the same density as nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries you’re likely to see in your phone or laptop, it does avoid the contentious use of cobalt, while also being less prone to fire. Bluetti claims the AC180 will last 3,500 cycles, and backs that claim with a five-year warranty.
Though my uses have been indoors, Bluetti is keen to brand the AC180 as an outdoorsman’s ideal sidekick. At 35 pounds., it’s technically portable, but I wouldn’t be hauling it to a mountaintop like the protagonist in their tearjerker of a launch video. If you’re hunkering down in one spot for a while, it’s quite solar-friendly. The box comes with an adapter for the MC4 plugs used on most solar panels.
The Bluetti AC180 is available in solar bundles that include 120W, 200W, and 350W panels, but you can use other brands. Mypanel worked just dandy. The AC180 maxes out at 500W of solar input, so make sure to check the specs on yours before plugging in. As usual, your mileage will vary on solar charging times based on conditions.
The AC180 doesn’t seem to have any particular ruggedization or waterproofing certifications which would go a long way to establishing its outdoorsy chops. Even a simple LED flashlight, commonly seen among competitors, would make the AC180 a more viable option for camping. At best, the construction feels solid, and the beveled edges look like they could glance blows effectively.
Bluetti has a perfectly capable mobile app to handle remote battery management. Pairing was painless and the advanced functions offered were totally worthwhile. For example, the Power Lift mode lets the AC180 power resistive heating elements under 2,700W. That came in handy for the heat gun I recently picked up, and worked just fine boiling water in my electric kettle. It wasn’t quite up to the task of running both the kettle and the heat gun on high for those times I’m applying window films and need a piping hot beverage simultaneously and immediately.
Eco mode turns off the battery after a period of inactivity, which is a nice way to prevent the inverter from needlessly wasting watts idling. The app can also manage batteries that are chained together for unified capacity. An uninterrupted power supply mode passes electricity from the wall straight through to your devices when the grid is up, then snaps to battery power within 20ms in the event of an outage.
The app does host a bit of bloat, however. Bluetti crams in forums and a store, which is really just an embedded view of their web page. I’ve seen Govee do similar things with its smart lighting app, and it can get pretty annoying when all you really want is device management. In terms of usability and visual flair, the mobile app is just as good as EcoFlow’s.
The Bluetti AC180 is the best power station I’ve reviewed to date. The only real detractions would be the bulky size and lack of faster USB charging. The lack of ruggedization and LED flashlight has me more inclined to pop the AC180 in my closet than my tent. These are small compromises in the grand scheme of things. On top of reliable performance, high capacity, and sensible design, the AC180 has slick extras like wireless charging and a quality mobile app. Those bonuses are really what puts it over the top.
In the category of mid-sized power stations that you would slide into your camper, the Bluetti AC180 is a safe bet.