With the increase in natural disasters and blackouts over the last couple of years, a portable power station is quickly becoming a must-have. There are still plenty of bulky diesel and natural gas generators on the market, however, it is a great time to take advantage of the rapidly declining price of solar panels to buy a portable solar power station.
A solar power station has many advantages over traditional generators including access to clean, renewable energy that you can take with you from your home to a camping trip. In this article, I will evaluate one of the most popular portable solar power stations on the market, the Bluetti AC200P 2000Wh Portable Power Station.
Bluetti is a relatively new player in the portable power station market and is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wondar Law and James Ray both had a decade of experience working in the energy storage industry before starting Bluetti. The company began its life through an ambitious 7 million dollar crowdfunding project on Indiegogo in July 2019 and sells its products directly to consumers through Amazon. They are responsive over email and address any warranty claims promptly.
The Bluetti AC200P comes with a 2000Wh storage capacity and a whopping 17 output ports with access to wireless charging. There is an LCD touchscreen where you can control the DC and AC outputs and manage the outputs. The power station looks and feels modern; a far cry from many of its clunky-looking competitors. There is a fan that turns on only during very intensive usage.
This power station uses a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery chemistry which means that it has a significantly longer cycle life (the battery will maintain 80%+ of its original capacity after 3500 cycles) than lithium-ion batteries that you might find in your electric car and smartphone. It is also significantly safer with a negligible chance of electrical failures like fires (this is why it is used by large utilities to store excess solar and wind power). This is primarily what makes the device so heavy, but safety and longevity definitely make up for it.
The AC200P also has an MPPT controller giving you a faster and more efficient charging time. It also has a ton of protection features to prevent overcharging and undercharging. The device also comes with fast charging that allows you to use both solar and AC charging simultaneously. You can also attach another power brick when you are traveling to make it charge at extraordinary speeds (if you do this you can charge the device in less than three hours).
First, the build quality of the AC200P is absolutely top-notch. It looks like an expensive speaker with its black aluminum finish. Even the fan sounds nice and quiet and is in no way distracting. The touchscreen is surprisingly responsive and extremely easy to use with an intuitive GUI that makes accessing individual ports easy. The only downside to the touchscreen is the low brightness which makes it somewhat difficult to see certain times of the day outdoors.
Wireless charging mats are a nice addition and should be standard for all portable power supplies. Having 17 different ports is also useful during power outages and blackouts. The ability to charge the battery with two power bricks is definitely unique and super useful when traveling long distances. In addition, the ability to up to 8 solar panels for a maximum of 700 Wh is really useful when going camping off the grid.
The charging speed is absolutely fantastic as well. You can charge the entire device in less time than it takes to charge most smartphones! There is an ECO mode you can use when you’re running out of charge that allows the battery to last a couple more hours while charging your device slower. The included safety features as well as the Lithium Iron Phosphate chemistry are the gold standards in battery technology and are absolutely worth the peace of mind.
The biggest downside to the product is the weight. At just over 60 pounds, the power station is fairly heavy and can substitute for a workout at the gym. However, in the vast majority of use cases, this should not matter. Because of the extraordinary battery life and slow rate of capacity loss, you rarely need to lug the device around even when you’re traveling. If you plan on moving this back and forth and you have trouble lifting heavy objects, I would look elsewhere for something with lower capacity.
I strongly recommend this to anyone considering a high-capacity power supply for both off-grid travel or as an emergency backup storage solution. The Bluetti AC200P is extremely safe and looks amazing at home and on the road. The user interface is very friendly to even people unfamiliar with technology. The price is also definitely reasonable and it is difficult to find a supply packed with the same number of features for anything cheaper.
The portable power supply comes with:
The AC200P needs an MC*4 Connector (if you have an Anderson connector, you can buy an adaptor). The open-circuit voltage (OCV) must be between 35-105V with a maximum of 700W/12A. It is recommended to use three to five 120W panels in series or up to eight 120W panels in parallel (if you want to reach the maximum 700W input).
Depending on the number of solar panels and the amount of visible sun, the charge time will vary. In general, the following are some manufacturer approximations:
3 120W Solar Panels: 7-10 hours
4 120W Solar Panels: 6-8 hours
5 120W Solar Panels: 5-7 hours
This depends on what you use it for. For example, you can run a single residential refrigerator on it for just under 24 hours. You can charge an average smartphone a couple of hundred times using a fully charged AC200P.