Portable power stations have exploded in popularity in recent years as reliable backup energy sources for outdoor activities and emergency preparedness. However, with a wide range of power outputs and limitations among different models, many consumers find themselves wondering what devices and appliances these portable power stations can actually effectively power. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the most common appliances that portable power stations can operate, along with helpful tips for choosing the right portable power station to suit your specific needs.
Portable Refrigerators and Freezers
One of the most important and useful appliances that a portable power station can run is a compact, portable refrigerator or freezer. This allows you to store perishable foods and prevent spoilage when traditional power is not available. Most standard portable power stations on the market today range from 500 to around 1,500 watts of power output, which is enough to handle running most small, energy-efficient refrigeration appliances.
The key factor to remember is that you will want to select a 12V DC portable refrigerator or freezer rather than a standard AC appliance that requires a wall outlet. This allows the refrigeration unit to run directly off of the DC power output from the portable power station.
When it comes to running refrigeration appliances off a portable power station, a higher power output capacity on your portable power station will lead to longer runtimes on a single charge. A good rule of thumb is to choose a portable power station with at least twice the rated wattage of the portable refrigerator you plan to run. This will provide plenty of extra power capacity.
For those who rely on using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to treat sleep apnea, portable power stations can reliably power these devices for extended multi-day periods of time. CPAP machines typically have quite modest power demands, using between 50 to 150 watts while in operation. This makes them a great match for most mid-sized portable power stations that have 300 to 800-watt-hour battery capacity.
The key factor for running a CPAP machine off a portable power station is to choose a model that provides continuous AC power output through a standard AC outlet and an integrated inverter. This provides seamless power for AC-dependent devices. Models that only offer 12V DC car outlet plugs are not suitable for powering a CPAP machine.
Choosing a portable power station with at least 500 watt-hours of capacity, most units can run a standard CPAP machine for 5+ nights before needing a recharge. This gives peace of mind and rhythmic sleep when normal electrical power is disrupted.
Electric Hot Plates and Burners
While portable power stations may not be able to run full-sized stoves and ovens that require high wattage, they can effectively power electric hot plates, induction cooktops, and single to dual-burner setups. These electric cooking appliances are highly energy efficient and portable, typically using between 600 to 1,800 watts, depending on the size and heating elements. Even more modest-sized induction cooktops may only draw 200 watts, allowing for longer runtimes off of a portable power station.
When looking to use an electric hot plate or induction burner with a portable power station, try to choose a power station model rated for at least 1,000 to 1,500 watts of power output to provide enough sustained energy for cooking. The VTOMAN JUMP 1800 Power Station, for example, can operate a dual burner induction cooktop on low to medium heat for approximately 1.8 hours on a single charge, giving you the ability to cook full meals.
One popular appliance during power outages is running a television for entertainment purposes or to stay updated on news and weather reports. The good news is most portable power stations can operate smaller to mid-sized LED TVs ranging from 22 to 65 inches on a single charge. A typical modern, energy-efficient LED TV uses between 30 to 100 watts of power depending on the screen size.
The key to running a TV is to choose a portable power station that provides at least one standard AC outlet for cleanly powering the television rather than a 12-volt car outlet better suited for automotive device charging. When selecting the power station, try to choose a higher-wattage model in the 1000-to-1800-watt range. This will provide longer runtimes for larger television sets. A good example is the VTOMAN JUMP 1800 Power Station, rated for 1800 watts, which can reliably power a 50-inch LED TV for 5+ hours.
Laptops and Mobile Devices
One of the biggest advantages of using a portable power station is the ability to keep small electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops charged up even when wall power is not available. Most portable power stations can charge multiple smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and laptops multiple times over before the battery pack itself needs to be recharged.
Laptop computers have some of the highest charging demands of these types of electronics, typically requiring between approximately 20 to 100 watts, depending on the model and size. Smartphones and tablets use less than 10 watts in most cases while charging. Even very compact 200-to-300-watt portable power stations can reliably operate these smaller mobile devices for days on end as long as they have sufficient ports.
Larger capacity portable power station models with AC outlets allow simultaneously charging up to 6 or more phones, tablets, or laptops all at once. This keeps an entire family or group powered up during an extended outage.
In addition to larger portable refrigerators, smaller "mini" fridges can also operate very effectively off many mid-range and larger capacity portable power stations. These compact refrigeration units designed for dorm rooms, offices, mancaves, and other small spaces are highly energy efficient - often using only 50 watts or less when running.
This ultra-low power draw allows even modest 300 to 500-watt portable power stations to easily operate a mini fridge for over 24 hours straight in most cases. For example, the popular VTOMAN FlashSpeed 1500 Power Station can run a typical 45-watt mini fridge for well over 30+ hours on a single battery charge before needing a repower. Just be sure any mini fridge is designed to operate on standard 120-volt AC household power rather than a 12-volt DC car adapter.
For hardcore coffee lovers who need to start their day with a shot of espresso, portable power stations rated for around 1,000 to 1,800 watts can reliably power most household automatic espresso machines. Smaller single-shot coffee makers may only require 600-700 watts to brew your morning pick-me-up beverage.
When selecting a portable power station for espresso machine use, look for models that provide continuous AC power outlets with ratings of at least 800 to 1,000 watts. This will provide enough sustained power for brewing and steaming. An example is the VTOMAN JUMP 1800 Power Station, which can handle periodic espresso machine use during grid power outages. Just don't plan on setting up a full cafe shop through extended blackouts!
Portable power stations provide versatile off-grid power to keep essential devices, appliances, and electronics up and running during grid power outages or outdoor adventures away from electrical infrastructure. From refrigeration to TV entertainment to laptop charging, they can reliably operate a wide range of AC and DC devices as long as the electrical power requirements are properly matched.
By selecting a portable power station with ample power capacity, sufficient battery storage, and the desired charging outlets, you can be confident that your most important appliances and gadgets will have backup power when needed. Just be certain to choose compatible wattage devices, carefully research product specs, and consider your expected runtime needs. With the right portable power solution, you'll be prepared to weather the storm and enjoy creature comforts even when the lights go out.