Best portable power stations to buy in 2021

Whether you are living off-grid or just moving arond for business or leisure, keeping powered up is an important part of your preparations. Portable power stations are the smaller, lesser-known cousin of generators. These easily-packed gadgets can go with you on camping trips, to building sites — wherever you need electricity — to keep your phone, power tools and other electronics running.

We picked seven power stations to test for this list, ranging in price from $270 to $1,200. We focused exclusively on rechargeable battery-powered models, although gas models are available, too. While each power station does the same thing — provide power on the go in a compact design — each one has a different design and range of features.

Keep in mind that the prices  for each power station may change as retailers introduce sales and other updates.

Best overall

Jackery Explorer 1000

Click to view image.

The Jackery Explorer 1000 is by far the most well-rounded portable power station of the bunch. At 22 pounds, this powerful generator is fairly compact, especially compared with the 44-pound Ego Nexus model. Despite its smaller size, it manages to make space for three three-prong outlets, two USB-C ports, two standard USB-A ports and more.

Its display is easy to read, too, and it dominated the performance tests, exceeding its expected run time of 3 hours and 2 minutes (with three work lights connected to it) by an average of 8.5 minutes.

You can add on the 100W Solar panel for another $300

Fast facts

* Price (Amazon): $1,000

* Watt hours: 1,002

* Weight: 22 pounds


Best midrange

Klein Tools KTB5

When you don’t need something quite as powerful as the Jackery Explorer 1000, the Klein Tools KTB5 is an excellent option. While it has roughly half the watt hours of the Jackery generator, it’s still a solid performer with a lot of power.

Complete with two three-prong outlets, two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports, you can charge pretty much anything you’ll ever need with this midrange power station. Bonus: It did well in my performance tests, averaging just 2 minutes less than its expected 2-hour and 29-minute run time (with two lights connected to it).

Fast facts

* Price (Amazon): $500, currently on sale for $465

* Watt hours: 546

* Weight: 12 pounds


Best budget

Rockpals 300W

The Rockpals 300W is our pick for affordable portable power station. Not only did it average 2.5 minutes over the expected 2-hour 33-minute run time (with one work light connected), it’s only 7.5 pounds and has a ton of options, ranging from one three-prong outlet to four USB-A ports and a handful of other features.

$270 isn’t exactly budget, but it’s the most affordable model tested — and its strong performance and solid lineup of features give it even more value.

Fast facts

* Price (Amazon): $270, currently unavailable

* Watt hours: 280

* Weight: 7.5 pounds


How we test

Before diving into how we tested these things, here’s a list of the modelsweI looked at:

Goal Zero Yeti 200x

* Rockpals 300W

Paxcess 300W (Note: Paxcess and Rockpals are both owned by Shenzhen In-Link Tech)

Blackfire PAC500

* Klein Tools KTB5 (Note: Klein Tools owns Blackfire)

* Jackery Explorer 1000

Ego Nexus 3000 PST3042

Every company that sells portable power stations provides the expected number of watt-hours its products are supposed to last. For the Goal Zero Yeti 200x, it’s 187 watt-hours; for the Paxcess 300W, it’s 288 watt-hours. The Jackery Explorer 1000 claims 1,002 watt-hours.

That means if you run a device with a 1-watt output on the Yeti 200x, it should last for about 187 hours. You get 288 hours on the Paxcess model and a whooping 1,002 hours on the Jackery generator. For reference, a USB-C iPhone charger draws up to 18 watts, a 3-quart Instant Pot draws 700 watts and a standard microwave draws around 600 to 1,200 watts, depending on the model.

We ran two identical tests on each of the seven power stations to track consistency and rule out any anomalous results. In the end, each one performed pretty close to the expected run time.

Test results

                                Price Watt hours Expected run time Actual average run time Actual vs. expected run time Number of lights

Zero Yeti 200x $300 187 1 hour, 42 minutes 1 hour, 33 minutes 9 minutes less than expected 1

Rockpals 300W $270 280 2 hours, 33 minutes 2 hours, 35 minutes, 30 seconds 2.5 minutes more than expected 1

Paxcess 300W $300 288 2 hours, 37 minutes 2 hours, 19 minutes 18 minutes less than expected 1

Blackfire PAC500 $500 546 2 hours, 29 minutes 2 hours, 19 minutes, 30 seconds 9.5 minutes less than expected 2

Klein Tools KTB5 $500 546 2 hours, 29 minutes 2 hours, 27 minutes 2 minutes less than expected 2

Jackery Explorer 1000 $1,000 1,002 3 hours, 2 minutes 3 hours, 10 minutes, 30 seconds 8.5 minutes more than expected 3

Ego Nexus 3000 PST3042 $1,200 840 2 hours, 33 minutes 2 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds 13.5 minutes less than expected 3

All of them got pretty close to the mark, with the Paxcess and the Ego models performing the worst. But only the Jackert and Rockpals power stations consistently ran longer than expected, a definite advantage when you’re logging long hours at a worksite, camping off-grid — or need to keep your phone charged at home following a storm that knocks out your electricity.

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