Best Portable Power Station (Review and Buyers Guide)

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Best Portable Power Station

Finding the best portable power station to take camping can be a daunting task. A portable power station is a great way to power your campsite when you are away from mains power for any period of time.

Whether you charge it in your car while traveling, or top up with a solar panel during the day, a portable battery pack can give you an ongoing source of power for your fridge, phone, and LED lights at night.

But there are so many options, and it can get quite confusing. In this short guide you can learn the ways portable power stations differ, what you need to consider when buying one, and some options you may want to consider.

Best Portable Power Station – Comparison Table

ImagePower Station DetailsPrice
Thumper Redback 15Ah Mini Mate
  • Storage: 15Ah
  • Chemisty: Lead Acid/AGM
  • Outputs: 12V/USB
  • Charger: 12v (Cig)
Check Price
Companion 40Ah Rover Lithium Power Station
  • Storage: 40Ah
  • Chemisty: Lithium
  • Outputs: 12V/USB/Anderson
  • Charger: 12v/240v/Solar
Check Price
Companion 70Ah Lithium Power Station
  • Storage: 70Ah
  • Chemisty: Lithium
  • Outputs: 12V/USB
  • Charger: 12v/240v/Solar
Check Price
Dometic Waeco CoolPower RAPS44
  • Storage: 22Ah
  • Chemisty: Deep Cycle AGM
  • Outputs: 12V/Hella
  • Charger: 12v/240v (via terminals)
Check Price
Dometic PLB40
  • Storage: 40Ah
  • Chemisty: Lithium
  • Outputs: 12V/USB
  • Charger: 12v/240v/Solar
Check Price

Portable Power Station Buyers Guide

If you are looking for a source of power for your off grid campsite, then there are some important things you need to consider before purchasing.

Battery Chemistry

Different units have different types of battery chemistry inside them each with their own positives and negatives. The most common types you will come across are Lead-Acid batteries (similar to those we have in our cars) and Lithium Batteries.

Battery Size

Different power packs have different battery sizes inside which will provide varying levels of power. You need to think about what kind of devices you will be powering with your battery pack, and how many at any one time, and then get a power pack big enough to meet those demands.

Outputs

Outputs refer to the different connections each unit has that you can hook your devices and appliances too. The most common outputs you will find are 12v Cigarette Socket, and USB sockets, but some also include ‘Hella’ sockets and Anderson plug. Make sure you have thought through the different devices and appliances you will be needing to connect and ensure the power pack you chose can power those.

Charging Methods

Each of the units has different combinations of charging methods. Ranging from 12v Cigarette adapters to 240v transformers to Anderson plug connections for solar panels. Pay attention to these options and make sure you have thought through how you plan how to charge your battery back while camping and whether the unit you are looking at will accommodate that.

Best Portable Power Station – In Depth Reviews

There are a handful of available all-in-one portable battery packs available in Australia, and these can be used instead of, or in partnership with battery boxes and dual battery systems.

In this article, I will compare the Thumper Redback, Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44ah, Companion Rover Lithium Power Station, Companion 70Ah Lithium Power Station, and the Dometic PLB40Ah across a range of indicators, and discuss some of their different strengths and weaknesses.

You might be surprised to find that the most expensive unit, does not actually come out on top across a range of different characteristics.

Things that would be helpful for you to think about are how much battery capacity you think you will need, what kind of charging options you want to have available, and the number of outputs you need for your off-grid setup.

Thumper Redback 15Ah Mini Mate
(Best Small Battery Pack)

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The Thumper Redback 15 Ah Mini Mate is the perfect battery box for those with low power needs that want something small and light, and functional.

Made in Australia, the Thumper products are not the cheapest products on the market, but you get what you pay for in quality and durability. 

It is designed for low draw 12V appliances, so it is best suited to things like LED lights, phone, tablet, laptop charging, and other similar devices.

However, having said that, the unit could run a 40Lt compressor type fridge for 5 hours or so, depending on external weather conditions. 

As the name suggests, the Thumper Redback 15 Ah Mini Mate is equipped with 15Ah’s of storage which will last a long time for lights and USB device chargers.

You can connect the Thumper Mini Mate up to other thumper products and use it as excess storage, and also receive charges simultaneously from the inputs (e.g., solar panels) to the other system. 

What Outlets Does the Thumper Redback 15 Ah Mini Mate Have? 

The Mini Mate is made with a 12v cigarette type outlet and dual USB outlet. You can connect up to three appliances simultaneously.

For example, you could have a LED light strip plugged into the Cigarette plug outlet, and then a phone and tablet hooked up via USB. 

Charging The Mini Mate

The Thumper Redback 15Ah Mini Mate has a 2 pin 12v socket for charging and includes a cord to connect the 2 pin socket to your car cigarette outlet so you can charge while driving.  

How Long Does It Take To Charge The Battery

When the battery is drawn down to 10.5 Volts, is it completely discharged, it can fully recharge within three hours from a typical car cigarette outlet. 

Warranty

The Thumper Redback 15 Ah Mini Mate comes with a two-year warranty. If you have any issues within that time, take it back to your place of purchase with your proof of purchase (receipts, etc.). 

Summary

If a USB power bank is not meeting your needs, but you don’t need a full-on battery box, then the Thumper Redback 15Ah Mini Mate could be a great solution to your camping power needs.

For such a small unit, it could easily power your lights and device charging for a weekend without needing to be recharged. It is a tough, high-quality, Australian-made unit that won’t let you down. 

You can charge it while driving and never have to worry about battery capacity, and draining your battery too far, as this unit will shut down when the voltage reaches a certain point.

It will fit anywhere you have a gap in your car, and any Thumper product is a great way to support local Australian manufacturing. Highly recommended. 

Companion 40Ah Rover Lithium Power Station
(Best Value)

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The Companion 40Ah Rover Lithium Power Station has superseded the previous and popular, 44Ah Companion Portable Power Pack.

The Rover Power Station is an all-in-one portable battery pack that gives you a combination of 12v and USB outlets to keep you powered up in the outback without having to install an auxiliary battery in your car.

With sturdy housing and a handy carry handle, it is great for basic camping power needs. If you are looking to power a fridge for multiple days, then this unit is likely to struggle to keep up (depending on the weather).

But for a combination of lights, fans, portable water system, and phone charging, this could serve you well. 

Display

The Companion Portable Power Pack has multiple LED displays that tell you both the level of charge in the battery, and also how much power is currently being drawn from your connected items.

The ability to see how much power is being drawn is really useful as you can get a good understanding of how power-hungry your devices are, and be planned in what you use and when.

This display of power usage also tells you how much power is being received from your power source (e.g., solar panels) when charging.

This is also very useful information as you can get an idea of the likely charge by the end of the day, and plan and ration your power usage if you are not getting as much fun as you hoped. 

Other LEDs on the control panel indicate if the unit is fully charged, if it is currently charging, or if you are approaching low voltage. 

Companion Rover Power Station Connections

The Companion Portable Power Pack has a versatile array of different connections you can use to power your 12v devices. The Rover includes the following output.

  • Anderson Plug
  • 2 x USB
  • 1 x USB (C type)
  • 12V Cigarette PLug
  • 12V Two Pin Plug

Battery Storage

The Companion Rover Power Station is fitted with a 40Ah LiFePO4 (Lithium) battery, that should provide over 2000 cycles which will do most people over a decide of camping.

A low voltage warning sound is made if the battery is getting flat. The alarm not only lets you know it needs charging but gives you time to disconnect your devices.

If the charge in the battery gets down to 10.5 volts, then this alarm will sound, and the battery will commence its shutdown sequence. 

If this happens, the battery is in need of a full recharge. Once charged, you need to press the ‘reset’ button to enable the outputs again. 

It is recommended that you fully recharge your battery at least every 3 months, on 240v power to prolong its life. 

Portable Charger

There are three different ways to charge the Companion Rover, including 240v, 12v cigarette plug, and solar possibilities. 

This unit is designed to be charged with the 240v power pack (included) before you leave home and then be topped up by the 12v cigarette and solar options while you are away. 

A 240v adapter and 12v cigarette adapter are included with the unit. The 12v adapter connects a car cigarette plug to an Anderson plug and is connected to the same port as you would connect the solar panel.

This 12v charger is not ideal for significant charging requirements and just for topping up while driving between destinations.

From flat, it takes nearly a full day (8-10 hours) to charge the Companion Rover Lithium Power Station.

To me, this suggests that it would be a handy accessory for shorter camping trips, unless you are in a very hot and sunny climate, or expect to be driving long distances regularly to allow plenty of recharge time. 

Warranty

The Companion Portable Power Pack 44Ah has a 12-month warranty. If you have any issues in the first year after purchase, take the unit back to the place of purchase with your receipt to initiate the follow-up process. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it have a built in inverter? 

No, this unit does not have an inbuilt inverter. If this was something you were wanting to do, you could purchase a 12V inverter unit, but this would only be able to power small 240V devices. 

Can this be used to jump start a car battery?

No. These units are not designed to be used to jump start a car. 

Can I charge the unit and use the output ports at the same time? 

Yes, you can charge and use the unit at the same, just be aware that you will be slowing the charging process by simultaneously drawing power from it. 

Does the Anderson plug port have a built in fuse? 

Yes, the Anderson socket has a built-in fuse, dedicated to that socket. 

Summary

The 44ah Companion Rover Lithium Power Station is a great and reasonably priced power bank for small camping trips to power low-demand devices such as lights, hot water systems, and device charging. You could run your fridge off it for a day or two, but this is not the best use of this product. 

If you have regular access to 240V for a deep charge periodically and can top up with solar or 12v cigarette plug power in between, this could be perfect for you.

It’s very reasonably priced compared to some similar products, the two batteries, which separate switches and ports, provide protection and saves energy to maximize usability. 

Read the full instruction manual here.

Companion 70Ah Lithium Power Station
(Premium Pick)

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The recently released 70Ah Companion power station takes everything good about the 40Ah model and adds even more storage.

The 70Ah Lithium battery can withstand discharge down to the 20% level over 800 times, giving you heaps of power on demand. These features make it the best portable lithium power pack in Australia at the moment.

With an onboard DC to DC charger, AC charger, and multiple Anderson plug inputs, this thing is versatile.

This companion power pack includes all the outputs you will need with USB, cigarette socket, and two pin options.

These things are selling like crazy, so you may need to wait a few weeks after ordering. Get in line now by ordering one to make sure you get yours soon.

Dometic Waeco CoolPower RAPS44

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The Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah battery is a portable heavy-duty battery designed to power your camping fridge when away from traditional power sources.

If you don’t have a dual battery system in your car, then this portable heavy-duty battery could be for you. 

The Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah supersedes the previous (and very popular!) Waeco RAPS 36Ah.

After Dometic bought out the Waeco company and rebranded the Waeco line of products, this product has been given a new lease of life with increased battery storage. 

The CoolPower RAPS are marketed as a portable power supply for portable compressor fridges, and as such, they have a simple feature set, but you can use them for a wide variety of 12V appliances. 

Power Bank Display

The CoolPower includes a voltage display that can give you an indication of battery charge at any time. To see how much voltage is left in your battery, hold down the red button, and the voltage screen will display the current voltage. 

The push-button operation of the voltage display ensures the display does not burn out from constant operation and minimizes the further drain on the battery.

In addition to the voltage display, the unit also includes colored LED lights to alert you of critical information.

The green LED will light up when the battery is fully charged, and comes on when the voltage reaches 12.8 volts or more.

The red LED will come on to indicate the battery is very low on charge and comes on when voltage drops below 11.3 volts.

There is an additional Green LED on the side of the unit adjacent to the charging port, and this will light up when the unit is actively charging. 

Outputs

Given its intended use is to power camping fridges, the Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah has a simple set of power outputs, compared to some other portable battery supplies. 

The unit includes one 10 amp, 12v cigarette plug socket, and one 15 amp, ‘hella’ style socket.

Between the cigarette socket and hella socket, it should have the capacity to power most of the camping fridges currently on the market. 

Each output is fused separately with a 15 amp 3AG fuse, so if one fuse blows, you are still able to use the other output, and the unit is still usable.

Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah Power Connections

The CoolPower RAPS 44Ah has two different power connection options. 

The unit includes a 12V cigarette plug cord that can be plugged into your car and then screwed into the charge port on the side of the unit. 

The CoolPower is also equipped with a positive and negative ‘post’ on each side of the unit that you can hook other power sources up to  (240v, solar).

It does not include a 240v transformer to charge with, and you need to use an auto battery charger or other power sources to charge with 240V power.

Battery Storage

The Dometic CoolPower RAPS is built with 44Ah of storage onboard which is provided by two deep cycle AGM (absorbent glass matting) 22Ah batteries.

AGM batteries are an iteration to traditional lead-acid batteries and include an absorbent matting inside that that acid is stored in rather than the lead-acid batteries where the liquid can freely flow around the battery.

The benefits of AGM batteries are that they are safer (no risk of liquid spillage), and no maintenance is required in topping up levels like with traditional lead-acid batteries.  

Can The Batteries Be Replaced? 

No. This is a sealed unit, and the batteries cannot be removed and replaced. If you want a power source with a changeable battery, you may be better suited with a battery box. 

Charging

The CoolPower RAPS 44Ah can be charged in multiple ways. 

The dominant method of maintaining charge is via the 12V adapter cord included with the unit that you plug into your cigarette socket in your vehicle.

One end screws the charging port on the side of the CoolPower, and the other is inserted into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket. 

However, this 12v charging method is not enough to fully charge the battery. Our car’s electronic systems don’t produce enough voltage to get the unit up to 12.8 volts. 

The 12v charging cord is a good way to maintain your battery at around 70% of charge, and top it up while driving between locations, but you will need to charge with 240v occasionally.

The unit does not include a 240v charged cable or adapter but has positive and negative posts where you can attach an auto battery charger.

This 240V method is important for your initial charge when you first buy the unit and then every few months at a minimum to maintain the life of the battery.

The 240v charger you use needs to have an automatic cut-out to avoid irreversible damage to the unit. If your charger does not ‘cut out’ once the battery is full, it will keep feeding it electricity and overload it. 

Can I Attach My Solar Panel To The Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44AH?

It is possible to use your solar panel to charge the Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah. To accomplish this, you firstly need a regulator to take the power from the solar panel and feed it to the battery at the appropriate voltage level.

Secondly, you will need a way to connect to the positive and negative charging posts. Many solar panel regulators come with alligator clip connectors, so this should be straightforward. 

How Long Does It Take To Charge?

If your CoolPower has been depleted, and you need to restore to full charge, you would want to allow at least 6-8 hours. But if you are just topping up, this will, of course, be much quicker. 

How Many Times Can I Charge the CoolPower? 

The useful lifetime of your Dometic CoolPower WRAPS 44Ah will depend on how regularly you discharge the power, and how much power you drain from the battery when you use it.

For example, if you just use 20% of the charge, before recharging, then you will get significantly more ‘charges’ than if you were to regularly use 70% of its available power. 

This useful table appears in the Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah operating manual, which you can access here.

Depth of Discharge (DOD)Service Life (# Cycles)
80%350
50%600
30%1250

Optional Accessories

There is an additional accessory you can consider purchasing for your CoolPower battery, designed to help keep it stable while in transit. The RAPS72 kit is a mounting plate you can affix in or on your vehicle, which provides a base to sit your CoolPower in and strap to tie it down. If you are hoping to have it more permanently fixed on your ute, car, or caravan, then this accessory could be of use, but it is by no means essential. 

Warranty

The Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44ah power bank comes with Dometic’s standard 12-month warranty.

If you have any issues within the first year after purchase, return your item to the place of purchase, with your receipt or other proof of purchase, and the retailer will initiate the relevant support sequence. 

FAQ

How long will the Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah run my fridge?

It is impossible to give a definitive answer to this as there are many variables, including the ambient weather temperature and the fridge size and settings.

The unit is intended for use on portable compressor fridges, with a capacity of up to 65 liters, and with a 65-liter compressor fridge, CoolPower could provide 35-40 hours of refrigeration or 15 hours on the freezer setting. But these figures are just a guide, and actual results could vary greatly.

What type of devices can you run off this pack? 

The Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah can provide power to any 12v device with a cigarette or hella adapter. 

Can you connect two together?

Yes, it is possible to connect multiple CoolPower batteries together to increase the available power storage. The unit comes with a dedicated port to facilitate this.

However, the actual cord is not readily available at the time of writing this article. So if join the batteries are critical for you, please ensure the connecting cord is available before purchase. 

Can I use the CoolPower with other brand fridges?

Yes, the CoolPower will provide power to other camping fridges, as long as they have cigarette or hella style power adapters. 

Can you charge it and use the fridge at the same time?

Yes, when using the 12v charging source, you can have your fridge on, but it is recommended that you unplug your fridge if charging with a 240v source through the positive and negative ports.

Can this be used to jump start a car battery?

No, the CoolPower is not designed to jump-start a car battery, and trying to do so could damage the unit. 

Summary

The Dometic CoolPower RAPS 44Ah is a feature simple, portable power supply that will keep your fridge or other 12v device going when off-grid.

The compact design with a carrying handle makes them very easy to carry around and set up. Though they are marketed primarily as a power supply for your camping fridge, you could use them for any other 12v appliances and devices you need.

If you are satisfied with the 44Ah battery capacity, then the only limitations you may find are the number and type of outputs. Many people rely on their portable battery supplies for charging phones and other devices, but this unit does not include any USB ports.

It would be possible to get a cigarette plug USB adapter, but then you have used up your main fridge port.

So if you are after a simple, single-use portable battery pack, then this is a very worthy candidate, but if you need multiple power sources and hope to charge other devices as well, then you will need to look at other feature-rich portable battery supplies.

Dometic PLB40

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The Dometic PLB40 makes powering your off-grid appliances a breeze. The PLB 40 is shock, heat, and UV resistant, so you can take it anywhere.

It’s also lightweight and equipped with a stainless steel carry handle, so it’s easy to get in and out of the car or ute.

The Dometic PLB 40 is designed to power your fridge, USB devices and can even support small inverters (up to 150w).  The unit includes 2 x 12v outlets (one heavy-duty) plus 2 x USB charging ports. 

You can monitor the performance of your unit with the included LCD display. The LCD display gives you an indication of the overall level of charge, which ports are in use, and a variety of error lights that indicate if the unit is affected by a blown fuse, high temperature, and low temperature.  

Price: $899

How Do I Charge The Dometic PLB40? 

There are three different ways you can charge your Dometic PLB 40. It includes adapters for charging through your vehicle’s 12v power system, an AC power adapter for when at home, and you can also plug a solar panel in and charge that way.

The car adaptor and solar panels both connect to the unit with an Anderson plug connection.

When charging by solar, you can do it with or without a solar controller. Ensure that the output from the panel or controller does not exceed 10 amps or 25V DC.  

Dometic PLB40 Battery Chemistry

The battery is powered by Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4), which has numerous advantages over traditional lead-acid batteries. One of the key advantages of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries is that they do not reduce in charge under high load.

For lead-acid batteries, when the discharge rate is high, the lead-acid battery is only able to provide around 60% of the rated capacity. But lithium iron phosphate batteries are able to provide 100% of their rated capacity regardless of the discharge rate. 

Another advantage of lithium iron phosphate batteries is that they are able to provide a more consistent level of output over their entire discharge cycle. In comparison to lead-acid batteries that start out strong but slowly fade in their discharge cycle. 

There are many more positive things I could mention about lithium iron phosphate batteries, but the last two benefits I will mention are that they recharge a lot quicker than lead-acid batteries. And they operate much better in high temperatures as well. 

The only thing that lead-acid batteries can do better is that they can take on charge in cold temperatures, whereas lithium iron phosphate batteries will not accept a charge when it is very cold.

The Dometic Portable Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery Pack is designed to handle over 2000 charging cycles in its lifetime. So even if you recharged it every day, you should theoretically get over 6 years of use out of it. 

How Long Does The Battery Last?

It depends. It is impossible to state with confidence how long a battery will last without detailed information about what devices are going to be connected, for how long, and what the weather conditions are going to be. 

If you plan to use this portable battery pack to power your fridge, then the weather will have a big influence on how long this portable battery will last.

If it is winter, and you are trying to maintain temperature overnight, then this battery pack might be suitable, but if it is summer, and you are hoping this unit can power your fridge throughout a hot day (without further charge), then the 40 amp hours are likely to be drained quickly. 

It all depends on what devices you hope to use it for. If you are planning to use it for LED lights and phone charging, then the Dometic Portable Battery Pack will last a very long time. 

Warranty

The Dometic PLB40 comes with a 12-month warranty, like many other Dometic products. If you have any problems within the first 12 months, take your unit back to the place of purchase with the original purchase receipt. 

See more in the product manual here: https://www.dometic.com/assets/60/05/dometicplb40_opm_4445102605_apac(en)_11_2020-02_76005.pdf?att=true

Summary

The Dometic PLB40 is a sturdy, lightweight, features a fully portable battery pack with fantastic lithium-ion phosphate battery technology inside.

Given the three-way charger, and robust, lightweight casing, and easy setup, this is a really popular option for people looking to power their off grid campsite. But for me, I don’t quite see the value proposition for this as a $900 product.

Given you only get 40Ah of battery storage, you could easily get far more storage and the same functionality, by buying a battery and encasing it inside a battery box.

Not only is it cheaper, but if you have an issue with the battery, you can just replace it with a new one.

A downside of these sealed Dometic units is that if something goes wrong with the battery, then you have to discard the whole unit.

And if that happens after 12 months when the warranty period is over, then you are back to square one and need to buy a new unit. 

I can understand why people would be drawn to the stylish design, and rugged case, but the limited battery storage, and ability to change a damaged battery leads me to feel it is not worth the $900 price tag. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If the PLB40 battery stops working, can the battery be replaced? 

No. The Dometic PLB40 is a sealed unit, so if the battery ceases operation, then the unit is no longer viable. 

Can you daisy chain these batteries (connect multiple batteries together to increase storage)?

No. The Dometic PLB40 is designed to be a stand-alone unit and cannot be hooked up to other units to increase storage capacity.

Can the Anderson plug be used as an outlet as well? Or just an input? 

Unfortunately, the Anderson plug port is just an input and cannot be used as an output socket. 

Portable Power Station – Frequently Asked Questions

Can a portable battery pack charge an iPhone?

Yes, most portable battery packs have a USB output that you can connect your iPhone charging cord to.

How many USB outputs do I need on a portable battery pack?

Two or more USB outputs are usually enough on a portable battery pack.

Are a portable battery pack and portable power station the same thing?

Yes, in most cases, these two different names could be used to describe the same products.

Is a portable battery pack the same as a portable battery charger?

No. Though a portable battery pack can charge things (phones, devices, etc.), a portable battery charger is something that is intended to charge your main battery in a battery box, or event to potentially charge your portable battery pack with solar and or 240v power. ‘Projecta’ makes a great range of portable battery chargers you can search for.

How do you know which power bank is right for you?

Starting by figuring out what role the portable battery pack will play in your campsite, figure out what connections you will need and what you will want to power and charge.

Then think through how long you will want to do this without the chance to charge your unit, and then use this information to figure out how big of a battery you need in your portable battery pack.

What is the ideal weight and size for a power bank?

There isn’t an ideal size or weight, as it depends on your requirements.

You don’t want to carry around more than you need, especially if you are towing a caravan/camper, but you want to make sure you have enough power for your requirements, with a bit spare in case it takes longer to charge your portable battery pack than you expect.

How long do portable power banks take to charge?

It depends on the size of the battery and the charging mechanism. The larger the battery, the more charge is required. And solar will be slower to charge than 240v, for example.

Portable Power Station Tips

If you have just picked up your new batery pack for camping and are taking it out for the first time, there are a few things you need to be mindful of, to maximise the longevity of your unit.

Connecting a Solar Panel to Your Portable Battery Pack

Many camping power packs have an Anderson plug which allows a solar panel connection. Solar is a great way to power your off grid campsite, but you need to connect to you power station safely or else damage can be caused.

If you care to connect a solar panel to your power pack, make sure there is a solar panel regularly connected in between your panel and your power pack. In some panels, this is built into the circuitry, and in some power packs, this is built into the unit itself (so you can hook up directly), but in some cases, you will have a separate device you need to connect in the power cab;e in between the two units. Just make sure there is a regulator there somewhere, as the direct connection of an unregulated solar panel could put very high voltage into you power station and cause significant damage.

Understand Depth of Discharge (DoD)

The batteries in our portable power packs are not designed to be drained fully and then recharged. They each have a level (called the ‘Depth of Discharge’ which they are designed to be drained down to, before needing charging.

This varies between battery chemistry types. For example, most Lithium batteries have a Depth of Discharge of 20%, meaning they can be drained down to 20%, before being re-charged, whereas lead-acid/AGM batteries are not supposed to be drained below 50%.

In both cases, if you drain a battery below this level, it could harm the battery and reduce its performance on going.

So make sure you are familiar with your battery’s chemistry and understand how low you can drain it, and keep an eye on the voltage throughout your trip.

12v Charging Limitations

Many units include 12v chargers that you can insert into a cigarette socket for charging, which is very handy when driving. But it is important to understand most vehicles do not provide enough voltage from the alternator to charge the battery pack to 100%. They often charge to about 80% of the battery level and you will need another source of power 240v/solar to reach 100% capacity.

Best Portable Power Station – Summary

In summary, the best portable battery pack will be different for different people and their typical camping activities. The Dometic PLB could perhaps claim to be the most stylish of the four units, with its matt black finish, and lightweight design.

The lithium battery brags rapid charge times and deep levels of discharge, but I can’t quite comprehend the associated price tag. For the lightweight and the style, you are paying a lot more for a simple set of outputs, and minimal battery storage.

I personally love the Thumper Mini Mate for a small battery for lights and phone and think the Companion Rover or Companion 70Ah Power Station is the next best step. But I can’t quite see the value in the PLB 40. Even though it is an impressive unit, the price for me is not quite justified.