In some ways, asking how long a portable power station will last, is a lot like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’.
The reason for this is that the amount of time your power station will last depends on multiple different factors, including power station size, weather, number of devices being used, and whether it is a portable lithium power station or lead-acid AGM power station.
In this article, we will outline the main things that impact how long a portable power station might last to help you figure out what size portable power station will meet your needs.
Most portable power stations these days are constructed with a lithium-ion battery inside. The advantages of a lithium-ion battery are that they are lighter to carry, and you can use more of the battery’s storage capacity, without risking damage to your battery. For example with a lithium battery, you can regularly drain 80% of the power, without any risk of damage. Whereas with a lead acid battery, you are not supposed to drain them below 50% of their charge level, or you risk damaging the battery.
The reality is that most power stations sold now will include a lithium battery, but if you do stumble across a model that includes a lead acid battery, be aware that you will only be able to use half of the battery’s storage so you need to include that in your calculations.
Amp-hours Is the indicator used to describe the storage capacity of a battery. So, the more amp-hours, a battery is rated for, the bigger the battery is, and the longer it will last.
The amp-hours classification is telling you how many amps of power that battery could provide for one hour of time. For example, a 40 amp hour battery, could provide 40 amps of power, for one hour. Or, to look at it a different way, it could power a device that draws 1 amp of power, for 40 hours.
Ah, will be one of your main indicators, when looking at how long a portable power station will last. The smaller power stations tend to have batteries of around 40Ah, and they just go up from there.
The devices that you have connected to your portable power station are the other main factor that will influence how long your portable power station will last. you need to sit down and write down all the devices that you hope your portable power station will run and charge. this includes things like camping fridges, LED lights, charging smartphones, charging laptops, and whatever else you plan to power with your portable power station.
Once you have your list of devices that your portable power station will be powering and charging, you need to research each of those items and see how much power they draw. Once you know how much power each of those devices draws, you can then start to do some basic maths and figure out how many amp-hours you will need to power those devices in total.
Once you’ve done those calculations, you can then look for a battery with sufficient storage capacity.
Using an example, a very rough calculation is that a camping fridge requires 2Ah of power to run. Depending on the weather, it will probably not run all day. So for the purposes of this example let us assume that the fridge will be running for 12 hours in a 24-hour period.
With these very rough calculations based on some very rough assumptions, we can see that a fridge drawing 2Ah over a 12-hour period will require 24Ah of power. so if we only have 40Ah of battery storage, then this single device has already used up most of our allocated storage.
It is quite possible that the fridge will not require that many amps to run, and it is also quite possible that it will not need to run for that many hours, but it is equally possible that it will need more amps and more running hours.
As a result, it is important to do some calculations, based on a variety of scenarios, to figure out how many amps you would expect to need, on an average trip, in average conditions, across all of your devices.
Another defining factor in how long your portable power station will last is what chance you have to charge it while you are camping, or away from your power source. if you are camping, and we’ll have a portable solar panel, or will be able to charge it while driving in your car, this will extend the life of your power station.
For example, if you regularly camp in hot weather, and can be sure you will get ample sunlight most days, you could rely on a certain amount of solar charging each day to top up your portable power station battery.
Likewise, if your travel style, includes lots of driving each day, then you could potentially charge portable your power station while you are driving.
Alternatively, you can do your calculations based on the expectation that you will not have any chance to charge your power station while you are away and look for a battery size that will meet your needs regardless of charging abilities.
The final factor to consider when assessing how long are portable power station will last in your case, is the likely weather scenario. Although you may plan to use your power station in multiple different types of weather, and in multiple seasons, it is important to understand the impact that the weather, in particular the temperature, can have on your portable power station battery life.
The weather does not impact the battery directly but it does impact how much power is drawn from your connected devices.
Thinking about our camping fridge example again, if it is a hot day, then your fridge will be drawing more amp-hours than usual, and we’ll do it for a longer period of time. whereas if it is a cold day, your fridge will require a lot less power to stay cold, and will not need to be running for as many hours in a day.
On the flip side, the weather also has a big impact on how much solar energy may be available for you in the day to recharge your portable power station.
As a result of all the above factors, it is important to do a little bit of homework to think through the different devices you will be expecting your portable power station to run, and in what conditions, to figure out how long a portable power station will last.
Though you will not be able to precisely identify exactly how much power you will need, thinking through these important issues will help you get a greater understanding of how different situations have a different impact on the amount of storage you need, and you then need to decide what type of scenario you want to cover yourself for.