“Power station” may sound like a soviet-area training facility, but the truth behind this bold title is much less intimidating and much more useful. A power station is simply a mobile device that provides electricity. Some of them need to be plugged in for a pre-charge before use, some operate via battery, and some run on solar power or gasoline. The avid travelers among us are probably already developing a mental list of situations that may require some extra juice, but before you jump on Amazon and purchase the first thing you see, let us break down the different situations that may require a power station and the pros and cons of the best models out there.
Situations that may require a power station:
This is probably the most obvious situation for a power station. If you are an avid, hardcore camper, you may only use it to recharge your GPS or “only for –emergencies” cell phone. If you are more of a casual camper or are camping with children, keeping a phone, iPad, or even laptop charged to help with work connectivity or emergency entertainment can save you from missing an important message, or from a night stuck in a tent with crying children.
Does this sound familiar? You are sitting in a distant terminal, your flight delayed and your cell phone battery warning. You look around for a free outlet, but other power-hungry squatters surround anything accessible. The only free port is somehow both behind the ticket counter and underneath a row of seats, so you are doomed to either perch in an inconvenient, uncomfortable position, or face the wait with a dead cell phone. Owning a power station would make that experience a thing of the past.
Things like power outages following natural disasters and car accidents are something that no one wants to think about, but something that everyone should be prepared for. Keeping a power station tucked away in the corner of your garage or trunk may sound like a paranoid practice, but might just save your life the next time something unfortunate comes to pass.
All of these situations are very different, and will thus require different things from each station. A camper will need a power station that doesn’t need to be plugged in to use, our jet-setter needs something light and easy to travel with, and anyone in an emergency will want something that packs a major punch. Below are the two best power stations for each situation, and links to buy each one.
Best Power Stations for Camping
This is a compact, yet powerful charger. Its lithium battery power source offers a 400Wh power supply. It has three varieties of output ports: a car socket, an AC outlet, and 4 USB ports. You could charge your car’s GPS, 4 phones, and keep a light on in your tent! It is compact, but not tiny. You will probably want to bring it in by car or short hike. It requires a recharge so it may not be a great solution for weeks in the wilderness. But if you’re a weekend getaway type of person who can live without their cell phone, this is the unit for you.
This charge only has two USB output ports, so it is likely not the solution for laptops, lamps, or anything larger than a smartphone or small tablet. That being said, it is small, compact, and solar powered! If you are a hiker, a big-time backpacker, or into creating renewable energy, this is a great solution. It is shockproof, dustproof, and waterproof. You can basically take this white water rafting with no problem. The battery capacity is 16000mAH and it comes with its own micro USB cable.
Best power stations for airports
This unit is not rechargeable and you may need access to an AC outlet in order to use it. But if you can get to that behind-the-desk, under-the-chairs outlet, the extension cord on this will get you 3 AC outlets and 4 USB output ports. For anyone who travels with several electronics, this is a great solution. It provides 1250W worth of power.
Like the solar-powered pick above, this is only good for USB outputs. That being said, it is slim (nearly as slim as your phone), and is light and easy to travel with. It has a capacity of 20000 mAh and features a neat little digital display that shows you how much charge remains out of 100.
Best Power Stations for Emergencies
This guy is the mother of all generators. It can power a fridge, furnace, well pump, and can run for up to 11 hours. It has an electric start with a recoil backup and can take up to 6 gallons of gasoline. This is what you want to have in your garage the next time the power goes out for more than a few hours – it can definitely save lives.
This charger is completely waterproof. It can provide 55,500 MWh at 12V with 600 peak amp output for your car, truck, boat, or ATV. It can jump a car up to 40 times on a single charge. This is great for anyone who is often on the road and doesn’t want to have to call AAA every time they find themselves in a jam.
Power stations ensure that no matter where you are or what situation you are in, you are never too far away from a fully charged cell phone (at the very least).