With an increasing number of power outages across the U.S. and devastating wildfires in California causing blackouts, millions of homeowners have been left without power over the past year. According to a report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. electricity customers experienced more than eight hours of power interruptions in 2022 on average. This is the longest time without power since the organization started collecting electricity reliability data in 2013.
As a result, many homeowners are worried about the dependability of their power and are increasingly interested in backup power options like solar and battery storage systems. Crafuel's portable power station (pps) and its amazing solar panel wingman can provide you with peace of mind by keeping the lights on and your fridge running during outages.
Here’s some important information to know about how Crafuel's portable power stations and solar panels compare, including whether or not you can go off-grid.
Portable Power Station
All power stations should be charged by connecting them to solar panels (hence the designation “solar generators”), but you also want to look for the ability to charge via other sources like wall receptacle and your vehicle’s 12-volt outlet. This ensures that you can charge up in the sun whenever you’re off-grid, plugged in at home to prepare for a power outage, or via your vehicle dashboard socket while on the go.
You also need to keep an eye on a model’s charging input capacity which is measured in watts (W). A portable power station with a maximum input of 500W, for instance, can take in a continuous flow of up to 500 watts which is about the minimum that you’ll reasonably want to look for. Most of the Crafuel power stations have input capacities of at least a few hundred watts when charging via solar so a few 100-watt solar panels will max them out.
All portable power stations need to keep the power coming in and going out. The best pps is capable of charging all the devices you need simultaneously via whatever plugs are necessary.
This means that any portable power station worth your money will have a high output capacity so you can charge many devices, even if they require a lot of juice. A power station’s maximum output should be much higher than its maximum input. While a particular model might only be capable of taking in a few hundred watts at a given moment, it will usually put out exponentially more power. At a minimum, you’re going to want a generator that can put out 500 watts at a time although for larger tasks you’ll want at least 1,000.
In addition, the best pps should offer a variety of output plugs, including AC, USB-A, USB-C and 12-volt DC outlets like the one in your vehicle dashboard. This ensures that you can charge several devices at once no matter what plug they use. The number of ports you’ll need will vary depending on how many devices you need to power but the pps should have at least a couple of AC outlets and a few USB-A ports.
A Longer Lifespan
As with any product you expect to last, durability and all-around quality craftsmanship are essential. This is especially true if you plan on lugging your pps around on camping and road trips. A lot of subpar portable power stations are made from cheap components and flimsy plastic that doesn’t feel like it will hold up under the rigors of the road.
Durability isn’t something you can determine by reading a spec sheet on the internet. You’ve actually got to take the generator out and use it a number of times to see how it holds up.
If you plan on taking a portable power station camping or will be using it in a converted van where every square inch matters, size and weight become major considerations. All of the products at Crafuel are about the size of one or two shoe boxes. The lightest is less than the weight of a 24-pack of soda while the heaviest is 59 pounds, or roughly the weight of an extra-large bag of dog food. Most fall somewhere between 30 to 60 pounds.
However, if you’re going to be using your generator as a more or less stationary source of backup power at home portability isn’t a huge issue. Still, keeping weight and size in mind is generally recommended. You never know when you’ll need your pps for something other than a backup power source. (Plus, who wants to lug around something heavy and awkward if they don’t have to?)
Portable Solar Panel
Power storage options
Many portable solar panels come with the necessary cables and batteries you’ll need to store electricity for later. A power station is especially helpful if you hope to use solar energy when there’s no sun. Illuminating a campsite at nighttime, charging your phone during a thunderstorm or keeping your laptop running on a cloudy afternoon are all good examples of this. If you want to stock up on solar power consider purchasing a kit that includes the necessary batteries, converters and cables.
The size, weight and design of the solar panel you select will all determine its portability. If you’re planning to drive to a sunny field to get some work done, a heavier and bulkier panel might be fine. You can keep it in your car until you reach your destination so its size and weight won’t be an issue. On the other hand, backpackers and hikers should choose small, lightweight panels that won’t become a burden on long outdoor treks. Crafuel’s 100W portable solar panel is a great option in this case. Before you buy, make sure you check a panel’s weight and dimensions as well as those of all its accessories.
While most solar panels are at least somewhat weather-resistant, not all of them are truly waterproof. The last thing you want is to ruin your brand-new gadget and be stuck without electricity simply because it wasn’t designed to withstand the elements. Consider the intensity of your outdoor excursions and the weather in your area and make a point to determine your panel’s hardiness before you buy. Crafuel’s 100W portable solar panel performs well in wet conditions and will provide you with a terrific experience as you enjoy your outdoorsy activities on rainy days. To prolong its service life, we suggest cleaning your solar panel with a dry towel or cloth after every use.
Size and weight
The specific size and weight of a solar panel is a key consideration when you’re trying to determine the suitability of a product. For instance, compact lightweight solar panels are excellent for hiking, backpacking and camping because they can fit into a backpack and carrying them doesn’t cause excessive fatigue. Having said that, these panels are vulnerable to the wind because of their broad flat shape and low weight, meaning that they can be carried away easily.
Alternatively, broad heavy panels are great for mounting on the roof of the house or an RV, but they’re much too bulky to pack into a vehicle or set up at a campsite. So, it’s important to figure out how you want to use the solar panel before deciding on a specific product.
The purpose of solar panels is to absorb the solar power from the sun and convert it to usable electricity for a range of different devices and batteries. Therefore, the integration and synergy of the power station and solar panel are of great importance. With Crafuel’s portable power stations and 100W solar panel, even if the power goes out, you’ll be able to keep your fridge cold and use basic electronics for a couple of days without recharging. With quality solar panels, good sunlight and smart energy usage, your power should theoretically continue uninterrupted.