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Which is the right portable power station for me?


Portable power stations are really versatile and can be a great addition to a weekend camping trip, a caravan holiday, or even as a portable source of power when you’re at home. But there are so many to choose from, it’s hard to know which is the best option for you.

To choose the right portable power station, you’ll need to answer three questions: 

  • What size inverter do I need? 
  • How much battery power do I need? 
  • Which brand should I go for? 

We’ll show you how to answer these questions, then point you in the direction of some good quality, tried-and-tested portable power stations.

jackery explorer 500 portable power bank off grid setup van life digital nomad

What size inverter do I need?

Portable power banks consist of three main components: a battery, an inverter, and a solar charge controller. The inverter converts the low voltage, DC battery power into the 230V AC electricity you need to power your 230V appliances. 

The size of the inverter (e.g. 200W, 500W, 1000W) describes the maximum power it can provide at any one time, which will dictate the kind of appliances you’ll be able to plug in. 

You can work out how big an inverter you need by considering which appliances you’re going to use: 

Step 1

Try to pre-empt which 230V appliances you will want to use and find out their rated power draw, in Watts (W). You can usually find this printed somewhere on the appliance or on the power cord label. Alternatively, you can often find the specifications online. 

Step 2

Work out what your maximum power draw will be at any one time. For example, if you want to plug in a laptop charger (60W), a blender (800W) or a hair dryer (1600W), your max power draw will be 1600W.






Max = 1600W

If you want to use all three at the same time, your max power draw will be 2260W.






Total = 2260W

Step 3

Choose a power station with an inverter that’s big enough to handle your maximum power draw. You should also make sure it has enough plug sockets. 

For the example above, you would need a large power station, with at least three plug sockets, such as the EcoFlow DELTA Max or the Bluetti AC200Max.

Choosing a powerbank with the right inverter

Here’s a list of power stations you could choose based on the wattage of your appliances.

Low-wattage appliances

  • Phone charger (20W)
  • Smart TV (50W)
  • Laptop charger (60W)
  • SUP board pump (110W)
  • Drone charger (90W)
  • Hair straighteners (200W)
Compatible portable power stations

Want to know more about the Jackery Explorer 240? We’ve reviewed this powerbank and made note of all it’s pros and cons.

Mid-wattage appliances 

  • Blender (600W)
  • Toaster (800W)
  • Low-wattage kettle (1200W)
Compatible portable power stations

Want to know more? We’ve written a product review of the Jackery 1000 and the EcoFlow RIVER Max and made note of all their pros and cons.

High-wattage appliances 

  • Hair dryer (1600W)
  • Induction hob (1800W)
  • Domestic kettle (2000W)
Compatible portable power stations
jackery 240 review 240 explorer powerbank portable power station with solar saga solar panel

What size battery do I need?

The battery capacity of a power station will tell you how many hours the battery will be able to supply a certain amount of watts, given in Watt hours (Wh).

Based on the power demands of your appliances (in Watts) you can calculate how many Watt-hours you will need from your portable power station. 

Watt hours = Watts x hours

You can calculate how many Watt hours you will use per day by adding up the usage from each individual component.




Power used



0.6 hours




1.2 hours




0.1 hours




0.5 hours


Total power used = 164Wh

Now choose your power station based on how many days you want to last without having to recharge. 

For the example above, using 164Wh per day,

a power station with a 500Wh battery would last for 3 days

and a power station with a 1300Wh battery would last for 8 days.

The 500Wh station might be great for a long weekend, but the 1300Wh will get you through a week without needing to be recharged. 

However, if you have a means of recharging your portable power station throughout the trip, you might not need such a big battery capacity.

climbingvan van conversion resources

Recharging your powerbank

Portable power stations can be recharged in three different ways: 

  • A mains power plug socket (230V AC)
  • A car’s cigarette lighter socket (12V DC)
  • Or from portable solar panels

Mains plug charging 

If you think you’ll have access to a mains plug socket at some point on your trip (e.g. in a cafe or at a campsite) you’ll be able to recharge your power station.

Here’s where the EcoFlow power stations have a big advantage over the other brands: all EcoFlow power stations have fast charging capabilities – their latest generation of powerbanks fully can charge in just one hour. In comparison, most of Bluetti’s powerbanks reach full charge in 3-4 hours, while Jackery’s charge in 5-6 hours.

Charging in the car

You’ll also be able to recharge your portable power station from the cigarette lighter socket in your car whenever you’re on the move. You should only charge your powerbank when you’re driving, or else you’ll flatten your starter battery.

A small powerbank will need just 3-4 hours to fully recharge, but for large power banks this method isn’t very effective and could take 9-11 hours to fully recharge.

Portable solar panels

Portable solar panels are a really popular option to use alongside a portable power station. Just set them up outside when the sun’s out and they can recharge your power bank for free! The time it takes to recharge from solar depends on the light conditions, the size of the solar panel and the size of the battery.

Here’s an idea of typical solar recharge speeds for small, medium and large powerbanks (assuming there’s a high summer sun with no cloud coverage):

Want to know more? We’ve written a product review of the Jackery 500 and the AC50 and made note of all their pros and cons.

EV charging point

Finally, the EcoFlow DELTA Pro can be charged from an electric vehicle charging point in less than 2 hours! The DELTA Pro is a really big powerbank, so this could be a really good option if you need a lot of power and you’ll be on the move every few days.

What size portable power station do I need?

To help you choose which size portable power station is right for you, we’ve outlined some examples of typical power usage, ranging from a low to extra-high.

Below each example, we’ve listed the powerbanks we would recommend.

We’ve calculated how long each power station would last before you need to recharge, but if you’ll have access to a charging source on your trip, you’ll be able to last for longer and can choose a powerbank with a smaller battery capacity.

Portable power stations for a low daily usage

In this example, some low-wattage appliances are used each day, for only a short time, resulting in a low daily power demand. 

Daily usage

WattageHours used

Power used

Phone charge (x2)



Laptop charge 60W1.2 72Wh
Outdoor light 5W10Wh

Total daily power usage = 106Wh

Recommended powerbanksInverter sizeBattery size

Time off-grid

EcoFlow RIVER Mini

300W210Wh2.0 days

Jackery 240

200W240Wh2.3 days

PowerOak AC50

300W500Wh4.7 days

These small powerbanks will only take 4 or 5 hours to charge from just one 110W portable solar panel, so you’ll be able to go indefinitely if you can get a full recharge every day.

Portable power stations for a moderate daily usage 

In this example, some low and mid-wattage appliances are used each day, resulting in a moderate daily power requirement. 

ItemWattageHours usedWh per day
Phone charge (x2)


0.6 hours

Laptop charge (x2)


1.2 hours

Smart TV50W1.0 hours50Wh
Small blender 400W0.1 hours40Wh

Total daily power usage = 258Wh

Recommended powerbanksInverter sizeBattery sizeTime off-grid

Jackery 500

500W518Wh 2.0 days 

EcoFlow RIVER Max

600W 576Wh 2.2 days 

The RIVER Max will only take 6 hours to recharge from one 110W portable solar panel, so if you have access to clear skies with a high summer sun, you could keep topped up indefinitely with this set-up.

Portable power stations for a high daily usage 

In this example, low, medium and high-wattage appliances are used each day, including a campervan fridge which runs 24/7 and a hair dryer used for 6 minutes. 

ItemWattageHours usedWh per day
Phone charge (x2)


0.6 hours

Laptop charge (x2)


1.2 hours

Toaster800W0.1 hours80Wh
Campervan fridge20W24 hours480Wh
Hair dryer 1600W0.1 hours160Wh

Total daily power usage = 888Wh

Recommended powerbanksInverter sizeBattery sizeTime off-grid




1.4 days 

EcoFlow DELTA Max



2.3 days 

Because these powerbanks have such a large battery capacity, you’ll need multiple portable solar panels to get a full recharge in just one day. The DELTA will need 2 x 160W solar panels to charge in 6 hours, and the DELTA Max will need 3 x 160W solar panels to charge in 8 hours.

Portable power stations for extra-high daily usage

In this example, low, medium and high wattage appliances are used, including an induction hob for 30 minutes of cooking, which neccessatates a large battery capacity and a large inveter. 

ItemWattageHours usedWh per day

Laptop charge (x2)


1.2 hours


Smart TV


1.0 hours


Hair dryer


0.1 hours


Campervan fridge20W24 hours480Wh

Induction hob


0.5 hours


Total daily power usage = 1834Wh

Jackery vs EcoFlow vs Bluetti

Now that you know how to size your powerbank to suit your needs, the last thing to consider is which portable power station brand is best?

Jackery, EcoFlow and Bluetti PowerOak are three of the best portable power station brands available in the UK, so we’ve summarised their pros and cons to help you choose. We’ve also mentioned the Dometic PLB40 which is a 12V only powerbank.

Bluetti PowerOak

Best budget option
best portable power stations uk poweroak bluetti powerbank lithium


  • Lithium battery
  • Pure sine wave inverters


  • No ‘mini’ powerbank model
  • Slow recharge speeds
  • The AC50 only has a small inverter (300W) vs comparable powerbanks


Best mid-range option
best portable power stations uk jackery powerbank lithium



  • No extra-large models
  • Slow recharge speeds


Most versatile option
best portable power stations uk EcoFlow powerbank lithium


  • Largest inverters
  • Good range of sizes available
  • Fastest recharge speed from mains plug
  • Longest battery cycle life


  • Most expensive option

Dometic PLB40

Best 12V option
dometic PLB40 portable lithium power bank 12V


  • Made specifically for use with the CFX fridges


  • No inverter (12V only)
  • No built-in charge controller

It’s also worth noting that EcoFlow solar panels come with an Anderson plug to MC4 adapter cable for connecting to the EcoFlow powerbanks. MC4 connectors are the most commonly used solar panel connectors. So, if you already have a solar panel, or want to install a fixed panel on your vehicle’s roof, EcoFlow are easier to connect with than the other brands. You will just need to purchase an MC4 to anderson adapter.

Recharge speed comparison – PowerOak vs Jackery vs EcoFlow

Every power station has a slightly different recharge speed, depending on the size of its battery. However, EcoFlow powerbanks allow fast-charging when they’re plugged into mains power, so they might be the best option for you if you need a quick recharge whenever you have access to a plug socket.

Here’s a comparison between these mid-sized power stations from PowerOak, Jackery and EcoFlow:

Powerbank Mains powerCar chargingSolar charging

PowerOak AC50

5.0 hours

6.0 hours

4.5 hours from 120W solar panel

Jackery 500

5.5 hours5.5 hours

7.5 hours from 100W Solar Saga panel 

EcoFlow RIVER Max

1.6 hours6.5 hours

3 hours from 220W EcoFlow solar panel

Which powerbank should I choose if…I’m on a budget?

PowerOak and Jackery powerbanks are the best budget powerbanks whilst still being high quality products. Jackery powerbanks are slightly more expensive, but have bigger inverters. 

Which powerbank should I choose if… I want to use fixed solar panels to recharge it? 

EcoFlow powerbanks come with an MC4 connector adapter. This is the most common type of solar panel connector, and therefore easiest to connect to other solar panels. 

Here’s how to wire up fixed solar panels to charge a portable power station: 

recharing a portable power station with rigid solar panels fixed to the roof of a campervan

Choose a combination of solar panels which doesn’t exceed the maximum tolerance of the powerbank. You’ll find this in the powerbank’s product description on our website. 

Use a cable entry housing on the roof of your vehicle to ensure a waterproof seal.

Use two solar panel extension cables to connect to the solar panels on the roof of your van. These can be brought into the van, so you can plug in your powerbank inside the van whenever you need to recharge.  

Which powerbank should I choose if… I want to use my portable solar panel to also recharge my leisure battery? 

EcoFlow solar panels have MC4 connectors. These can be used to connect to a solar charge controller to charge your campervan’s leisure battery

Here’s how to wire up a portable solar panel to charge your campervan’s leisure battery: 

ecoflow 160w solar panel wiring diagram to charge a leisure battery with a victron charge controller

To manage the variable power coming in from your solar panels, you’ll need to choose the correct solar charge controller

If you want to set-up your portable solar panel on your vehicle’s roof, you can use a cable entry housing to feed the cables from your charge controller to your roof. 

You should use a single solar extension cable cut in two to provide you with two cables to connect to your charge controller. These will be blank on one end, and have an MC4 connector on the other end. These should be connected to the ‘input’ connection points on your charge controller.

Whenever you’re parked up and want to recharge, just plug your solar panels into the MC4 connectors to recharge your leisure battery. 

Need some help with your campervan’s electrical system? Try our free electrical system design service – Nomadic Energy. We’ll provide you with a bespoke proposal for free, and if you end up buying your components through us, we’ll send you a free wiring diagram too. 

ecoflow 160w solar panel review portable foldable campervan solar array and ecoflow river max

Portable power stations vs bespoke electrical systems

If you’re planning to convert or upgrade a campervan, you might be wondering if a portable power station would do the same job as a permanent electrical system, without the hassle of a complex installation. 

Portable power stations definitely have the potential to be really useful, and might be good enough if you only want a simple campervan conversion, but they also have their limitations.

1. They don’t have enough ports or sockets.

Most campervans can power a variety of in-built appliances (such as ceiling lights, bedside lights, fans, a water pump, a fridge, a heater) and can have multiple 230V plug sockets for powering 230V appliances.

A portable power station only has a limited number of ports and plug sockets and won’t be able to accommodate lots of devices. 

2. The small and mid-sized power stations don’t have enough battery capacity.

Only the extra-large power stations have a battery capacity which can measure up to a typical campervan leisure battery, which is big enough to last off-grid for several days. 

Here’s an example of the size of powerbank you might need to last off-grid for 3 days in a campervan:

Campervan usage Wh/day Powerbank Price






3. Large powerbanks are slow to recharge from solar power or from the vehicle’s engine.

Although EcoFlow’s large powerbanks are quick to charge from mains power, a permanent electrical system will charge more efficiently from solar power and from the vehicle’s charging power when you’re driving. For a battery capacity of around 4000Wh, here’s how the times compare:


Mains powerSolar powerVehicle power

Portable power station 

1.6 hours18 hours42 hours

Permanent electrical system 

11 hours11.5 hours11 hours

4. You won’t save money with a powerbank.

To create an electrical system with the equivalent functionality of a powerbank, the combined price of the electrical components will be similar to that of the powerbank.

Cost comparison

Here’s a cost comparison between a portable power station and a campervan electrical system, which would both be suitable for the following daily usage:

ItemWattageHours usedWh per day
Phone charge (x2)


0.6 hours


Laptop charger


1.2 hours




24 hours


Ceiling lights


3 hours


Hair dryer


0.1 hours


Total daily power usage = 848Wh

We need a system which can accommodate a daily power usage of 848Wh with a minimum inverter size of 2000W.

best portable power stations uk EcoFlow powerbank lithium
Portable power station

The following portable power station set-up would be suitable: 

  • DELTA Max power station with extra battery
  • 2 x 220W portable solar panels
lithium campervan electrical system
Permanent electrical system

The following combination of electrical components will achieve the same functionality as the powerbank above:

  • 320Ah lithium leisure battery (3840Wh)
  • Solar charge controller
  • 2000W MultiPlus inverter/charger (for charging from shore hook up)
  • SmartShunt (for battery monitoring)
  • 30A battery-to-battery charger (for charging from engine)
  • 2 x 215W fixed solar panels
Battery Capacity Solar Input Total Cost

Portable power station



Permanent electrical system


The total cost of the electrical components for the permanent electrical system is slightly more expensive than the portable power station. However, it has so many advantages over the portable power station.  

With a bespoke electrical system, you’ll have more flexibility and can tailor the whole system to your needs.

For example, you might only need a small inverter if you only need to charge a laptop, or you may not need a solar charge controller if you don’t plan on using solar power. In these cases, you’ll save money by only buying exactly what you need.

Advantages of a portable power station

EcoFlow powerbanks can recharge from mains power in just 1.6 hours. This could be advantageous if you’ll have occasional access to mains power, where you can plug it in and charge it within a couple of hours.

And if you’re not feeling confident about DIY electrics, using a powerbank means you won’t need to install a leisure battery, a solar charge controller or an inverter. This part of the campervan conversion can be daunting for electrical newbies. Power stations give you an alternative option if you’re worried about building a safe and reliable system. 

Finally, a portable powerbank might be a good option if your current campervan doesn’t have an inverter and you don’t have the room or the confidence to add one in. You’ll be able to use 230V appliances where you couldn’t before, and you’ll have a little extra battery power with you as a back up.

Are you looking at portable powerbanks because the prospect of designing campervan electrics seems daunting and you don’t know where to start? Try our free electrical system design service where all you have to do is answer some questions and we’ll send you a bespoke design proposal for free! If you decide to order your components through us, we’ll also send you a bespoke wiring diagram.

Our free electrical system design service makes off-grid energy simple.

Power station FAQs 

How long do portable power stations last?

A small portable power station, such as the EcoFlow RIVER Mini, will last for 7 hours if it is powering something which draws 30W, like a laptop charger.

A large portable power station, such as the EcoFlow DELTA Mini, will last for 10 hours if it is powering something which draws 90W, such as a drone charger. 

How to charge a portable power station?

To charge a portable power station you can either plug it into a mains socket, a car’s cigarette lighter socket, or connect it to a portable solar panel. 

What is the best portable power station?

The best portable power station for charging small electronic devices is the EcoFlow RIVER Mini, the EcoFlow RIVER or the Jackery 240

The best portable power station for powering high-wattage appliances is the Jackery 1000 or the EcoFlow DELTA series.

If you want to know more, we’ve written a whole article on the best portable power stations in the UK, which directly compares the features of small, medium and large powerbanks. 

How does a portable power station work?

A portable power station works by converting the electricity stored inside the battery into the correct voltage you need to power your appliances, whether that’s 12V DC or 230V AC power. They are also able to recharge the battery from solar power because they have a built-in solar charge controller. 

Are portable power stations worth it?

Portable power stations will give you access to 12V and 230V power wherever you are, with zero installation hassle. Alongside a portable solar panel, they’ll be a great addition to your next off-grid adventure. 

Can I use a portable power station for a hairdryer?

Large portable power stations can be used to power a hairdryer. You’ll need a power station with an inverter which is big enough for your hair dryer. Most hair dryers draw around 1500-2000W, so you’ll need a portable power station such as the DELTA, the DELTA Max, or the DELTA Pro.

Which is better EcoFlow or Jackery?

EcoFlow and Jackery both produce good quality powerbanks, but EcoFlow powerbanks have larger inverters and faster recharge speed when you plug them into mains power. EcoFlow powerbanks also have a battery with a longer cycle life: 800 cycles, as opposed to Jackery’s 500 cycles.

Can Jackery power a refrigerator?

Jackery 500 would be able to power a 12V refrigerator such as the Dometic CRX50 for 1.8 days. This is because the Jackery 500 has a 518Wh battery and the CRX50 uses 290Wh of power per day. The Jackery 1000 has a 1002Wh battery and would be able to power a refrigerator for 3.5 days.

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