Portable power stations are the smaller, lesser-known cousin of generators. These versatile, lunch-box-size gadgets can travel with you on camping trips, to construction sites -- and anywhere else you need electricity -- to keep your phone, power tools and other electronics charged and running smoothly.
The majority of the United States could face blackouts this summer, according to a report published recently by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, making products like this useful beyond the campsite or construction project. They can also provide backup power during a power outage when you need to keep your phone on or an essential appliance running.
The best portable power station for your particular needs will depend on many factors, but it will probably come down to the cardinal two: power delivery performance and price. Each of these is more than just an on-the-go phone battery charger or glamping must-have. These power bank performers have wide-ranging uses from building and construction to staying connected with the office or family to having access to emergency lighting and power wherever you roam.
Jackery Explorer 1000
Best portable power station overall
CNET TAKE: The Jackery Explorer 1000 is by far the most well-rounded portable power station of the bunch. At 22 pounds, this powerful generator is fairly compact, especially compared with the 44-pound Ego Nexus model. Despite this Jackery portable power station's smaller size, it manages to make space for three three-prong outlets, two USB-C ports, two standard USB-A ports and more to use for your power supply and for charging your devices.
Its display is easy to read, too, and it dominated the performance tests, exceeding its expected battery power run time of 3 hours, 2 minutes (with three work lights connected to it) by an average of 8.5 minutes. For an additional $500, you can tack on a portable solar panel pack and use it as a solar generator for solar power when you're camping.
Price (Amazon): $1,099
Weight: 22 pounds
Best midrange power station
CNET TAKE: When you don't need something quite as powerful as the Jackery Explorer 1000, look to a midrange portable power station with a roughly 500 watt-hour capacity.
We really liked Klein Tools' KTB5 for its performance and wide variety of outlets and ports (two three-prong outlets, two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports). That model has since been discontinued. However, Klein Tools owns the brand Blackfire, which makes a model with similar specs: the Blackfire PAC505.
Weight: 12.1 pounds
Best budget power station
CNET TAKE: Rockpals replaced its original 300W portable power station with a new model, also called the Rockpals 300W.
The original Rockpals 300W I tested was my favorite affordable portable power station. It performed well, was lightweight and had multiple ports and outlet options.
The updated Rockpals 300W has similar specs, including the same 280 watt-hour estimate. But this iteration adds in a USB-C port to provide more charging options. I know $286 isn't exactly budget, but if it's anything like the previous-gen model, the new Rockpals 300W is well worth considering.
Price (Amazon): $286
Weight: 7.7 pounds
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Senior Writer/Editor Megan Wollerton and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.
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