What is battery capacity and why is it important?
Imagine that you’re out camping in the middle of nowhere. Your laptop and phone suddenly run out of power, you simultaneously realize that your portable power station battery is also dead. That’s no fun, right?
This is why figuring out the right portable power station battery capacity is so important. Battery capacity is the total amount of energy that a power station can store. If you don’t have enough you won’t be able to keep all of your devices charged. Therefore, knowing how to choose the right battery capacity for your portable power station is crucial to avoid the disappointment of ending up with a dead phone, laptop or other camping gear in the middle of nowhere.
How is battery capacity measured?
You’ve probably noticed that power stations refer to battery capacity in numbers like “500Wh” or “20000mAh”.
If you wondering what means, here is a simple explanation. Battery capacity is measured in either watt-hours (Wh) or milliampere-hours (mAh). These numbers tell you how much energy a battery can store.
Watt-hours (Wh) measures the amount of energy used in one hour at the rate of one watt. If your portable power station has a battery capacity of 500Wh, it means it can store enough energy to power a device that uses 1 watt for 500 hours, or a device that uses 50 watts for 10 hours.
Milliampere-hours (mAh) measures the amount of stored energy that will allow one ampere of current to flow for one hour. So, if your portable generator has a battery capacity of 20000mAh, it means it can store enough energy to power a device that uses 1 ampere for 20000 hours or a device that uses 2000mA for 10 hours.
In simple terms, the bigger either of these numbers, the more power that portable power station can store and the longer it can keep your devices charged.
How to figure how much portable power station battery capacity you need
Step 1: Calculate how much juice you need to power your devices
This part is simple: make a list of your devices and their required wattage. If you can’t locate this info on the device itself, or the packaging it came in, look it up online.
After you create your device wattage list, add everything up. This total amount is the baseline number for your required battery capacity.
Step 2: Figure out how long you will need to use the power station each charge cycle
When choosing battery capacity, you also need to consider how long you’ll use the power station each time. For example, are you planning to use the power station briefly when you laptop or phone needs power, or will you be using it for hours at a time to power your campsite.
Thus, it’s not just about the amount of power that you need, but also how long you need to sustain the power.
If you need power for longer than 2-3 hours, you should choose a portable generator with a higher a battery capacity that your total device wattage. For example, iIf you have 500 Wh of devices, purchase a power station with 1000 Wh. This will ensure that it can last as long as you need.
Step 3: Review average battery capacities for common household appliances and devices
- Remote control: 0.1-0.2Wh
- Wireless earbuds: 0.2-0.3Wh
- Bluetooth headphones: 0.4-1Wh
- Smartwatch: 1-2Wh
- Digital camera: 4-8Wh
- Portable speaker: 6-12Wh
- Smartphone: 8-12Wh
- Tablet: 20-40Wh
- Portable refrigerator: 100-150 Wh
- 50-inch flat screen TV: 150Wh
- Laptop: 150-300Wh
Recommended power stations by battery capacity level:
- OtterBox Fast Charge ($55) – up to 74 Wh
- Goal Zero Yeti 200X ($299) – up to 187 Wh
- EcoFlow RIVER Pro ($549) – up to 720 Wh
- EcoFlow DELTA ($1,099) – up to 1,250 Wh
- Goal Zero Yeti 3000X ($3,499) – up to 3,032 Wh
Choosing the right battery capacity for your portable generator ensures that your devices stay 100% charged in any situation. It’s comparable to filling up your gas tank before a road trip – you want to make sure you have enough juice so your car doesn’t run out of energy before you to your destination.
Before you buy a portable power station, be sure to calculate your device wattage so that you select the correct battery capacity that can handle your needs.