Power Up Your Outdoor Events with Portable Power Stations

Welcome! If you’ve ever organized an outdoor event such as a barbecue, a company gathering, or even a small concert, you know that one of the key factors to success is having a reliable source of power. Enter portable power stations: your new best friend for outdoor events.

If you’ve been using endless extension cords, you’ll be able to keep most of them at home. If you didn’t have power at all, you’ll now be able to bring all kinds of gear to level-up your events: portable fridges, food warmers, coffee machines, and proper lights to keep the party going well into the night.

But how do you find the right power station when there are so many available? This guide will get you closer to your ideal power station!

What Can You Power with a Portable Power Station?

Portable power stations are incredibly versatile and can power a wide range of equipment and devices, ensuring your outdoor event goes off without a hitch. Let’s take a look at some common gear you might need to power during an outdoor event and their approximate power requirements:

Outdoor lighting: Depending on the size and type of event, you may need different lighting equipment, such as fairy lights, spotlights, or lamps. Most standard outdoor lights consume between 5-100 Watts per hour.

Sound systems: If music or announcements are part of your event, you’ll need a reliable sound system. A small portable speaker might only require 10-20 Watts, while a more comprehensive PA system could demand upwards of 100-300 Watts per hour.

Projectors: Planning a movie night or a presentation? A standard projector typically requires about 150-400 Watts per hour.

Portable heaters: If you’re hosting an event during colder months, portable heaters can keep your guests warm. These can vary widely, but a typical portable heater might use anywhere from 750 to 1500 Watts per hour.

Mobile devices: Your guests might appreciate having a place to charge their phones or tablets. Mobile devices usually require 5-20 Watts for charging.

Food warmers, blenders, and other kitchen appliances: For a BBQ or a picnic, you might need to power up a food warmer (200-700 Watts), a blender (300-1000 Watts), or even a small fridge (100-200 Watts).

Remember that these are just estimates, and actual power requirements can vary based on the specific model and usage. You’ll also need to account for the fact that some appliances, like a fridge or a heater, will be running for the entire duration of the event, while others, like a blender, will be used sporadically.

By adding up the power needs of all the equipment you intend to use, you’ll get a clear understanding of your total power requirements for the event. This will help you in choosing a portable power station with the right capacity.

How to Choose a Portable Power Station for Outdoor Events

Having recognized what a portable power station can do and understood your power needs, you’re now ready to select the best power station for your outdoor events. But what factors should you consider? Let’s break it down.

Power & Capacity

This is going to be by far the most important consideration. While you likely have a budget to consider, you need to make sure that the power station you bring to the event can actually power the gear that’s needed.

The Power is a hard limit: A 1,000W power station simply cannot support a 1,100W device. It also can’t run a 500W and a 700W device at the same time. So make sure you understand what devices are critical to your event, and that you know how much power you need in total for all of them.

Surge power is another factor: Many appliances need additional power to start up – like fridges, freezers, or grillers. This usually only draws this additional power for less than a second – thus “surge” power. Most power stations can support brief power surges up to about twice their regular power output. Make sure to check all your high-power devices for their surge power requirements!

The Capacity is usually easier to work around. For a small event, 1-2 kWh may be enough to keep the lights on and the speaker playing music – but if you want to power appliances like fridges, a coffee machine, or an electrical grill, you will need much more than that. There are two main ways to get more than the 2-3 kWh that most power stations offer at most: By using external battery packs, or by using solar panels to provide continuous power input while there is sunlight. More on both of those later.

Portability & Practicability

For small outdoor events, like Tailgating, you may want to go for a smaller, lightweight power station that’s easy to carry. But for larger events where more power is needed, many power stations opt for a trolley-like design – 50 to 100 pounds of high-tech is safer to pull than to carry!

Make sure to consider the location of your outdoor event and plan ahead to have a dedicated, safe spot for the power station to work. Keep in mind hat it produces heat and can’t be covered up or kept in a small space during or after operation. Also, it can’t be kept in the sun because of the risk of overheating. So make sure you have a shaded, open space for your power station to work!

Which brings us to the next consideration: How practical is the power station with these constrictions in mind?

Most power stations come with a variety of output ports. But if you have to keep the power station a bit apart from where the action is, you’ll need extension cords and potentially a hub to get more ports. However, the total power output per AC port is also limited, so you have to consider the devices you plug into the same port when using such an extension cord.

It’s often better to go for a more powerful station to avoid running into issues like this – if you think you’ll need 1,000W, going for 1.2 or even 1.5 kW puts you on the safe side and prevents sudden shutdowns during your event – which could kill the mood as fast as it turns off all power!

Top Factors to Consider when Choosing a Portable Power Station

Now that you understand the mechanics of a portable power station and what to look for, let’s focus on some key factors that should guide your decision.

How Much Power You Need: As we discussed earlier, the first step is identifying your power requirements. This is directly related to the type and number of devices you wish to power. Ensure your choice can handle the combined power draw of all your devices.

Make notes of all devices you might want to plug in during the event, and how much power and surge power they need! This will help you get a clear picture of the power you will need.

Type of Events You Will Be Hosting: The nature of your events plays a significant role in your decision. If you’re planning a night-time event, you may need a power station that can handle the continuous power draw of lights for several hours. A daytime picnic or BBQ, on the other hand, may need less continuous power but more peak power for things like blenders or electric grills.

Also, daytime events can be perfect for putting down a portable solar panel close to the power station to expand the battery life drastically. This won’t be possible during the evening or night, obviously.

Frequency of Use: How often you plan to host outdoor events also matters. If you’re only planning a few events per year, you might not need the highest-end model. However, if you’re frequently hosting events, investing in a durable, high-capacity model might be more cost-effective in the long run.

Your Budget: Portable power stations come in a wide range of prices, depending on their capacity, the type of battery, the number and type of outlets, and additional features like display screens or solar charging capabilities. Decide on a budget that you’re comfortable with, but remember that sometimes spending a bit more can get you a significantly better product.

Environmental Considerations: If sustainability is important to you, consider the environmental impact of your choice. While all portable power stations are more eco-friendly than gas generators, some models are designed with sustainability in mind, offering features like solar charging capabilities or efficient power usage to minimize waste.

Since the right choice of a power station for outdoor events depends mainly on the type of events you’re planning and the devices you’re going to be powering, we’ll be recommending three different “levels” of power stations that are suitable for the various event sizes.

Picknick-Level Event

For small gatherings with friends or family, you likely won’t need much to be happy. If you’re used to these kind of events without power, then even a small power station will feel like a big upgrade. Devices you’ll be powering include recharging your phones, maybe a camera for photos, and maybe a small portable cooler for cold drinks or keeping food fresh.

A good choice here is the Anker PowerHouse 535 – with 500W power and 512Wh capacity, it won’t be enough to power a mini-fridge for long, but it’s enough to charge phones, power a sound system, and keep the lights on for quite a while.

Anker PowerHouse 535
4.5
$ 579
Power: 500 W
Capacity: 512 Wh
Buy from Anker Buy on Amazon

Outdoor-BBQ-Level Event

If you are planning something bigger, you’ll need more power. A barbeque needs at least a portable fridge for drinks, another party might need a top-notch sound system, while you may need to keep food warm for a different kind of event. Either way, you need a power station capable of delivering enough power to run bigger equipment, and for many hours of entertainment. Expect some extra demand if there are people at your event – there will always be someone who wants to charge their phone, camera, or even their drone on your power station once it’s out.

We recommend either choosing a power station that can be recharged with an expansion battery, or bringing a 200W or 400W solar panel. This way, you’ll have much more power available to “spend” during the event and don’t need to worry much about running out before it’s over!

Pro-tip: If the event is close-ish to a power outlet, you can recharge your expansion battery there, then use it to recharge your power station without moving your power station or interrupting the power! This gives you essentially unlimited portable power with minimal effort.

The Bluetti AC200 Max is what we recommend for events like this simply because it can be expanded by two 3 kWh expansion batteries – bringing the total capacity to 8 kWh. Additionally, if you can find a way to recharge the batteries, you can easily keep the power on almost indefinitely.

BLUETTI AC200 Max
4.9
$ 1,959
Power: 2,200 W
Capacity: 2,048 Wh
Weight: 62 lb (28 kg)
Buy from Bluetti

Corporate-Party-Level Event

If 2-8 kWh aren’t enough, or if you need to provide more than 2,200W at a time, you really only have two options: Go with a massive, less portable power station and expansion batteries, or use multiple power stations. For some events, 800W solar panels can also provide a lot of extra capacity as long as they get a lot of sun exposure, but that’s hard to guarantee in advance.

For a heavy-duty power station, the EcoFlow Delta Pro is a solid choice – reaching a maximum capacity of up to 25 kWh with several expansion stations. Keep in mind that these aren’t exactly made for carrying around – on uneven or difficult terrain, they might be a hassle to transport. However, in terms of power output and capacity, they’ll handle almost anything. Instead of expansion batteries, you can also easily go for multiple power stations if the event will need that much power.

EcoFlow DELTA Pro
4.9
$ 3,599
Power: 3,600 W
Capacity: 3,600 Wh
Buy from EcoFlow

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide to portable power stations. By now, you should have a solid understanding of what a portable power station is, what gear it can power, and how to choose the best one for your outdoor events.

To sum it up briefly: Before you start thinking about buying a power station, you should get a good overview of all the devices and equipment you want to power. Add up the power requirements and consider the duration that each of them will be running for. This will let you estimate the total power output and capacity you need.

From there, it’s a good idea to think about using solar panels or expansion batteries if you need a lot of capacity. What’s right for you will depend heavily on the type of events – mainly how much easy access to sunlight you’ll have.

And then all that’s left is to order your favorite model and look forward to the next event!

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