Buying guide: The best portable power station with solar option

powerstations hero
© iosebi meladze /; Collage: NextPit

With a portable power station, you will always have a source of power with you, be it for camping, at music festivals, or simply in the garden. Of course, this also allows you to be better prepared in dealing with unexpected power outages. With foldable solar panels, you also have a way to charge the power station – anytime and anywhere. NextPit shows you how to find the best portable power station with or without a solar generator that will fit your purpose.

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In the following table, we have selected portable power stations for you that hail from established manufacturers. All of these models do have the option of being charged via a solar generator. We have selected models between 500 and 600 watts from the manufacturers' product lines, which cost between $500 and $700, based on the recommended retail price.

You'll find both higher and lower capacity portable power stations from all manufacturers, which then cost more or less accordingly and differ considerably in terms of size as well as weight. In the descriptions of the individual models below, we also list alternative models with their prices, capacities, and power outputs.

Compared: Power stations with an optional solar panel

  NextPit tested Most powerful model For continuous use Most compact model
Product Jackery Explorer 500 Ecoflow River Max Bluetti EB55 Goal Zero Yeti 500X
Image Jackery Explorer 500 Produktbild Ecoflow River Max Produktbild Bluetti EB55 Produktbild Goal Zero Yeti 500x Produktbild
MSRP $529.99 $599.00 $499.00 $699.95
Capacity 518 Wh 576 Wh 537 Wh 505 Wh
Battery technology Li-Ion NMC Li-Ion NMC LiFePO4 Li-Ion NMC
Overvoltage protection 1000 W 1200 W 1400 W 1200 W
Output power (AC) up to 500 W up to 600 W up to 700 W up to 300 W
Output power (USB-C) - up to 100 W up to 100 W up to 18 W
Output power (USB-A) up to 12 W up to 18 W up to 15 W up to 12 W
Output power (automotive) up to 120 W up to 136 W up to 120 W up to 120 W
Output power (DC) up to 84 W up to 41 W up to 120 W up to 120 W
Connections (AC) 1x 3x 4x 1x
Ports (USB-C) - 1x 2x 2x
Ports (USB-A) 3x 2x 4x 2x
Connectors (car) 1x 1x 1x 1x
Connections (DC) 2x 2x 2x 1x
Input power (power supply) up to 100 W up to 500 W up to 400 W up to 180 W
Input power (automotive) k. A. up to 96 W up to 400 W -
Input power (USB-C) - - - up to 60 W
Input power (solar) up to 100 W up to 200 W up to 200 W up to 200 W
Included AC adapter, car charger cable AC adapter, car charger cable AC adapter, car charger cable, solar charger cable Power adapter (60 W)
Special features Flashlight Boost function up to 1200 W, battery divisible, app available, flashlight Qi charging pad integrated (15 W) -
Size 30.1 x 24.2 x 19.3 cm 28.9 x 23.5 x 18.4 cm 27.8 x 20.0 x 19.8 cm 28,6 x 19,1 x 14,7 cm
Weight 6.4 kg 7.7 kg 7.5 kg 6,0 kg
Learn more Read review - -
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Before we go into more detail about the individual solar generators from the table and their features, we would like to first explain the most important technical specifications and features that you should pay attention to when buying.

Jump to:

  1. Buying advice
    1. Maximum output power
    2. Power station capacity
    3. Connections
    4. Charging options
    5. Solar option
  2. The Powerstations in detail
    1. Jackery Explorer 500
    2. Ecoflow River Max
    3. Bluetti EB55
    4. Goal Zero Yeti 500X

1. Buying advice

1.1 Maximum power output

The most important question you should ask yourself is this: Which devices do I want to charge or power with the portable power station? Usually, you will find a sticker or an embossed label on electrical devices that feature the wattage your device consumes under continuous operation. If you add up the power of all the devices that you want to operate simultaneously with your power station, you will obtain the output power that your future power station should be able to deliver.

The portable power stations in our comparison all manage between 300 and 700 watts in continuous operation. That is easily enough to keep smartphones, notebooks, cameras charged, or various lamps, fans, TVs, refrigerators and the ilk. However, you will quickly run out of power if you want to bake waffles in the city park, as we found out when reviewing the Jackery Explorer 500.

Jackery Powergenerator 500
The waffle iron in the background requires just under 700 watts - which is unfortunately a bit too much for the Jackery Explorer 500 (EU version) and thus unsuitable for continuous use. / © NextPit

The power stations also manage to churn out more power for a short amount of time, but switches off after a few seconds. The Ecoflow River Max offers a boost function and thus manages to pump out 1200 watts permanently when plugged in.

1.2 Power station capacity

The second most important question is: How long do you want to run these devices? The manufacturers always state the capacities of their powerstations in watt hours (Wh). The calculation is quite simple: If your fridge needs 100 watts, you can continue to keep it running for five hours with 500-watt hours in case of a power outage. Either that, or you can get through a long workday with a power-hungry notebook anywhere.

As mentioned at the beginning, you'll also find portable power stations with significantly higher capacity and corresponding higher output power from all the manufacturers. The Ecoflow Delta Pro, for example, offers a capacity of 3.6 kWh with a maximum output power of 3600 W, in case you want to start the clothes dryer in the middle of the forest. However, the box also weighs a massive 45 kg and costs just under $4,000.

Ecoflow River Max am Ende der Welt
Practical: The battery cells of the Ecoflow River Max can be removed if traveling light is more important to you than the capacity. / © Ecoflow

1.3 Connections

All portable power stations in our comparison offer 110V AC sockets and can thus be used universally, although you surely cannot use them on Mars. In addition, you will also find the 12V socket that is found in virtually every single vehicle (the "cigarette lighter" port) as well as one or more DC outputs on all models. You will also find several USB-A ports on all the power stations and a USB-C port at the bare minimum on most devices to keep up with the times. The models from Ecoflow and Bluetti even offer PD charging with up to 100 watts. You can find out which smartphones can be charged quickly with this in our guide to quick charging on smartphones.

If you want to use plenty of devices via USB-A or USB-C, you can save yourself the trouble of carrying additional power adapters with the right model.

1.4 Charging options

Of course, all of the power stations in our comparison come with a power adapter so that you can charge them at the wall socket at home. However, the charging speeds differ from the slowest to the fastest model by a factor of five. If you always plan to charge your PowerStation overnight, you can of course disregard this.

Besides charging via the mains adapter, there is usually also the option of charging via a car adapter, which is usually included in the box. You can also charge the Goal Zero Yeti 500X via USB-C, now how about that for convenience?

Jackery Powergenerator 500
Most solar modules can be folded to save space, as seen here in the SolarSaga 100W from Jackery. / © NextPit

1.5 Solar option

The trendiest charging option for your power station at the end of the day would be the inclusion of solar panels. All models in this comparison allow charging via photovoltaics, where the manufacturers each have their own modules on offer. You can either buy them directly in a bundle with your PowerStation or purchase them as an add-on for a later period.

You can also find third-party solar panels as part of its accessories. However, you have to make sure that the photovoltaic modules are compatible with your power station or that you can get a corresponding adapter. To be on the safe side, we recommend that you buy the panels directly from the manufacturer of your power station.

You can calculate how long the charging process will take based on the rated power of the panels and the capacity of the battery. In our experience, you can count on about 90 percent of the rated power under the blazing midday sun. In hazy weather, cloudy skies, or in the evening, the charging power quickly drops to 60, 40 or 20 percent and less. In any case, patience is required when relying on solar energy.

2. Power stations in detail

2.1 Jackery Explorer 500

Jackery is one of the largest suppliers of power stations and has a range of robust and practical powerstations in its Explorer series. Like its siblings, the Explorer 500 has a black plastic case with orange elements and a generous carrying handle on the top. The fixed handle is extremely sturdy, but also does not fold to enable a more compact storage solution.

Jackery Powergenerator 500
Known as the Jackery Powergenerator 500, the kit consists of the Explorer 500 power station and a 100-watt solar panel. / © NextPit

The Jackery Explorer 500 offers a capacity of 518 Wh. Compared to its rivals, the powerstation lacks a USB-C port, and the charging speed is comparatively low at 100 W. However, if you were to primarily charge the Explorer 500 overnight or via solar panels anyway, the charging speed should not bother you.

The following table compares the different models from Jackery's Explorer series:

  Jackery Explorer 240 Jackery Explorer 500 Jackery Explorer 1000 Jackery Explorer 2000
MSRP $529.99 $1,099.00 $2,299.00
Capacity 240 Wh 518 Wh 1,002 Wh 2,160 Wh
Maximum power 200 W 500 W 1,000 W 2,200 W
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2.2 Ecoflow River Max

The Ecoflow River Max is the most powerful powerstation in this comparison with a capacity of 576 Wh and an output power of 1,200 W on a wall outlet with the boost function activated. When operating under normal circumstances, the portable power station manages 600 W. Also worth mentioning is the fast charging function at 500 W, which is supposed to bring the battery to 80 percent capacity in one hour.

Ecoflow River Max mit Band
With the Ecoflow River Max, you can start a concert anywhere. / © Ecoflow

Tipping the scales at 7.7 kg, the Ecoflow River Max is the heaviest model in the comparison, but it also offers an exciting option: namely, you can remove half of the battery and thus reduce the weight by a whopping 2.5 kg. The app support is also unique: You can check the battery status remotely via WLAN at any time.

The following table shows you a comparison of the different models from the Ecoflow River series. If you need even more power, the Delta series from Ecoflow will suit you better!

  Ecoflow River Mini Ecoflow River Ecoflow River Max Ecoflow River Pro
MSRP $299.00 $599.00 $579.00
Capacity 210 Wh 288 Wh 576 Wh 720 Wh
Maximum power 300 W 600 W 600 W 600 W
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2.3 Bluetti EB55

The EB55 from Bluetti is the right device for power users. It is the only model in this comparison that relies on a LiFePO4 battery. This technology offers better durability than the Li-Ion NMC batteries used by its competitors. While Jackery, Goal Zero and Ecoflow each state 500 charging cycles for their Powerstations until the capacity drops to 80%, Bluetti promises a full 2,500 cycles here. So, if you use the power station for everyday work and not only for occasional camping trips, this model is the right one for you.

Bluetti EB55 in der Wildniss
The EB55 is best suited for hardcore users thanks to LiFePO4 technology / © Bluetti

Apart from that, the Bluetti EB55 impresses with an output power of 700W, a powerful 400W charging capacity, and a wide portfolio of ports. Also nice is the charging pad on the top, which charges compatible devices wirelessly via Qi standard with up to 15 W.

The following table shows a comparison of the two models from Bluetti's EB series.

  Bluetti EB55 Bluetti EB70S
MSRP $599.00
Capacity 537 Wh 716 Wh
Maximum power 700 W 1400 W
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2.4 Goal Zero Yeti 500X

While the Yeti 500X is the most expensive model among the lot while offering the lowest capacity at 505 Wh and the lowest output power at 300 W, it is also much more compact than its competitors. Thanks to the retractable handle, it fits well for those who cannot spare the space when traveling.

Goal Zero Yeti 500x auf Baustelle
You need power at a construction site in the middle of nowhere? Then a power station will help. / © Goal Zero

When it comes to ports, the Yeti 500X is very flexible and is the only model in the comparison that can also be charged via USB-C. As with the Jackery Explorer 500, however, the charging speed is not particularly fast especially since the included power adapter only manages at 60 W.

The following table shows a comparison of one of the Yeti 500X's sister models.

  Goal Zero Yeti 200X Goal Zero Yeti 500X Goal Zero Yeti 1000X Goal Zero Yeti 1500X
MSRP $699.95 $1499.95 $1999.95
Capacity 187 Wh 505 Wh 983 Wh 1516 Wh
Maximum power 120 W 300 W 1500 W 2000 W
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Do you already have a power station in use and if so, does it come with a solar panel? Do you also have a favorite that we haven't listed here or is there important information you're missing? We look forward to your input!

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