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Home Road Trip This portable power station is my must-have for road trips, and it’s $200 off right now

This portable power station is my must-have for road trips, and it’s $200 off right now

by Staff

Bluetti AC70 power station.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • Bluetti AC70 is currently available from Amazon for $499, which is $200 off the regular price.
  • A powerful unit, capable of 1,000W output for regular loads, increasing to 2,000W for resistive loads, such as heaters and hair dryers.
  • You’ll need to companion app to access more advanced features.

Portable battery packs have revolutionized power. Forget noisy, smelly gasoline generators or trailing extension cables, these packs are a convenient way to take power with you on the go.

Power stations come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from small devices that can easily fit into a backpack to large units that need to be transported on wheels. My preference is for something in the middle — a power station that’s big enough to power heavy loads for extended periods, but small enough to be easily carried around.

Also: The best portable power stations

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing the Bluetti AC70, a portable power station that won’t break the bank or your back. The pack has enough power to easily handle energy-intensive devices, such as hairdryers, electric kettles, and heaters. 

View at Amazon

Bluetti AC70 features

  • Power: 1,000W Rated Power/2,000W Lifting Power
  • Capacity: 768Wh
  • AC Charging: 950W Turbo charging, 45 minutes to 80%
  • Solar Charging: 500W Fast solar charge, fully charge in two hours
  • Outputs: AC: 2×120V/8.33A, 1,000W in total | USB-C: 2 × 100W max | USB-A: 2 × 5VDC/2.4A 12W in total | 12V DC: 1 × 12V/10A
  • Battery: LiFePO₄, rated for 3,000+ charge cycles
  • App: Smart remote control via BLUETTI app
  • UPS reaction time: 20ms
  • Weight: About 22.5lbs/10.2kg
  • Dimensions: 12.4 × 8.2 × 10.1-inches / 314 × 209.5 × 255.8mm
  • Warranty: Five years 

When testing a power station for a review, there are a few key aspects I examine.

First, I verify the device lives up to the claims made on its spec sheet, which, for power stations, includes the capacity of the battery and the loads the device can handle. I’m also keen to see how the power station copes with loads exceeding its rated capacity, looking for it to shut down gracefully rather than spit and spark and make a ruckus.

The AC70 passed all my tests with flying colors. It’s a well-made, well-engineered unit that delivers exactly what it promises.

I am particularly impressed by the device’s design for longevity. Bluetti has incorporated LiFePO₄ (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries into this power station, which are renowned for their durability. The cells in this unit are rated for 3,000 recharge cycles before they need to be replaced, significantly outperforming the typical 500 to 800 recharge cycles of standard Lithium-Ion batteries.

Also: What is GaN? Everything you need to know about gallium nitride-based charging tech

The unit can be charged from an AC outlet, solar panels, or from a vehicle’s 12V outlet. 

The front of the AC70 is simple yet functional, with an easy-to-read display and only three buttons

The front of the AC70 is simple yet functional, with an easy-to-read display and only three buttons.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Safety is a primary concern, particularly heat management. While most power stations handle heat well, some are hot garbage. I expect the power stations from a premium brand like Bluetti to be free from safety concerns, and the AC70 did not disappoint.

Durability is also a crucial aspect of my testing. Despite the challenges in standardizing real-world testing, I expose all power stations to rigorous conditions over several weeks. This rigorous testing includes extensive use, transportation in cars and trucks, and deliberate drops onto hard surfaces to evaluate durability. 

Also: 5 simple tips for getting the most out of your power station solar panels

I’m particularly concerned about the overall integrity of the unit. I’m not looking to deliberately break the pack, but equally I want to know if bits of plastic or components with part numbers on them come loose and start rattling inside the device.

Once again, the AC70 excelled, passing all durability tests.

Despite weighing in at almost 23 lbs, the built-in molded handle is comfortable enough for carrying the unit for extended periods.

Despite weighing in at almost 23 lbs, the built-in molded handle is comfortable enough for carrying the unit for extended periods.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Finally, there’s usability. I look for controls that are easy to use, accompanied by a display that shows all the necessary information without being cluttered or confusing.

The AC70 excels in this area as well. Its display is bright and clear, complemented by just three backlit buttons, striking the perfect balance between simplicity and functionality. 

Also: The best home generators

For me, the AC70 is the perfect “Goldilocks” power station. While I own larger units, ideal for powering substantial off-grid setups, and smaller ones, which are suited for day trips, the AC70 strikes the ideal balance. It’s sufficiently portable for easy transportation, but has enough capacity to meet the needs of a small group for several days. I’ve relied on the power station to charge my smartphone, cameras, drones, and laptops efficiently.

Bluetti AC70

Bluetti AC70 charging in the car.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The AC70’s versatility is notably enhanced by its wide array of charging options, which include AC input, solar, and 12V DC. I’ve found that charging the station from a car’s 12V outlet is particularly efficient for keeping the unit charged, as long as you avoid letting the battery drain too much. This feature ensures the pack doesn’t require an extensive recharge period, which could be inconvenient during travel.

Additionally, Bluetti offers an app for controlling the advanced features of its power stations, such as adjusting the charging speed or enabling eco mode. While I personally prefer the tactile feedback of physical buttons, which is a nod to my old-fashioned preferences, I acknowledge the appeal and convenience that smartphone control brings to many users. 

ZDNET’s buying advice

Given the high cost of power stations, the significant amount of power they store, and the dire consequences of battery malfunctions, I strongly advise investing in a high-quality unit. My experiences with substandard products from obscure brands have underscored the importance of choosing power stations from premium, well-established brands in the industry.

Bluetti stands out as one of these reputable brands, and the AC70 exemplifies its commitment to quality. Given its performance and portability, I can see this power station accompanying me on many adventures during 2024 and beyond.

Additionally, the price point is incredibly appealing. With a $200 discount currently available on Amazon, the Bluetti AC70’s price has been reduced to $499. At this price, it’s an absolute bargain.

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