As we roamed the halls of CES in Las Vegas, one product category stood out across the board; there is a lot of focus on portable (and less portable) power storage. These are more than your average charge-your-phone-once-or-twice battery packs, ranging from simple little power packs to sophisticated power stations that connect to portable solar or rooftop solar, and the largest versions can power your entire home for weeks at the time.
The smallest portable power stations usually come with a few 110V outlets and some USB outlets, and maybe a 12V cigarette lighter port for small devices. From there it can get quite advanced; solid-state batteries, 240V power, wireless charging ports, the ability to connect additional batteries and the ability to get power from a variety of power sources, including mains power, solar power, car chargers and even the advanced fast chargers designed for electric vehicles.
It would be a fool’s errand to try to capture everything we saw at CES, but here are some of the highlights:
EcoFlow’s travel-forward innovations
EcoFlow came out of nowhere a few years ago, and has established itself as a very serious player in the portable power space. At CES, the company launched a battery-powered refrigerator with an ice maker, a laptop, an updated version of the battery-powered air conditioner and a number of other innovations. The biggest news this year, however, is that it is rolling out full-house battery backup systems later this year.
Yoshino’s solid-state batteries
Yoshino’s portable power stations are built around a new solid electrolyte, replacing the bulky and flammable liquid electrolyte found in most lithium batteries. The company told me it improves performance and offers higher energy density. In other words: the same amount of power fits into a smaller, lighter package compared to traditional lithium batteries. A company representative claimed that you could shoot the battery pack with a gun without it catching fire. We did not carry a gun to verify the claim.
The company also suggests the new batteries offer faster charging than the old chemistries, going up to 80% capacity in under an hour, and they require up to twice the power per pound of traditional lithium batteries. Definitely one to keep an eye on. The power stations have tons of ports, and the wireless charging pads on top of the power stations are a really nice touch.
Bluetti runs your entire house
The biggest news from Bluetti was the full-house power in the form of the B300S and matching inverter series. In normal use, the mains (or a solar panel) keeps the batteries full. When the power goes out, the battery packs jump in, as an uninterrupted power supply for your entire house. You can either keep power for everything, or design two separate circuits; one with essential power circuits (eg fridge, cooking and heating/cooling), and one with less essential circuits (eg washing machine and electric car).
Zendure’s cooler celebration of overkill
Zendure’s Superbase V really stretches the definition of what can be considered ‘portable’. Clocking in at a hefty 100 lbs (46 kg), at least it has an extendable handle and motorized wheels to help you move it around. Once in place, however, it can do just about anything – it has 6.4kWh built-in. However, it also supports additional battery modules, for a maximum available storage space worth 64 kWh. Fully charged, that’s more than an entry-level Tesla Model 3 battery pack, and the company claims it’s enough to power a typical household for a week.
It packs both 120V and 240V voltage, and can power both small appliances such as refrigerators and larger household items such as induction hobs and electric tumble dryers. Hell, with up to 12,000W of power, you can charge two electric cars with it at the same time, should you need to. Pricing starts at $3,100. Fully maxed out with four external batteries, you’re looking at a price tag north of $15,000.
Geneverse drives prices down
Geneverse has wide distribution in the United States, and is available at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Sam’s Club and online. It’s easy to see why: the company launched two new power stations. HomePower One has 1,210 Wh capacity, 1,200 W rated power and 2,400 W surge power, while its big brother HomePower Two has 2,419 Wh capacity, 2,200 W rated power and 4,400 W surge power. Both have three 120V outlets, two 100W USB-C outputs and two USB-A fast charging connectors.
None of those stats really move the needle — but the price point does. The smaller power station costs $1500 and the larger one is $2500. You can add two or four solar panels to the power stations, respectively, bringing the price tag to $2,600 or $4,800. With prices like these, backup power at home is starting to come into the realm of most homeowners. The company didn’t skimp on the batteries either, choosing the ultra-high-efficiency LFP/LiFePO4 (Lithium iron phosphate) battery technology. These are very safe and provide a lifespan of around 3000 charging cycles.
Schneider signals that battery storage is here to stay
We have seen a number of startups in the smart home panel for a while. The new thing is that the big boys join in the fun.
Energy giant Schneider Electric entering the fray shows that battery storage for the home is really becoming mainstream. Why is this a big deal? Around 40% of all homes already rely on the brand for their main switch panels and other key home components.
App-controllable, the company launched a brand new energy management solution for home batteries, including a high-power solar inverter, smart electric panels, electric car chargers, along with a variety of additional features. It even received a CES Innovation Award for its problems along the way. Seeing several large power supply companies enter the market with fully integrated solutions means that the entire industry is well into the battles. Not exactly the kind of thing you can install yourself, but a harbinger of things to come in the near and medium future.