October 24, 2020

How To Power Your RV Off-The-Grid Without Installing New Equipment

Bluetti Power Station for RV Off-Grid Power

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Larger portable power stations now include the same high-end components you would find in smaller off-grid power installations. You can even recharge them with solar panels which is why they are often referred to as portable solar generators.

Fast-charging lithium battery banks, 1000 watt pure-sine power inverters, and sophisticated MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) re-charging systems are now standard components. And you get it all in a portable package.

Once charged, a large portable power station can

  • Power lights, phones, tablets, TVs, laptops and other small electronics
  • Power a small portable refrigerator or electric coffee maker
  • Run a CPAP machine while camping, tailgating
  • or run small power tools on the jobsite

Why is this a good for small RVs and campers? With one of these power stations, you’ll have plenty of power for boondocking or dry-camping in one compact unit. If you’ve been holding back on installing your own off-grid power system, a portable power station may be the “one and done” solution you’ve been looking for.

Let’s take a closer look at one of the larger portable units on the market, the MAXOAK Bluetti EB150 1500 Watt Hour Portable Power Station.

MAXOAK Bluetti EB150 Portable Power Station

MAXOAK Bluetti EB150 Portable Power Station

RVWITHTITO.com

Battery Capacity (1500 Watt Hours – 115 Ah)
Inverter (1000 Pure Sine)
Weight (38 lbs)
AC Outputs (2)
DC Outputs (USB-C, USB-A, USB 3.0, 12V DC Regulated @ 12.2V)
Charging Options (AC, Solar)
Recharge Time (AC – 10 Hrs, 200W Solar ~ 12 Hrs)
Quality of Materials
Appearance
Warranty (2 Yrs)

Summary

PROS: It’s large battery and 1000 watt pure sine inverter make it suitable as a primary or auxiliary power source for small RV/Camper applications. It has all of the off-grid components that a small off-grid power system would have. All of this in a portable unit.
CONS: It’s weighs about the same as a 2KW portable generator. Recharge times are slower than some other models. The 10 amp max on solar charging prevents faster charging. AC plugs are located on the back of the unit (front would be better). Does not have numeric display for state of charge. Finally, it can’t be combined with a second unit for expanded capacity.
OVERALL: The Bluetti EB150 is a sturdy and powerful unit with enough capacity to function as a primary power source or for backup power. It’s not as portable as I would have liked and can’t be easily charged from a car charger. Solar charging is also very slow due to the 10 amp limit on the MPPT charge controller.

3.7

Does It Provide The Necessary Off-Grid Power Features?

With the exception of solar panels, the answer would be yes. A portable power station like the Bluetti could certainly power a small RV, camper, tiny home, or boat off-the-grid. You’d only need a portable generator or solar panel array to recharge it.

You could avoid and complexity and expense of installing a lithium battery, pure sine inverter and MPPT charge controller and just buy a Bluetti or comparable unit.

The components inside the Bluetti EB150 rival any entry level off-grid power system. Here’s what you’ll find inside.

  • 115 Ah Lithium Battery
  • 1000 Watt Pure Sine Inverter
  • MPPT Charge Controller (for solar and DC charging)
  • Battery Management System and Monitor

If you were to purchase and install comparable equipment, you’ll probably end up spending close to the same amount of money.

How Portable Is It?

The Maxoak Bluetti weighs roughly 38 pounds which is about the same as a small portable generator. That makes it less portable in my opinion than a unit like the Jackery 1000. If you’re a smaller person, you may consider using a small hand cart like this one to move it around.

Bluetti Portable Power Station in RV
The Bluetti gits nicely in the corner of an RV with AC power lines in the back

Considering the large battery and other components inside, the weight makes sense. Nevertheless, it would best suited to sitting in a corner of an RV or cabin.

How do you recharge the MAXOAK Bluetti?

The AC charger (included) will be the primary means for recharging the Bluetti. Recharging from solar would be secondary. Unfortunately, there is no 12 volt car charging option.

How Long Does It Take to Recharge?

Charging times vary depending on the source. The fastest way (approximately 10 hours) to recharge the Bluetti is to use the AC power charger. Charging from solar is a more complicated. Let me explain.

The capacity of the Bluetti is 1,500 watt hours. It can take up to 60 Volts from solar at a maximum current of 10 Amps.

Let’s look closer at the numbers:

60V x 10A = 600 Watts

1500 watt hours / 600 watts = 2.5 hours of charge time

Not so fast. You’re going to be hard pressed trying to find a solar panel configuration that will give you 600 watts at under 10 Amps. A more practical arrangement will be to use 200 watts of solar. That would give you a charge time of around 7.5 hours under perfect conditions.

Once you take into account that there are typically 5 or fewer hours of peak solar in a day, you won’t get the full 200 watts out of your solar panels. So, in reality, you’re looking at at least a couple days of charging with full sun. This also assumes that you’re not drawing any power from power station while charging.

Estimated Recharge Times

 Power LevelTime to Full Charge
AC charger160 watts9.5 hours
100 watts solar100 watts15 hours*
200 watts solar200 watts7.5 hours*
* Solar estimates are very optimistic

Is it worth the price?

How does it compare to other 1000 watt or better lithium power stations? Similar power stations like the Jackery, Suaoki, ECOFLOW, and Goal Zero Yeti are all priced around $1 per watt.

What Would Make It Better?

Overall, I am pleased with the Bluetti as a backup power solution for short two-three day camping or boondocking RV trips. It’s a solid well built unit that can provide a lot of power.

The main downside of the Bluetti EB150 is its lack of charging options. In an off-grid situation, you won’t have 120 volt AC power from the grid to keep it charged up. There are no mobile car charging options and, as I’ve shown, solar charging options are limited.

To recharge the Bluetti, you’ll need to run a generator or plug it into a grid power source. This makes the Bluetti better suited as a backup power solution instead of an off-grid solution.

My top pick for Portable Power Stations for a small RV is the Jackery Explorer 1000. You can watch my review of the Jackery here.

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