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Tech review: Bluetti AC240 saves my bacon

Jim Rossman, Tribune News Service on

Published in Science & Technology News

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about my mom having a power outage after a storm. Mom was prepared with a portable power station to keep her coffee maker, fan, radio and phone going when the electricity was out.

My column was about being ready to keep your gear running during a power outage. I mentioned I was reviewing a portable power station — the AC240. Little did I know that I’d have my own power outage a week later after a storm took out power to my neighborhood.

Thanks to the AC240 ($1,899, Bluetti.com, Amazon.com) and some advance planning, I was more than ready to keep my refrigerator running during the 36 hours we were without power. Note, the price listed is the suggested retail price. I found it to be on sale for less.

What is it?

The AC240 is a portable power station with 1,536 watt-hours of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery power with an AC power output of 2,400 watts. This means it has enough output to power just about anything in your house, including your refrigerator. There is also a mode where it can provide up to 3,600W of lifting power to run things like space heaters, hair dryers and irons that create a lot of heat and draw a lot of power.

The AC240’s batteries can be charged to 80 percent in just 45 minutes from a wall outlet (2,200W) and it can accept up to 1,200W of charging from solar panels.

It provides pass-through power, meaning you can use the AC240 as an uninterruptable power supply. If you keep the AC240 plugged into the wall, you can plug in a device like a CPAP machine and if the power goes out, it’ll switch over to the battery power in just 15 milliseconds.

The AC240 is IP65 dust and water resistant. Meaning dust will not get in and you can spray water at it from any angle or leave it out in the rain and it’ll keep running. This makes it a great choice to use on a boat or when camping.

The other big feature of the AC240 is expandability. You can add up to four B210 external battery packs to bring the battery capacity up to a whopping 10,136Wh of power. You can also run two AC240 systems in parallel, which doubles the capacity and power output to a max of 20,272Wh of power outputting 4,800W of AC power. This would be enough to power your entire home for a few days.

The B210 expansion battery lists for $1,699, but like the AC240, it is frequently on sale at Bluetti’s website.

The AC240 isn’t small or light. It measures approximately 17 inches by 16 inches by 12 inches and it weighs 72 pounds. I bought a small dolly to help in moving it around the house. It does have handles built into the top, so it is at least easier to pick up for two people.

It can operate in temperatures from -4 degrees up to 104 degrees and it is warrantied for six years. The battery cells can be charged more than 3,500 times and still provide up to 80 percent of their power, so you can expect up to 10 years of daily use.

The AC240 has two 120-volt/20-amp AC outlets and one TT-30 NEMA outlet. It has two 18W USB-A ports and two 100W USB-C ports. There is also a 12VDC/30A RV port and a 12V/10A cigarette lighter port.

 

Interacting

The AC240 has a color LED screen to show you all the input and output connections. Plug something in and you’ll see exactly how much power it is drawing and how long you can expect to be able to power it before the unit needs to recharge.

The AC240 has a companion app that can connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to let you see and control everything from a distance, but that wireless connectivity can also be turned off and you can interact with the AC240 directly if you like.

In use

So, how did I use the AC240 when my power went out?

I used it to run my refrigerator for the first day. It is important to know how long you can expect to get from your power stations. Refrigerators cycle on and off, so the power draw varies throughout the day. If you can run a test on your equipment, that’s the best way to know how long it’ll last for what you intend to power.

It is also important to have a plan for recharging when you’ve exhausted the battery.

In my case, I had power at work, so I could load the AC240 in my car and take it to work and have it charged up in an hour, and then bring it back. The fridge stayed cold with the door closed for that short time and I kept it going. A refrigerator can be powered for 18-24 hours in my house. Yours may use more or less power.

A fully charged AC240 can also run a CPAP for more than 40 hours or a 55-inch LED TV for up to 15 hours. Devices that create heat are power hogs. You can only run a microwave for about 40 minutes before exhausting the batteries. A 1500W space heater will run for less than an hour, but a 6,000 BTU window unit air conditioner will run for about six hours.

They keep their charge for months and are just ready to go when you need them. You should check the charge level every six months in storage.

These power stations are not cheap, but they can save your bacon (literally).


©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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