Portable Power Station vs. Power Bank: What’s the Difference. Pps power bank

Portable Power Station vs. Power Bank: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to backup power, people often find themselves weighing their options between a portable power station and a power bank. But what’s the difference?

While they operate similarly, it’s easy to get them confused. But there are clear and distinct differences between them. When you need to power your devices or run a home appliance, it’s crucial to know the difference. That way, you can have the power you need — when you need it most.

This guide will explain the differences between portable power stations and power banks and which one you should choose.

What Is a Portable Power Station?

A portable power station (PPS) is essentially a rechargeable battery that lets you take electricity anywhere. It allows you to supply backup power to electrical devices, household appliances, and more, providing a great energy source for emergency power outages and off-grid travel.

Traditional generators typically have a built-in motor and require fossil fuel to generate power. However, PPS units store electricity in their onboard batteries to use whenever needed.

A PPS contains three main components: a battery, inverter, and a charge controller. The battery cells store the energy. Newer stations are equipped with lithium batteries, which are lightweight, more efficient, and safe to discharge to a lower voltage without damaging the battery.

The inverter converts the DC battery power to AC power, which most household appliances and electrical devices use. Lastly, the charge controller protects the battery so it doesn’t overcharge.

portable, power, station, bank, difference

Other common features you may find in a power station include DC outputs, USB outputs, and built-in handles or wheels to increase portability.

EcoFlow DELTA Pro

The EcoFlow DELTA Pro is one of the new generation of portable power stations. For its compact size, this PPS packs a massive punch. Starting with a 3.6kWh capacity that you can expand up to 25kWh, it’s the most robust solution for camping, road trips, or home backup during power outages.

Even more impressively, you can add portable solar panels to make the DELTA Pro into a solar generator. That means more power, less reliance on the grid, and lower energy costs.

What Is a Power Bank?

A power bank is a charging device that stores electric energy to charge gadgets such as your smartphones, laptops, tablets, and more. It’s a reliable and affordable energy source that you can take on the go.

You’ll likely need to charge the unit using a wall outlet. Once the power bank has charged, you can connect your devices to the power bank using the appropriate cables.

Power banks are available in various capacities, typically ranging between 1000 to 50,000 mAh. There are many designs on the market that may suit your needs.

Differences Between Portable Power Station and Power Bank

While portable power stations and power banks perform similar functions, several critical differences exist.

Weight

First, the most noticeable difference between the two is the size and weight. Take, for example, the EcoFlow River 2 Portable Power Station. It is about the size of a boombox stereo and weighs just under 8 pounds.

Conversely, a power bank may weigh less than two pounds. It’s a more lightweight option if you want something to store in your backpack, but it will offer far less charge capacity.

Output

The main difference between these two pieces of equipment is their output. A PPS stores more power and can handle even high-wattage appliances. For example, keeping with the EcoFlow River 2 PPS, the output capacity can handle devices up to 600W. This allows you to use devices such as your refrigerator, projector, 50-inch TV, blender, small Keurig, and more.

In contrast, power banks are typically for smaller devices like smartphones, laptops, or tablets. They usually feature USB inputs for charging digital devices.

Capacity

A PPS will have a larger battery capacity than a power bank. The River 2 PPS sports up to 256Wh of capacity.

Meanwhile, a power bank has less capacity, usually ranging from 2000-10,000mAh. It seems like a high capacity until you convert it to Wh. A 10,000 mAh battery with a 3.6V voltage only delivers 36Wh.

Recharging Options

PPS units like the EcoFlow River 2 also have solar charging capability, meaning you don’t need to plug it into an outlet to recharge. You can hook it up to a 110W EcoFlow solar panel or buy them together and access free, renewable energy.

There are many reasons to choose solar energy. It’s clean, renewable, and free once you purchase the right equipment. Solar panels generate energy off-grid, meaning you can take power on the road or use it as a home backup in the event of a blackout.

Power banks rely on grid electricity to recharge. It means higher recharging costs and less freedom from the grid.

Should I Purchase a Portable Power Station or a Power Bank?

Depending on your needs, you’ll need to determine whether a PPS or power bank is right for you. A power bank can offer a reliable energy source for your small personal electronics if you need a lightweight (and short-term) charging solution to carry in your backpack. However, the PPS is better suited for extended off-grid activities, RV living, and emergency power outages. Below, we’ll cover these scenarios more in-depth.

Small Electronics

A power bank can be a solid solution for backup energy if you only need to recharge one or two devices. It’s easy to carry on the go, whether going to school, commuting to work, or flying on an airplane.

That said, a PPS also can charge your electronics — and more of them. Items like the River 2 can charge multiple devices simultaneously, while the DELTA Pro has as many as 15 outlets. Your whole family could charge their smartphones, laptops, and more. You just probably can’t take it carry-on on an airplane.

Camping

Outdoor off-grid usage is where PPS units shine, especially for RVers and adventurers looking to enjoy nature while using modern technologies. They can supply energy for all the necessary appliances in your tent, boat, RV, or other off-grid locations.

A PPS for camping allows you to generate energy for night lamps, electronics, coffee makers, a hot stove, and other appliances simultaneously. Add the right solar panels, and you can generate all the energy you need, no matter where you go.

RV

When you find a campground or RV park, you’ll want to research whether you have access to internet connectivity, cell phone reception, and other necessities like potable water. RVs spend a lot of time on the road, and a PPS reduces the drain on your vehicle’s gasoline.

Using a car generator will only cause you to burn through your fuel quickly. But with a PPS and solar panel setup, you don’t need to worry about fuel efficiency and costs of powering your RV appliances and devices.

Home Use

Power banks can be useful for in-home use, especially when using office devices such as your phone, tablet, or laptop without an outlet in sight. You can even use your electronics while charging.

However, a PPS offers a more reliable and robust solution better suited for appliances such as microwaves, electric grills, mini coolers, pressure cookers, and coffee makers. Larger capacity PPS units will run refrigerators, space heaters, and more.

Furthermore, you can use portable stations for home outdoor use, such as in your backyard or shed, especially if an outlet is unavailable.

Of course, a PPS will also provide you with more electricity and storage capacity for emergencies. Electrical outages can last a long time — the more capacity at your disposal, the better. A PPS operates even while charging your devices, ensuring you have smooth, uninterrupted power.

What to Look for in Portable Power Stations

If you’re considering a PPS, here’s what to look for to find the right one.

Capacity

The capacity measured in Watt-hour (Wh) refers to how long your station will last. The PPS solutions from EcoFlow range from 288Wh to 3600 Wh. And with expandable battery capacity, you can supercharge your PPS up to 25kWh.

Specifications and Features

Of course, you want to ensure all the specifications and features align with your needs. For example, how big is the PPS, and how much does it weigh? Having a built-in handle or wheels gives greater portability. In general, the larger the output capacity, the bigger your station will be.

You can even purchase EcoFlow solar panels to turn your PPS into a solar generator. The compatibility with solar panels helps you achieve energy independence from the grid.

Conclusion

Choosing between a portable power station and a power bank will depend on your needs. A PPS is more effective, especially for outdoor camping, RV trips, or emergency backup for your home. A power bank is better for short-term, low-power output applications, such as charging your smartphone on the go. Now that you know the differences between portable power stations and power banks — and how they work — you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

Review: Amazon Basics – Power bank with 26800mAh and 45W Power Delivery

With its „AmazonBasics“, Amazon offers its own products in many areas that are optimized for a particularly good price/performance. This also includes power banks.

The current „flagship“ powerbank from AmazonBasics offers a full capacity of 26800mAh and has a 45W USB C output. This sounds like a very fair deal for around 50€ at the time of testing.

But how does it look in practice? Can the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh convince here? Let’s find out!

The Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh and 45W Power Delivery in test

The name Amazon „Basics“ really says it all with this powerbank, at least visually.

As for the casing, the powerbank is really very simple, to say the least. Amazon works with different textures that are supposed to make the powerbank a bit more interesting, but it is clear that it is optimized for price/performance.

The plastic used simply looks „cheap“ and the case can be pressed in a bit on the upper side.

The dimensions again fit for a powerbank of the 26800mAh class. The weight of 493 g is similar.

However, the equipment is especially interesting. The powerbank has two USB A ports and one USB C port.

The two USB A ports have the classic 5V/2.4A, which is 12W.

The USB C port, however, supports the Power Delivery standard with up to 45W! This means that the powerbank can not only charge smartphones quickly, but is also suitable for notebooks.

Likewise, the power bank can be recharged very quickly with up to 45W on a suitable charger, but more on that later.

The capacity

Amazon states the capacity of its powerbank as 26800mAh. In practice, I was able to measure the following:

Wh mAh @3,7V % der HA
5V/1A 87,989 23781 89%
9V/1A 81,635 22064 82%
20V/1A 81,918 22140 83%

I could measure a capacity between 22064 mAh and 23781 mAh. This is a good result!

The capacity specification for powerbanks always refers to the capacity of the battery cells inside. However, discharging them is not 100% efficient. So there is always some loss in the form of heat, due to internal processes, voltage conversions, etc. This is especially true when using Quick Charge, USB PD or other fast charging standards. 80-90% is the common „good“ value for usable capacity. Above 90% is very rare and below 80% is unusual. Also keep in mind that your smartphone is not charging at 100% efficiency! If it has a 2000mAh battery, about 2600mAh is needed for a 100% charge. However, this depends somewhat on the model and the type of charging.

PPS

I was a bit surprised to find out that the Amazon Basics Powerbank supports the PPS standard!

PPS stands for Programmable Power Supply. The normal USB Power Delivery offers your smartphone several voltage levels, mostly 5V, 9V, 15V and 20V. Here it can choose one level and charge with it. PPS now allows your smartphone to freely choose a voltage within a certain range, for example 3.3-16V. If your smartphone thinks it would be ideal to charge at 6.5V, then a PPS charger can supply it with 6.5V.

Some smartphones like the Samsung S20/S21 series models require PPS to reach full charging speed. An S21 Ultra can charge at a maximum of 14W on a normal USB PD charger, and 25W on a PPS charger. If your smartphone does not support PPS, it will simply ignore this feature and treat the charger as a normal USB PD charger.

The Amazon Basics – Powerbank with 26800mAh has a PPS range of 3.3-20V at a maximum of 2.2A. Thus, the range is quite large, but the power with a maximum of 2.2A is rather small and can limit the charging speed somewhat in practice. Nevertheless, the PPS is available at all, which is great!

The charging speed

I tried the following devices on the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAH:

USB C USB A
Apple iPad Pro 11 26,94 4,7
Apple iPhone 12 Pro 17,8 8,2
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 24,4 7,3
Nintendo Switch 16,39 7,3
Dell XPS 13 9380 43,2

There are no big surprises here, as all connected devices were charged cleanly and at a good pace.

Thanks to the support of the Power Delivery and PPS standards, the powerbank is also ideally suited for the Samsung S20 and S21 smartphones.

The USB C port also has enough power to charge one or the other notebook at a decent speed with 45W.

Recharge speed

The powerbank can be charged with up to 45W on a power delivery charger. However, this is only half the truth.

Thus, a full charge of the powerbank takes around 4 hours in the optimum case. However, the powerbank only charges for 1 hour of these 4 hours with 45W. Most of the charging went with just over 30W.

Nevertheless, 4 hours of charging time on a suitable 45W USB PD charger is okay so far.

Conclusion

Although I find the design and also the feel of the powerbank rather moderately good, but I can still make a recommendation!

This is mainly due to the technology of the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh. The 45W USB C port delivers what it promises and even more, thanks to the support of the PPS standard.

This allows the powerbank to charge significantly more smartphones at full speed, like Samsung’s S20 and S21 series models.

In addition, it has a decent real capacity of 22xxx – 23xxx mAh and a fast recharging speed. The powerbank goes from 0% to 100% in about 4 hours, as long as you use a USB PD charger with 45W.

Ultimately, it also depends somewhat on the price! At the time of the test, the powerbank is available for under 50€ (the price may have changed in the meantime!) 50€ for a 26800mAh powerbank with 45W USB PD output is absolutely fine!

Clearly your budget is „unlimited“ I would rather reach for an Anker PowerCore III Elite, but as far as the price / performance is the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh class!

Update: The powerbank is now available again!

Review: Amazon Basics – Power bank with 26800mAh and 45W Power Delivery

With its „AmazonBasics“, Amazon offers its own products in many areas that are optimized for a particularly good price/performance. This also includes power banks.

The current „flagship“ powerbank from AmazonBasics offers a full capacity of 26800mAh and has a 45W USB C output. This sounds like a very fair deal for around 50€ at the time of testing.

But how does it look in practice? Can the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh convince here? Let’s find out!

The Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh and 45W Power Delivery in test

As for the casing, the powerbank is really very simple, to say the least. Amazon works with different textures that are supposed to make the powerbank a bit more interesting, but it is clear that it is optimized for price/performance.

The plastic used simply looks „cheap“ and the case can be pressed in a bit on the upper side.

The dimensions again fit for a powerbank of the 26800mAh class. The weight of 493 g is similar.

However, the equipment is especially interesting. The powerbank has two USB A ports and one USB C port.

The two USB A ports have the classic 5V/2.4A, which is 12W.

The USB C port, however, supports the Power Delivery standard with up to 45W! This means that the powerbank can not only charge smartphones quickly, but is also suitable for notebooks.

Likewise, the power bank can be recharged very quickly with up to 45W on a suitable charger, but more on that later.

The capacity

Amazon states the capacity of its powerbank as 26800mAh. In practice, I was able to measure the following:

portable, power, station, bank, difference
Wh mAh @3,7V % der HA
5V/1A 87,989 23781 89%
9V/1A 81,635 22064 82%
20V/1A 81,918 22140 83%

I could measure a capacity between 22064 mAh and 23781 mAh. This is a good result!

The capacity specification for powerbanks always refers to the capacity of the battery cells inside. However, discharging them is not 100% efficient. So there is always some loss in the form of heat, due to internal processes, voltage conversions, etc. This is especially true when using Quick Charge, USB PD or other fast charging standards. 80-90% is the common „good“ value for usable capacity. Above 90% is very rare and below 80% is unusual. Also keep in mind that your smartphone is not charging at 100% efficiency! If it has a 2000mAh battery, about 2600mAh is needed for a 100% charge. However, this depends somewhat on the model and the type of charging.

PPS

I was a bit surprised to find out that the Amazon Basics Powerbank supports the PPS standard!

PPS stands for Programmable Power Supply. The normal USB Power Delivery offers your smartphone several voltage levels, mostly 5V, 9V, 15V and 20V. Here it can choose one level and charge with it. PPS now allows your smartphone to freely choose a voltage within a certain range, for example 3.3-16V. If your smartphone thinks it would be ideal to charge at 6.5V, then a PPS charger can supply it with 6.5V.

Some smartphones like the Samsung S20/S21 series models require PPS to reach full charging speed. An S21 Ultra can charge at a maximum of 14W on a normal USB PD charger, and 25W on a PPS charger. If your smartphone does not support PPS, it will simply ignore this feature and treat the charger as a normal USB PD charger.

The Amazon Basics – Powerbank with 26800mAh has a PPS range of 3.3-20V at a maximum of 2.2A. Thus, the range is quite large, but the power with a maximum of 2.2A is rather small and can limit the charging speed somewhat in practice. Nevertheless, the PPS is available at all, which is great!

portable, power, station, bank, difference

The charging speed

I tried the following devices on the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAH:

USB C USB A
Apple iPad Pro 11 26,94 4,7
Apple iPhone 12 Pro 17,8 8,2
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 24,4 7,3
Nintendo Switch 16,39 7,3
Dell XPS 13 9380 43,2

There are no big surprises here, as all connected devices were charged cleanly and at a good pace.

Thanks to the support of the Power Delivery and PPS standards, the powerbank is also ideally suited for the Samsung S20 and S21 smartphones.

The USB C port also has enough power to charge one or the other notebook at a decent speed with 45W.

Recharge speed

The powerbank can be charged with up to 45W on a power delivery charger. However, this is only half the truth.

Thus, a full charge of the powerbank takes around 4 hours in the optimum case. However, the powerbank only charges for 1 hour of these 4 hours with 45W. Most of the charging went with just over 30W.

Nevertheless, 4 hours of charging time on a suitable 45W USB PD charger is okay so far.

Conclusion

Although I find the design and also the feel of the powerbank rather moderately good, but I can still make a recommendation!

This is mainly due to the technology of the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh. The 45W USB C port delivers what it promises and even more, thanks to the support of the PPS standard.

This allows the powerbank to charge significantly more smartphones at full speed, like Samsung’s S20 and S21 series models.

In addition, it has a decent real capacity of 22xxx – 23xxx mAh and a fast recharging speed. The powerbank goes from 0% to 100% in about 4 hours, as long as you use a USB PD charger with 45W.

Ultimately, it also depends somewhat on the price! At the time of the test, the powerbank is available for under 50€ (the price may have changed in the meantime!) 50€ for a 26800mAh powerbank with 45W USB PD output is absolutely fine!

Clearly your budget is „unlimited“ I would rather reach for an Anker PowerCore III Elite, but as far as the price / performance is the Amazon Basics Powerbank with 26800mAh class!

Update: The powerbank is now available again!

USB Power Delivery explained: What you need to know about ubiquitous charging

Fast charging is a godsend when our gadgets run low on juice. However, there are numerous fast charging standards in existence today, making it difficult to pick the right charger for your smartphone, laptop, or even external monitor. Furthermore, while most gadgets historically shipped with an adapter in the box, many manufacturers are now asking you to bring your own. Luckily, USB Power Delivery (USB PD) is a universal charging specification that allows you to sidestep the fragmented charger market altogether.

Here’s everything that you need to know about USB Power Delivery and what it means for your gadgets.

USB Power Delivery: What you need to know

USB Power Delivery is a common fast-charging standard that can be implemented in all USB-powered gadgets. USB PD has actually been around since 2012, around the same time that the USB-C port was unveiled. Prior to that, the only universal option was the (significantly slower) USB Battery Charging specification.

Modern USB-C ports are complicated beasts and actually support several levels of charging. And that’s before manufacturers add proprietary capabilities on top of that.

To start with, all USB ports support a very basic level of charging at just 5V and up to 500mA, with more modern ports supporting 5V and 900mA of current. This is based on legacy support and is very slow to charge all but most low-power gadgets. USB-C ports can be configured with 5V 1.5A and 3A for up to 15W of power, which is a bit quicker but still rather slow compared to other fast-charging standards.

USB Power Delivery is much more powerful, supporting up to 240W of power to charge up even the most demanding gadgets such as laptops. It’s also safer, as gadgets and chargers communicate with each other over the USB cable to confirm the optimal charging power level. This handshaking approach supports voltage steps at 5V, 9V, 15V, 20V, and beyond for power outputs ranging from 0.5W to 240W.

The newer USB Power Delivery Programmable Power Supply (USB PD PPS) standard supports configurable voltages too, enabling more optimal charging. If two devices fail to communicate a suitable power rule, USB Power Delivery will default to the next power option supported by the relevant USB protocol, such as USB-C 1.5A.

USB Power Delivery is now commonly used to fast-charge smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets. Examples include the entire line-up of Google Pixel handsets and Apple’s iPhone and MacBooks. Even Samsung’s Super Fast Charging is based on USB PD PPS.

A huge range of other smartphones support the standard too, often in addition to their faster proprietary standards. Many OnePlus smartphones, for example, support between 18 to 27W charging over USB PD. That’s in addition to the company’s own Warp Charge or Oppo’s SuperVOOC technology.

Is USB Type-C necessary for Power Delivery?

While the first revision of Power Delivery did technically work with standard USB Type-A ports, very few devices supported this functionality. These days, you’ll find most devices that rely on Power Delivery use USB Type-C or USB-C on both ends. This is also why most smartphones these days ship with USB-C to USB-C cables in the box. You can still use a Type-A to USB-C cable for charging but expect slower speeds.

USB Power Delivery versions compared

With USB Power Delivery now in its third revision, the standard is broken down into devices with slightly different capabilities. Although modern versions of the standard are backward compatible with older gadgets and chargers.

USB PD 1.0 was a little more basic than the modern version. It simply offered six fixed power profiles for different device categories. This version supports 10W (5V, 2A), 18W (12V, 1.5A), 36W (12V, 3A), 60W (12V, 5A), 60W (20V, 3A), and 100W (20V, 5A) of power exclusively. That’s OK, but not exactly flexible for a wide range of gadgets, including small smartphone batteries that prefer lower voltage charging.

The more modern USB Power Delivery 2.0 and 3.0 variations drop fixed profiles in favor of more flexible power rules. These rules keep fixed voltage brackets but allow for a wider range of negotiated current levels. The end result is a standard that’s better suited to a wide range of devices. USB Power Delivery 3.0 also extends the communication protocol to support features like battery condition, enhanced security, and fast role swapping.

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