The right portable power station doesn’t have to be big in size or high in wattage
A rechargeable battery that you can plug lots of things into for charging and powering, even in a blackout? Portable power stations are amazing. And the numbers on the wattage keep going up: 1,000, 2,000, 3,000. However, sometimes you don’t need big power. Is a small Jackery worth it? Yes: Sometimes, you need something small, portable, and more budget-friendly.
Jackery Portable Power Stations have been our lunchbox-size battery of choice since 2021. From when we road-tripped for 6 weeks around California, our Jackery was in constant use in our pop-up camper. During a Sunday morning blackout, our Jackery powered our coffee grinder. And over 6 months in 2023, we drove a motorhome from one corner of the USA to another. Whenever we camped or boondocked without access to power, our Jackery kept our devices charged—even the computerized knee in Jodie’s prosthetic leg.
We’ve owned two different Jackery Portable Power Stations. As much as we appreciate how Jackery keeps improving their tech and can offer systems with more power capacity, we actually keep our Jackery game on the small side. Our first Jackery, which we sold before we started traveling full-time in 2022, was a 300-watt portable power station. And the Jackery we bought in 2023 as we began our cross-country RV adventures? That is also a Jackery 300 Portable Power Station.
How much power do you need, or, do you actually need to go big?
Is a small Jackery worth it? Let’s look at the most important point here: For some folks, going big on a power station such as a Jackery makes a lot of sense. Maybe they want remote power for, say, running a TV or a blender while away from regular power. Fair enough. Other folks get larger systems, like Jackery’s 1000 or 2000 watt power stations, for emergency backup power in the event of a blackout at home.
We get that.
When deciding which Jackery is right for you, a key question is looking at the need you have for a portable power station, thinking through what it needs to power and charge, and sizing your system to those needs.
And that’s exactly what we did.
The charging and power needs that went into our system sizing
Some power needs are big. Some are not. For us, we’re not worried about blackouts or huge power outages. But here’s what we have needed remote power and charging for:
- 1 prosthetic leg
- 1 drone
- 1 drone controller
- 2 notebook computers
- 2 smartphones
- 3 tablets
- 4 e-readers
- Various rechargeable batteries for cameras and other devices
Technically we could use a larger Jackery for other power needs. For our house in Oregon, we could have considered having a larger Jackery on-hand in the event of a power outage. But the thing is, in 20 years of living in Oregon, I can count on one hand the number of times the power ever went out. And if it did, it was typically back on within a couple of hours.
About 98.98% of the time that we have used our Jackery, it has been while camping, either in our motorhome or our popup-up camper. We rely on our devices: Jodie’s prosthesis aids her mobility. Our computers are vital for our company. The kids use tablets for a lot of their schoolwork. We use our Jackery to charge devices overnight. However, we haven’t needed a large system. The Jackery 300 has been a consistent, right-sized workhorse for our family.
The more wattage a portable power station can provide, the bigger the system. However, in an RV, space is at a premium. One of the things we like about Jackery 300 is the small size. We can store our Jackery in a closet, and when we need it, our Jackery has a smaller footprint than a notebook computer.
Checklist: What to consider when deciding the right size you need for your portable power station
After we sold our first Jackery and decided to get a new one, we did another check on our power needs to see if a smaller unit still worked for us. Here are the questions we considered:
- How many devices do you need to charge?
- How often do you need to charge a device (eg, Jodie charges her prosthesis every few days, whereas other devices might need to be charged daily)
- How often can you recharge the portable power station itself before it starts losing capacity?
- Can you charge the station while driving, with a solar panel, etc.?
Small is powerful for getting your portable power
Just because a portable power station is big, doesn’t mean it’s the right size for your needs. A larger system takes up more space, is less portable, and costs more. Is a small Jackery worth it? For us, a Jackery 300 gives us the power we need, at a price point that fits our budget, and in a portable size that’s easy for both carrying and storage.