Can this portable Power Station really change your life in an emergency?
The only real issue with the Power Station is with the Design of the screen and the computer system that controls it.
If you are looking for a solid backup power system, the Shell Power Station should be on your short list.
Where To Get It
Whether you are hoping for a great companion to take on your next camping trip or looking for a backup power source during a storm, the Shell Power Station is a great choice. The price does appear at first to be steep, but the Value that the product provides is in proportion to its price. It provides a lot of power in a very small package, making it a great product for so many people.
Truly, the Shell Power Station's Convenience cannot be overstated. Unless you had hoped to carry this device with you across a trail and to a campsite, everything about the product makes it a convenience to own.
This was clearly our primary focus, as we are based in Florida and have had a strangely active hurricane season this year. Many people in our circle lost power during Ian and Nicole, for which this power station would be a life changer. The ability to power devices, like lights at night, as well as charging phones, would make the aftermath of one of these hurricanes a little more like normal life.
For those who are traveling, particularly campers, the ability to bring a large amount of power with them in a small package can also be game changing. Having a little light without the heat of a fire would be a benefit. Being able to charge devices, such as phones, can protect a car battery and save gas during an extended camping trip.
The most surprising use was for powering devices in places where we didn't have any accessible power. Our most useful scenario was powering cameras in a building with scarce power plugs. We've used battery systems in the past for this scenario, but the Power Station is the best implementation of the concept we've encountered.
Our testing was twofold for this product. We ran both our official battery test, as well as a practical test. The battery is 100 amps, which means it should be able to charge an equivalent amount of battery power in other devices.
During our ROBOTICON Tampa Bay 2022 coverage, we used the Shell Portable Power Station as a supplement to our camera power. We had 6 battery-powered camera as part of our broadcast system, and as their batteries would run down, we would move the Power Station close to that camera and charge it back up using the USB-A ports. We also charged laptops throughout the event using the AC plugs. At no point during the event did we get close to running out of power. In fact, the screen usually read above 60 hours remaining on the battery.
The Lumia 928 has a 2 amp battery and lasts about 7 hours on a normal charge using our battery tester. Without any charge on the phone, we were able to run the phone for 5 days 9 hour and 10 minutes on average across our tests. That works out to 129 hours and 10 minutes. Theoretically, using a 5.1 volt USB-A port, which was our port of choice, we should have access to 784 amps of power, which should power the device for approximately 343 hours rather than the 129 hours we saw. Essentially, we only received 38 percent of the power that we expected to receive over the course of the test.
While the math might not work out, it is important to remember that the system ran constantly, powering the device as if it were plugged into the wall constantly. Power efficiency is different under those conditions than they are while running all the way down, charging all the way up while off, and then running the battery down to zero again. Because of this, the power efficiency we saw was not terribly out of expectation for the size of the battery, the length of the run, and the charging scenario.
Overall, the Design of the Shell Power Station is solid. All of the ports and options make it a nearly perfect companion for camping, fishing, and hunting. It also makes for a great accessory for emergency situations. However, placing all of the ports across the same surface means that, if you need to plug a lot of devices into the various ports at the same time, which you can do, it can be unbalanced, potentially tipping it forward. We were able to make the battery tip over with cables in every port.
Its ability to charge from 12-volt or 120-volt power is a great addition. For campers, this means the ability to charge the battery while driving between destination in the car. For emergency use, it means being able to fully charge from the wall before an issue and top up later from a car. The charging port, however, is also in that front panel of ports, so it gets into the same mess if you are trying to charge it from a car while it is in use.
The display on the front gives a lot of information about the state and operation of the device. On the left, you can see how much power is being drawn at any moment, as well as how much power is being push in. In the middle, it shows a percentage of the battery that is currently left, as well as a battery graph showing current state. On the right, you can see how many hours are left based on the current draw.
There are some issues with the display, though. First, while it is very useful, it uses power itself. That means that some of the electricity you could be using to power a phone or light in the event of an emergency is being used to power this screen and the computer that makes the calculations, lowering its overall Battery Life. The screen does not appear to be controllable, so when it decides to turn on, it's on. Ideally, there would be some sort of control to decide for yourself when the screen is on and when it isn't.
However, the biggest issue with the screen is that the portion designed for displaying how many hours of operation are left has only 2 digits. For low power consumption, such as when charging a phone, there are days over which the screen says 99 hours remaining. There is no way to know exactly how much time is left until you get under 100 hours. It's a slightly petty complaint, but it was something that was a challenge during our tests.
The Build Quality is incredibly solid. There are no rough edges. There are no sharp seams. In reality, nearly everything about the production of the device itself is consistent, safe, attractive, and functional. The strength of the handle is far greater than it needs to be, ensuring that the handle won't break with standard use. The rubber underside of the handle is an added bonus because it makes it more comfortable to carry.
In reality, the only build complaint is a decision in the type and color of plastic used on the top of the device. For those who intend to use the Power Station as part of a camping or travel kit, the white plastic top will get dirty and discolored quickly. In fact, in our fairly short time using it in the wild, the white is already discolored, so prolonged camping usage will affect it quicker and harsher.
The Size & Weight of the Power Station are very different. The weight is extreme but not unexpected. The size is surprisingly small, making it easy to store in your home or office.
The weight of the device is certainly higher than what you might be able to travel with comfortably. The good news is that this is not a product that is intended for standard travel. Instead, it is a product intended mostly to be left in place until an emergency arises. This means that the weight will not be a problem when it will not be moving around often.
On the other hand, for those who intend to use the Power Station as part of a camping kit, it might become a problem. You will not want to carry this device with you on a trip, as its weight will become unbearable in short order. However, if you are traveling in a van, camper, or other vehicle, the weight should not be a problem.
The good news is that the size of the Power Station is actually quite small, especially for its capabilities and capacity. It will not take a lot of room in your garage or basement while storing in case of emergency, nor will it take up a lot of space in a camper or van.
Because of its wide array or ports, the Compatibility of the Shell Power Station is all-encompassing. It has 3 USB-A ports, which is the cable that most devices have shipped with for years. It also has a USB-C port, which is quickly becoming the standard for all new products. It's got a 12-volt car power port, allowing you to power devices intended for the car, or to use car chargers for phones in the event the USB ports are already in use. It's also got 2 AC ports, so you can plug in just about anything else.
It is important to remember that just because you can plug something in doesn't mean that you should. For example, plugging a product in with a heating coil, such as a traditional blow dryer, is going to put a large drain on the system and could cause damage to both the Power Station and the appliance. Before you plug in a device into the standard electrical outlets, make sure that it is going to be compatible with the 500 Wh available.