There’s no denying that electronic devices have made our lives better and more convenient. No longer do we have to write down everyone’s phone number and keep it in a book. It’s all in your phone. And when you buy a new phone, their numbers transfer right along with your account. Similarly, it’s practically impossible to do business these days without a laptop. Even “low-tech” businesses like farming rely on electronic sensors and advanced watering controllers. And for some people, having electrical power can mean the difference between life and death. Just ask anyone who relies on a CPAP machine.
So, what do you do when the power goes out? Without a good source of backup power, you might be out of luck. On a good day, this can be a pain. On a bad day, it can make it impossible to get help in an emergency. If this is a concern for you, a quality power station can make a world of difference.
But how do you know which power bank to buy? Some come from reliable brands, while others are more questionable. But if you’re looking for a heavy-duty machine that checks all the boxes, it’s hard to go wrong with Bluetti. They’re known for making the best power stations in the business, as long as you don’t mind paying a bit of a premium.
Their latest offering is the Bluetti EP500 Power Station, scheduled to launch on Kickstarter on March 23rd. This power station has an exceedingly powerful battery, along with a well-engineered AC inverter. It can charge up to 15 devices simultaneously, and can charge on AC, or solar power. But how well does it perform? We’re about to give you a look behind the curtain at this upcoming Bluetti power station. We’ll talk about the construction, the battery power, and what you can do with it. Let’s see how the EP500 stacks up to the competition!
The Bluetti EP500 Power Station is a beefy machine about the size of a small oil space heater. This also means it’s a bit heavy, but it’s not as hard to move as you might think. This is thanks to a set of four rolling caster wheels on the bottom, which make it easy to transport. Of course, you’ll need to carry it up and down stairs. But once you’ve lugged it to the correct floor, you can roll it effortlessly from there. The housing is available in two variants: all black, or black with white accents. Regardless of color, the matte finish is unassuming, and it’s easy to keep clean with a damp cloth.
Needless to say, this is not an ideal power bank for short day trips or air travel. If that’s what you need, the Bluetti AC10 Portable Charger would be a better choice. It’s small enough for air travel, and it still supplies AC power as needed. On the other hand, it’s a portable charger, not a long-term backup power station.
The EP500’s vents are located on the front panel, and fans suck air through to blow it out the back. This keeps the internal components relatively cool, even under a heavy electrical load. The fans can get a bit loud at full load — think of your car AC at full blast — but not excessively loud. You can still carry on a conversation next to the power station without raising your voice.
Above the vents, you’ll see a bright, sharp LCD display. This display is angled slightly, so it can be easily read from above as well as from the sides. It shows the current battery status, as well as the current wattage being drawn. You can even see how many watts are being drawn through each power port. This makes it easy to manage your power delivery, and to resolve any issues that may arise.
Below the vents, you’ll see the EP500’s AC power supplies. These consist of four three-prong outlets, each with its own individual hinged dust cover. Beneath those, there’s an additional panel that can be opened to reveal three round, multi-pin connections. The first two are AC connections, for the charging adapter and T500 systems respectively. The third is a communications port for linking to a second EP500 unit. We’ll talk more about that in a second.
The rest of your power supplies are located on top of the machine, beneath a folding dust panel. There, you’ll see a 12-volt, 30-amp RV power supply, along with a standard 12-volt cigarette lighter plug. There’s also a pair of barrel-style DC inputs at 12 and 25 volts respectively. Finally, you’ll see four USB Type-A ports, and a single USB Type-C port. To top it all off, the rest of the top of the EP500 housing doubles as not one, but two separate wireless chargers. Set a compatible smartphone or tablet on one of these areas, and it will slowly charge without the need for a cable.
Battery Performance and Capacity
The EP500’s massive internal battery has a capacity of 5,100 watt-hours. This is an alternative measurement to milliamp-hours (mAh). It’s useful for devices with multiple output voltages, since mAh capacity depends on voltage. At 12 volts, the capacity is an impressive 425,000mAh. Even at a full 120 volts, you still get 42,500mAh of charge. That’s enough to run a full-sized fridge for three to four days!
This is a very well-engineered battery, manufactured with innovative LiFePO4 (Lithium iron phosphate) cells. It’s rated for over 6,000 charge cycles. Even if you used it 24/7, you could easily use it for years before the battery started losing capacity.
Charging is accomplished via AC or solar power. When plugged into a wall outlet, an empty EP500 battery will fully charge in between 9 and 9 ½ hours. Solar charging is more variable. In theory, you can charge in less than 5 hours if you have a 1200-watt system. But unless you have a very large off-grid setup, this isn’t going to be the case. Still, if you’re RVing or camping, you can supplement the battery with a small charger. You can also charge the EP500 with a compatible DC system, although you’ll most likely need a T500 adapter.
The total wattage rating is 2,000 watts. This is for the entire power station, not any individual outlet. So if you have an 800-watt fridge on one outlet, you can’t plug a 1,500-watt heater into another outlet. It would put you over the limit. On the other hand, if you’re charging seven 15-watt cell phones, running the space heater would be no issue. Surge power is rated for an impressive 4,800 watts. This makes the EP500 ideal for running devices like fridges and air conditioners that have high starting wattages.
Power delivery is consistent, and pass-through power is supported. If your CPAP is plugged into the EP500 and the EP500 is plugged into the wall, it will run on wall power. However, if the wall power cuts off, the system will immediately switch over to the internal battery. When wall power is restored, the CPAP machine will return to wall power. Any leftover juice will be used to top off the battery. This makes the EP500 suitable for use as an uninterruptible power supply.
If you don’t need this much wattage, Bluetti does make some smaller power stations. Consider the Bluetti EB150. It’s “only” rated for 1,000 watts, so it’s not suitable for refrigerators or air conditioners. On the other hand, it’s usable as a backup power supply, and it’s smaller and more affordable than the EP500.
Compatibility and Safety
The Bluetti EP500 will work with just about any device that requires power. However, as with any power bank, different ports have different features. Two of the USB Type-A ports, for example, provide a standard 15 watts. The other two are quick charge ports, and provide up to 24 watts if required. The Type-C port is in a whole different league. It’s a power delivery (PD) port, and provides a whopping 100 watts of power. This makes it powerful enough for even large USB Type-C laptops like the MacBook Pro 16.” The wireless pads provide up to 15 watts in theory. In practice, a lot depends on your phone and how thick the case is.
In the future, the EP500 will work with the Bluetti Fusion Box. This is an add-on power strip with six 120-volt AC outlets and a larger, 240-volt AC outlet. It will allow you to connect two separate EP500 power stations to run powerful appliances like clothes dryers. That’s what the communications port is for. You’ll need to patch the two power stations together so they can each deliver the right amount of juice. Unfortunately, the Fusion Box is not available yet, and there’s no official word on when it will be.
The Battery Management System includes a number of safety features to protect you and your devices. It has short circuit, overheat, over-current, and overcharge protection. This more or less runs the gamut, and keeps you safe from any kind of mishap. Moreover, the EP500 can also be connected to the internet. This means you can download future firmware updates as Bluetti continues to refine their new power station.
The Bluetti EP500 Power Station is one of the most powerful available on today’s market. To be sure, there are some real behemoths out there. But with 2,000 watts of power delivery, the EP500 provides more than you’re ever likely to need. It has enough ports to charge 15 devices simultaneously, and wide compatibility. Furthermore, the future development of the Fusion Box is exciting, although it won’t help you right now. Finally, the battery itself holds enough charge to run a full-sized fridge for four days. In terms of emergency backup power, there isn’t much more you could ask for. As long as you don’t mind the size, it’s an excellent choice.