'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Power stations have revolutionized charging and powering gadgets outdoors. Rather than having to rely on 12V inverters or gasoline generators, I can take what is essentially a huge power bank with me into the outdoors, and charge everything off that. And when that runs out, I can charge the power station either from AC power, a vehicle's 12V outlet, or solar.
Also: The best portable power stations you can buy
This way, the outdoor fun never has to end.
And power station technology has improved dramatically in the time that I've been using them. The units themselves have become more compact and robust, and battery technology has advanced as well.
One of the biggest changes has been the shift from lithium-ion battery technology to LiFePO4 batteries. These aren't as power-dense as their lithium counterparts, but they're safer (i.e., less likely to catch fire) and have a much longer lifespan. How much longer? Up to six times longer.
Also: This tiny satellite communicator is packed full of features and peace of mind
In real terms, while lithium-ion batteries are good for anywhere from 500 to 2,000 recharge cycles, LiFePO4 batteries can handle 3,000 recharge cycles, making them ideal for long-term usage.
For the past few weeks, I've been testing a new power station from Ugreen -- the PowerRoam 1200. I have a lot of Ugreen gear – from chargers and cables to power banks -- and it's a brand that I have grown to trust. This is the company's first power station.
Ugreen's PowerRoam 1200 is one of the most advanced power stations on the market, offering 2100W of power, USB and AC outlets, high-quality EV-rated LiFePO4 batteries, and super-fast charging (from 0 to 80% in just 50 minutes and fully charging in 1.5 hours with AC input).
Note, from May 8 to May 21, enter 05UG1200 to get an extra 5% off
Also: The best MagSafe battery packs for your iPhone
Note that the model I'm testing is the one for the U.K. market, and as such the AC outlets are different from the U.S. model. Other than this, the units are functionally identical.
There are a few things that I look for when testing a power station.
First, does the rated battery capacity match up with the information on the spec sheet? With the PowerRoam 1200, every spec is exactly what is stated by the vendor. I'm particularly impressed by the fast charge feature, which can take the unit from zero to 80 percent charge in 50 minutes, and to fully charged in 90 minutes on AC power.
Also: This tiny USB-C tester can spot counterfeit Apple chargers and cables
Another thing I look for is build quality. After all, this is a device that will be carried around, taken on camping trips and other outdoor adventures, and generally roughed up.
No problems here. The PowerRoam 1200 is super sturdy, shrugging off bumps and impacts. The top handle is sturdy and the unit is nicely balanced, which makes carrying its 11.5 kg/25.4 lb. weight a lot more pleasant.
Another of my priorities is usability, and here, again, Ugreen has a winner. The display is nice and clear, the controls are simple, and you're not left scratching your head as to how to turn on the AC or how much power is remaining.
First look: Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro Portable Power Station
The buttons are small and discreet, hard to turn on accidentally, and have a very subtle illumination that makes them observable in low-light conditions, without being blinding. This pleases me greatly as I do a lot of photography at night and don't appreciate having my night vision wiped out by laser-like LEDs.
The PowerRoam 1200 is such an easy-to-use and mature unit, it's hard to believe that this is Ugreen's first foray into power stations.
I'm very impressed.
Finally, there's safety. In particular, I like to test what happens when the unit is overloaded. In this case, nothing dramatic happens. The PowerRoam 1200 simply cuts off the power and waits to be reset if the AC is stressed. And for such a small unit, it's capable of supporting devices with power ratings of up to 2500W thanks to its built-in U-Turbo mode.
Also: The 5 best portable power banks: Keep your devices juiced on the go
Ugreen has also released scratch-resistant. IP67 water-resistant 200W solar panels for the PowerRoam 1200. These panels use monocrystalline technology and offer 23% efficiency that can fully charge the PowerRoam 1200 in about six hours (or three hours if you hook up two). Thanks to courier delays, the solar panels sent to me for review still haven't arrived, but I'll cover these separately soon (as well as offer tips on how to get the best from solar charging).
For under $1,000 ($799 with the coupon code 05UG1200 at Amazon until May 21) you're getting a lot of power station. This sturdy unit employs EV-grade LiFePO4 batteries, delivers on the promises it makes, and comes with a five-year warranty.
If you're looking for a power station for camping trips, running power tools outdoors, or as a backup in case the lights go out, I highly recommend you check out the PowerRoam 1200 from Ugreen.