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Winter is coming. A time for storms and power outages. And it seems like blackouts are in the cards for us in the UK.
What better time to invest in a battery power station, the modern answer to the noisy, smelly, dangerous gasoline generator.
Think of a battery power station as a big power bank. You charge up your power station while the power is on (or use a solar panel if the weather permits), and then use that stored power when you need it.
The bigger your power station, the more power you can store.
Also: The best extreme weather tech: Top gear for power outages
The Bluetti AC200MAX offers a lot of power in a -- sort of -- portable package.
Note: I'm testing the UK version of the AC200MAX, which has different power outlets and supports 220V at 50Hz (as opposed to 110V at 60Hz found in the US). Other than those changes, the package is much the same as the US version.
OK, first things first -- this is not your portable power bank sort of device. It's big and heavy, coming in at 16.5 x 11.0 x 15.2 inches and weighing a hefty 62 lbs.
It's portable, yes, but portable for long distances? Well, that depends on your strength and fitness. The handles and good weight distribution do make this package easier to handle (deliberate pun there), but it's still a weight that you're going to notice.
On the front of the unit is much of how you'll interface with this power station. There's a very chunky, industrial power button for turning the unit on and off (the button is illuminated when the unit is on, which is a nice touch).
Also: The 5 best portable power stations: For camping and emergencies
Notice how all the ports are covered by rubber seals. While these seals are not waterproof, they do add weatherproofing to the unit, resisting moisture and dust when the unit is being used outdoors.
On the front is a touchscreen panel that is the command center for the AC200MAX, handling everything from the data and time, power outputs, and controlling the many features of the unit.
The touchscreen is bright enough to be used in sunlight, can be dimmed if used at night or indoors, and is quite responsive to touch inputs.
Given the importance of the touch screen, it's recessed to reduce the risk of it getting broken.
Around the touch screen are a vast array of output ports, both AC and DC. Every port has its own rubber cover protecting it from dirt, dust, and moisture.
But there's more! On the top of the unit are two 15W wireless charging pads for all your Qi charging needs. These can operate simultaneously, each delivering a full 15W to compatible hardware.
On the side are all the inputs (as well as ports that allow you to connect the AC200MAX to up to two external B230 battery modules to give you even more power storage -- up to a whopping 6144Wh).
These ports are, again, well-protected against moisture and dirt ingress.
Also: The 5 best wireless charging pads
The AC200MAX supports solar charging up to 900W (solar panels sold separately for those wanting a total off-grid solution), or a 400W DC charger. For the fastest charge possible you can combine solar and DC charging.
You also get a bunch of cables.
For when the going gets a little hot, the cooling fans get going!
The build quality of the AC200MAX is second to none, designed for a tough life in the back of a truck or RV, as well as more gentle in-home use.
Oh, and there's also an app...
I've tested all the ports to see if they can handle what Bluetti claims they can, and I'm pleased to say that they do. Capacity is spot on, and a full charge takes some six hours using the 400W charger, and about 10 hours if charged from a 12V supply in a vehicle.
That's respectable given the massive 2048Wh capacity.
Also: The best generators: Plan ahead for the next emergency power outage
The AC200MAX has no problem handling a constant 2,200W and surges up to 4,800W are handle gracefully. Go over this, and the unit powers down in a no-fuss fashion to protect itself from damage. When under heavy load, the fans kick in to keep the unit cooled off, and while the fans are certainly audible, they're not overly loud or obnoxious in my opinion.
The Bluetti AC200MAX is an awesome power station. It's big and powerful, yet portable. It's rugged and durable, yet doesn't look out of place in a home or office. It has huge capacity that's expandable if you need it. And, so far, based on my testing, it delivers on everything it claims to offer.
If you want backup power for when the lights go out this winter, you want flexible charging options and massive power output to keep up with the heaviest loads, all packed into a rugged, durable package, the Bluetti AC200MAX should definitely be on your radar.