Portable power sources: From sleek chargers to 50-pound powerhouses, there's a size for everyone

Once you're ready to move beyond a smartphone pick-me-up, there is a progression of products ready to create a tower of power. They can keep the juice going for when you or a small team need to get away from an office -- far, far away. Here's a look at 10 of them that go big.
By Ross Rubin, Contributor
1 of 12 Ross Rubin/ZDNET

Big portable power sources

Even as low-power components and fast and wireless charging take on ever more demanding applications and near-constant usage, the need for more power on the go seems limitless. Stored electricity has advanced from being something that lived in an AA cell to a backup source that can power entire homes.

As such, portable power sources have evolved way beyond little USB charging sticks to products that boast multiple AC outlets intended to compete with gas generators. Many are labeled "solar generators," although solar panels are sold separately and the battery-based sources charge faster when plugged into a wall.

Nonetheless, there are a number of products that can keep the juice going.

2 of 12 Anker

Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD

Microsoft may be a late adopter of USB-C for its Surface line, but the connector has served as an important bridge between the convenience of smartphone chargers and the demands of laptops. After releasing a dozen or so high-capacity power bricks, Anker has begun supporting the higher wattage of USB-C PD (up to 30W). The PowerCore Speed 20000 can support devices such as the HP Spectre, Samsung Galaxy Book, MacBook Pro, and Nintendo Switch.

3 of 12 OmniCharge

OmniCharge Omni 20

One of the several higher-capacity charging products that got its start on crowdfunding networks (and one that didn't leave backers in the lurch), the Omni 20 (20,000 mAh) is one of the world's smallest portable chargers with an AC outlet. It also has an LCD that provides a wealth of status info and a DC output that can be tuned for specific products. One option from the campaign that hasn't made it through to the version currently shipping was taking advantage of its flat surface for use as a Qi charging pad. The company is now working on a nearly identical version with USB-C.

4 of 12 RAVPower

RAVPower 27000

The RAVPower 27000 probably represents the upper limit of what you'd feel comfortable stuffing into a bag. It includes an AC outlet supporting a full 100 watts. That represents a step up from the company's smaller 65-watt smaller AC-equipped portable charger. The 27000 can charge phones like the Galaxy S phones six times and a 12" MacBook over three times. should cover just about any laptop on the market. In addition, it houses a USB-C port and two of RAVPower's iSmart ports that can deliver optimal power to USB devices.

5 of 12 Monoprice

Monoprice PowerCache Pro

Unlike many of the products, the PowerCache Pro is based on older lead-acid battery technology, not lithium ion technology. That means the handle-equipped device is large and heavy for its capacity, but Monoprice includes two AC outlets and offers it at an attractive price.

6 of 12 ChargeTech

ChargeTech Plug

Another product to debut on crowdfunding networks (but from an established company), the Plug claims to be the smallest portable power source with two AC outlets; its crowdfunding video shows it being used to power a flat-panel TV on the beach. It tops out in a 54,000mAh version, but is also available in a 48,000mAh version for taking on planes.

7 of 12 Ross Rubin/ZDNET

Omni Ultimate

While the OmniCharge 20 won fans with its light weight and portability, the Omni Ultimate is the Hummer of the line. The beefy,, dust-resistant 40.300 mAh battery comes with a protective rubber sleeve and is twice the capacity of the earlier portable power source. Its USB-C port can be used to charge other products or itself. On the other hand, its dedicated AC input will get the job done much faster (in less than three hours), but it's considerably bulkier than the small charger accompanying the earlier unit. It also supports QuickCharge 3.0 -- not the latest version of Qualcomm's standard, but one that delivers most of the benefits. But what really makes this version the "ultimate" is that it can accept replacement batteries, making it the last version of the casing and electronics you theoretically have to buy. Omni Ultimate is being offered through an Indiegogo campaign that has raised over $700,000.

8 of 12 Anker

Anker PowerHouse

With a 400WAh capacity, Anker's highest-capacity portable charger moves it into the range of products that are about the size of a car battery and go beyond AC plugs and USB ports to include a 12-volt car-style charger. But as with its other products, its PowerIQ USB ports are smart about giving a range of USB devices the optimal amount of juice. Anker claims the PowerHouse will charge a MacBook Pro 6.5 times or a mini-fridge for 7 hours, The PowerHouse and similar products are also used with CPAP machines for those with sleep apnea.

9 of 12 Goal Zero

Goal Zero Yeti 400

One of the oldest companies in the portable power space, Goal Zero makes smaller, less expensive power banks. But it's best known for its high-capacity Yeti line. The midrange of that line is the Yeti 400 that hosts two AC outlets, a 12V DC connector, and three USB ports that can output up to 5 amps each. At this size, even lithium ion batteries can become a handful. One of its neatest features is that it can be chained to other Yeti 400 units for even longer periods away from the wall.

10 of 12 Jackery

Jackery Power Pro

Like ChargeTech with its Plug product, Jackery had been around a while before it took a flyer on a crowdfunding campaign for a product line extension. The company decided to go big with a 578 Wh battery that it claims can recharge laptops four to seven times. The splashproof Power Pro is the only source in the set that includes two DC chargers. While bulky, particularly with its rounded handle, it weighs only 12 lbs.

11 of 12 Goal Zero

Goal Zero Yeti 1400

Intended to go head to head with gas generators, the Yeti 1400 is of the highest-capacity electric portable power sources available. It weighs nearly 46 lbs. It can also have its core battery replaced to extend its investment. At this size and weight, you can keep the tailgate going long enough so that you don't actually have to go to the game. However, Goal Zero sees this and upcoming products being scaled up as power reserve systems for homes akin to the Tesla PowerWall.

12 of 12 Ross Rubin/ZDNET

Energizer PowerKeep 36

Even the largest portable battery needs to be recharged at some point and the only true way to truly cut the power cord is with a solar Ascent Solar licenses the Energizer brand for its line of solar-powered products, which include the folding PowerKeep 36. The company doesn't produce a power pack bigger than the 10,000 mAh one that it bundles with its solar products which it claims takes 10 to 20 hours to charge (less than 7 from the wall), you can carry something larger around in its solar-equipped PowerKeep Pro solar backpack.

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