Jon Turi

BioLite adds portable power stations and a solar array to its charging lineup | Engadget

After years of providing off-the-grid camping, cooking and pocketable charger tech, BioLite has moved further into the genre with its newest and more robust power-backup solutions. The company just announced the BaseCharge 600 and BaseCharge 1500 portable power stations, along with an accompanying SolarPanel 100. As with most products of this type, they’re great for powering entertainment tech, appliances and workspaces when you’re far from an outlet. They’re also helpful in the home when the electricity goes out.

Both power stations provide an LCD dashboard with power metrics, system notifications, temperature alerts, port activations and battery life status. You can also view cumulative usage over time and reset the counter as needed. They should hold a charge for quite a while, but its recommended to top these up every six months, so they’re ready when you need them.

Each device is encased in a hard plastic shell with small rubber feet on the bottom. There are inset areas on each side to help carry these relatively heavy devices. As for ruggedness, they’re not exactly built for big drops considering the weight. And while they’re great for bringing along as off-the-grid power backups, there’s no IP rating or weather protection to speak of, so you’ll want to keep them out of rain.

BaseCharge 600

BaseCharge 600

BioLite

The more affordable of the power station pair is the BaseCharge 600 ($699). This has a Li-ion battery capacity of 622 Wh, with three types of inputs: a combo wall and solar charger input, plus a port for USB-C PD input. Charge times range from seven hours via wall charger, three and a half hours with both wall and USB-C PD charging and six hours using a SolarPanel 100 at peak sunlight. It weighs 13 pounds and measures 12.2 x 7.9 x 7.9 inches.

There are ten outputs:

  • 2 – 110V AC (600W up to 1,000W surge)

  • 1 – Wireless charging for Qi and related devices on the top platform (10W)

  • 2 – 12V DC barrel ports (120W)

  • 1 – 12V car port (aka cigarette lighter port – 120W)

  • 2 – USB-A (5V)

  • 1 – USB-C (5V)

  • 1 – USB-C PD (5V / 100W)

BaseCharge 1500

The BioLite BaseCharge 1500 power station.
BaseCharge 1500

BioLite

The larger, heavier and more powerful model is the BaseCharge 1500 ($1,699). It has a Li-ion battery capacity of 1521 Wh and the same three inputs as the 600 model. Charge times range from 13.5 hours using the wall charger, eight hours with wall charger and USB-C PD, and four hours at peak sunlight if you have four SolarPanel 100 units. This larger device weighs 26.5 pounds and measures 14.4 x 12.2 x 8.2 inches.

There’s a total of 12 outputs on this device:

  • 3 – 110V AC (1,200W up to 2,400W surge)

  • 1 – Wireless charging for Qi and related devices on the top platform (10W)

  • 2 – 12V DC barrel ports (120W)

  • 1 – 12V car port (aka cigarette lighter port – 120W)

  • 2 – USB-A (5V)

  • 2 – USB-C (5V)

  • 1 – USB-C PD (5V / 100W)

SolarPanel 100

The BioLite SolarPanel 100.
SolarPanel 100

BioLite

If you want to turn your portable power station into a solar generator, there’s the new SolarPanel 100 ($400). This is a single foldable unit, with four panels that offers a power output of 100 watts in peak sunshine. You can also pretend you’re Astronaut Mark Watney and daisy chain up to four SolarPanel 100s to quadruple the wattage.

These panels are rated IPX4 making them relatively durable and resistant to water, such as a continuous light rain. There’s no onboard battery, but you can charge two devices directly from the panel as it soaks up the sun via two USB-A ports and one USB-C PD.

All the panels fold into one 20.1 x 14.3 x 1.5-inch rectangle, with a built-in carrying handle so you can lug around all 9.5 pounds of panel. The backside of the unit, which is the only exposed side when folded, is a gray fabric-like material. There’s also a zippered pouch for storing cables.

When expanded, there’s a surface spanning 20.1 x 57.5 inches and a shallow depth of about one inch, plus two relatively low-slung legs when fully extended. The “optimal sun system” is the same as you’d find on BioLite’s previous solar panels, consisting of a small target and a recessed white area so you can track the angle of the sun by its shadow.

Customers can sign up on a waiting list starting today on the company’s website, with pre-orders opening up on September 7th for all three new products. They’re scheduled to hit retail outlets including Amazon and REI in October 2022.

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