I cooked a meal with the AlphaESS 1000W Power Station
When a company sends me a product to review (and keep), I like to test it to the limits. Sometimes it’s a pain, because things can break. For example, I have a few e-bikes in my shed that need minor repairs, but I know their true limitations. With power stations and solar generators, it’s usually a bit easier. Just plug things in until you understand what works and what doesn’t. This time, I was able to use the AlphaESS 1000W power station to cook a meal!
This turned out to be the perfect test load for the unit. It’s rated at 1000 watts of continuous power, and my cheap Walmart electric griddle draws around 1050 watts. But, before we get to the meal, let’s talk a bit about the strengths and weaknesses of the unit.
Good Things About the AlphaESS 1000W Power Station
The first thing I noticed about the AlphaESS 1000W is the price. It’s about $100 cheaper than comparable powerhouses on Amazon. By comparison, I’m talking about stations with around 1000 watts of output power and 1000 watt hours of storage. This basically means they will run a 1000 watt load for one hour (less regardless of DC battery conversion losses at the AC inverter output, of course).
The second interesting thing about this station is its form factor. It’s big and heavy like any powerhouse with similar capabilities. Lithium batteries have come a long way, but they still have to weigh a fair amount (about 25 pounds) to hold that much power. Despite this, it is quite easy to transport. It has a folding handle that you can put out of your way when using it. It also has good impact protection on the corners. A portion of the unit’s shell protrudes further to protect the screen and internal components.
The folding handle also serves another essential purpose: getting out of the way so you can use the station’s two wireless charging pads. Yes, I said two (2). As Nute Gunray would say, “It’s getting out of control. Now there’s TWO!” But, when you’re trying to power a whole family at the campsite or during a power outage, you really can’t have too many ways to charge phones, watches and tablets. I found this to be a very handy feature.
It should be noted that this is the first time I’ve seen charging stations on a larger power station (I’ve only reviewed small stations like this with wireless charging). The fact that the AlphaESS 1000W unit comes with two is pretty nifty.
Another really nice feature is that they didn’t waste any space on the back of the device. Instead of blank plastic, they included a very large LED lantern. It is diffused and distributed over several groups of diodes, so it is not blinding. It also has three power levels to meet your needs and perhaps save a small amount of energy. Being LED, it doesn’t draw much power, although it’s quite bright on the highest setting.
There’s a lot to like about outlet availability. It has the usual power input which can be powered by solar power (sold separately), a 12 volt cigarette lighter style outlet, two other 12v ports, two USB-B power outlets, an outlet USB-C PD and three 120 power outlets (max 1000 watts total).
Like some of the smaller units I’ve tested, this one lets you charge it with USB-C PD chargers, just like you would a laptop or tablet. You can put up to 100 watts of power into it this way (or take up to 100 watts to run appliances).
Let’s talk about running this device to its limits. After some trial and error with major appliances in my house (it did run the fridge, but it’s only about 250 watts), I found something that tested it to the limits: my hob inexpensive electric heater from Walmart. It drew 1050 watts. Once I saw it could hold the load, I started putting food in it. The kids had a great bedtime snack (eggs in a basket) made from a portable battery. In total, this drained the battery to 62%, so it’s possible to cook two meals on a single charge and still have room to charge phones and run emergency lighting if you have sunshine for the day. recharge (panel sold separately).
The AlphaESS 1000W unit produced just over the advertised 1000 watts of power, but it forced the unit to run its cooling fans on full blast and even then it got a little warm. Not warm enough for me to worry about, though. He did a good job of venting his heat after the meal was over and the fans kept going.
A final test was my typical ham radio test. It doesn’t draw much power from the AlphaESS 1000W unit (I’m only transmitting 5 watts max, hams call this power ‘QRP’) but it tests to make sure the unit can produce clean power over multiple outputs simultaneously and it doesn’t make a whole lot of radio noise. The unit passed this test well, and I’ve exchanged signals with people as far away as the Caribbean.
Pitfalls and Drawbacks
There were only two minor drawbacks to the unit.
First, it was initially very confusing to turn on the wireless charging pads. A quick read of the manual, and I found that you had to double tap the “info” button next to the screen like double-clicking a mouse to get the plates to light up. If you end up buying one, you’ll know it from the start and probably won’t have to read the manual.
The only other little thing that was annoying was the lack of time remaining reading on the screen. Jackery’s higher-end units and some of the smaller ones from other brands tell you how much time is left if you’re using the battery at the current charge, eliminating some of the math and guesswork. If you know the unit has about 1000 watt hours of power, you can divide the 1000 by the watts you’re drawing to get the approximate number of hours left, but doing the math in an emergency sucks.
Despite these two small problems, I still recommend the device for its strengths and its low price. Then I will pass the device to a family member so they can give it a long term test. Expect results in 6-12 months, or sooner if they have a power outage they’re using it for.
All images by Jennifer Sensiba.
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