As we walked the halls of CES in Las Vegas, one product category stood out across the board; there is a lot of focus on portable (and less portable) energy storage. These are more than your average batteries charge your phone once or twice, ranging from simple small power packs to sophisticated power stations that can connect to portable or rooftop solar, and the larger versions can power your whole house for weeks at the time.
Smaller portable power stations usually come with a few 110V outlets and a few USB outlets, and maybe a 12V cigarette lighter port for smaller devices. From there, it can get quite advanced; solid-state batteries, 240V power, wireless charging ports, the ability to plug in additional batteries, and the ability to be powered from a number of power sources, including mains power, the solar power, car chargers and even high-end fast chargers designed for electric vehicles.
It would be completely silly to try to capture everything we saw at CES, but here are some of the highlights:
EcoFlow’s travel innovations
EcoFlow came out of nowhere a few years ago and established itself as a very serious player in the field of portable power. At CES, the company debuted a battery-powered refrigerator with ice maker, a laptop, an updated version of its battery-powered air conditioning unit, and a number of other innovations. The biggest news this year, however, is that it will be rolling out systems for whole-home battery backup systems later this year.
Yoshino’s solid-state batteries
Yoshino’s portable power stations are built around a new solid electrolyte, replacing the bulky, flammable liquid electrolyte found in most lithium batteries. The company told me that this improves performance, providing higher energy density. In other words: the same amount of energy fits in a smaller and lighter package compared to traditional lithium batteries. A company representative claimed that you can shoot the battery with a firearm without it catching fire. We had no weapon with us to verify the allegation.
The company also suggests that the new batteries offer faster charging than older chemistries, reaching 80% capacity in less than an hour, and claim up to twice the power per pound of traditional lithium batteries. Definitely one to watch. The power stations have loads of ports and the wireless charging stations above the power stations are a really nice touch.
Bluetti powers your whole home
The biggest news from Bluetti was its all-around power in the form of the B300S and the corresponding inverter series. In normal use, the mains (or a solar generator) keeps the batteries charged. When the power goes out, the batteries kick in, like uninterrupted power for your whole home. You can either keep everything powered or design two separate circuits; one with essential electrical circuits (your refrigerator, kitchen and heating/cooling, for example) and one with less essential circuits (for example, your washing machine and your electric vehicle).
Zendure’s Superpower Celebration
Zendure’s Superbase V really stretches the definition of what can be considered “portable.” At a hefty 100 pounds (46 kg), at least it has a pull-out handle and motorized wheels to help you move it around. Once in place, however, it can do just about anything – it has 6.4kWh built in. However, it also supports additional battery modules, for up to 64kWh of available storage. Fully charged, that’s more than an entry-level Tesla Model 3 battery, and the company says it’s enough to power a typical household for a week.
Packing both 120V and 240V voltage, it can power both small appliances like a refrigerator and larger household items like induction cooktops and electric clothes dryers. Hell, with up to 12,000W of power, you can charge two electric cars at the same time, if you need to. Pricing starts at $3,100. At most with four external batteries, you’re looking at a price north of $15,000.
Geneverse lowers prices
Geneverse has a wide distribution in the United States, being available at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Sam’s Club and online. It’s easy to see why: the company launched two new power plants. The HomePower One has a capacity of 1210Wh, a rated power of 1200W and a surge power of 2400W, while its big brother the HomePower Two offers a capacity of 2419Wh, a rated power of 2400W. 2,200W and 4,400W surge power. Both have three 120V outlets, two 100W USB-C outlets, and two USB-A fast-charging outlets.
None of these stats really move the needle – but the price does. The smallest power plant costs $1,500 and the largest $2,500. You can add two or four solar panels to the power stations respectively, bringing the price to $2,600 or $4,800. With prices like that, home backup power is starting to come into the mainstream for most homeowners. The company hasn’t skimped on batteries either, opting for ultra-high efficiency LFP/LiFePO4 (Lithium iron phosphate) battery technology. These are indeed very safe and offer a lifespan of around 3,000 charging cycles.
Schneider signals that battery storage is here to stay
We’ve seen a number of startups in the smart home panel space for some time. What’s new is that the big boys are joining the party.
Energy giant Schneider Electric’s entry into the Frey shows that battery energy storage for the home is really starting to go mainstream. Why is this a big problem? Around 40% of all homes already rely on the brand for its main circuit breaker panels and other key components for household electricity.
Controllable by app, the company has launched an all-new energy management solution for home batteries, including a high-powered solar inverter, smart electrical panels, EV chargers, and a host of additional features. It even won a CES Innovation Award for its issues along the way. Seeing more major power supply companies enter the market with fully integrated solutions means the entire industry is well and truly on the run. Not exactly the sort of thing you can install yourself, but a harbinger of things to come in the near to mid future.