I apologise for capitalising on the fearmongering the media has been peddling in recent months about the possibilities of rolling blackouts across the country this winter.
I am fortunate that whatever the scenario, the outcome won't be that bad for me, but many people won't be in the same position, and I, therefore, hope this is just fearmongering.
Regardless, I have been making plans to reduce the impact on my life that a blackout may have.
If they do happen, for most people (not all), things shouldn't be too bad.
Planned UK rolling blackouts for Winter 2022 / 2023
It is currently planned/speculated that blackouts would be for three hours each time. There have been reports this would be just at peak times, with 4 to 7 pm the likely time slot.
An alternative option is that each day is split up into eight three-hour slots, and there are rolling blackouts targeted by postcode.
One suggested plan has three stages where homes would have blackouts three times per week for stage one, then six times for stage two and up to nine times a week for stage three.
In all scenarios, you would be pre-warned about these issues. To reiterate, this is all relatively unlikely to happen.
With a three-hour slot, most people's lives shouldn't be too severely affected, assuming you don't need to power something essential like medical equipment.
Will fridges and freezers thaw and spoil food?
Things like fridges and freezers are insulated enough that you don't need to worry about them. If you open your fridge during a blackout, I would assume it will shorten the life of the food a little, but not much.
As far as cooking goes, well, you are probably out of luck. Most gas ovens need electricity for the clock, and they won't switch on without the clock set. So you will have to plan your food around the times.
If you want to minimise the impact of these blackouts, then a portable power station is the best solution.
What is a portable power station?
These are basically just massive versions of power banks that you likely have for your phone.
They have a high capacity and high-power outputs with proper plug sockets allowing you to power any appliance that falls within the power range of the unit.
They get pretty expensive, and this post isn't trying to say everyone should buy one. But they are good.
The main reason why I need a power station is so I can continue working, but I could do that on a laptop using my phone for the Internet. So, a power station is certainly not essential.
What I want to power during a blackout
To provide some context to my recommendations, I have been thinking about what I plan to use my portable power stations for.
My usage will be dependent on the time of a blackout, but in general, it will evolve around work or TV.
- Keeping my Internet up using a 5G Router (it is possible/likely that the normal Internet will stay working due to phone lines and exchanges having backup power).
- Keeping my network up, including WiFi and wired connections between my NAS enclosures and work PC or Nvidia Shield (for TV)
- Powering my office which primarily consists of a desktop PC, 3 monitors, lights etc.
- Powering my TV
I am not that bothered about food or the fridge freezer. But I may possibly use my air fryer or crack out the slow cooker.
In the above situation, I need multiple power stations because everything is in different rooms.
My office is the most power-hungry scenario. I have two smart plugs monitoring the PC, monitors and lights, and it looks like the monitors draw 70W, and the PC + lights are around 170W but peak at 200W (for office work/browsing etc, not gaming). I can switch one monitor off to bring it down to 50W, and I should make it through a 3-hour blackout with a 750W power station.
Kitchen appliances are a big one. My Ninja Air Fryer will pull almost 1800W. So, you need something big to drive that. The kettle is over 3000W, which means almost no portable power station will power it.
Deciding on the power station for your needs
Not everyone will have my requirements. You should therefore consider what you want to do with the power station.
The two main things are capacity and maximum output. You may want to invest in an energy-monitoring smart plug to work out how much the devices you want to use will consume.
Unless you want to run large kitchen appliances, I think most people don't need to worry too much about the maximum output. For example, the Anker 521 has an output of 200W, which is quite low but enough to run my office, but its capacity is also only 256Wh. I'd only get an hour of so of usage out of it.
Most power stations are capable of solar charging. In theory, you can use this to extend the capacity during a blackout, but it is not practical with the way my house is laid out. It is also winter up north in the UK, so it is optimistic to think it would make a huge difference.
Best affordable mid-sized portable power stations
These have just been launched, so the availability may not be great. The older version is still a good option but uses NMC batteries which don't last quite as long (they will still last years).
In my scenario, the EcoFlow RIVER 2 Pro is perfect. The 768Wh capacity will keep my office running for 3 hours.
I can personally vouch for the EcoFlow RIVER products, both these new models and the older River.
|Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, 518Wh Outdoor...||£556.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240, 230V/200W Pure...||£220.99||Buy on Amazon|
The smallest Jackery is the Explorer 240, or you have the Explorer 500. The 240 model is only good for 80W power draw over three hours or 166W for the 500W model.
If you have less powerful devices to run, then these will be fine.
|BLUETTI Portable Power Station EB3A, 268Wh LiFePO4 Battery...||£399.00||Buy on Amazon|
|BLUETTI Portable Power Station EB55, 537Wh LiFePO4 Battery...||£629.00||Buy on Amazon|
Bluetti probably offers the best overall value for money. Most of the batteries use LiFePO4, which gives them superior longevity compared to NMC which you find on older models from many brands.
I should be reviewing the Bluetti EB3A soon. I think this could just about hit my requirements for my office if I switched off a couple of monitors. It has a 600W capacity, and it is a bit of a bargain at just £350.
Then you have the EB555, which is just £570 for 700W, which undercuts the RIVER 2 Pro buy quite a bit.
|Anker Portable Power Station 256Wh, 521 Portable Generator,...||£299.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Anker 535 Portable Power Station, 512Wh Portable Generator,...||£599.99||Buy on Amazon|
Anker PowerHouse is not the cheapest, but it is Anker, and their products are always excellent. It looks like the stock is limited on a lot of the products at the moment.
The Anker 521 PowerHouse with a 256W capacity is only £330, but it is out of stock until December. The same is true for the 512Wh Anker 535 PowerHouse.
Anker are good for discounts and well worth keeping an eye on. Especially over Black Friday.
Best high-capacity, high-wattage power stations for high-powered appliances
|EcoFlow DELTA 2 Portable Power Station with 1-3kWh...||£1,099.00||Buy on Amazon|
The EcoFlow DELTA 2 is a superb mid to large-size power station. With 1024Wh of capacity, it would easily run my office for a blackout. The AC output is also 1800W, so you can use it comfortably for some kitchen appliances. It also has 2200W X-Boost, which should run appliances but they will cook/run a bit slower.
Beyond that model, it starts to get very expensive. The EcoFlow DELTA Pro is the next best bet at £3.5K. With its 3600W capacity, it could easily power my entire home for over 3 hours (if I could find a way to plug everything in).
The Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro is a good option for demanding requirements. I have reviewed it, and it easily powered my air fryer. At the time of writing this post, I am waiting on the price and full details. I believe this is only sold as the Solar Generator 2000 Pro, so you are paying extra to have the solar panels included.
|BLUETTI Portable Power Station AC200P, 2000Wh LiFePO4...||£1,799.00||Buy on Amazon|
Bluetti has some big power stations.
The BLUETTI PowerOak AC200P is probably the most cost-efficient big capacity solution costing just £1,699. It can do 2000W with a 4800W surge, so it can power many large appliances and should keep most consumer electronics running happily for several hours.
|Anker 757 Portable Power Station, PowerHouse 1229Wh LiFePO4...||£1,399.00||Buy on Amazon|
Anker has two large-capacity power stations, but it seems unlikely you will get one before the new year.
At the time of writing, the Anker 757 PowerHouse page states that shipping will be around the 31st of December. The largest Anker 757 PowerHouse has a 2kw capacity with 2.3kw peak output, but this is launching soon and based on the limited availability of
Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API