Living on the road full time has a lot of challenges, one of the most important being how to keep everything fully charged. From drone batteries to a refrigerator, this is how I manage.
Many times I don't have access to cafes or public places to charge all my batteries while I'm on the go. For almost 6 months I've been using the Bluetti/MaxOak AC50S which is a very practical 500WH battery that costs less than $400. More recently I acquired the Bluetti AC200P which has quadruple the capacity at 2000WH but costs quite a bit more at $1,700. These have a lot of overlapping features but serve different purposes depending on what you might need thus I wanted to review my experience with both of them.
As always for full transparency this is not a paid review however I was given the AC200P in exchange for doing a review. The AC50S, the 120W, and 200W solar panels you’ll see in this review were bought by me. Everything within the review is my opinion and will not be reviewed by Bluetti before posting and is 100% my honest review. With that out of the way, let's get started.
As I said above this is a 500WH battery which for the majority of people is all you really need. I’ve had this unit for almost 6 months and it has been absolutely stellar. Without just restating the stat sheet, the important factors for me were:
- 500 watt-hour capacity
- 300W AC inverter
- Utilizes 3C Lithium-ion batteries
- 45W USB-C power delivery port
- Cost: ~$400
There are quite a few options out there but none in the price range that has a USB-C power delivery port. I can charge almost everything I use through USB-C such as my Apple Macbook Air, Fujifilm X-T4, GoPro, and quite a few other devices.
One of the main uses of the battery was to run my fridge 24/7 and I could run it for close to 30 hours depending on conditions without any recharge. Speaking of recharging, keeping the AC50S running was very practical. You can charge via a 12V outlet in your car or from a single 120W solar panel. You can also charge via a wall charger but that’s obviously not something I had access to very often.
What’s nice is the solar panel and car charger plug into the same port, thus in daily use, I would just unplug the car charger and plug in the solar panel when I set it up to capture the sun's energy. One thing to note is the car charging cable is very short, which is something I had to solve recently for my new setup by getting an extender— not a huge deal but it might be something you need to consider.
Anytime you’re using a battery generator you want to avoid using the AC outlets as much as possible. This is because batteries deliver power in direct current and only require simple voltage modulation when charging via the USB-C port, USB ports, or whatever DC ports you might be using. When using the AC ports you’re losing a decent amount of energy via the DC to AC inverter. This is why having a USB-C port was so important for me because it meant I didn't have to use the wall brick to charge my laptop and waste energy. Furthermore, the practicality of leaving 1 USB-C cable plugged in to charge whatever device I threw at it without worry is extremely convenient which is the beauty of USB-C charging.
I do use the AC outlets to charge my Canon R5 batteries and my Mavic 2 Pro which its 300-watt inverter is fully capable of doing. If you need to power more high-wattage AC devices then what’s up next might be for you.
- More ports than others in the same price range
- Easy to operate and recharge
- Flat top handle and easily portable
- Uses lower cycle Lithium cells
- Wish the car charging cable was longer
The AC200P is a much more involved battery system that carries over a lot of the features from the AC50S thus you can apply a lot of what I said above to this unit. Think of this unit as basically 4 times what its little brother accomplishes and the key features for me were:
- 2000 watt-hour capacity
- 2000W AC inverter with 4800W surge
- Utilizes Lithium Iron Phosphate aka LifePO4 batteries
- 60W USB-C power delivery port
- Cost: ~$1700
LifePO4 batteries were an important factor for me living within my vehicle. Without getting too technical these batteries have longer life-spans, don’t degrade nearly as much from temperature changes, and are generally safer for long-term use in varying environments. The cost is they have less wattage density thus they take up more space than an equivalent Lithium-ion battery.
A 2000W inverter means you can power basically any household item. When converting my SUV it even allowed the use of power tools off-grid to cut wood and sand finishes. This luxury also allows me to boil water with an electric tea kettle which might sound a bit silly but not having to light anything on fire to make coffee or tea is a big deal living in your car. On top of that, it also gives me the option to use an electric heater when the time comes in the winter.
The interface for the AC200P is also a bit more advanced and has a lot of smart reporting features and fail-safes built-in. It uses a touch interface which I’m not particularly in love with, not that it's bad. Being able to see statistics, input wattages, and errors is great but I much prefer the tactical buttons for things like turning on DC power rather than a touch interface. Secondly, there’s no way to turn off the screen! It’s always on which seems a little inefficient if you’re trying to conserve power but it’s mostly a huge inconvenience for someone who sleeps next to the battery. I might be the only person who does so but it doesn’t make sense to me that the screen doesn’t turn off when not being used.
The AC200P has the same charging options as its smaller brother but does require a bit more solar input. You need at least 35V to charge via solar which means roughly 300W but it varies depending on the panels you have. One annoyance in charging the unit is that you have to switch the input from solar to car whenever you shift inputs via the interface. This is necessary because unlike its smaller brother the AC200P can accept up to a massive 700W of solar. Personally, I don't have the space to carry around that many panels but it's why you have to indicate what type of charging you are delivering.
I haven’t had the AC200P unit for quite as long but so far it’s done everything I’ve asked it to, including running power tools and a 1700W tea kettle.
- Uses LifePO4 for better longevity
- Massive 4800W peak AC inverter with 2000W sustained
- 60W USB-C Port
- Plethora of charging options including up to 700W of solar
- Data/Stats for all input and outputs
- Cannot turn off the screen
- Touch interface required to enable DC or AC power
- Far less portable weighing in at 60lbs
I wanted to briefly mention that you can use a plethora of solar panels, specifically ones that use MC4 connectors. I personally stayed on brand and bought the Bluetti 120W and 200W panels and so far they have served me well, fold up quite compact to sit behind my seat, and are easy to manage.
For most of you though unless you need the extra capacity or to power something like a microwave. The AC50S is a much more affordable and practical option. Both of these units do everything you’d want them to based on your needs. They are more affordable than some of their competition and even offer a few amenities such as USB-C ports that were highly important to me. They have their quirks but overall nothing has been a deal-breaker so far. If you’re looking for a power solution be sure to take these into consideration