REVIEW – Five years ago, I reviewed my first power station, the Jackery Explorer 240. In those five short years, it’s become clear that we’ve come a long way. Today, there are countless makers of small—and large—power stations and Bluetti is at or near the top. While they make massively powerful stations (some can power a house!), they also make small, extremely handy portable stations, such as the AC2A Portable Power Station.
What is it?
The Bluetti AC2A Portable Power Station is exactly that—a large-capacity, but lightweight battery charger that can charge anything that doesn’t need more power to run than the AC2A provides. That means laptops, smartphones, lights, drones, and small camping appliances can be quickly charged anywhere on or off the grid. Charging to 80% takes only 45 minutes.
The AC2A can be re-charged by a wall outlet or solar panels (not included) via included solar panel cables. It features two 5V USB-A, a single 100W USB-C, and a 12V accessory outlet “cigarette lighter” ports. There are two AC grounded outlets.
Inputs include AC (wall charging) and DC solar. There’s also, an input for attaching to a grounding pole (grounding screw included). I’ve never seen this before. The AC input is heavy-duty. There is no power brick, meaning the power supply is internal. The AC2A can be charged via its accessory outlet, but the cable is optional.
The AC2A power station case is hard, but durable plastic. The color is a dark neutral gray and comes with a built-in though unusual carrying handle—more on that later.
- Battery Capacity: 204.8 Wh
- Battery type: Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
- Weight: 7.9 lbs
- Dimensions: 9.8 in x 5.9 in x 7 in (LxWxH)
- Power: 300W
- DC Cigarette lighter output/input port
- USB-C outport port
- USB-A x 2 output ports
- AC outlets x 2
- DC (solar) input port
- AC input port (for charging)
- Grounding pole port
Design and features
During major power outages, sometimes you need one (or a few) major battery power stations. More often than not, all you may need is a small portable unit that can be easily carried around where needed. Or you may just want a reliable charging source that can be placed on a table near you. That’s the genius of smaller, but powerful chargers.
As handy as my Jackery has been, its battery chemistry is lithium-ion (LCO). The AC2A is lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4). LCO batteries can be flammable given the right (wrong) circumstances. We’ve all seen stories of some EV cars or even smartphones catching fire. That’s LCO. And no, my trusty Jackery has never come close to being unstable. I’m just stating that LCO batteries could catch fire.
The Bluetti AC2A power station uses the safer LiFePO4 batteries. Both LCO and LiFePO4 have advantages and disadvantages, LCO batteries have a better power-to-weight ratio. LiFePO4 powered stations are heavier—though the difference matters less on smaller power stations.
LFO batteries need and use cobalt, a rare metal that’s mined almost exclusively in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with all its horror stories of human abuse. LiFePO4 uses the more common potassium (mined from potash) instead of cobalt and is more ethically mined.
Then there are life cycles. A battery’s life cycle is counted as going from 0% to 100% back to 0% charge. LCO batteries generally have life cycles of around 500 before battery performance degrades. LiFePO4 Batteries’ life cycle is around 4000. It’s quite a difference.
The battery capacity of the Bluetti AC2A is rated at 300W with a capacity of 204Wh. While that is slightly less than the Jackery Explorer, prices have come down significantly from 5 years ago, the Explorer sold for $300—$425 counting for inflation! The AC2A sells for $169—about half the cost. Gotta love technology.
The Bluetti AC2A power station weighs slightly less than 8 lbs. Yes, that is a bit heavier than an LCO unit, but it’s still light enough to carry anywhere.
Bluetti has placed all its output ports on one side for easier access. While I appreciate the good selection of ports, I would have gladly given up one of the dual USB-A ports for an extra USB-C port. I shouldn’t complain too much, the Jackery had no USB-C at all!
The front face of the AC2A has (clockwise) the solar input, color LCD display, AC outlets, USB ports, and 12V accessory outlet. In the center sits the master on/off button flanked by DC and AC on/off buttons. In order to use the ports, both the master and AC or DC buttons must be on. It’s a bit annoying.
The LCD display of the Bluetti AC2A power station shows more than enough info—too much to mention in this review. Some major points are: Input wattage, Low battery alert, output wattage, remaining charge/discharge time, and battery capacity percentage. There is a total of 21 status points! Each bit of info remains dark until and unless it’s used. This helps prevent distractions.
Note that when using the car accessory outlet to charge the AC2A, it drains power from the car battery. However, if the car battery gets below a certain point, charging stops. This helps keep the car from leaving you stranded. Also the car engine must be running while charging.
Bluetti has included what they call “Turbo Mode”. This allows the AC2A to be used on devices that require a surge in power to start up (like a hair dryer) before lowering to a manageable level. It’s called resistive. It helps save the AC2A from damage.
Bluetti has included an app with the AC2A (doesn’t everything have an app these days?). The app doesn’t do things the AC2A can’t do, but it is easy to follow and use.
My one complaint about the Bluetti AC2A is the built-in handle. It is on the edge. This design helps keep the top flat for easy stacking, but as it’s carried, the weight shifts requiring that it be carried at an awkward angle. I would have preferred a folding handle cantered on the top.
What I like
- Great price
- Safe to use
- Many more life cycles than LCO batteries
- Easy to see color LED screen
- Nice, uncomplicated app
What I’d change
- Awkward carrying handle
- Could use an extra USB-C port
I think the Bluetti AC2A power station was designed for people like me who only use power stations for simple tasks, like smartphones, iPads, and small gadget charging. And for that, it’s perfect—except for that handle.