REVIEW – Another week, another power station to review. Will the GRECELL T-500 power station review stand out from the ever-growing horde of power stations that have been sent our way, or will it simply be yet another option among many?
What is it?
The GRECELL T-500 power station review is a portable battery. These are often referred to as “solar generators”, but the term is a bit misleading: they can’t generate power by themselves, but rather serve as a storage battery for a solar panel. Since this one is sold separately from solar panels, as I reviewed it you’d need to charge it up before outings from the wall (or your car), and then it can provide power to up to 10 different devices as long as the total demand is under 500 watts. This model is roughly the same size and weight as a standard 12V car battery. This model uses the most common battery chemistry for power stations (Lithium Ion, the same technology in your phones, tablets, and laptops, as well as many electric cars). It also has safety features like a Battery Management System and active cooling to prevent unfortunate events like battery fires.
What’s in the box?
- GRECELL T-500 power station
- 1 x AC adaptor (100-240V)
- 1 x DC car charger cable (12V)
- 1 x solar connector (MC4-7.9*0.9/8mm connect cable)
- 1 x cable storage bag
- user manual
- Capacity: 519.48 Wh (140400 mAh, 22.2 V)
- Weight: 14.1 Pounds
- Dimensions: 11.57 x 7.95 x 7.95 inches
- Output: 500 Watts
- AC Ports: 2 x 3-prong Pure Sine Wave, 110V~60Hz, Total 500W
- DC Ports: 2 x 12V/5A, 1 x “car port” 12V/10A
- Wireless phone charging 10W
- USB-A ports: 3 x 5V⎓3.0A, 9V⎓2A, 12V⎓1.5A 18W
- USB-C Power Delivery port: 5V/ 9V/12V/15V/20V⎓3A (Max.60W )
- DC / PV input: 12V~26V
Design and features
The GRECELL T-500 power station is a fairly standard portable battery power generator with a nice assortment of AC, USB, and DC ports on the front. The LCD screen is readable in any lighting condition with a backlight, and buttons and labelling are easy to understand and use.
A bright flashlight on the side could be nice for camping, and it can also be set to flash in an “SOS” morse code pattern, which would probably last for up to a week or more on a full charge.
On the other side are a pair of fans to keep everything cool under heavy use and/or on hot days.
The included AC wall charger is just like most laptop chargers (it’s performing the same function – delivering high wattage DC power to a battery-powered device). A DC “car port” charger is also included, as well as a solar connector.
Installation and setup
I first tested charging the device with the included wall charger. The GRECELL T-500 power station went from 48% to 100% in about 3.5 hours, but usually the first half of a lithium ion battery charges much faster than the second half, so the manufacturer estimated charge time from empty of 6-7 hours seems accurate.
You can charge from a car DC port in 7-8 hours, and they quote 6-9 hours from a solar panel (in optimum conditions). I tested my only solar panel that was within their accepted voltage (18 volts), but even on a bright day the T-500 didn’t register any input. This same solar panel has charged several other power stations I’ve tested, and I even tried a different cable, but wasn’t able to get any input into the T-500. I wasn’t able to resolve this issue, but maybe it was an incompatibility I didn’t understand. I’d imagine if you bought GRECELL solar panels, they would work since they are tested and manufactured by the same people.
I first performed a battery life test by connecting a space heater and running it on high – this results in a power surge of around 1000 watts, and some power stations have shut off from this surge, but the T-500 coped. If you’re using items like freezers, refrigerators, or pumps, these can all have much higher power surges than their rated running wattage, so it’s good to know the GRECELL T-500 power station can handle a 1000 watt power surge as advertised.
I then ran the heater on low, which pulled just under 100 watts continuously. I fully drained the T-500 in 4.5 hours, which is about what you’d expect for the quoted capacity. If you were running a lower wattage device like a mini-fridge, you’d get 10-11 hours. GRECELL says a typical CPAP machine would last 20 hours on a full charge. If you’re pulling the full rated 500 watts, you’ll drain it in just under an hour.
I tested all of the USB ports, as well as the DC car output port and the AC ports. All worked as expected, the USB-C power delivery can push up to 60 watts while the USB-A ports support QuickCharge 3.0. As shown in the photo above, you can use any combination of AC, USB, and DC outputs simultaneously, as long as the total draw remains under 500 watts.
The one bummer I ran into is in the manual: they don’t recommend passthrough charging with AC input. This means you shouldn’t use this power station as a backup battery for always running electronics, which was one scenario I had hoped to use this device for. I have another previously reviewed power station that’s always plugged in to remain fully charged, and then I run my router and NAS directly from the power station, so in the event of a blackout, my NAS and home internet remain working.
That said, the T-500 does support pass-through charging if you’re charging through DC, like with solar panels. This makes it a good option for RV’s, longer term camping, glamping, or even cabins or tiny homes: you can set up a solar panel array that is charging the power station throughout the day, even while you’re using it.
What I like
- Good assortment of output ports
- Wireless charging
What I’d change
- Show ETA to full/empty!
- Support pass-through AC charging so this could be used as a battery backup in home scenarios
The GRECELL T-500 power station is a competent power station at a decent price which should fit the needs of many users. The ability to do solar passthrough charging, multi-device output, and a good storage capacity and wattage rating make for a well rounded power station. I do wish it had ETA to empty/full on the display like some of the other power stations I’ve used, but in the end that’s not a deal breaker for me. This power station will get some good use for camping, adventures, and even as a mobile charging station for my electric toys like the offroad scooter I recently picked up.