As we roamed the halls of CES in Las Vegas, one product category stood out across the board; There is a lot of emphasis on portable (and less portable) energy storage. These are more than your average batteries that will charge your phone once or twice, from simple little power adapters to sophisticated power stations that can be connected to portable or rooftop solar panels, and the largest versions can power your whole house for weeks back then.
The smallest portable power stations usually come with some 110V outlets and some USB outlets and maybe a 12V cigarette lighter socket for small peripherals. From there it can get quite advanced; Solid state batteries, 240V power, wireless charging ports, the ability to connect additional batteries and the option to run from a range of power sources including mains, solar, car chargers and even the high-end fast chargers for electric vehicles.
It would be total insanity to capture everything we saw at CES, but here are some of the highlights:
EcoFlow’s travel-forward innovations
EcoFlow came out of nowhere a few years ago and has established itself as a very serious player in the portable power space. At CES, the company introduced a battery-powered refrigerator with ice maker, a wearable device, an updated version of its battery-powered air conditioner, and a host of other innovations. But the biggest news this year is that whole-home battery backup systems will be introduced later this year.
Yoshino Solid State Batteries
Yoshino’s portable power stations are built around a new solid electrolyte, replacing the bulky and flammable liquid electrolyte found in most lithium batteries. The company told me that this improves performance and offers higher energy density. In other words, the same performance fits into a smaller, lighter package compared to traditional lithium batteries. A company representative claimed that you could shoot the battery pack with a gun and it would not catch fire. We didn’t have a gun to verify the claim.
The company also suggests that the new batteries offer faster recharging than the old batteries, get up to 80% capacity in under an hour, and claim up to twice the power per pound of traditional lithium batteries. Definitely one to keep an eye on. The power plants have tons of ports, and the wireless charging pads on the power plants are a very nice touch.
Bluetti powers your whole house
The biggest news from Bluetti was the full power of the house in the form of the B300S and the series of inverters to match. With normal use, the batteries are charged from the mains (or a solar system). If the power fails, the battery packs jump in, like an uninterruptible power supply for your whole house. You can either power everything or design two separate circuits; one with important circuits (e.g. your refrigerator, cooking and heating/cooling) and one with less important circuits (e.g. your washing machine and electric vehicle).
Zendure’s cooler-sized celebration of overkill
Zendure’s Superbase V really pushes the definition of what can be called “portable”. Weighing in at 46 kg (100 lbs), at least it has an extendable handle and motorized wheels that you can use to move it around. However, once it’s in position, it can do pretty much anything – it’s got 6.4kWh built in. However, it also supports additional battery modules, so that a maximum of 64 kWh of storage is available. When fully charged, that’s more than an entry-level Tesla Model 3 battery pack, and the company claims that’s enough to power a typical household for a week.
With a voltage of 120V and 240V, it can power both small appliances such as a refrigerator and larger household appliances such as induction hobs and electric clothes dryers. Heck, with up to 12,000W of power, you can charge two electric cars at the same time if you need to. The price starts at $3,100. When fully loaded with four external batteries, the price tops out at over $15,000.
Geneverse drives prices down
Geneverse is widely available in the US and is available at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Sam’s Club and online. The reason is obvious: the company has put two new power plants into operation. The HomePower One has 1,210 Wh capacity, 1,200 W nominal power and 2,400 W peak power, while its bigger brother, the HomePower Two, offers 2,419 Wh capacity, 2,200 W nominal power and 4,400 W peak power. Both have three 120V outlets, two 100W USB-C outputs and two USB-A fast charge sockets.
None of those stats really move the needle — but the price does. The smaller power plant costs $1,500, the larger $2,500. You can add two or four solar panels to the power plants, bringing the price up to $2,600 or $4,800. At such prices, home backup power comes within reach of most homeowners. The company didn’t skimp on the batteries either, opting for ultra-high-efficiency LFP/LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) battery technology. These are very safe indeed, offering a lifespan of around 3,000 charge cycles.
Schneider signals battery storage is here to stay
We’ve seen a number of startups in the smart home panel space for a while. What’s new is that the big boys are taking part.
The stepping in of energy giant Schneider Electric shows that home battery power storage is really starting to reach the mainstream. Why is this a big deal? Around 40% of all households already rely on the brand for their main switch panels and other key components for the home electrical system.
The company is app-controllable and has launched a brand new home battery energy management solution that includes a high-performance solar inverter, smart switchboards, electric vehicle chargers and a range of additional features. It even won a CES Innovation Award for its troubles along the way. With more and more large utilities entering the market with fully integrated solutions, the entire industry is in full swing. Not exactly what you can build yourself, but a harbinger of what’s to come in the near and mid-term.