Portable power for emergency backup purposes or general off-grid use is a popular subject. In this review, I will be looking at the 1500 watt XPower powerpack from Xantrex, and pointing out what I believe are its strengths and weaknesses. Ready, set, go!
First, the good stuff…
This is a self-contained unit that, although heavy, can be wheeled into your RV, house or cabin and used freely without fumes or other hazards presented by a motorized generator.
No motor means no noise. Let me say here that running a silent power source is a huge deal. I have been through many extended power outtages here in Florida. I have been ‘that guy' with the only gas generator in my immediate area, running throughout the night. Were it not for the fact that I live on acreage, I would have switched if off.
When there is no power and everyone is sweating it out in the dark, with the windows wide open, my 7 KW gas generator sounded like a WW2 cargo plane with a full load hurling itself down the runway. Except that, unlike the cargo plane, mine never took off, it just kept up its sonic assault.
I couldn't get the image out of my mind of my neighborhood forming a lynch mob and marching on my homestead.
A battery-based power source addresses this noise, one of my primary concerns about emergency power.
The Xpower Powerpack 1500, by way of its built-in modified sine wave inverter, will produce 1500 watts at 115 VAC or house current for 10 minutes, and 1350 watts of continuous power. It also has an AC surge power rating of 3000 watts. This would allow you to plug in a small compressor motor such as a refrigerator or pump motor and have the power for at least a limited amount of time, say a few hours.
Recharging the powerpack is equally important; and there are several options here as well. The easiest would of course be to plug it into an operating wall receptacle when power is restored.
The Xpower Powerpack also comes with a DC charging cable to plug into your vehicle or RV's 12VDC accessory plug. (formerly known as the cigarette lighter, kids).
You can also connect a solar panel and charge controller and refresh its sealed AGM battery. I would recommend a 100 watt panel and 5 or 6 amp MPPT charge controller, anything less will greatly extend your recharge time.
The system is expandable!
This is where things get exciting. The internal included battery is a 51Ah sealed AGM battery. The power box has a built-in, high output terminal that allows you to daisy-chain additional batteries and make your own battery bank. I would strongly suggest you match the internal battery's output and go with supplemental batteries of the same type and rating. This will make it with more convenient to connect a solar panel array and charge controller and recharge your system.
Mismatching batteries is also possible, however, this makes recharging a relative hassle as the different battery types will require separate charging.
Overall versatility at a good price
With several ways to tap into the XPower Powerpack 1500s power, daisy-chaining ability, as well as the convenient recharging options, Xantrex has produced a very versatile portable power backup system.
Key features are:
- Operates 120 VAC 12 VDC products anywhere
- Sealed, non-spillable 51 amp-hour AGM battery
- High surge protection and automatic over-temperature and overload shutdown
- Low voltage alarm and shutdown prevents deep battery discharge
- Battery level indicator confirms charge level
- High power 12 VDC connector
- Two three-prong AC outlets
- Padded grip towing handle is removable for easy storage, and built-in side handles allow for easy lifting
- Charging System
- AC charger bulk charging current: 5 amps
- Peak charging voltage: 14.4 VDC
- Float charge voltage: 13.6 VDC
- Charger input socket current: 12 amps
- Charging Times
- Battery Discharge Levels: 100%
- Recharging time from 120 VAC 24h
- Recharging time from 12 VDC (vehicle): 6 – 8 hrs (100% discharge)
- Dimensions w/o handle (HxWxL): 14.5 x 12.3 x 15.6”
- Dimensions w/handle (HxWxL): 38.0 x 12.3 x 15.6”
- Weight with handle: 53.5 lb
The powerpack will allow you to run things such as radios, computers, power tools, microwave etc, for at least a limited time. Expanding the battery bank significantly extends (obviously) the versatility of the system, and may be a Godsend during troubled times.
The current price at Amazon is below $600 which makes this ball-park competitive with gas generators of similar output.
Stuff I'm Not Thrilled About
First thing is the battery capacity. 51 Ah is fine for small electronics and light appliance use, but it is really limiting. Example here would be, if I had to clear a large fallen hickory from my driveway in an emergency so I could flee a hurricane, my electric chainsaw would last only 15 – 20 minutes plugged into the Xantrex.
So clearly, as a self-contained unit it is adequate for light use AC and better, DC powered devices.
Second, the inverter is a little on the small side and may be, output-wise, a little ‘dirty' for some more sensitive electronics. I would like to see a 2000 watt nominal, pure sine wave inverter included. I realize that doing this would drive the price of the powerpack way up.
Still, a solid 2000 watt running/4000 watt surge inverter, considering its expandable battery feature, would seem like a worthy option. This would allow simultaneous operation of several appliances or tools and, therefore, multiply the flexibility of the system.
Weight – 53 pounds is not actually bad at all, especially considering it comes in a neat cart. My take on that though is, why not make it 70 pounds – or whatever – and ship it with a 100 Ah or 120 Ah battery? The base unit has so much going for it, I feel that it needs the slightest power injection to be drop-dead awesome.
The Xantrex 1500 Powerpack is a definite buy, certainly at the sub-$600 price point and free shipping from Amazon. This could be the heart of any emergency power backup system for the homestead, and it is a worthy travel companion for the boat or RV.
Its silent operation, input and output power choices as well as battery expandability, push this into the WIN column for me.
Forget the small gas generator and the never-ending quest for regular unleaded! Get a Xantrex 1500 Powerpack and solar panel setup and enjoy unmatched freedom and convenience.