These days, we rely more on powered devices than ever. Smartphones are the most obvious example. Not long ago, a dead phone battery was just a minor inconvenience. At worst, you might have a voicemail or two when you got home. Nowadays, we use our phones for all kinds of things. If you don’t have a powered phone, you can’t send payments to your friends. You can’t use a navigation app or a banking app. And if you like listening to streaming music, you can forget about it.
But smartphones are just the low-hanging fruit. Even if you’re going camping, it’s good to have a power supply. You can charge your lanterns, use an electric skillet, or even power a small outdoor projector. These are all good reasons to own a quality portable power station.
But power stations aren’t just a convenience. Under certain circumstances, they can be a necessity. Anybody who uses a CPAP machine knows this. When your power goes out, it’s a real emergency. A power station can keep your machine running, so you can get some sleep. A power station can even run a fridge or cooler to keep your food from spoiling in an emergency. It’s a nifty tool to have around, just in case you need it.
Introducing the Bluetti AC500 and B300S
Last July, Bluetti announced the release of a modular solar power station called the AC300. This came along with the release of an optional battery module, the B300. But you know what’s better than a solar power station with a battery module? An even more powerful solar power station with a beefed-up battery model. Sure enough, Bluetti has just announced the release of the AC500 power station and companion B300S battery module.
We should be clear. This is a few pictures and a list of technical specifications, along with a “coming soon” announcement. Bluetti is expected to list the AC500 on Indiegogo in the coming weeks, although no date has been announced. That said, the manufacturer has provided very detailed specifications, so we have a lot of information.
So, what exactly should we expect? We’re about to discuss everything we’ve learned about the Bluetti AC500 and B300S. We’ll start with the physical design, and how you control the power station. We’ll look at the battery capacity, as well as the power output and compatibility. We’ll also go over the safety features, along with any bonus features that are worth mentioning. After that, we’ll have a more complete picture. Let’s begin!
Design & Controls
The Bluetti AC500 has a rugged black housing. It looks to be made from the same tough polycarbonate as the earlier AC300, but it’s tough to say for sure. Bluetti has announced the final weight and dimensions, though. The AC500 weighs 66.2 pounds, with a width of 20.5 inches. It stands 14.1 inches high, with a depth of 12.8 inches. The B300S has the same depth and width, but is a little bit shorter. This allows you to stack the AC300 on top of it.
On the front center of the housing, there’s an LCD display. It’s a pleasant blue, with a lot of information on the charger’s status. Among other things, you can see the current battery level, as well as incoming and outgoing wattage levels. That way, you’ll always know what’s going on.
At the top right corner, there’s a large power button. Just to the left of that is an array of USB ports. There are four USB Type-A ports, arranged two high and two wide. Two USB Type-C ports sit atop them. To the left of the LCD display is a DC power outlet, with a photovoltaic power input at the top left. Underneath, you’ll see a row of three grounded power outlets. At the bottom right are three 240-volt outlets, with three different configurations.
The battery capacity will depend on how many B300S battery packs you connect to it. In total, you can wire up to six of them into place, for a capacity of 18,432Wh. That’s an insane amount of power. To put that in perspective, it works out to 3,686,400mAh when delivered via a 5-volt USB port. The iPhone 13 has a capacity of 3,227mAh, so you could charge it 1,142 times.
Needless to say, you won’t need that kind of power for charging your smartphone. But it’s a useful feature when you’re running a more powerful device. For example, you could run a 1,500-watt space heater for 12 hours straight. That’s something you just can’t do with most power stations. Then again, you also don’t get much portability if you’re using six battery packs.
If for some reason you need even more power, you can actually double it. You can pair two AC500 power stations together along with six B300S battery packs. This will increase the total capacity to 36,864Wh. It will also increase the maximum power to 240 volts, which you’ll need to run the 240-volt outlets. You’ll need the Fusion Box Pro to pair two power stations, and it’s sold separately.
You have two different methods of charging the batteries. You can either plug into an AC outlet or connect a set of solar panels to the PV input. You can also do both at once, to maximize your charging speed. Charging speed will vary depending on the performance of your solar panels. It will also depend on how many battery packs are connected. Bluetti tested a set of two battery packs with the maximum charging current of 8,000 watts. At this rate, the batteries were able to charge in less than 2.3 hours. Again, your mileage will vary.
The Bluetti AC500 is capable of delivering up to 5,000 watts of power. A 120-volt wall outlet can deliver up to 1,800 watts without tripping the breaker. So you can use two of the three-prong outlets at maximum capacity, with plenty of power left over.
The system also supports 10,000 watts of surge power. This means you can power compressor-driven devices and other machines with high starting wattages. The system won’t immediately shut down just because your air conditioner compressor kicked in. These numbers increase when you connect two AC500 systems together. In that case, you’ll get 6,000 watts of maximum power, with 12,000 watts of surge power.
As for what you can power, you can run anything that will work on an ordinary wall outlet. And because of the massive battery capacity, you don’t have to worry as much about usage. A full-sized refrigerator can run for days on this system. With the Fusion Box Pro, you’ll also be able to power a variety of 240-volt devices. This is a huge advantage over most power banks, which normally don’t support 240-volt power.
One thing we would have liked to see was more information on the USB charging. Bluetti hasn’t announced whether the AC500 supports QC or PD charging. Then again, this isn’t primarily a cell phone charger, so that’s less of a concern.
Safety and Extras
Like any good power station, the AC500 has a battery management system (BMS). This system monitors the battery and charging status and shuts things down if there’s an error. Temperature protection will keep you safe from overheating. Short circuit protection will prevent any damage to your devices. And over-discharge protection will ensure that the battery packs themselves don’t get damaged.
Bluetti offers a free smartphone app that you can download on iOS or Android. The app allows you to remotely monitor your power station’s status, as long as you have an internet connection. This is somewhat limited by the fact that your internet will probably be out during a power outage. On a more practical level, you can use the app to receive OTA firmware updates. If Bluetti tweaks their firmware in the future, you’ll be able to access the performance upgrade.
Finally, the AC500 can function as an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). You can plug it into your wall, then plug your devices into it. If wall power goes out, the system will detect the outage. Within 20 milliseconds, it will begin supplying battery power.
While it’s a bit early to deliver any verdicts, Bluetti’s announcement has left us with some thoughts. To begin with, this is a slick upgrade to the AC300 and B300. If you liked those devices, you’ll like the AC500 and B300S even more. That’s assuming that real-world performance is up to spec. But given Bluetti’s stellar track record, we don’t have any serious concerns.
Sooner or later, the Indiegogo campaign will launch. We’re eagerly awaiting the official release, when we can take advantage of Bluetti’s early bird discount. Until then, all we can do is wait and watch.
Meet Derek, “TechGuru,” a 34-year-old technology enthusiast with a deep passion for tech innovations. With extensive experience, he specializes in gaming hardware and software, and has expertise in gadgets, custom PCs, and audio.
Besides writing about tech and reviewing new products, Derek enjoys traveling, hiking, and photography. Committed to keeping up with the latest industry trends, he aims to guide readers in making informed tech decisions.