Rockpals is known for making gear for campers and survivalists. The model RP250W hybrid generator and battery pack is their latest product aimed at this demographic. What are the pros and cons of this Rockpals battery pack and power supply?
Pros of Rockpals 250 Watt Solar Generator
- It is relatively compact and lightweight, so it is truly portable. It weighs less than six pounds.
- It can charge almost everything. It can deliver steady power through a variety of connections. You can plug in your USB chargers and power your smart phone or other smart devices. It has two such ports. You can plug in AC plugs. And it has four 12 volt DC power ports.
- The long operating life is invaluable if you’re off the grid or require backup power. The generator isn’t a generator per se. Instead, it relies on a powerful lithium polymer battery. It can deliver 3.7 volts at roughly 65 amps or 12 volts at 20 amp hours. This means the more you draw from it, the faster it runs down. It can run your 60 watt mini-fridge for four hours, your TV for two hours, your laptop for three to ten hours depending on demand, or recharge the average cell phone a dozen times. It will run the lights and small fans in your campsite for days.
- Many gas generators lack the power quality to safely recharge smart phones and other sensitive electronics. The power quality from this Rockpals power pack is good enough to safely power laptop computers and medical devices like CPAP machines.
- The Rockpal generator can deliver 250 Watts of continuous power and 300 Watts of surge power, so it can handle the initial spike in demand from a small fridge or AC as you turn it on. This rivals the surge capacity of small generators with built-in inverters. Furthermore, the plugs are “worldwide”; they’re equally compatible with American and European electronics.
- This battery pack is plug-and-play with solar panels. It can connect readily with almost any 60 or 100 Watt solar panel. This is one of the few solar generators that doesn’t require a ton of connecting hardware to collect and deliver solar power. However, you don’t have to rely on renewable power to charge it. It will be fully charged after being plugged into the standard wall outlet for eight hours. You can charge it by plugging it into your car’s 12 volt power socket, too, what is often called the cigarette lighter port. One point in favor of this generator / battery pack is that it comes with the car charger cable and DC to socket adapter.
- The system has a number of built in protections. It automatically shuts down when it gets too hot or there is too great a load.
- It is truly plug-and-play with the Rockpals 60 Watt solar panel. That’s sold separately, but no other connecting hardware is required. For example, you don’t need an adapter. Note that this will take eight to twelve hours to recharge the battery pack, depending on conditions. If you want to connect it to a 100 Watt Renogy solar panel, you’ll have to buy separate connecting hardware.
Cons of Rockpals 250 Watt Solar Generator
- If you draw too much power from it, it goes into protection mode. It must be charged by being plugged into a wall outlet in order to be reset. That’s difficult to do when you’re off the grid or the power grid is down.
- The battery array needs to be fully charged regularly to avoid being unable to meet peak loads like an 80 watt mini fridge. It the battery memory “resets”, the unit may recharge smart phones and power your lantern but larger items won’t run. Don’t let the battery dissipate and sit for a long period of time, or it will never recharge to above 50 percent capacity.
- The manufacturer suggests using a DC adapter and DC power port to extend the operating life of the CPAP device instead of plugging it into the AC power plug. That is sold separately from this generator.
- The LED charge level LEDs are not accurate. It will report nearly full capacity until the battery is almost dead. This is akin to a gas gauge telling you that you have three quarters of a tank until you’re almost running on fumes.
This battery pack can power a wide array of devices, and it provides multiple plugs so you can run several items at once. It can meet peak loads and power heavy-duty items for short periods of time. However, it has its limits and must be maintained if you want it to work in an emergency.