A Review of the BLUETTI AC500 and B300S
Getting just the right power for a fully self-sufficient off-the-grid experience in your campervan or motorhome has always been a mission… Until now. That’s right, we’ve been searching for a portable power supply for campervans and motorhomes that actually has the capacity to power all of our living appliances while using clean, green (and quiet) energy, and we think we might have found it. In this review, we’ll be checking out the BLUETTI AC500 power station and the B300S battery expansions to see if a modular power station can power the everyday items we use for campervan and motorhome living.
BLUETTI AC500 at a Glance
So, what are the main things you need to know about the BLUETTI AC500? Here are seven specs that we feel are the most important for this portable power station:
- 100% modular and compatible with B300 and B300S battery packs for a mind-blowing capacity of up to 18,432Wh
- A 5,000W inverter (10,000W surge) to cover most power needs even for high-power appliances
- 8,000W max input and 0-100% charging only takes 1.8-2.3 hours with at least 2 B300S connected and charging via AC (mains) and PV (solar) simultaneously
- 9 charging inputs are available
- Built-in advanced BMS and LFP (LiFePO4) battery for higher security and longer lifespan
- Monitor and control at your fingertips with BLUETTI App
- Weight/Dimensions: 30kg/520×325×358mm.
What to Use the AC500 For
Now that you have seen the specifications for the AC500, what does it all mean? In other words, why is the AC500 a good power station option for camping?
The AC500 isn’t just a power station to power your basic camping needs (but BLUETTI does have a power station for that too – see our BLUETTI EB3A Review for more on that), but this is a power station you can rely on for all of your camping, living needs and probably a little more)! The AC500 with its modular system of up to six B300S makes it a solid power centre to run all of your living essentials, even the high-powered fridges and air-conditioning units, for days or even weeks.
The AC500 unit alone has an already impressive 3,072Wh battery capacity, but add as many or as few B300S as you need and you can enjoy your motorhome off-the-grid for days. What’s more, we find it a no-brainer to invest a little extra in compatible solar panels for full power independence (and clean energy) while you’re on the go!
We have guides on how to research your power needs for camping, so take a look at How to Choose a Generator for Your Motorhome, Campervan or Tent.
Fast Recharging and Solar Input
The first innovation to note about the BLUETTI AC500 is that it charges much faster than other portable power stations in its category. With a 3,000W solar input and an MPPT solar inverter, the AC500 recharges from 0 to 80% in an impressive 1.5-2.5 hours on solar alone. Where there’s sunlight, there’s an unlimited power supply. Remember, you need to purchase the add-on of the PV350 if you want to be able to charge this portable power station with solar energy.
How Long Does it Take to Recharge the AC500?
While the solar charging time is the cleanest and cheapest way to recharge the AC500, it’s not like we always have optimum sun energy available at all times. However, the recharge time through other inputs is also pretty reasonable, with the AC charging (via wall socket) taking approximately 1.7 hours or the AC plus solar charging taking approximately 1.2 hours only. Again, for solar panels alone, expect it to take around 2.5 hours to fully recharge in direct sunlight.
Given it’s a good day and the conditions are right, the solar panels are the best way to keep the power station going while out camping. Plus, it’s clean green energy ensuring a more sustainable source of power. However, you’ll be thankful that the AC500 has the alternatives of AC, car cigarette lighter ports and an RV port, with dual and triple charging methods for simultaneous charging, for those days when the weather isn’t playing ball.
Battery Specifications: Why LiFePO4?
Any power station specifications will boast a highly efficient battery with the best possible battery chemistry and the specs for the BLUETTI AC500 and B300S are no different. But with a little bit of research, it’s easy to discover that the lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery that the AC500 uses presents a more efficient and better-performing battery than lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries.
Some of the advantages of LiFePO4 batteries include:
- LiFePO4 has a long life cycle compared to other batteries thanks to its excellent discharge rate and the fact that it has less degradation at high temperatures. For example, BLUETTI claims its AC500 system has more than 3,500 charging cycles to 80% of its original capacity and will last for more than 10 years
- They are more eco-friendly by not containing harmful metals. They are also less costly than other types of lithium batteries
- No downtime and fast charging make LiFePO4 more efficient and safe to use; the chemical and thermal stability make these batteries more reliable and safe
- LiFePO4 batteries are better at remaining cool at high temperatures. They don’t have thermal runaways and don’t explode when they overheat or overcharge.
What about the disadvantages of LiFePO4?
- These batteries have a low nominal voltage that reduces energy
- LiFePO4 batteries have a low energy density so more protection is required
- These batteries don’t perform well at low temperatures.
That last disadvantage, however, BLUETTI has found a clever solution with the B300S expansion batteries boasting a self-heating function that heats up immediately even when the temperature is as low as -20°C (-4°F)!
Other Useful Specifications
While the power rating, battery capacity, recharge capabilities and lifespan are all the most important factors when looking for the best portable power station for campervans and motorhomes, there are a few nifty features of the BLUETTI AC500 and B300S that are also worth mentioning.
All of the Outlets You Need
There’s no doubt that the AC500 is compatible with charging and powering the devices that most of us use and then some. The AC500 can provide power through its different ports simultaneously, so you don’t have to turn the lights off to power your fridge while charging your phone or vice versa.
So what ports are we talking about here? Not only does the AC500 has a whopping six of your classic AC ports but you also have two 100W USB-C ports, four USB-A ports, one 12V DC outlet (RV outlet), a car cigarette lighter socket and even a wireless charging pad. What’s more, the B300S also have some of these outlets!
Intuitive Display and App
The BLUETTI AC500 includes a handy display of the power input, output, battery capacity, etc. This is especially useful to understand how much power devices and appliances are using so that you can manage your power intake much more efficiently and make adjustments when needed. The display can also help with troubleshooting, giving you a warning display if the unit is overloaded, for example.
A new addition to BLUETTI’s power stations, and compatible with the BLUETTI AC500, is the BLUETTI App. The app connects to the power station through Bluetooth within a 10m radius, allowing you to not only control the unit (turning it on/off, for example, or switching between AC and DC) but also protect the unit and your devices from risks like short-circuiting, over-current, overheating and more. The app is available on both Google Play and the App Store.
Considering the impressive specifications, from the massive power rating to the ability to personalise your power needs with the B300S expansion batteries, we can see why the BLUETTI AC500 and B300S had such considerable backing on Indiegogo. The innovative power unit finally allows a versatile power supply that harnesses clean green energy to power all of your campervan or motorhome’s needs, while also being able to transfer the unit to your home for a backup supply or your garden for an epic garden party; the opportunities are vast and varied.
With big power, however, comes a substantial investment that will take you a few trips of harnessing your power station before you make your money back. That’s why if you’re only using a power station to power short camping trips and are relying mostly on gas appliances, for instance, then you may find something like the small and compact EB3A more suitable. The AC500 and B300S might not be for everyone, but it’s ideal for anyone who wants to power everything in their motorhome.
Check out the BLUETTI AC500 and B300S over at www.bluettipower.com.au, available from 18 November.
More About Portable Power Stations for Camping
That’s it for our review of the BLUETTI AC500 and E300S. For more advice on choosing a portable power station for camping, take a look at the following guides:
- How to Choose a Generator for Your Motorhome, Campervan or Tent
- 6 Best Power Stations for Camping
- 8 Best Ways to Save Money on Camping Power Stations
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in How to Get Electricity When Camping.