Have you ever been in an emergency situation where your car stalled and needed a jump-start? How about when a flat tire needed changing but the spare didnít have enough air? Did you ever experience a home power outage and needed emergency lighting or electricity for your radio, television, or cordless phone? What about non-emergency circumstances such as camping or a job site where you needed to power some small tools or appliances? Most people will say that theyíve experienced at least one or maybe even all of these predicaments. So what if I told you there is a new product on the market that can solve them all? Itís called the XPower Powerpack 300 Plus from Xantrex Technology.
The XPower Powerpack 300 Plus is a portable power station, a car jump-start utility, a portable fluorescent lantern, and a cordless air compressor all-in-one. There is also a non-Plus version that doesnít include the air compressor, but with such a low price, you should opt for the Plus version because the compressor has many uses as Iíll explain later. Powered by a 20 amp-hour rechargeable battery, the Powerpack provides up to 300 watts of portable AC power that you can take with you anywhere. Just plug any AC-powered device into the single AC socket, and you have instant electricity. You can even plug a power strip into the single AC socket in order to power multiple devices at once as long as the total wattage for the devices doesnít exceed 300 watts. Of course, the higher the wattage, the less operating time you have. For example, when powering single devices, the Powerpack will power a cordless telephone (on stand by) for up to 37 hours, a laptop computer for 6 hours, and a portable stereo for 15 hours. You can also power 12-volt DC appliances using the available DC socket.
In addition to providing portable power for small devices, the Powerpack can also be used to jump-start a vehicle or boat engine. The Powerpack comes equipped with a jump-start cable connection as well as a nice set of jump-start cables. You simply connect the cables to the Powerpack and then to the engine battery. If you connect the cables improperly to the engine battery, the Powerpack will let you know by sounding a reverse polarity alarm and lighting its Battery Clips Connected Improperly indicator. If you connect the cable correctly, the Battery Clips Connected Properly indicator will be lit. Thatís all there is to it. The only thing you need to watch out for is that the Powerpack can only be used for jump-starting for 4 seconds at a time, between which you need to wait 3 to 4 minutes for it to cool down or it may be damaged.
As I mentioned earlier, the Powerpack also provides a built-in fluorescent lantern. The lantern comes with two lights and can be operated in two different modes. Activate one light for longer lasting low illumination or two lights for shorter but brighter illumination. I found myself using the two light mode most often since the one light mode isnít very bright and thus not too useful. This is especially true if you need light when replacing a flat tire on the side of the road at night. I also like using the lantern for reading when the power goes out in my home, but again the two light mode was needed. The one light mode can be useful though if you only need low, ambient light like that given off by a candle. What I really like is that the lantern lasts for about 23 hours when the Powerpack is fully charged, and this is usually plenty of time to cover most power outages.
If you purchase the Plus model, youíll also find that the Powerpack provides a built-in air compressor. Why would you need a portable air compressor? Lots of reasons. The most important reason is for filling up flat tires when youíre out stranded on the road somewhere. But the compressor is also good to have at your kidís football or soccer games when a ball needs to be inflated. The compressor is also handy on camping trips for filling up small air mattresses. Itís very easy to use. Just unravel the hose (which is conveniently stored inside the Powerpack), connect the valve, and turn on the compressor. There is a pressure gauge for reading the air pressure in PSI, and you also get a number of nozzle adapters for different tasks. The only thing you need to watch out for is that the compressor can only be used for 10 minutes at a time, between which you need to wait 10 minutes for it to cool down or it may be damaged.
Iíve tested the Powerpack thoroughly and it has always performed past my expectations. The only two things I donít particularly like are the long charging time required, and also the fact that the lantern or compressor canít be operated via an external AC plug when the Powerpackís battery is low. But these are actually minor concerns because there are workarounds. Charging the Powerpack via the included AC adapter can take up to 35 hours. But if youíre going on a long car trip, you can also use your carís cigarette lighter to charge the Powerpack via itís DC connection, and this only takes about 4 hours. And if you find the battery getting low and still want to operate the lantern or adapter for a longer period of time, you can connect the Powerpack to a larger external battery via the jump-start port. So basically, my minor concerns arenít much to worry about.
With that said, I can honestly recommend the Powerpack to anyone and everyone. It comes in very handy at home or on the road, and provides you with a number of emergency and recreational utilities in one convenient and inexpensive package. I really believe that everyone should have a Powerpack. I always keep mine plugged in via the AC adapter so that I know it is always fully charged when I need it. And as the saying goes, I never leave home without it.