So you’ve seen battery banks, you plug your phone into it and it or any USB device and uses the stored charge to, well, charge the connected device. Some of these are small, some are bigger, newer battery banks however have gotten to the point where they can be backup devices for bigger things, and the Powerhouse 535 from Anker is definitely one of those, with 512Wh capacity and a 500w AC inverter, you’d be surprised at how useful this little guy can become.
- 512Wh is a decent capacity
- LiFePO4 is a safe an resilient chemistry
- AC outputs set make it more useful than a USB battery
- Solar input
- Only 500w AC inverter.
- Only 100w Solar input
- High cost
So, Anker sent over the Powerhouse 535, one of their newest large format battery banks, much like the ones you use to charge your phone in a pinch, except these also have AC outputs, the ones you find in your house, why is this important? Well, it turns out that a lot of things, even if they could be DC, are AC. whilst the USB ports are useful for charging a
phone or a light, some of the AC-powered things you can find in your house would be microwaves, a refrigerator, your computer etc, and these large power banks can be used to backup your house in the case of a blackout. Now this is a small bank, and with only 500w of AC output you aren’t going to be running an air conditioner or a particularly powerful heater on this, but keeping the internet up in a power cut? keeping the fridge cold whilst the power is out, maybe even just keeping the TV on to entertain the kids whilst you try to do important stuff to get the power on, you’d be surprised at how little power some of these devices use.
- 512Wh battery capacity
- Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery chemistry
- 2x UK AC output (240v Type-G socket)
- 500w Inverter shared across 2 sockets
- 1x USB-C port
- 60w input
- 60w output
- 60w input
- 3x USB-A
- 5v2.4a per port
- 12v cigarette lighter
- 12v10a output.
- 120w AC input
- Pair with USB-C input for 180w
- 100w Solar input
- 7.6kg mass
- LED light bar with SOS function
Performance & Use
Whilst I want to say just how useful having these AC outputs available on tap is, the problem becomes the power output it’s capable of putting out. I have used the Powerhouse 535 to keep my PC and the internet on in my house during a snowstorm, but you know what I can’t use the Powerhouse 535 for? drying my hair with my hairdryer, using my microwave, and running a vacuum cleaner. There are a lot of everyday items that people use that we don’t realise use a lot of power, even if for a short amount of time, my hair dryer is 2000w, my microwave is 800w, my vacuum cleaner is 1500w, all of these aren’t going to be possible to use because they just draw too much power, even if there is enough battery *capacity* to run it for a while, there isn’t enough juice in the inverter to keep up.
Some of the cool things I have used the Powerhouse 535 for in the few months I’ve had it, is running one of my 3D printers for a few hours, it turns out most of my printers are under 500w (most are 350w or less, one of them is 150w!), which was neat. I was able to go to a craft fair with the fully charged powerhouse 535, one of my smaller 3D printers, one of my mum’s sewing machines (also, it turns out, uses remarkably little power) and her Cricut machine, so the fully charged powerhouse 535, with the 100w solar panel, we were able to go for a few hours to create some custom parts in the craft fair for customers, very neat.
What about the other outputs on the 535, well the 12v cigarette lighter was incredibly useful over the winter period, wherein I took the heated car seat from my car and put it on my office chair, and used the powerhouse 535 to power the heated seat in my office, and y’all, that was probably the most comfortable my office has been in years. Most cigarette lighter ports are 12v 15a, or 180w, the powerhouse 535 is 12v 10a or 120w. I don’t have many things to plug into the cigarette lighter port on this that I wouldn’t also be able to place on the USB ports or the AC ports, which is annoying, but probably also true for the vast majority of people. The USB-A and USB-C ports, on the other hand, are incredibly useful, USB is everywhere. I have used the USB-C port to power my laptop at full power without needing the AC-DC power brick, and taking up one of the AC outputs. Using the USB-C ports also bypasses the need for an AC-DC converter, as the battery itself is DC (At 16v), one less step, and one less lossy step means more of the energy in the battery is being able to be used to my advantage. Whilst I do wish there was more than 1 USB-C port, There are more on the larger more expensive powerhouse models, because, whilst the 535 at £699 is not cheap, it is the second cheapest in the Powerhouse lineup. The one above this is £1099, it’s 1024Wh and 1000W of AC output, so double the capacity and double the AC output, but also nearly double the cost, it makes sense, as the largest cost in these is the raw cells itself, but I don’t have to like it.
One of the “neat in theory” parts of the Powerhouse 535 is the solar panel you can buy with it, it is a 100w solar panel with all the necessary plugs, which then becomes the Powerhouse 535 Solar generator (and £899), however, 100w of Solar is the peak, and you’re very unlikely to get that, but also, its 512Wh, so you’re talking about 5 hours to charge the battery fully. what gets worse is that the AC input from the wall is 120w, so no matter if you plug in solar at the perfect angle at the perfect time and somehow get 100w, you’re unlikely going to get that uninterrupted for 5 whole hours, plugging into the wall for 5 hours at a consistent 100w is infinitely easier and more reliable. heck, even the USB-C input at 60w is easier and more reliable. I have a small Anker 65w USB-C GaN Prime charger that I bring on trips with me, I’m more likely to bring the GaN Prime charger and a USB C-C to charge up at 65w than the huge chunky 120w power adapter that Anker provides with the Powerhouse 535, its a little slower (well, 50% slower) but waaaaaay lighter and smaller, and given I’m likely bringing the 60w charger along for a phone, laptop, tablet, appliance anyway, might as well also use it to recharge the bank when it’s drained. I do like the fact you can team up the charging, I can use the 120w DC input from AC and the 60w of USB-C for 180w of charging.
Lastly, I want to talk about the screen on the Powerhouse 535, it is a relatively small mostly monochrome screen (there are two icons that are lit up in other colours, one is green, the other is blue, but the entirely of the text is monochrome) The Screen is great, it shows you your state of charge if it I charging it shows input power in watts, and if you are discharging it shows you how much power you are discharging in watts. It also gives you a rough estimate in hours of how long, given your current usage, you will be able to last. It also shows the power frequency, in my case, 50Hz, but I assume in other countries it will show 60Hz. There is also the “power saving mode” icon, which doesn’t work how you think it works, instead of limiting power in any way, the power saver mode shuts off the inverter/power ports once the host device has signalled that it can no longer receive power, so the powerhouse is no longer keeping an inverter on, phantom draining juice, without any need to, very nice.
I’m absolutely in love with this 7.5-kilo nugget, it is incredibly useful, however saying that I don’t think I can in good conscience recommend the Powerhouse 535 to most people. £699 is a lot for a 500w inverter and this battery capacity. Yes, you are paying for the nice box it comes in and the screen, as well as the MPPT for the solar, but people are going to see this as a box of batteries that they can plug some stuff into, and I just don’t think a 500w inverter is enough for this cost. I would take the same 512Wh of capacity with a 1000w inverter, it is just more flexible.
However, if you are someone who knows that they will make use of a big old box of batteries, mostly use DC power like USB, and occasionally use some small AC-powered devices whilst you travel, this is a great thing to have. I used this at a craft fair and it was honestly indispensable for us there. The solar input is nice to have, but 100w is just not enough, and also the Anker folding solar panels are egregiously expensive. I know they have a small piece of circuitry in them that allows you to plug USB devices straight into them, but £300 for a 100w solar panel is daylight robbery. If you are going to use solar with the 535, buy a cheap 100w solar panel from eBay and buy a cable to convert the MC4 cables to the 5525 barrel jack the Powerhouse takes in.