Over the years, our at-home and mobile power needs have shifted dramatically. The pandemic forced many companies and employees to adjust their workdays from traditional office spaces to remote work locations. Many only need power and an internet connection to handle meetings and accomplish their day-to-day tasks. Suddenly you could work from the beach, poolside at a hotel, in your camper, or anywhere you wanted to. I will leave the internet side of things up to you, but I will give you a look at a possible solution to your essential power needs thanks to the BLUETTI EB3A portable power station.
BLUETTI offers a variety of portable power station options, from the entry-level EB3A that we will be taking a look at to the more robust AC500 & B300S. They also offer a range of solar panels to power all of them. Let’s hop to the unit’s specifications, get down to my experience with the EB3A, and see if it is the right choice for you on your road to powering a little bit of your life.
Table of contents
The BLUETTI EB3A has the following features and specifications:
- Battery Capacity: 268Wh
- Battery Type: LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate)
- Life Cycles: 2,500+ Cycles to 80% Original Capacity
- Shelf-Life: Recharge to 80% Every 3-6 months
- Management System: MPPT Controller, BMS, etc.
- AC Outputs: 2 outlets @ 120V/5A. A 600w continuous sine-wave inverter powers them with a 1200w surge
- USB Outputs: 2 USB-A @ 5VDC/3A and 1 USB-C @ 100W
- DC5521 Outputs: 2 ports @12VDC/10A
- Car Output: 1 outlet @ 12V/10A
- Wireless Charging Pad: Yes, one charging pad @ 15w max
- Light: 1 light with Low, High, and Flashing options
- AC Charging Cable (Standard Mode): 268W Max
- AC Charging Cable (Turbo Mode): 350W Max3
- Solar Input: 200W Max, VOC 12-28VDC/8.5A
- Car Input: 12/24V from cigarette lighter port
- Maximum Input: 430W, with AC and Solar input Simultaneously
- Pass-through charging: Yes
- Weight: 10.14lbs
- Dimensions (LxWxD): 10.04*7.09*7.20in
- Operating Temps: -4 to 104℉
- Storage Temps: 32 to 104°F
- Warranty: 2 years.
What’s in the Box
- BLUETTI EB3A Power Station
- AC Charging Cable (standard PC power cord, non-proprietary)
- User Manual
- QC and Warranty Card
The EB3A is designed to be as easy to use and move as possible. The whole unit weighs just a touch over 10 pounds. At that weight, even my kids can move it around with ease. They placed a convenient flip-up handle on the top of the unit to assist you in moving it around. You can easily access the wireless charging pad on top when the handle is lowered. On the bottom, you will find a set of 4 oval rubber feet to help keep the unit from sliding around and scratching any surface you set it on. BLUETTI has offered other units in various color options, but they are currently only offering the EB3A in a traditional Grey color. The box it arrives in lists Mint Green, Sapphire, and “Other.” I can’t confirm additional color offerings at this time, but they may produce different options in the future.
All the ports you need are easily located and distinguished on the front of the device. Each output port type is powered on and off by its own individual power button with a small green light to indicate whether it is on. That will help you minimize power loss by keeping unused outputs off. They placed each power button on the line that circles which ports you are looking to run. If you press the button next to your AC plugs, then only the inverter is turned on for those plugs while the USB and DC ports are still off.
In the top center of the front, you will find a very clear and crisp information screen. You can easily see input and output watts, charge percentage, estimated remaining time at the current draw, and other helpful information that you can see below.
On the left and right sides, you will find air vents with fans to keep the unit cool while charging and while in use. The rear and the back of the unit are pretty bare. The bottom has a sticker listing the model number and its various specifications.
Everything is neatly laid out and makes sense. There are no complicated menus to sift through or extra buttons to worry about. I never struggled to figure out what a port was or how to get it working. The wireless charging pad was the only design issue that got on my nerves and prevented me from really using it. It sits in an excellent location. However, the hard plastic that BLUETTI uses is relatively slick. My Samsung phone would slide around unless the unit was almost perfectly flat. I had to be deliberate in my device placement and ensure it stayed put. That didn’t seem to be the case when I would be switching devices and pushing buttons on the front. I would have liked to see a recessed rubber square or ring or something to help hold your device in place, like on many wireless charging pads on the market.
Ease of Use
The BLUETTI EB3A is as easy to use as a wall outlet, power brick, or cigarette plug in your vehicle. While my son is reasonably technical at 12 years old, my wonderful wife isn’t. Neither had issues plugging things in, turning on the power, and charging things up. They could easily understand the reading on the screen and what they all meant. If you can charge your phone and plug in something, you shouldn’t have trouble using the unit right out of the box. To get the most out of the BLUETTI EB3A, you will need a smartphone to install their mobile app. This is where things can get a little more complicated.
The app is free for both Apple and Android users. It connects to the EB3A through Bluetooth, which is excellent when you are out camping. I never had any issues connecting to the device at any given time, be it hurtling down the freeway at 70MPHs or hanging out by the fire. You get a good look at what is happening from the app. You can see the current charge level, incoming charge watts from solar and/or AC, and any output watts from DC and AC. You also have two toggles to turn the DC and the AC ports on or off and one button to turn the whole unit off.
Once you leave the home screen and dive into the settings is where you can get a little overstimulated. You can opt to change the operational mode of the device. You have three options, Standard, Silent, and Turbo. Standard will be the base for standard charge rates and uses. Silent will still charge, limiting the charging watts to keep the device cool and the fans off. Turbo will charge the device as quickly as possible and ramp the fans up to keep it cool. Turbo mode is meant to be used in dire situations where you need the EB3A charged up as fast as possible. I’d use Turbo mode if I forgot to charge it the night before I knew I needed it or if something came up and it was low-powered, and I needed it. I was never bothered by the fans running during charging and left the unit in Standard mode most of the time.
The app lets you change the ECO settings from 1 to 4 hours or turn ECO mode off entirely. This option turns the power off if the draw is ≤10W for AC and ≤1W for DC. If you leave the EB3A powered on, and something plugged in but turned off, the EB3A will still use power to stay active. Setting this to shut down helps keep your energy in the batteries when you aren’t using it.
You will also find a radio button to turn the light on and off and update your firmware. The latter is pretty important. Since the launch of the EB3A, several updates have come through that solve a variety of minor issues. While updates drive me crazy, I am glad that BLUETTI is putting them out quickly to solve their product’s problems and not leave customers hanging.
The final option you can toggle is Powerlifting. BLUETTI gives you a super handy warning screen before you turn it on. Powerlifting is suitable for powering a 1200W max heating device (pure resistive loads) such as hairdryers, vacuum cleaners, kettles, and resistive heaters. It was not meant for running a fridge or AC. At 1200W on a 268Wh battery, you aren’t going to get much time using those devices, though. As many of them have various watt ratings, I’d be looking into start-up and peak watts on them before use. BLUETTI says there isn’t any harm from using Powerlifting as default mode over at their product community chat.
I ran the EB3A through its paces for a few weeks at home; then, I took it on a seven-day road trip vacation over 1,950 miles through 4 states, a thunderstorm, a 108℉ heat wave, and carried it around not one but 2 National Parks. I got a lot of looks and had several very interested and intrigued vacationers ask me some questions.
During the trip, I used the EB3A to run my Alpicool t50 dual zone fridge/freezer. I kept the t50 in the backseat and placed the EB3A on the center console. I plugged the Alpicool into the DC port and plugged the EB3A into the truck’s cigarette port. With the EB3A using pass-through charging, I could keep the fridge/freezer running while keeping the EB3A charging. It also allowed my family to charge their phones, tablets, and wireless headphones while driving. The input charge sat around 95w while the draw was between 22w (just the fridge/freezer) to 75w or so with phones and tablets charging. I’m sure there were some spikes in there, but since I was driving, it was hard to monitor every minute of the trip. However, it was easy to check via the app.
When at camp, I used the portability of the EB3A to run a small DC fan, a USB light, and the pump for our portable shower. Obviously, it was still being used to charge up other devices. While the EB3A doesn’t come with solar cables, it is solar-capable. A set of solar cables to connect a panel are easy to find. Most panels currently use MC4 connections. I borrowed a friend’s 100W panel and used it to charge the EB3A while we were parked for wildlife viewing, short walks, lunch, and while setting up camp. I could register around 72w input with minimal effort to align it properly. That was enough to offset the fridge consumption while stopping and added a little power.
Before the trip, we hooked it up to an arcade machine and played some Mortal Combat II, made some margaritas with a Magic Bullet blender at a lake outing, charged up a Bluetooth speaker while powering a box fan in my garage, and even ran the projector for a movie night in the driveway. None of them had issues running on the unit.
The EB3A does offer a variety of safety precautions built in. I pushed the limits several times to see if they functioned as anticipated. Well, at least to the best of my ability. I tripped the temp shut off while charging the unit while it sat in the vehicle with the windows up. The temp reading on the truck said 101 degrees outside. That put the internal temp well over the 104-degree operating temp. The unit stopped charging, and the screen displayed TEMP in red. After letting it cool off, it retook charge as intended. If your peak or constant load outpaces the inverters max output (600w continuous or 1200w peak), it will trip and shut down to avoid damage. We attempted to make a cup of coffee on a high-end Keurig Machine, but it faulted and turned off. I am happy the safety measures worked in those situations.
The specifications indicate that the BLUETTI EB3A offers a 268Wh LiFePO4 battery system. That is enough to get your phones, tablets, and laptops charged. BLUETTI details that it will charge a smartphone approximately 25 times or a laptop/tablet with similar size batteries 5-6 times before you are out of power. It can power various other electronics and appliances; you need to know the power restrictions. The EB3A is entry-level and light-duty, not a tiny home powerhouse. For example, if you plug in a device rated at 100w, you could expect to be out of power in just over 2 hours. Whereas if you connect a 5w light, you will likely be in the 50-hour use range. It all comes down to what you plan to use it for.
Using a LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery is a step above some of the competition. Your traditional Lithium Ion battery systems have an estimated recharge life span of around 500 recharges before you drop to an 80% depth of charge. That means that after 500 recharges, your device will say 100% when in reality, the capacity is 80%. With the LiFePO4 batteries, you typically see 2,500+ recharges before 80%. Doing the math means that the competitors’ units if used every day, would start to see a drop in actual power in 1.36 years. At the same time, a unit using a LiFePO4 battery system would see a reduction in real power in 6.94 years. That gives you 5X the life of a standard lithium-ion counterpart.
Over the last 30 days, I have drained and recharged the device roughly 30 times. That won’t be the typical use case for most users or myself. I forced it down to see how long it would run my Alpicool T50 before it needed to be recharged. The EB3A powered it for about 9 hours, with the fridge at 38 degrees and the freezer at -4 degrees. The subsequent full discharge was with an AC-powered box fan on full, charging my phone and a Bluetooth speaker. The combination offered roughly 3 hours of use.
Charge time plugged into the standard wall outlet was just under 2 hours to full. In turbo mode, it was fully ready to go in approximately 1.5hours. I charged it up from dead on a 100w Newpowa 9BB solar panel in about 3.5 hours. Since solar isn’t perfect, I aligned the panel the best I could, saw a charge rate of 72w, and walked away. I checked on it every hour via the app to see how charged the device was. The charge rate declined slightly, which could have been heat, clouds, sun movement, trickle when it gets near full ect. With a proper system of 200W, you could bring the EB3A to full charge on solar in about 2 hours or so with prime conditions.
Charging in the vehicle will be similar to charging on one 100w solar panel; I was usually pulling 95w. If you have a traditional 12V system, like most consumer cars and trucks, you are in the 3.5 hours charge time from dead with nothing connected to the unit. You’ll need to pick up the cable for the vehicle as the unit only ships with the AC power adapter. It will take more time if you are charging other things, running a portable fridge, or taking any draw. I’d suggest having it fully charged before you leave and plug it in while you drive if you plan to use it while on the move. That should keep it fully charged when you reach your destination.
To get the most valuable time out of the EB3A, I recommend buying a few 12V DC devices to connect. The 600w inverter works wonderfully but will consume more power much quicker than the DC since it converts DC to AC and generates some heat. While the power loss can vary, expecting around 80% of actual battery availability is a safe bet. That means out of 268wH; you’ll be around 214wH of real power for your devices. I purchased an inexpensive 12V travel fan and USB light. Combined, they used 9w of power. We used the light for about an hour and let the fan run all night, about 10 hours. I also charged up my phone while we were sleeping. Every morning I was greeted with about 65% power left on the unit, give or take how long we slept in. I plan to pick up a set of DC5510 cigarette adaptors in the near future to run additional DC products and keep the sine-wave inverter available for devices that don’t have DC options. The adaptors are pretty inexpensive all over the internet.
BLUETTI EB3A Gallery
LiFePO4 batteries are currently on the top end of battery tech. You will spend a little more money to get into a system that runs them and sometimes sacrifice a little power. However, the 2,500+ recharge life before dropping to 80% is outstanding. At launch, the BLUETTI EB3A is listed for $299.99. BLUETTI has been running many specials since launch though and at the time of writing this article, you could snag one for $239 from their website at bluettipower.com or $239 after a $60 coupon on Amazon.com.
You find various design and port changes when you compare the power and features to others in the $300 range. One reputable brand’s product misses features like a wireless charging pad and a light or DC5510 barrel output plugs. They also don’t have flat tops, which makes packing it around a little less convenient. Some are also still using Lithium Ion and not LiFePO4 batteries. At the full retail price of US$299, the BLUETTI EB3A gives you a bit more bang than others in the same power capacity.
While my experience with the BLUETTI EB3A has been as expected, even pleasant, I have been following many BLUETTI communities on Facebook to see how others are fairing. One group, run by BLUETTI Global, is bolstering nearly 16,000 members currently, and I have seen various issues from users. While the group is broader across all their products, the EB3A took center stage a few weeks after launch. Numerous user errors occurred, like changing the unit from silent mode to normal to charge at full speed. Software issues seemed to be resolved relatively quickly by BLUETTI.
I had three updates in the first two weeks. In the first few weeks, there were a few issues with updates failing and the unit needing to be swapped out. I never had that issue, and I haven’t seen those issues being discussed in the last few weeks. The common theme amongst users now isn’t so much the device anymore but the post-sales support. Sales outpaced the staffing very quickly. Talking to someone on the phone is not an option currently.
Email seems to be the best way to contact the company. However, the lead time is coming back at 48-72 hours. They do seem to take care of their customers once they get to your message, according to several users from the group. The company does respond to Facebook posts, and they just let everyone know that they have hired more staff and are training them to support their customers. Hopefully, they will be able to button up this gap quickly.
The BLUETTI EB3A is not designed to run your home; it is designed small to be portable and still power essential devices such as your laptops, phones, tablets, and small appliances that don’t need a lot of juice. You have plenty of ports available for those uses. The long life span of the LiFePO4 batteries should give them access to power for many years before they start to lose full charge. BLUETTI gives you a two-year hassle-free warranty and appears to be very helpful in solving issues, so long as you can be patient with short staffing issues and longer than wanted response times.
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Last Updated on August 29, 2023.
- Small form factor and light
- Easy to use and understand
- Quick charge times
- Plenty of connections to power your life
- Wireless Charging Pad is slick
- You need to buy additional cables to charge via solar or your vehicle
- Customer service is slow to respond