There is an endless supply of portable power systems available today from small handheld battery packs people use to keep their cell phones charged to much larger systems capable of running several small devices and even 12-volt fridge systems and small appliances.
I needed a solution that would not only charge our phones but provide power to recharge devices such as cameras, drones, laptops, tablets and more. I wanted something I could easily pack up and use to fill up inflatable mattresses and more while camping. It needed to be small, portable, reliable and easy to use.
I wanted something with a handle – not too big – not too small – something with 300-watt capacity and able to charge while driving from a 12v adapter as well as being able to plug in at home and use a solar panel to charge from.
After some research, we landed on the RockPals portable generator.
RockPals Portable Generator
Upon receiving the item, I was surprised at how little the package is and how much it weighs. It’s surprisingly small and light for its capacity. It arrived with a ~80% charge from the manufacturer and they recommend that you run it dry before fully re-charging so I was able to immediately start playing around and seeing how it works.
At this price point, you often have some pretty glaring trade-offs you have to deal with when shopping for a portable battery system. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this unit allows you to charge/use devices while plugged in and charging itself. This means while you have it plugged in on a car drive using the 12v charger, you can still use it to charge devices or power devices while on the road or while you’re using a solar charge you could use devices plugged in. Just be aware that you will increase the charge time while doing this, but it is a great feature.
Beyond the “pass-through” charging support, Rockpals offers complete control and a complete overview of everything going on. You can enable/disable the individual power systems by clicking on the little button above them – such as disable the USB port or disable the 110v port. This is convenient for leaving some things plugged in but optimizing the charging of specific ports/devices.
The LCD screen offers feedback on everything going on, and I mean everything. The screen shows what ports are in use, whether power is coming in or going out, the voltage of the battery, the fans enabled or disabled. It offers kill-a-watt style functionality on the 110v port so you can see the power draw for anything actively consuming electricity.
Lithium Ion Portable Power
Lithium-ion portable power is exactly what we wanted. While we’re out camping we want to be able to use 100% of the battery, charge it as much as we can during the day and use it up at night. Lead acid batteries are heavier, need to be larger for their power size and can be cumbersome to maintain compared to sealed lithium batteries. We don’t need much electricity, just enough to be convenient, portable and quiet. Which is why we researched battery systems vs gas generators.
So far, I’ve tested the following items and they all worked great!
- Inflating Camping Mattress
- Charging Surface Pro Tablet
- MacBook Pro Charge (USB C power adapter on 110v)
- Charging Drone Batteries
- Charging Camera Batteries & GoPro
- Running Christmas Lights (we like to light up our camp/trailer)
I had no problems with self-inflating mattresses drawing too much current/power for this power system to handle and my Surface Pro was able to charge at 100% efficiency with no complaints of not enough power to charge that I experienced on other power systems.
Beyond power for camping, these work great as backup power at home. One of the most common reviews is using this for backup power for CPAP machines.
The rockpals features a comprehensive safety system & BMS (Battery Management System) to protect you and your devices from failure
- Short Circuit
The device comes with full CE, FC, RoHS certifications.
This was a fairly large deciding factor in not building my own. Having something so comprehensive and all-in-one is a nice piece of mind. I didn’t want to have to worry about failing batteries, fires, sparks, voltage problems while I’m out camping and enjoying nature. Plug & Play.
The 300-watt generator includes built-in support for solar charging. You will need to purchase your own solar panels. RockPals provides a standard MC4 interface cable and they sell a couple of solar panels themselves but any panel with the MC4 style connectors should work (as well as DC/12v power output).
The 12V charger is included for charging from a Car or any 12v system is included with the unit.
Rockpals 300watt Generator Specs
- 3.7V/280 Watt-hour lithium-ion battery
- 600 peak watt output
- 340+/-20 overload protection
- Pure Sine wave inverter
- Two built-in flashlights
- 2x 30 AMP fuses
- Lightweight Package
- Solar Charging
- 12v Charging
- 1120v Charging
- AC 110v Output (with ground plug)
- DC 12v/24v Output
- USB 5v 1a /2.1A output (4 ports) – USB 2.0 (x2) USB 3.0 (x2)
- 12V 4A 3 ports
- 12V 8A 1 port
- 24V/3A – 1 port
- 7.5 Inches Wide
- 5.5 Inches Deep
- 5.5 Inches Height
The unit by itself weighs just around 7lbs.
Rockpals portable generator came well packed and insulated in an easy to open box/
Immediately upon opening, I had fun playing with the built flashlight right out of the box.
The power station is complete and slightly charged out of the box and ready to experiment with.
The small package contains three different charging cords.
MC4 Solar Charger connector is included.
2.5mm DC power adaptor cable
12vDC Power adaptor to charge from car power
Charging Rockpals Portable Power Generator
The Rockpals generator can be charged with plugging into a 110v wall outlet, attaching to a solar panel or through a vehicle 12v system. One of the awesome features about the charging capability of this unit is that you can charge and use it at the same time!
Plugin 110v wall adapter, Plugin to Wall, Unit will light up and show that it is charging. You will see the LCD panel light up to show electricity coming in and some quiet little fans will kick in to keep things at the optimum temperature.
On some basic testing – it took about ~3 hours to fully charge while plugged into a 110v wall outlet.
I am awaiting a solar panel to test out. I will update this review once we have tested and provided a full field report update as well.
12V Vehicle Charging
I grabbed the Rockpals, ran to my jeep. Plugged a Nook tablet into the power generator and you can see the USB light lit up and it started to charge the tablet.
The 12v connector simply plugs into your cars lighter adaptor and right into the input DC12-24V input on the back.
Once you have the 12v power source plugged in the device immediately lights up the LCD that it is charging and providing output to the tablet. The little fan will blow as well to keep the unit cooled/operating efficiently.
Super easy and simple to get up and running!
I will update this post with a road trip test of the dead battery to full charge time while only charging from a 12v system.
So far we’ve just been validating the device in the comfort of our house. I did do a complete drain upon opening from the box – as per the manual. I plugged in as many USB devices as I could find and my Surface Pro tablet and charged them up. Once actively drained and still consuming energy, there is an audible alarm that you can hear that it will be shutting down soon.
As with any battery system, cold weather will reduce the storage capability. If you’re winter camping you will have reduced charge and battery storage if this unit does get cold.
Where to Buy
We reviewed the 300watt system, they have a variety available.
Products from Amazon.com
Compatible Solar Panels
Products from Amazon.com
Rockpals Review Wrap-up
The Rockpals generator is well designed, easy to use and a comprehensive portable power system that offers all the plugs you would need for your next adventure or battery backup for a power outtage.
The only change I would make is to have an accessory bag to keep the cables nearby and somehow attached or tied to the unit. My only fear is that the solar or 12v cables will disappear on me.
Build Quality seems really good. Feature functionality is rather impressive. You will have a screen show all the power coming and going and you can control all outputs by turning them on or off by pushing the little buttons above the ports.
The port above the 110v power port should feel a bit sturdier – the box will flex a little when plugging in cords so only time will tell how that holds up. I plan on connecting a small power strip to this and plugging/unplugging from strip anyway.
We’re impressed and so far extremely happy with our rockpals 300w portable generator.