Typically, it is preferred to have a larger solar generator or power station as an emergency backup power source. Or it can be used for camping, RVing, off-grid locations and so on. But especially for camping and traveling the larger solar generators can be too big. That is why it is also nice to keep on hand a very small and simple solar generator or power station. It should still be able to be charged by solar in at least one day.
The MAXOAK Bluetti AC50 is a very good option and generally my #1 choice for a very lightweight option. It weighs in exactly at 13lbs 7oz. It is a very affordable, lightweight and easy to use system that is very handy when doing some light camping. It’s definitely not big enough to run a fridge, freezer, or TV for very long. But it does work well for CPAP machines, inflatable beds/air pumps, laptops, and other smaller items.
The Bluetti AC50 has a pure sine wave inverter that allows up to a 300-watt continuous draw. The peak draw on it is 450 watts. On most solar generators the peak draw can be run for a couple of seconds. On the AC50 though it can run 450 watts for up to 2.5 minutes! If a little extra power is needed for a short burst, it will be able to handle it no problem.
It has a 500wh Lithium NMC (Lithium-Ion) battery that is capable of a 90% capacity draw. What that means is that 90% of the battery is usable. 500wh x 90% = 450wh usable capacity. I find that I can get more than that depending on what I am using. If I am using a small draw like a phone, camera or laptop I can get a bit more draw out of the battery. But, 450wh is what should be considered the usable amount of battery.
It does allow for the full 300 watts from the inverter to be used until that 450wh is used up which is nice.
It is very normal for a Lithium-Ion battery to have about 500 cycles on it. That is how many times it can be drained and recharged fully. After 500 cycles the battery efficiency is about 80%. The best way of extending the lifecycles is to not use the 300-watt draw every single time it’s used and to charge it slower.
The AC50 actually has 1,000 cycles. So it’s twice the standard. The best way to reach that 1,000 cycles is to charge it slowly and discharge it slowly.
The easiest way to charge the Bluetti AC50 is by using the wall AC adapter but it charges pretty slow. That may be good for the battery to charge slow but it can be a bit of an annoyance to have to wait hours for it to charge all the way up.
It also can be charged by solar. The solar input rating is 14v-40v and 10 amps. It says it’s capable of using one 120w panel to charge. I almost always use 100w solar panels because they are lighter, easier to move and are affordable.Stringing two 100w solar panels together in series will make about 38v and 6 amps of power which is within the safe limit of the Bluetti AC50. I find this is the fastest way of charging it on bright sunny days because it creates much more power than the wall charger.
Charging it from a car really isn’t possible since it uses a 24v battery internally and cars use 12v batteries. You can technically get it to work but it won’t charge the battery fully which makes it pointless in my mind. The best thing to do if it needs to be charged on the go is to have a small 300-watt 12v car inverter and use that with the DC cigarette lighter port in the car.
It can be charged and used at the same time. It does have an MPPT charge controller in it though which is great. An MPPT charge controller makes it charge much more efficiently than a PWM. I am glad MAXOAK is putting quality parts into their units.
One neat feature is that it does have a wireless charging pad on the top of the AC50 which is nice to use when outdoors. It makes it easy not to worry about forgetting a charging cord for a phone or tablet and it can be placed right on top for charging.
It also includes two 120v AC outlets which can be used up to 300w continuous draw. The 4 USB A ports are rated to 3 amps which means they will do “fast charging.” The single USB C port is rated to 45 watts and will charge much faster for anything that has a USB C charging port such as a laptop.
One of my favorite features of the Bluetti AC50 is that it has two 5.5×2.1mm barrel ports. To most people, these ports rarely ever get used. But when camping I love to bring the MAXOAK AC50 and a few Inergy Basecamp lights. The lights are extremely bright, lightweight and string together to easily light up the entire campsite. Since the AC50 has two of these ports I can easily string up to 6 or even 12 lights around my campsite and make it extremely bright.
The MAXOAK Bluetti AC50 also has a standard DC cigarette lighter port that is rated to 10 amps. Which means it will pull a maximum of 120 watts from it. The downside of the AC50 is that the DC ports are not regulated. Meaning that as the battery gets drawn lower the output voltage of the DC ports goes down. At 100% the voltage is at 12.4v but as the battery gets drained that voltage will drop. This means at 100% it can make 12.4v x 10a = 124 watts. But at 50% when the voltage is at 10.8v it can only make 10.8v x 10a = 108 watts. This is why it’s nice to have a regulated DC port like the MAXOAK Bluetti EB150 which is the big brother to the AC50.
As mentioned above it does have a wireless charger which is really nice for phones. But it also has another unique feature in that it has a nice light built into the back of it. This is helpful when at a cabin, in a tent, in the back of the truck or wherever. It has a high, low and SOS setting. It can be a little bright in the eyes when pointing outwards but I typically point it at a wall, tent wall or away from me and lights things up very well.
All-in-all I like the Bluetti AC50. I don’t know why MAXOAK decided to name all of their solar generators or power stations “Bluetti” and then change the letters that come after that. It makes it a little confusing. But I do like taking the AC50 with me on camping trips with my family to power the small things in the tent. I typically use it for the air pump for the air mattresses, phones, laptop, speaker, tablets, lights, cameras and so on. If I am going camping for a few days I will bring my two solar panels with me and keep it charged up all day long so it’s ready by the evening.
It comes with everything in the box to connect to wall outlets, solar panels and so on. It also comes with a small bright colored carry case which I find a bit cheesy but is quite helpful. The colors are straight from the ’80s but makes it nice to keep everything together in a nice tight bag.