BigBlue CellPowa 2500 Early Review
The newest system to come to the solar generator and power station world is the BigBlue CellPowa 2500. It launched on April 19, 2022 on Kickstarter with some amazing deals. But is it worth getting the CellPowa 2500 or should you consider something else? Is it reliable, can it charge up quickly, will it run all the necessary equipment? All of that will be revealed here as you read on. Keep in mind that this review is based on a prototype unit that will have some minor flaws worked out by the time the units are shipping, according to the manufacturer.
The BigBlue CellPowa 2500 comes with a large pure sine wave inverter that is rated to run continuously none stop at 2,500 watts of draw. That is a maximum draw of 20.8amps from a single outlet which is much more than you’d get anything to run off of a typical house outlet. This means that anything that you can run out of a house outlet will run off of the CellPowa 2500.
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It peaks at 5,000w of surge capacity which is always good to see the surge wattage be rated to at least double of what the continuous running wattage is rated to on a unit. Since it is a pure sine wave inverter you can safely run any type of equipment you’d normally use at home. Modified sine wave units are the ones you want to stay away from.
One of the major downsides of the CellPowa 2500 is the inverter efficiency. Doing a couple of different tests it was discovered that the average efficiency of the solar generator is only about 77%. That is not horrible but it’s also not great. Typically we like to see at least 80% efficiency. Ideally, we want around 85% to 90% efficiency out of a solar generator so we know we’re able to use the most amount of power from the battery.
What does this mean? Let’s say you’re running a 1,000w load off of an inverter and the inverter was 100% efficient. They never are but just to better understand this we’ll say it’s 100% efficient. That means that after one hour of running 1,000w off of the inverter you will have used 1,000wh off of the battery. But if the inverter is only 77% efficient, and you’re running a 1,000w load for one hour, you’ll have actually consumed 1,298wh off of the battery because the unit had to use more power from the battery to cover the lack of efficiency. If the inverter were 50% efficient it would use 2,000wh running a 1,000w load for one hour.
You really want a more efficient inverter because then you can use more of the actual capacity of the battery. This is not necessarily a deal-breaker but it’s definitely not great to have only 77% efficiency.
The BigBlue CellPowa 2500 has a 1,843wh LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery installed inside the unit. It is not a serviceable battery which is fine and it likely will never need to be serviced since it doesn’t off-gas and has over 3,500 cycles. This means you could drain and recharge the battery once per day for 3,500 days (nearly 10 years) and after that time the battery will still be 80% as efficient as it was on day one.
LiFePo4 batteries are extremely nice because of how long they last but it does increase the weight of the unit significantly. Weighing in at a whopping 56lbs, this power station is a bit hard to move around. Although not nearly as heavy as some solar generators, it’s portable but still quite heavy.
With the inverter being 77% efficient you’ll have a usable watt-hour capacity of 1,419wh. That means you could run a 140w load for 10 hours on just the battery. An average household fridge will use roughly 80 to 100wh per hour of use. That means the CellPowa 2500 will run an average household fridge for about 14-18 hours with no solar or wall charging help which is quite good. If you were to use this in an emergency, you could realistically run a fridge for many days if you added solar panels to this unit.
One of the neatest features that include the inverter and battery working well together is the UPS feature. The uninterruptable power supply feature means that you could have the CellPowa 2500 plugged into the wall at your home charging and staying at 100% capacity while having something like a refrigerator plugged into it. Then if the power cuts off to your house the CellPowa 2500 will immediately become the power source for the fridge without causing any fluctuation in the operation of the fridge. So if you’re away on a trip and the power goes out, your fridge won’t stop working and will keep your food cold for quite some time. This gives you the chance to save a lot of your food in the event of a major power outage.
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There are 3 ways to charge up the BigBlue CellPowa 2500 solar generator. It will charge at 1,200w from the wall charger, 1,200w from solar input, and 102w from the DC car charger.
The AC wall charger is wonderful because it is only a standard charging cable. The typical US house outlet is called a NEMA 15P, basically meaning it’s rated to 15a and it’s a Plug, hence 15P. The AC charging port on the CellPowa 2500 uses a typical C13 plug which is a very common power plug for household items. The unit comes with a NEMA 15P to C13 cable and if you wanted to get a longer cable or backup cable they are very inexpensive and very common to find at electronic stores.
To charge the CellPowa 2500 from a car outlet while driving around will take 18 hours. It’s nice that it comes with that option but I don’t see very many people using that option in real-world use. It charges at only about 9a or around 102 watts. It’s nice to have this feature but isn’t a big deal anymore.
Solar charging is what we feel is the most important because it is the equivalent of having more fuel for a gas generator. If the power is out, solar is the main way to get more power and get the battery charged back up again. Luckily the BigBlue CellPowa 2500 has a 1,200w MMPT charge controller that is rated to take power from 12-65v and 25a. The big downside is how you get to 1,200w input
There are three 8mm/DC7909 solar input ports. The idea is to connect two 200w panels into each port for a total of 1,200w. The big downside to this is cable management. This is probably one of the biggest flaws of the entire system. If you want your CellPowa 2500 to be indoors where you can use it, and you need your solar panels 100ft away in a clear area where they can get the best sunlight, you’ll need 3 sets of 100ft cables to make it work. Because of the 3 input ports, it makes it difficult to keep things tidy while charging with solar.
The BigBlue CellPowa 2500 is capable of running a lot of equipment at the same time. It has six 120v NEMA 15 plugs just like you find on the wall outlets in houses. But it also has two 18w USB-A ports, two 45w USB-C ports, and two 100w PD USB-C ports for extra fast charging of USB-C devices. It also has one typical DC cigarette lighter port rated to 10a as well as two 5.5×2.1mm barrel ports.
Having all of these outlets and ports makes it very easy to be charging multiple phones, tablets, laptops, fridges, freezers, and so on all at the same time. And it can be charged from either the wall charger or the solar input at the same time that equipment running off of the unit.
A neat feature that is becoming much more common on solar generators and power stations is a Bluetooth App to control and monitor the BigBlue CellPowa 2500 with. It’s not fully functional at this stage of development but BigBlue ensures it will be very nice to use once the main units are shipping out from their Kickstarter campaign.
One very unique feature that we have never heard of before in a solar generator is a special SOS GPS feature. The CellPowa 2500 has a unique button for help. There is a GPS located inside of the unit and in case of an emergency you can activate the SOS beacon which will alert local authorities, search and rescue, forest rangers or whoever is the response team to come find your location. This is a very neat feature but is still unclear if the GPS option can be toggled off when you don’t want it to be activated. In a situation like that, it seems like it should be possible to turn the GPS on, then send out the SOS so that you’re not being tracked by BigBlue everywhere you go.
It does come with a color touch screen which helps give it a modern look similar to the Bluetti AC200P units. However, the majority of the screen is filled with the battery percentage. The input and output wattage readings are in the bottom right corner of the screen and are very small and hard to read. You must be right next to the unit to see what that info is. The AC and DC power options are turned on and off with the touch screen, so the downside is if the screen dies for any reason, the entire unit is inoperable.
It comes with an 18-month limited warranty but it’s unclear as to what’s included in the limited warranty. It’s typical for warranties to cover any manufacturing defects so it’s safe to assume that is what is included in the 18-month period.
One feature that some people will like and others will dislike is that cooling fans are always operating when the unit is turned on. This means if you’re not running a load and no heat is being generated, the fans are running. Also if you’re running a heavy load and the unit making lots of heat, it’s being cooled very well. The downside is that when the fans are always running unnecessarily, they are using up power for no reason. Units like the Titan solar generator have a heat sensor that tells the fans when to turn on, turn onto turbo speed, and turn off based on what’s happening inside the unit and how it needs to cool. We can only hope that BigBlue will update this feature as the finished units ship out.
The BigBlue CellPowa 2500 seems like a pretty decent unit. For average use to use during an emergency it has a large enough inverter to power essential items and a large enough battery to get through the night while running that essential equipment. The solar input is high enough to recharge the entire system in a little under 3 hours which means that it can easily be recharged and run essential equipment during the day.
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The inverter efficiency is a bit concerning and the fact that 3 sets of solar panels with dedicated cables have to be used to reach the 1,200w solar input is a bummer too. Once we get one of these units in hand we will be able to test if the CellPowa 2500 can be over-paneled and see how well it can run an RV, cabin, and home backup items.
If you feel this unit fits your needs then we highly recommend you go to their Kickstarter campaign and get this unit while it’s greatly discounted. If you’re unsure, then we recommend you wait and see how the finished unit turns out and see if it’ll work for you.