MAXOAK has been working extremely hard to bring out some incredible power station/solar generators. They have been pushing the limits of what is capable of these units and have truly become one of the absolute top power station companies.
Their Bluetti EP500 power station has received a lot of attention ever since they launched on Kickstarter. There are a few Bluetti EP500 reviews out there that have done a good job of showing the specs off, but I want to truly dive into this power station and see how good it really is.
Is it better than the tried-and-true Titan solar generator? Will it truly run a whole house during an emergency? Can it be used to live permanently off-grid? Can I use it with my RV? All of these questions and more will be answered in this Bluetti EP500 review.
First things first we need to know exactly where it is pulling all its power from and that is the huge battery pack. Bluetti has transitioned most of its focus to using LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries because of their long cycles and stable shelf life. But that comes at a cost of some serious weight.
The Bluetti EP500 has an incredible built-in battery capacity of 5,100wh. The only other unit currently on the market that has a larger built-in battery capacity is the Goal Zero Yeti 6000X. There are many other units that have expandable battery systems like the Titan solar generator but the Bluetti EP500 comes standard with 5,100wh.
Not only that, but the EP500 has an incredible 6,000 cycle rating! That means if you did one cycle every day (drain from 100% down to 0% then back up to 100%) it would last over 16 years before it reached 80% efficiency. That alone is something they can seriously brag about. Basically, it means that you will never have to worry about replacing the batteries in the Bluetti EP500. They’re going to last longer than you need to worry about.
Besides having a huge built-in battery capacity, the Bluetti EP500 is capable of connecting to a second Bluetti EP500 unit and combing their overall battery capacity. I’ll go over more of this in detail in the “expandability” section below.
The downside to having such a large battery capacity is the weight. This is not a portable unit by any means. This is meant to be wheeled into place, left there, and used as needed. It is not going to be easy to move this into an RV, van, cabin, or anywhere for that matter. Weighing in at 167lbs this unit will take at least two people to move around. It comes with wheels that are removable once it’s in the permanent location you want it but it doesn’t roll easily unless it’s on a hard floor or a very thin carpet like commercial office carpet.
That is the biggest downside to having this big of a battery is you lose the ability to keep it portable. This means bringing it with you in a “bug-out” scenario is going to be difficult. That is why I love the modularity of the Titan solar generator. Since the Titan battery stack on each other and can be disconnected from each other at only 35lbs each, it still keeps it portable. I can easily keep three Titan batteries on my Titan solar generator, which is 6,000wh, and in a pinch or bug-out situation take all the pieces with me to wherever I’m bugging out to. That is one feature that is still unbeaten by the Titan is its ability to be expanded to any size and still be easily broken down and transportable.
The inverter on the Bluetti EP500 left me wanting a bit more out of it. The EP500 has a very high-quality 2,000w continuous output pure sine wave inverter. 2,000w is plenty for most people for emergency situations because most people will be using things like their fridge, freezer, lights, fans, CPAPs, laundry machine, etc.
I did expect a larger inverter capacity for having such a large battery bank. 2,000w is plenty strong enough to run anything that can run out of a normal house outlet including heavy-duty 110v equipment. The Bluetti EP500 Pro has a 3,000w inverter which feels like a better fit for a 5,100wh battery.
The Bluetti EP500 has an amazingly high peak of 4,800w which means it’s truly capable of running heavy equipment. It is fully capable of running 2,000w continuously until it is completely depleted from the battery which some other units cannot run their full inverter continuous load until empty like the Inergy Flex. The Inergy Flex is only capable of running its full 1,500w load until the battery reaches 20%.
When two Bluetti EP500 units are paired together they combine their total inverter capacity and it increases to 4,000w output which is large enough to run some people’s houses. If a house uses a lot of natural gas or propane for all the heat sources included central heating, cooking, water heater, and so on then a 4,000w inverter is generally enough to run the house like normal. The next limit would be using central air. That may be possible with a 4,000w inverter but central A/C will very quickly drain the batteries and you would be able to run anything else at the same time most likely.
That all being said, 4,000w of inverter capacity is huge. It’s completely capable of running all emergency power necessities quite easily at the same time. Even a well pump. That is really the biggest benefit of the Bluetti EP500 double unit system is that it is truly capable of running a well pump up to about 2hp. Of course, you’ll still need a 220v transfer switch installed but that will be incredible to run a whole house with the Bluetti EP500.
The charging capability on the MAXOAK Bluetti EP500 is quite good for the size. It can be charged in as little as 4 hours and 15 minutes. It uses a single MPPT charge controller that has a charge parameter of 55-145v and 20a.
Having a large charge parameter like this allows the Bluetti EP500 to be charged with panels that are set up in series, parallel, or series/parallel combo. As long as the charge parameters aren’t exceeded the Bluetti EP500 will allow up to 1,200w of solar power to come in. That’s twice as fast as MAXOAK’s previous model the Bluetti AC200P which had 700w of solar input.
With it being able to take in 1,200w of solar power it recharges fast enough to be charged in a single day. Since there are an average of five solar peak hours each day in the USA a solar generator must be able to charge in five hours or less to be any good. The only concern this brings up is if anything else is being run at the same time while recharging.
1,200w of solar input is truly incredible. The Titan solar generator can do 2,000w of solar input but 1,200w is definitely good. However, if you’re running a fridge, freezer, and a fan all day long that will consume about 250w per hour run. That means there would be a net of 950w going into the battery all day long while still running that necessary equipment. We get that by taking 1,200w solar input minus 250w output which equals 950w (1,200 – 250 = 950).
If the EP500 is at 0% and then you start recharging it at 1,200w while running that equipment you’ll be gaining 950wh/hr run. The total battery capacity is 5,100wh. That means 5,100wh ÷ 950w/hr = 5.36hrs to get fully charged. In reality, it would still get fully charged even though it’s slightly more than 5 hours. But if more than that needs to be run all day long, it will prolong the charge time and can lead to not getting a full charge.
That all being said, even if the EP500 is at a 50% state of charge when night comes, 50% battery capacity is enough to continue to run the fridge and freezer all night long without any issues. It is simply important to note that it doesn’t take much to keep the EP500 from reaching outside of that 5-hour charge window which can make it difficult to have a full battery by nightfall. This is true of any unit that doesn’t have a large enough charge controller to match the size of the battery. The EP500 doesn’t have that issue though, as long as not a ton of equipment is run during the day.
The Bluetti EP500 charges about 550w from the wall outlet and can be used simultaneously with the solar charger. That can get up to 1,750w of total charge going into the EP500 which is incredibly fast. If you need to charge this unit in a hurry, you can use the wall charger and solar charger at the same time. You can also use a gas generator and plug the EP500’s wall charger into that and recharge the system in a pinch.
There’s one neat trick that can be done to get upwards of 1,700w of solar input. You can get 600w in solar panels, an MPPT charge controller rated to at least 600w, and a pure sine wave inverter rated to at least 750w. Connect the solar panels to the charge controller, then the charge controller to the inverter, then the inverter to the wall charging cable of the EP500, then that cable to the EP500 wall charging port. You would be hijacking the AC input port but would be using solar panels to supply the power. That means during a grid down situation you could get about 1,700w of power going in without needing a wall outlet or gas generator. Then the EP500 could be charged in 3 hours flat. I don’t recommend that for anyone who isn’t familiar with electricity.
There is no 12v car charger option for the EP500. The Bluetti EP500 is not intended to be charged from a car alternator or DC cigarette lighter port. They do not plan on adding this option either. Because of its weight, they do not feel that is a good option for charging. Generally, car chargers for solar generators/power stations will put out about 120w. It would take over 42 hours to recharge the EP500 using a car charger that way. That’s longer than it takes to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in the USA.
The expandability of the Bluetti EP500 is really where it shines. What MAXOAK is truly bringing to market is the ability to make 220/240v power off of a solar and lithium-based power station. This gives people the option to run well pumps, dryer machines, whole houses through transfer switches, and more. This is an incredible feature that was supposed to be available with the Titan solar generator but didn’t make it to market in time for when the Titan launched. In this regard, the Bluetti EP500 is the absolute best. It’s the best solar generator capable of 220v power. Which for some people is a necessity, but for most, it’s not. There is no doubt that this is an absolute game-changer to the industry though and for that they deserve applause.
The Bluetti EP500 is capable of putting out 220v power using a special adapter cable that goes between two EP500 units and then it adds an additional power strip box that has a 220v 40a plug on it. This is where the inverter is just slightly too small since 4,000w truly is good but not enough to go permanently off-grid with for a normal family home. A 6,000w inverter would be enough to run a normal family home permanently.
When two EP500 units are put together you get 10,200wh of total battery capacity, 4,000w of inverter capacity, and 9,600 inverter peak capacity. This is a seriously strong power station.
The ability to tie two EP500 power stations together is the biggest x-factor for this unit. It will also have an app for smartphones so that it can be monitored and controlled from your handheld device easily.
Having 6,000 cycles is unheard of. Even the Battleborn LiFePo4 batteries don’t have 6,000 cycles on them and buying four of the Battleborn batteries is about the same cost as buying one EP500 and would have about the same battery capacity.
MAXOAK claims they have a special UPS feature but truly any solar generator or power station can be used as a UPS. All that is required is to plug your fridge, TV, or whatever device into the solar generator, then have the wall charger plugged in and always charging the solar generator. Then if the power goes out the solar generator will stop getting charged from the wall, but will still be supplying power to whatever device is being used.
Not all solar generators can do this because some have an auto-off feature that will happen if the unit doesn’t get charged or discharged for more than a few minutes. For example, say a fridge is plugged into a solar generator but isn’t running for 15 minutes because fridges turn on and off as needed to stay cool. During that 15 minute window when the fridge isn’t pulling any power, and the solar generator is 100% full-on battery, the system will think it doesn’t need to be turned on and so it will automatically turn off to conserve power.
The Titan is capable of being used as a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) as well since it doesn’t have the auto-off feature. The Bluetti EB240, EB150, and AC50s have the auto-off feature built into them.
The Bluetti EP500 does include a 100w USB C PD port that can charge devices at 100w output which very few other solar generators or power stations have.
The only true weakness of this unit is its heavyweight. It’s nearly impossible to move unless there are at least two people moving it. Even still, it’s over 80lbs per person when lifting it with two people. 80lbs is seriously heavy for most people. That shouldn’t scare people away because most people will set this unit for wherever they need it to be during an emergency and leave it there.
The Titan is the only unit currently on the market that has a seriously large capacity in terms of batteries, inverter, and solar but can be broken down into small sections and transported easily. The Bluetti EP500 is more for permanent use.
While the Bluetti EP500 is still available on Kickstarter it has an incredibly low price of only $2,799 which is unheard of for what you get. It is always important to do an apples-to-apples comparison of other power stations and solar generators so everyone knows what they are truly getting.
The best way to determine that is by comparing the top 3 features of any power station: battery capacity, inverter output, and solar input. Taking those features into account and comparing it to the price, the Bluetti EP500 comes down to a total “unit wattage” cost of only $1.43/unit wattage. That is a very good price for the Kickstarter early beard special price of $2,799. Once Kickstarter is no longer available it will be bumped up to $3,999 for the EP500 which will bring the total cost up to $2.04/unit wattage which is okay.
The Titan solar generator has a total of $1.33/unit wattage price. Currently, that is the lowest price for all the features included at only $2,995.
At least while the Kickstarter campaign is going the EP500 is at an extremely competitive price and should seriously be considered as one of the best solar generator/power stations out there. Delivery is expected to be in August of 2020 so there is a bit of a wait time. It’s not uncommon for Kickstarter campaigns to get pushed back either but MAXOAK has generally done a great job of getting units out pretty quick.
After reviewing the MAXOAK Bluetti EP500 it is easy to see that it is a very good unit. Absolutely one of the best that have ever come to market. Its ability to make 220/240v power is incredible. It could use a slightly bigger inverter to match the large battery capacity better but 2,000w is still very good.
The solar input is double to the next best solar generator or power station and will recharge the Bluetti EP500 quickly each day. With such a large battery capacity, this will easily run essentials for at least two days in most people’s homes.
This is definitely an incredible unit and many people should consider getting it.