Personal Review of the BigBlue Cellpowa500 LiFePo4 Portable Power Station
The Big Blue CP500 is a new lightweight solar generator that is one of the top-performing power stations to hit the market recently. Only bested by one or two other units, which I will explain shortly, the CP500 is definitely worth taking a look at for the price.
It has some unique capabilities like fast wall charging, LiFePo4 batteries, expanding and collapsing carry handle, and much more. Pairing it with the Big Blue 100w Folding Solar Panel is a good option as well since the Big Blue 100w Folding Solar Panel has been one of the top-performing folding panels tested.
The Big Blue CP500 has a properly sized inverter that is rated to push out 500 watts none stop for as long as the battery lasts. It will peak at 1,000 watts meaning it’s capable of running some inductive loads, even things like smaller hair dryers, small space heaters, ebike chargers, and much more. It definitely isn’t recommended to use the CP500 for emergency backup power, it’s not large enough for that.
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It is capable of running a full-sized home fridge for a few hours but nothing more than that at best. And sadly it cannot run any AC load while being charged. It doesn’t matter if it’s being charged from the wall adapter, USB C ports, or the DC solar/car charger.
The inverter is a pure sine wave so it is capable of running any load that is under 500 watts of continuous output. The most practical uses I have found for the Big Blue CP500 are for running laptops, recharging drones, recharging portable power tool batteries, running CPAPs, powering a DC fridge on a trip, and keeping mobile devices like phones and tablets powered up on the go. It also does work well for a single ebike to get about one more charge back into the ebike, depending on which ebike you use.
One of the most surprising features is that the inverter has an 87% efficiency rating. 85% is considered really good, anything over 80% is considered good to average. If it’s less than 80% I wouldn’t use it at all. I was actually able to run about 525 watts continuously which is more than what the inverter is rated to.
The battery is quite incredible. It is a 534wh LiFePo4 cell battery that is rated to last thousands of cycles. There is no doubt the LiFePo4 batteries are what most people are looking for. It is very safe, has an unbeatable cycle count, and can be discharged completely without damaging the cells.
But what is most impressive to me about the Big Blue CP500 LiFePo4 battery is that it was capable of pushing out the full 525w draw of the inverter for about 52 minutes non-stop. As mentioned above that gives it an 87% efficiency through the inverter which is pretty hard to beat.
Most lithium batteries will not be that efficient through the inverter and will slowly push out less and less power as it gets drained closer to 0%. Not with the Big Blue CP500, it pushed out the full 525w draw until it hit zero. Big Blue definitely did a very good job designing the battery and making it powerful enough to do everything as advertised which is not common in the solar generator and power station world.
The Big Blue CP500 has a very impressive recharging capability. It can recharge with a wall charger like any other power station, but it can also recharge from both USB C ports at the same time as the wall charger which is different from most other units on the market. The wall adapter charger will charge at about 90 watts. Each USB C port will allow either 60 watts in or out. When charging it will obviously push the 60 watts into the battery. When recharging the Big Blue CP500 with the wall charger plus both USB C chargers I was getting 210 watts of input which is very fast.
Recharging the Big Blue CP500 with the wall and USB chargers will recharge the entire system in just 2.5 hours. You can use the USB C charging along with the solar or car charging as well but that seems to be less practical since that means the unit would likely be outside away from USB C plugs.
The Big Blue 100w folding solar panel did very well too. It was able to generate 88 watts of solar input in the middle of winter. Generally, solar panels don’t make as much power during the winter because the sun is lower in the sky. The fact that the Big Blue CP500 was able to get that much charge into it with the Big Big 100w folding solar panel is very good. That means during the summer it should be able to get much closer to the 110-watt max solar input for the CP500.
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The Big Blue CP500 is definitely an impressive unit one that I would recommend to almost anyone for easy portable power. I do not like the fact that it cannot run AC power while being charged though. This means it can’t be used as a UPS as a battery backup. I can’t have my laptop plugged into the CP500, and then have the wall charger plugged into the CP500 at the same time because the CP500 will just recharge and not run my laptop. So I wouldn’t use it as a UPS.
I also wish it was easier to reach the 210-watt recharge input without having to use the USB C ports but at the same time, it’s incredible that it can do that through both ports at the same time. The EcoFlow River Max is the only unit that truly beats the Big Blue CP500 because the River Max will recharge at 300 watts just from the wall charger and has 200 watts of solar input and can run AC equipment while being charged. So if you’re needing those features then I recommend the EcoFlow River Max.
The bottom line, the price, is that it’s a good price. Generally found about $400 the Big Blue CP500 is very affordable for all the features you get. But for less than $100 more you can get the EcoFlow River Max which has the extra features as previously mentioned. Are those extra features worth the extra price? That’s up to you.
The Big Blue CP500 is a good unit. Not the absolute best one on the market for lightweight power stations or solar generators but definitely worth it to many people. It has a great battery, great inverter efficiency, and is very portable. Its shortcomings can be overlooked unless you absolutely need a UPS setup which most people don’t. And most people don’t need to recharge a system like the CP500 extremely fast which means it’s okay that it only has a 90 watt wall charger which is enough for most people.