Is the Bluetti AC200Max the New King of Midweight Solar Generators?
The Bluetti AC200Max is one of the best medium-sized solar generators to come out to date. But is it enough to be the absolute best option? Does it offer the best efficiency, power, expandability, rechargeability, and all the other necessary components to be the best option?
The top competitors to the Bluetti AC200Max are the EcoFlow Delta Max and the Inergy Flex. There are many similarities between these systems including expandable battery packs, portability, and how many items can be run off of them at the same time.
Midweight Sized Solar Generators
What are midweight-sized solar generators? They are units that are too big for simple camping or day trips but not large enough to permanently run an off-grid cabin or have 240v power capability. They generally have inverter capacities from 1,500w to 2,500w and battery sizes from 1,500wh to 6,000wh.
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The inverter on the AC200Max is a very efficient and powerful setup. It is a pure sine wave, which is to be expected from modern solar generators, and will run any AC-powered device that you can run at home very easily. With a continuous output rating of 2,200w, it is less than the EcoFlow Delta Max at 2,400w but much larger than the Inergy Flex at 1,500w. This means it will easily run any household device that you would normally plug into the wall outlet. And if there is any heavy load such as a hairdryer, chop saw, or even some air compressors, it can peak all the way up to 4,800w which is 220% higher than the continuous output capacity of the Bluetti AC200Max.
It may not have the highest continuous output of all the midweight solar generators currently available but 2,200w is still plenty of power for the standard backup power setup for most people. This means it’s easily capable of running a fridge, freezer, lights, fans, CPAP, toaster, coffee maker, hairdryer and so much more without any trouble.
But one thing that is very impressive about the Bluetti AC200Max is its inverter efficiency. It is typical for a good solar generator to have about 85% efficiency out of the inverter. Meaning for every 1 watt-hour of battery capacity you’ll get out .85 watt-hours of actual power through the inverter. This inefficiency is normal and happens because the inverter is converting battery power which is 51v DC power in the Bluetti AC200Max to 120v AC power for devices. But the Bluetti AC200Max pushes out a solid 88% efficiency which is much higher than a typical good system. This means you’ll get more power out of the battery than another system like the Inergy Flex which only has about an 80% efficient inverter. The Delta Max has an 89% efficient inverter so basically the same as the Bluetti AC200Max, both are very good.
The 2,200w inverter runs four 18amp house style outlets (NEMA 15) and one 30amp RV (TT-30) outlet. But you have to keep in mind that the 30amp RV plug can only push out 18 amps of continuous power because the inverter is rated to 2,220 watts (2,200 watts ÷ 120 volts = 18.34amps). Meaning it is not a true 30amp plug but can connect to 30amp service plugs on RVs which is a nice feature.
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The Bluetti AC200Max uses the heavy but very reliable LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery that is tried and true. With up to 3,500 cycles on the battery before it reaches 80% efficiency, this unit will last for many years without any noticeable decay in battery capacity. If the battery were used 3,500 times by doing a cycle once per day it would take nearly 10 years for the battery to get to 3,500 cycles. That’s incredible!
Although cycles are an important feature for solar generators it is very important to understand that it is not one of the most important features. You have to consider that unless you’re literally living off-grid with this unit and using a lot of power off of it daily that you’re not likely going to reach that 3,500 cycle mark. The reality is most people need these types of units during emergencies, or for RVing for a few weeks each summer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you consider that you are using this fairly heavily then you’re looking closer to 100 cycles per year. This means you’re looking at over 30 years before you reach 3,500 cycles.
That is why it is important to have a good amount of cycles on the batteries but it is not a deal-breaker or a deal decider. It is more important to have a larger battery capacity, larger inverter, and fast solar recharge than to have a high number of cycles.
But one of the best features of the Bluetti AC200Max is its ability to use expandable batteries. Using the Bluetti B230 and B300 batteries you can expand the AC200Max to be up to 6,144wh with B230s and up to 8,194wh with the B300 batteries.
The B230 battery is the same battery that is in the Bluetti AC200Max of 2,048wh. It is just the battery packaged into another case and has external connectors to link up with the AC200Max. The B300 battery however is 3,072wh in capacity. And you can use either two B230s or two B300s attached to the AC300Max.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to use any other kind of battery with the AC200Max so you are limited to only using Bluetti batteries. But they are fairly priced and are LiFePo4 cells as well so they will last forever and are very high quality.
The downside though to using these LiFePo4 cells inside the AC200Max as well as in the B230 and B300 is that they are very heavy. The AC200Max alone without external batteries is 61lbs which is definitely quite heavy. Just by adding a single B230 battery, you’re looking right about 100lbs to handle. With a couple of B300 batteries, you’re well over 150lbs which makes it much more difficult to keep it portable, but they are expansion batteries that are externally mounted so it is easier to move them around than having a single system that is all linked together as one unit.
The batteries are not without their major flaws which I’ll talk about below in the weaknesses section.
There are multiple ways to charge up the Bluetti AC200Max. The one that is most important is the solar recharge but it can also be charged with a wall charger, car charger, and even a lead-acid battery. It is unclear why Bluetti thought that it would be an important feature to be able to recharge the AC200Max from a lead-acid battery. But, it’s capable of doing that and that is a unique feature that is not common in other solar generators.
The AC200Max comes with a 500w AC power charging brick that is a bit heavy but does charge fairly quickly in just about 4 hours for just the base unit with no external batteries. The car charger puts in a little bit more than 100w into the battery at a time so it’s a very slow way to charge but nonetheless has that option. For midweight systems like this, car charging is very uncommon because it takes so long but is a nice feature for anyone using this system in a Van setup. At least while driving it can get a little extra charge.
The AC200Max has a high input of 900w input directly from solar. And with a special adapter that you can buy as an extra, you can get an extra 500w solar input into each expansion battery that is added. If you had two external batteries added you can have a total of 1,900w of solar input going into the whole system which is very impressive. That is only beat by the Titan solar generator which has a standard solar input of 2,000w, 3,000w inverter, and 10’s of thousands of watt-hours in battery capacity can be added to the Titan.
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The AC200Max’s standard solar input of 900 watts beats the EcoFlow Deltas 800w max solar input and the Inergy Flex’s 400w solar input. The Flex is capable of adding more charge controllers as well just like the AC200Max but the Flex’s extra charge controllers are two years behind production so don’t hold your breath on getting those.
The AC200Max with no extra batteries can be charged in as fast as 2hrs and 20mins with its 900w solar input. It can be easily over-paneled which is a very nice feature to have on solar generators. With a solar input of 10-145v and up to 15amps it’s easy to get upwards of 1,500 watts in solar panels connected to the AC200Max.
Why over-panel? If the sun comes up at 8 am, but isn’t near its peak height in the sky until 10 am, that means from 8 am until 10 am you won’t be making the full power of your solar panels. As an example, if you can only get 60% of your solar panel-rated power into the AC200Max then in the early morning you’re not charging at the highest capacity. So if you had 1,000 watts in panels connected at 8 am you’d get 600 watts to go into the AC200Max. But if you had 1,500 watts in panels connected at 8 am, at 60% power input, you’d actually be getting 900 watts of solar input at the very beginning of the day.
This allows you to get more charging hours of full capacity throughout the day and makes it much easier to fully recharge the system on cloudy days or in adverse weather.
Over-paneling is one of the best features any solar generator can have and between the AC200Max, Delta Max, and Flex, only the AC200Max is capable of doing it. The Titan beats the AC200Max with up to 4,000w of solar panels being able to connect to it in over-paneling capability. But the Titan is considered a heavyweight solar generator, a different caliber, and more capable so it’s not a fair comparison.
The Bluetti AC200Max has many great features such as a very interactive and informative touch screen. It shows plenty of information from the load output, the recharging input, battery percentage, battery cell balances, and much more. Some people have reported that their touch screens have frozen and were not usable for many hours at some times. It is likely a bug that is no longer an issue but was most likely just an issue in early models.
The AC200Max as well as all of Bluetti’s power stations come with a 24 months warranty which is the current industry standard.
It has a very sleek and interactive Bluetooth app that allows you to connect to the unit, monitor, control, and adjust settings all from your smartphone. This is becoming more and more popular with solar generators and power stations today and works very well. As long as you’re within the short range of about 30ft from the unit you can see everything from your phone through the Bluetti app.
The biggest concern besides the touch screen locking up and not being used are the external batteries. The issue is that if for any reason the total battery capacity on the AC200Max drops all the way down to zero, only the onboard battery inside the AC200Max will recharge when the sun comes back up and hits the solar panels. For some reason, the external batteries do not get any charge at all after hitting 0%. They have to be jump-started using the AC wall charger. Once they’ve been jump-started they will then begin charging from the solar panels.
That means if this was to be used at an off-grid cabin, van, RV, home, or anywhere, and you drained the battery down to zero which can definitely happen, you have to manually reset the external batteries. That is nearly a deal-breaker if this is to be used for emergency backup power, off-griding, or boondocking. At our off-grid cabin, there are times we are not there for weeks, or there is bad weather for weeks. On the one good day there’s sun in the midst of bad weather I can’t afford to be wondering if my system was fully drained and not charging the extra batteries.
The cable management. This is a big issue if you have expendable batteries. Each battery has a very heavy-duty cable that connects it to the AC200Max. Then if each battery has an additional solar charger connected to it plus the solar cables themselves, it can become quite the rat’s nest of cables. It simply requires a lot of cable management which for many people is not a strong suit or is not wanted to be dealt with in the middle of an emergency.
Also, the weight of the entire system is necessary to address. With the base unit alone being 61lbs it’s not going to be easy for many people to move it around. Having a furniture dolly may help but in the end that will only work on flat surfaces. Even the Titan which is considered a heavyweight system can be broken down into smaller parts and have a max weight of 35lbs per piece making it very easy to transport and setup again. Especially since the Titan doesn’t use external cabling to connect to extra batteries, they simply stack on top of each other. And because the Titan already has 2,000w of solar input built into the unit itself there are no external charge controllers to have more of a mess of cables.
Click Here for the Best Pricing on the AC200Max
Factoring in the inverter size, battery capacity, and solar input which are the three most important features of any solar generator system, the Bluetti AC200Max is well priced. At about $2,099 for the average price you’ll only end up paying around $1.44 per “unit wattage.” That is very close to the Titan’s $1.42 per unit wattage which has been considered the “best bang for the buck” for years now.
The Bluetti AC200Max is a very good system. It’s efficient, expandable, quickly rechargeable can be over-paneled, and has a good price per unit wattage. It’s nearly tied in capability with the EcoFlow Delta Max. The AC200Max has a slightly smaller inverter at 2,200w whereas the Delta Max has a 2,400w inverter. But the AC200Max has a max battery capacity of over 8,000wh and the Delta Max can only go up to just over 6,000wh. And the Delta Max has 800w max solar input without the ability to over panel. And the AC200Max has 900w of max solar input and can be over paneled. The AC200Max has 3,500 cycles and the Delta Max 800 cycles. So nearly in every way that matters the AC200Max beats the Delta Max.
As far as midweight solar generators are concerned, it would appear that the Bluetti AC200Max is currently the very best option available. The Inergy Flex doesn’t hold a candle to the AC200Max.
If you find you want a little more inverter power, more than twice the solar input for the base unit, and more expandable battery capacity than any other unit currently in existence, then the Titan solar generator would be the next best option.
But the Bluetti AC200Max can absolutely stand on its own as the best midweight system.