We review quite a few power stations at CleanTechnica, but we’ve never really looked at one that’s as rugged as the Issomi 300W, 296 Wh station we recently received for review. Not only is it encased in metal, but it’s also water resistant, dust resistant, and shock resistant. In other words, it’s not meant to keep in a closet or in your tent or car for careful outdoor use. It’s designed for rugged trips into the wilderness.
What sets this apart from the other power stations I’ve reviewed
On the good side, it’s rugged, as I mentioned above. But let’s get into specifics. It has an IP63 protection rating with the covers closed over the ports. This means that for water, it can handle getting rained on under most conditions, but can’t be submerged. So, it’s useful for camping as long as you’re not camping with Sponge Bob. It’s also rated to be dust-tight, so you don’t have to worry about dust and sand getting into it outdoors.
It’s also designed to handle some level of shock, but the manufacturer doesn’t specify how much of a hit it can take. I’m planning on doing a long-term review, so I didn’t deck-check it or anything, but I can tell it’s designed to handle a mild beating. With a metallic enclosure, it would take a lot to harm the station’s guts. I wouldn’t be too worried if it fell off a table or chair or it slipped out of your hand. The only thing I’d worry about is if it landed on the light when folded out or landed on the screen against a jagged rock.
Speaking of the light, let’s talk about that for a second.
The light is on a little swivel. You can turn it on and let it face straight out to light up an area. Or, you can swivel it downward to light up the ports at night and make it easier to see them when plugging things in. You’d need to pull the flap covering the ports all the way up to let the light past, but this allows you to see what you’re doing in the dark. It’s a small touch, but makes a big difference in an emergency.
When you flip the little rubber flaps up, you can see the ports.
It comes with a wall charger, alligator clips to charge it from a car’s battery directly, and a cigarette lighter plug to charge it inside your car. That gives you a lot of options. It also comes with a cigarette lighter plug you can plug into the unit to get 12 volt power from it. You can also use a solar panel to charge it, but you’ll need to buy one that has the right connector to feed the power into the port. Details are in the instruction manual, or you can type the brand into shopping sites to get a compatible panel.
Under another flap, it has a variety of USB ports, including a 45-watt USB-C PD connector. This is great for phones, flashlights, tablets, laptops, and anything else that’s USB-powered.
Finally, it has a single 110-120 volt power outlet. This is limited to 300 watts, so you won’t be running your microwave or toaster oven with it. But 300 watts is enough for lighting, charging laptops without USB PD, and even medical devices like a CPAP machine or nebulizer. At the maximum of 300 watts, you’re good for almost an hour of run time.
One of the great things about the device is that its display tells you how much longer it will run with the current power load. This ability makes it a lot harder to run into the ugly surprise of a dead battery. If you can see that it won’t last as long as you’d like, you can turn things off or down to make it last longer. With the exception of the higher end Jackery power stations, I haven’t seen this feature.
There’s also a wireless charging pad on the top of the unit. It’s rated for Qi wireless fast charging, so it’s good for phones, tablets, and watches with that capability.
One final feature is the folding handle I’m starting to see on power stations we review. This sounds like no big deal compared to a chunky and strong fixed handle, but if you’re trying to stick the unit in a bag or in a closet, it fits in smaller spaces a lot easier. Folded out, it still gives you a convenient way to carry it.
Some Gotchas & Downsides of The Issomi 300W Power Station
There’s one gotcha that keeps me from adopting this rugged station for my emergency bag: limited 12-volt power. Other stations I’ve tested have up to 10 amps of 12 volt power, or a maximum of 120 watts. That leaves lots of room to power things like my QRP (low power) ham radio. When transmitting, I’ve frequently pulled around 40 watts running that equipment when transmitting, but that 40 watts gives you global digital communications. At maximum, the Issomi’s 12-volt cigarette lighter plug can do 36 watts, or 3 amps. That doesn’t give me the power I’d need for my emergency plans.
If you’re not a heavy user of 12-volt power like me, and just want something to charge phones, run a nebulizer or CPAP, and do other “normal people” things, the Issomi unit would probably work well for you. Just check what the power draw is on any equipment you’d like to run and make sure it’s less than the Issomi is rated to put out, and you’ll be just fine.
One other gotcha: you can’t just give the power buttons a quick press. You have to hold them for two seconds to turn the unit on, activate the 120-volt outlet, or activate the emergency light. They obviously did this to make sure you don’t accidentally turn things on, which is a good thing. But Amazon reviewers are complaining about not being able to turn the unit on. But you know how to turn it on now, so you won’t run into that problem!
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