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CleanTechnica Tested: The Lion Safari ME Portable Power Station

The Lion Safari ME Portable Power Station is a behemoth power station that brings not only a ton of base utility to wherever you need it, but the ability to scale up from the built in ~1kWh of storage capacity to nearly 3kWh by adding one of Lion Energy’s Safari ME-XP expansion packs. Both packs use lithium ferro phosphate ( LFP) cells, which are known for longer life expectancies, higher number of cycles, and resistance to heat and thermal runaway issues.

Disclaimer: The Safari ME was provided free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Pulling the Safari ME out of the box, the first thing that stands out is that it looks like a military grade piece of equipment. Massive handles make it easy to grab onto and seem ready to be lashed onto the back of a Hummer or moved into camp. It’s a large unit, measuring 18.7″ x 12.8″ x 12.8″ and weighing in at 45.5 pounds. Competing packs of a similar size and weight with the more common but less durable NMC chemistries would have nearly double the storage capacity and at a similar price.

The Safari ME’s LFP chemistry does weigh more than competing chemistries but comes with additional benefits that might outweigh its extra mass. As a far more stable chemistry, iron phosphate batteries are inherently better for use in a portable device that might get banged around or dropped. NMC chemistries, on the other hand are prone to thermal runaway when the cells are damaged, which can lead to battery fires. LFP batteries are more thermally stable and not prone to fires caused by thermal runaway like most lithium-ion chemistries are.

Recharging from fully drained, the Safari ME’s estimate was extremely close to the expected 85 minutes to get back to 100%. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

LFP also last longer, supporting far more charge-discharge cycles than more traditional lithium-ion cells. The Lion Safari ME supports 2,500 cycles with full depth of discharge and the Safari ME XP expansion should last a staggering 3,500 cycles compared to 800-1,000 for comparable NMC chemistry-based packs. That’s like getting three or four times the life expectancy for the price of one.

When it comes time to use the stored energy from the pack, it is more than up to the task, with some of the highest power output ratings I’ve seen in a portable power station. It boasts a continuous output rating of 2,000 watts and can support peak power draws of up to 4,000 watts. That’s super impressive and speaks to the quality of the integrated inverter.

The pack itself technically is listed as storing 922 Wh of energy, so we put it to the test. I plugged in my trusty 800W water kettle and let that ship sail. It immediately began gobbling up the energy, according to the display on the power station The Safari ME’s display is full color, which looks nice, but it unfortunately does not indicate what the realtime energy consumption or charging speeds are. Those are some of the most basic metrics and not having them on this beautiful display is a shame. Instead, we get the high level indicators of “time remaining” and battery percent. From these, you can roughly approximate the amount of battery capacity remaining if you know the draw of the connected devices.

Stress testing the Safari ME with an induction cooktop and hot water kettle. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

With my water kettle plugged in and fired up, I stacked on the 500 watt Bonbowl induction cooktop and the Safari ME didn’t even blink. The time remaining scaled down linearly, tracking towards a usable capacity of 800 watt-hours. Lion Energy shows the Safari ME powering a number of power tools so I took it outside and plugged in my Bosch Colt router.

It pulls around 680 watts, but the startup curves of power tools often put more strain on power systems so I was eager to see how the power station handled the load. I cranked it up and the Safari ME didn’t even blink. It powered 10 minutes of the router without an issue and from full, could support 1 hour 20 minutes of routing. Power tools are used intermittently at a job site and it’s not hard to imagine the Safari ME being used as a daily driver to power table saws, compressors, and other power tools at a job site.

The Safari ME can be recharged with solar panels via an Anderson connector. Plugging in a 100 watt solar panel recharged the power station from empty to full in 10 hours and it’s not hard to imagine bolting a small 100 watt solar panel to a work truck to keep a battery in the back of the truck charging throughout the work day. It can also be charged via a standard 120 volt outlet by simply unrolling the integrated charging cable in 85 minutes. Most portable power stations require an external charging brick to charge and Lion Energy went through the extra trouble of integrating the necessary electronics directly into the unit to streamline charging.

The rear of the unit hosts the AC charging cable, the Anderson connector for solar panels, and the connection for an additional battery. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

On the power output side, it can push power out through one of the 2 USB-A ports, 2 USB-C ports, a standard 12v outlet, an Anderson connector, or one of the two AC outlets up front. More AC outlets would be nice, but the high power output capability means you can also add a power strip. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not the end of the world.

Overall, the Lion Energy Safari ME is a capable portable power station with less storage capacity and a higher instantaneous and peak power output than expected at this price point. The integrated electronics are nice and make this a capable all in one package that sets it apart. The massive handles up top make it easy to move around, at the cost of increasing the footprint of the unit.

The LFP chemistry is a huge benefit, due to its ability to last through more charging and discharging cycles and its more stable nature. At $2,349, it’s not cheap, but the ability to add 2 kWh for $1,749 with a Lion ME Expansion Pack opens up the possibility of using the system as a backup battery for the home or even for some larger commercial applications.

Specs

  • Price: $2,349 MSRP. Currently on sale for $1,996.65
  • Weight: 45.5 lb
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 18.7″ x 12.8″ x 12.8″
  • Output – AC: 2 x 120v outlets @ 2,000 watts continuous, 4,000 watts peak
  • Output – USB: 2X USB-A 5V @ 2.4A ea, 2X USB-C 20V @ 3A (60 Watt Max) PD
  • Output – 12V: 1X 12V @ 15A
  • Output – 12V Anderson:  1X 12V @ 25A
  • Input – 12V Anderson: Up to 600 watts PV solar
  • Input – 120v AC: Up to 30A
  • Warranty: 1 year

 
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Written By

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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