CleanTechnica Tested: The BLUETTI AC180 Solar Generator
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CleanTechnica Tested: The BLUETTI AC180 Solar Generator

Jan 23, 2024



The BLUETTI AC180 is a compact and efficient portable power station that, when paired with BLUETTI's 200 watt portable solar panel, becomes one of the better solar generators on the market today. The name itself is somewhat awkwardly derived from the unit's AC output capacity of 1,800 watts. The AC180 stands out with its compact square form factor that is very efficient and utilitarian. All of its plugs sit flush in the compact frame, with a set of solid, integrated handholds up top that make it easy to move around.

It boasts a storage capacity of 1,152 watt hours, which is a nice capacity for a unit this size, especially one with iron phosphate (LiFePo4) chemistry. Iron phosphate batteries are slightly larger by volume and heavier than their more dense lithium-ion cousins. The stored energy can be tapped into for AC devices by activating the integrated inverter, with an output capacity of 1,800 watts continuous, which pushes power out to the four integrated AC outlets on the front of the unit.

On the recharging side, we plugged the BLUETTI AC180 into a typical 110 volt power outlet. In this scenario, the AC180 simply opened up its gullet to suck down the power. In our testing, the unit pulled down 1,100 watts of power, which is a bit below its max AC charging rate of 1,440 watts, meaning it would recharge fully in about an hour if it could keep that rate up. In reality, it will recharge fully in about an hour and half due to its optimized charging curve.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

That's a far higher charging speed than its bigger brother the BLUETTI AC200Max‘s 400-500 watts on AC and just over the sweet spot of ~1,000 watts of AC charging speeds we see as ideal. At 1,000 watts of AC charging, you don't have to worry about cables warming up too much or overpowering standard 15A circuits, and you’re still pulling down a ton of power into the battery pack. Beyond that and you really have to ensure you’re using the proper thick cable and tapping into a robust circuit.

The AC180's storage capacity of a little more than one kilowatt-hour is also a really nice size. It has enough power output to support power-hungry items like an induction burner or refrigerator with enough capacity to handle short bursts of high output. If you are using it for cooking, you’ll want to be sure to have a few options for recharging it throughout the day to recharge after mealtime. At the same time, it's also able to power lower draw items like small refrigerators, laptops, drone battery chargers, and cell phones without hardly any effort.

Soak in the sunshine. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The BLUETTI AC 180 itself is plenty capable, but when paired with BLUETTI 200 watt compact portable solar panel, it excels. The solar panel folds down to one of the flattest, most compact formats we’ve seen to date for portable solar panels. It's made of a fairly standard laminated PVC substrate with the solar cells in between that are somehow lighter and more compact than many competing panels. A zip-up pouch on the exterior of the panel houses the integrated cables, which plug right into the BLUETTI adapter and input port.

Together, the squared-off shell of the portable power station and the compact 200 watt solar panel make for an extremely well-built, portable kit. In testing the solar panel, we were able to get it to push out between 130 and 200 watts of output, depending on the angle relative to the sun and time of day. Seasons and geography also impact solar panel output, so your mileage will surely vary.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The BLUETTI PV200 solar panel has a cool feature on its support legs with quick snaps that can be adjusted to change the angle of the panels. It's an elegant way to make it easier for owners to maximize the output of the panel without overcomplicating the design. It can put out enough power to recharge the battery fully every single day in most areas. That means you can cook, power your appliances, charge all your devices, and keep life powered up with just the power of the sun.

To see what the AC180 could really do, we headed to the kitchen and powered up some of our more power-hungry appliances: an 800 watt Bodum hot water kettle, a KitchenAid 500 Series mixer, and a Vitamix blender. Starting off with just the water kettle, the AC180 showed a draw of 1,000 watts, which is higher than the 600-800 watts we typically see when heating water.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

To make the AC180 sweat a bit, we plugged in all of our kitchen testing devices and cranked them all up to 11. This test typically shows a draw of between 1,350 watts and 1,500 watts. The BLUETTI AC180 showed an output of 1,530 watts, which is higher than average, but close enough to the typical range. Not only did the unit handle the load, it had a bit of breathing room to spare if you really need to power everything and the kitchen sink.

Going one step further, we plugged in our 1,500 watt induction burner and turned it up to high. The BLUETTI AC180 just kept on pushing out the power like it was a walk in the park. Pushing out 1,500 watts continuously, its 1,152 Wh capacity would only be able to provide just over 35 minutes of cooking time, but that's reasonable as long as you’re able to recharge before or after meals. Packs in this capacity range are not well-suited for applications where high draw appliances like an induction burner will need to be used for longer periods of time, but is suitable for solo or two-person camping trips.

The BLUETTI AC 180 and PV200 make for an extremely versatile portable power station and solar generator setup. It's easy to imagine using this as the primary source of energy for a camping expedition or even for a small RV. In a pinch, it could serve as a power source for grid outages or home backup. However, its lower capacity limits the amount of devices in the duration it could actually power home for.

We love that it's iron phosphate. The chemistry is thermally stable, even though it does come at a penalty of a larger volume versus a typical lithium-ion powered battery pack. Just the same, the AC180 is able to push out 1800 watts of power which is impressive for unit of this size and capacity.

The BLUETTI AC180 officially goes on sale on June 15th, at which time we’ll see the official pricing. In the meantime, head over to BLUETTI's official website to get all the details on its other portable power stations and for the AC180 when the time comes.

Disclaimer: BLUETTI provided the power station and solar panel to the author for the purposes of this review.

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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