Reviews

This Anker mobile generator needs to go in your prepper stash

The Anker PowerHouse II 400 delivers enough juice to power a fridge and your laptop.

Powerhouse II 400

Anker's PowerHouse series is a riff on "solar generators," but in when you really boil it down, it's a giant lithium ion battery. You can charge it with a solar panel, but most people will likely power it up with the included wall charger.

I got to test the PowerHouse II 400 for a couple of weeks, and as a former Goal Zero Yeti user, I was impressed with Anker's second generation battery. It's not perfect, but it gets a lot of things right.

$399.99

400 watt-hours

Anker's battery can power a 400 watt appliance for one hour, or a one watt appliance for 400 hours.

Shutterstock

The PowerHouse II 400 has all the ports you might need, including several USB ports, a 300 watt AC inverter, and a DC-out port for car accessories.

Most importantly, the battery includes a USB-C PD port, meaning that you can charge your laptop or smartphone directly, without having to use the inefficient AC inverter.

300 watts of power

Charging your laptop with the AC adapter may be inefficient, but having the options is critical. With a 300 watt inverter, you can (separately) power a fridge, air purifier, or a CPAP machine with ease.

Universal design

Anker's rubberized design makes it feel at home on a shelf or in your tent. The battery is just a little heavy at 9.7 lbs, so the handle is great.

There are a number of nice touches, like a flashlight on the side with a few different brightness levels and a strobe mode.

Price

The Powerhouse II 400 costs $399.99, which is actually quite good. Goal Zero's Yeti 500X has 100 Wh more power, but costs $699.95.

The PowerHouse has a giant display that shows you the current charge level, as well as how much power is coming in and how much is going out. Watch out though, to save power the screen will only stay on for a few seconds.

Quiet

Heat is a mortal enemy to lithium ion batteries, so there's a fan cleverly hidden behind this blue and gray grill. Mercifully it's pretty quiet, and it's so well hidden that it took me quite a while to figure out what was whirring.

The competition

There are several portable generators on the market these days, but the PowerHouse strikes a great balance between power, price, and features.

Like I said at the top, I used to have a Goal Zero Yeti 1,000 which cost me around $1,200 and weighed 45 lbs. It was great when I was traveling and camping, but back in my apartment it was major overkill, and it didn't have a USB-C PD port.

Drawbacks

There was really only one major pitfall that I could find with the PowerHouse II. It's a small complaint, but Anker's website says that you can charge the battery at 120 watts by using the wall adapter and a USB-C charger simultaneously, but I wasn't able to make this work.

It sounds like a nitpick, and it is, but when you're waiting for a battery this large to charge, you'll appreciate any way to pick up the pace.

Shutterstock

Is it for you?

When choosing one of these generators, you really need to figure out what your needs are.

For a compact battery like the PowerHouse II 400, the use cases are pretty varied; you could take it to a picnic with ease, or you could leave it charged in your apartment for backup power. And after the wildfires on the west coast earlier this year, I certainly enjoy having a couple of hours of real power standing by.

Share