One of the most versatile power stations I've tested is $420 off right now on Amazon

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • The Bluetti AC180 is available from Amazon for $579 ($420 off) with a Prime membership.
  • Its build provides simple functionality that delivers exceptional power performance.  
  • It’s fairly heavy given its capacity, weighing in at 37 pounds.

You can divide power stations into three broad categories – there are the tiny, highly portable units, the huge units that roll about on wheels, and in between, you have the bulky but still portable units that you can lug about, just not too far!

I quite like this intermediate category because I can throw one in the back of the car or truck when I go camping or on photo/video/drone trips, and it’ll provide all the power I need for a few days.

Also: The best portable power stations you can buy: Expert tested

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been using and abusing the Bluetti AC180, and this unit ticks all the boxes for what I want from a power station that can keep me going when off-grid for a few days. 

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Bluetti AC180 tech specs

  • Power: 1,800W Rated Power/2,700W Lifting Power (surge)
  • Capacity: 1,152Wh
  • AC Charging: 1,440W Turbo charging, 60 minutes to 100% (silent charging at 300W also available)
  • Solar Charging: 500W Fast solar charge, fully charge in about 2.8 – 3.3 hours
  • Outputs: AC: 4×120V, 1,800W in total | USB-C: 1 × 100W max | USB-A: 4 × 5VDC/3A 15W in total | 15W wireless charging pad | 12V DC: 1 × 12V/10A
  • Battery: LiFePO4, rated for 3,500+ charge cycles
  • App: Smart remote control via BLUETTI app
  • UPS Reaction Time: 20ms
  • Weight: 35.3lbs/16kg
  • Dimensions: 13.4 × 9.7 × 12.5 inches / 340 × 246 × 318 mm
  • Warranty: Five years

Note that the unit in the photos is a UK version of the AC180, but apart from the differences relating to the AC outlets, it’s functionally identical to the US version.

The Bluetti AC180 is a beast!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

When testing a power station for a review, there are a few key aspects I examine.

First, I verify that the device lives up to the claims made on its spec sheet, which, for power stations, includes the battery capacity and the loads the device can handle. I’m also keen to see how the power station copes with loads exceeding its rated capacity, looking for it to shut down in a tidy fashion, because no one wants a box filled with high-power batteries to start to spark, spit, and cause a brouhaha.

The AC180 passed all my tests with flying colors. It’s a meticulously crafted and expertly engineered unit that delivers precisely what it promises.

Handy wireless charging pad

Handy wireless charging pad

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Another strong aspect to the AC180 is longevity. Bluetti builds these power stations around LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries, and these are renowned for their durability. The cells used in this unit are rated for 3,500 recharge cycles before they are considered spent, significantly outperforming the typical 500 to 800 recharge cycles of standard lithium-ion batteries.

Also: I tested one of the cheapest power stations that made road-tripping a breeze (and it’s $250 off)

I also tested the charging claims, connecting this up to an AC outlet, solar panels, and a vehicle’s 12V outlet.

For solar charging, I was using a 120W Bluetti panel, which delivered exceptional performance even in the weak spring UK sun, feeling the power station close to the maximum rated power. This robust, IP68-rated solar panel is the most cost-effective way to keep the power station topped up when off-grid.

The Bluetti AC180 connected to a 120W solar panel

The Bluetti AC180 connected to a 120W solar panel

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Safety, both electrical and with regards to heat management, is a big concern. While most power stations pass with no problems, some are literal hot garbage that you don’t want to be anywhere in the vicinity of when they are working. The AC180, as is the case with all Bluetti power stations, operate perfectly, and I have no concerns about using this unit in a home, in a vehicle, or a tent.

Durability is a critical factor in my evaluations. Despite the inherent challenges of standardizing real-world testing, I subject all power stations to intense conditions over several weeks. This rigorous testing regimen includes extensive use, transportation in cars and trucks, and intentional drops onto hard surfaces to thoroughly assess their durability.

Also: The best home battery and backup systems of 2024: Expert tested

The AC180 excelled, laughing at all the durability testing I threw at it.

Finally, there’s usability. I mean, it’s no good if you can’t actually use the power station! I look for controls that are easy to use, accompanied by a display that shows all the necessary information without being cluttered or confusing.

The AC180, as is the case for all Bluetti units I’ve tested recently, absolutely excels in this area as well. Its display is bright and clear, complemented by just three backlit buttons, striking the perfect balance between simplicity and functionality.

The interface is clear and easy to read

The interface is clear and easy to read

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET’s buying advice

If I had to sum up the Bluetti AC180 in a sentence, I could do it in three words — does not disappoint. It’s a great power station, and is exactly what I’d expect from a Bluetti product. 

For $579, you’re getting a top-tier power station at a jaw-dropping price.

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