Portable electric power stations used to be the type of gear only avid campers, preppers, or CPAP users owned, mostly thanks to the high price for what you got. Over the past few years, though, the landscape of these products has completely changed.
There are now dozens of companies that produce portable power stations in different sizes and capacities, and at different price points. For those who can’t or don’t want to fork out thousands of dollars for a power bank, companies like GRECELL makes affordable models that start at a little over $200 USD.
The company recently sent us one of its T-1000 Portable Power Stations to review. It’s the company’s second-largest model, capable of putting out up to 1000 Watts, which is enough to power and charge a wide range of small gadgets and appliances.
Here’s how it fared in our testing, what we liked (and what we didn’t), and ultimately, whether it’s worth buying.
T-1000 Portable Power Station Basics
First, let’s talk a bit about what’s on offer here. While I was initially disappointed that the power station was not, in fact, a terminator made from mimetic polyalloy and sent back in time to kill John Connor, I quickly warmed to the T-1000 thanks to its range of features. Plus, it didn’t try to kill me, and I consider that a win.
The T-1000 can put out up to 1000W of sustained power output, capable of briefly surging up to 2000W as needed. That’s enough to power most smaller appliances like TVs and projectors, laptops, and smartphones, mini-fridges, portable fans, coffee makers, blenders, and CPAP medical devices.
At just under 18lbs, the T-1000 is relatively lightweight by the standards of this kind of device. Even so, it doesn’t skimp on power options, with ten outputs in total: three USB-A, two AC, two 12 volt DC, one 12V cigarette lighter port, one USB C, and one wireless charging pad.
The sockets for each main type of output (AC, DC, and USB) are laid out vertically on the front of the unit. There’s a master power button, plus a separate power button for each type of output, but not for each socket individually.
In terms of power storage, the T-1000 has a 999Wh capacity. How long that will last you, of course, is completely dependent on what you’ve got plugged into it. It won’t power a camper or off-grid house, but is fine for basic camping trips, road trips, beach days, working outside, or unexpected power outages.
Specifications in Detail
- 3x USB QC 3.0 ports (18W max)
- 2x AC sockets (120V/60Hz)
- 1x USB C PD port (60W max)
- 2x DC 12V ports (60W max)
- 1x 12V cigarette lighter port (120W max)
- 1x Qi wireless charging pad (10W max)
- LCD display
- LED flashlight with SOS mode
What’s in the Box
- GRECELL T-1000 portable power station
- AC 100-240V wall adapter
- 12V car charging cable
- MC4-7909 solar panel connection cable
- Cable storage bag
- User manual
What’s Good About the GRECELL T-1000
Let’s get the biggest benefit out of the way up front: the price. Equivalent 1000W power stations from other brands cost up to double what GRECELL is charging. While the more expensive versions tend to have more features and sleeker designs, if you’re just looking for a barebones product that gets the job done, the T-1000 could well be the way to go.
Of course, cheaper products have to save on cost somewhere, and that can often be at the expense of their durability. We haven’t had enough time with the product yet to comment on how it performs over the long-term, but it at least showed no signs of wear during our review period.
At this stage, we’re comfortable saying that if you’ll only use a portable generator for infrequent camping or beach trips, or to have in the house for emergencies, the T-1000 should easily meet your requirements.
That said, you may not even need to invest in the T-1000. The T-500 and T-300 models can both handle charging basic electronics like phones, laptops, cameras, and CPAP machines just fine. If that’s all you need a power station for, you can save even more cash with a smaller version.
The LCD display is refreshingly easy to read and understand. It shows remaining battery capacity, how much power is coming in (i.e., charging rate), how much power is going out of the AC, DC, and/or USB sockets, whether the flashlight is on, and the status of the built-in cooling fan. Remaining battery life is displayed as an exact percentage.
It may seem like a given that all power stations would display this information in a similar way, but many of the others we’ve tested within this price range just don’t. They’ll do things like only giving a rough idea of remaining capacity, leaving you to guess how long you’ve got before the whole thing shuts down.
The display remains visible even in sunny conditions, and there’s a backlight that comes on for fifteen seconds when you press any button, so it’s easy to use the unit at night as well.
The flashlight is on the side of the power station, which makes it more convenient than others we’ve used that put it on the front.
Because the handle on most power banks (including this one) runs horizontally along the top of the unit, having the light on the side makes it easier to use while carrying. You can hold the power station by its handle at your side, with the light facing forward in the direction you’re walking.
Something else that’s bugged us about units with the flashlight on the front? Usually, the power button for it is also on front, which means you get blinded by the light every time you turn it on. Yes, that gets old pretty quickly.
What’s Not So Good
Doesn’t Work With All Appliances
The device is only compatible with appliances up to 1000W. Of the ones tested, a toaster, blender, and small space heater worked; however, the kettle and air fryer did not.
The air fryer worked for lower settings, like keep warm and dehydrate, but not air fry or or air roast, which require too much power to preheat.
None of this is specific to the T-1000, of course; it’s more of a reminder to check the power requirements of the appliances you plan to use with any portable generator. Heating and cooling devices, in particular, need a lot of power: you may need an even beefier model if that’s what you want to connect.
Inconsistent Phone Charging
When testing two different phones, the output wattage being displayed for different ports was inconsistent across my tests, and varied based on the phone model tested.
When I first connected an iPhone 12 (with 85% battery life) to the USB C port, it wouldn’t go above six watts. Connecting it a second time, the output remained steady at 10 watts.
I later tried the USB C port with an iPhone 10 (with 50% battery) and it got up to 18 watts. That’s as high as that model iPhone can go, which shows that the port is at least capable of charging a phone at maximum speed.
On my first test with an iPhone 10, the top wireless charger fluctuated between 3-5 watts, which meant charging from 50% to full took nearly three hours. Testing it again later, the display showed eight watts out.
Later, with an iPhone 12 on the wireless charger, the display showed 10 watts out on the first test, and 11 watts on the second. That doesn’t make a lot of sense: not only does the spec sheet list 10W as the max wireless output, but also no iPhone can pull more than 7.5W from a Qi charger like this.
I’m guessing that the display is showing how much power is being sent to the wireless pad, rather than how much is being used by the phone. There will always be some amount of energy loss with wireless charging, so that 11W number may be technically correct, if not particularly useful!
When charging the same iPhone 12 (from 35% battery life), using the AC output with a 20W Anker PowerPort III Nano wall charger, the T-1000 display showed 6-9 watts out. Using the USB C port immediately afterward, it displayed 11-14 watts out.
That said, the wattage sometimes didn’t display at all when charging an iPhone 12 with the Anker Nano charger. What made that particularly odd was the fact that it displayed at 10-12 watts when charging the same way with an iPhone 10 immediately after.
In summary, while the phones did always charge, the power output that was being displayed was inconsistent, and in some cases, not as useful as it could be.
The design of the T-1000 is nothing to write home about. GRECELL’s units are pretty basic when it comes to aesthetics, which may or may not be your thing. The sharp edges and bright orange handle and corner finishes make it more industrial-looking than its competitors: it certainly doesn’t blend in for indoor use.
More expensive power stations tend to come with curved edges and a more subtle design overall.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the below tests were performed using one of the AC sockets on the unit, with factory chargers and power cables.
|MacBook Pro 13″||35-37W||1 hour||1%||Added 50% laptop charge|
|Blender||300-600W||1 blended smoothie||3%|
|Small electric heater||550-650W||10 minutes||10%|
|iPhone 10||3-5W||2 hrs 55 min||1%||Wireless charging, added 50% charge|
Verdict and Final Thoughts
The GRECELL T-1000 may not be as powerful or as sleek as other power stations on the market, but it holds up well for anyone on a budget. The low price makes it an affordable option for those who need something simple to power basic appliances and devices while away from a wall outlet.
That said, it’s not without its quirks. We weren’t entirely convinced that the power output shown on the display was 100% accurate, and there was more variation in charging speeds than expected. None of that would stop us buying the T-1000, but it’s not something we’ve seen with other power stations we’ve tested.
Uses for the device include:
- Car/small RV camping
- Working from your car
- Outdoor events
- Powering live music
- Backyard work-from-home situations
- Backyard movie nights
- Power outages
Check out our other reviews of portable power stations, including the Jackery Explorer 1000 and SolarSaga Solar Panels and our list of the best portable generators. You might also be interested in our outdoor guides on camping gadgets, campervan and RV tech, and portable solar chargers.
All images via author