The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

5 in 1 portable power update to the update

5 in 1 portable power pack review update to the update

Our Chicago Electric 5 in 1 portable power packs are just over a year old and I thought it was time for a report.

The first one will only take a 50% charge, while the second one is dead to the world.
battery boosting on a winter day
The one still working came in very handy during the 2011 power outage giving us the ability to keep the incubator going, We only used the car battery booster function twice.

It feels like whatever type of battery these things have inside is underpowered. We might be able to salvage the internal invertor if I can figure out a way to take it apart or maybe there's a way to replace the battery with something more substantial?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Doesn't sound like it's good quality stuff. How long is the warranty on those things?
Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Nov 2 16:42:15 2011
I got one of these at Aldi for $30 and have used it for three or four years now. Use it to pump up tires, and start my lawnmower so I can avoid buying a new battery. Still working fine. A different brand. But they're all just a battery with a built in trickle charger.
Comment by Errol Wed Nov 2 17:43:06 2011

Roland --- Yup, looks like whoever warned us against them was right. Now that you mention it, I think Mark might have paid extra for an extended warranty since he didn't really trust the quality of these devices. I'll have to dig up that paperwork.

Daddy --- It seems to depend on the quality of the battery. Sounds like you got a good one, and cheap too!

Comment by anna Thu Nov 3 11:09:33 2011

I've been toying with the idea of getting one of these for a long time. Thanks for posting this, you've saved me some money. I'll just spend the extra $40 or so to get a better quality one.

Harbor Freight is ok for some things, but nothing over about $30. Just too cheap.

Comment by Fritz Sat Nov 5 21:24:57 2011

We were stuck in a bit of a Catch-22 when it came to trying to find a high quality version. The high quality versions were only offered online, and even among the good brands, reviews made it sound like around 10% of them were just no good out of the box. That would have meant expensive mailing them back.

So we decided to try to find them locally at a place we could pick them up in person (and return them relatively easily if they didn't work right out of the box), but Harbor Freight only had a lower quality version.

If I had to do it over, I wouldn't have bought one at all and would have followed our readers' advice to jump through the hoops to hook up our own battery and inverter for backup power. Of course, that wouldn't have been portable, and we have used the portability feature multiple times.

Comment by anna Sun Nov 6 08:10:01 2011

Why not rip off the invertor/charger and hook that up to standard car battery? I'll concede that it would be more luggable than portable, but car batteries are easy to come by.

Another idea would be to hook the electronics up to the batteries of your trusty golf cart. That way you'd have portable power wherever you can get the golf cart to go.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Nov 6 15:10:58 2011
I think Mark's planning on doing one of those things once he gets a chance to tinker with it.
Comment by anna Mon Nov 7 08:12:08 2011

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