April 21, 2024

There’s a large variety of different portable power stations on the market today with what seems like different companies popping up every month. A market that was once dominated by Jackery has become very competitive, and these competing products are not just cheap knockoff brands. Some of them are very good.

In this article I’m reviewing another brand’s product – Bluetti; specifically, the Bluetti EB3A. Its compact design caught my attention.

At first glance, you’ll look at the EB3A and think it’s too small when compared to other portable power stations, but size DOES matter. Consistent themes you’re going to find in this review are options and size. The Bluetti EB3A has A LOT of options in a SMALL package.

Features

The face of the EB3A gives you an idea of the many features it offers. You have various ports that allow you to charge just about any device you could want. That’s on top of a built-in light for emergency use and a wireless phone charging pad on top of the station.

  1. Cigarette Lighter Port
  2. DC5521 Port
  3. DC Power Button
  4. DC Input Port
  5. AC Input Port
  6. AC Circuit Breaker*
  7. Wireless Charging Pad
  1. LCD Screen
  2. LED Lamp
  3. LED Lamp Button
  4. USB-C Port
  5. USB-A Port
  6. AC Output Port
  7. AC Power Button

Bluetti also offers a BLUETTI App that can be downloaded from Goolge Play or the App Store. This can be used to customize your device. Units like these are more than just big batteries. They’re more like big batteries with built-in minicomputers for improved functionality.

I will call attention to the EB3A’s built-in safety features, because that’s something that 1) most consumers don’t consider, and 2) it’s not something you “see” on the device. However, you’re spending good money on portable power stations, and you want to make sure that what you’re buying is protected and built to last.

The Bluetti EB3A has six built-in safety features: overload, low temperature, low voltage, over temperature, short circuit, and over current protection. These features help maintain the longevity of your device, and they’re particularly important given the circumstances under which they’re often used – when inconsistent/unreliable power is the very reason you’re using it in the first place.

Charging

Operating the EB3A is as easy as operating any other portable power bank – maybe even easier since it’s small enough to move around. You begin by charging it either through a conventional electrical outlet, your car’s cigarette lighter port, or by optional solar panels. The LCD screen lights up while charging to indicate the input power and charge level.

AC Charging. Plug the EB3A into any standard electrical outlet using the included AC charging cable. The different charging settings is an example of the many features of this unit. You have Standard, Turbo, and Silent charging modes. Standard is the default charging mode. You select Turbo or Silent using the aforementioned Bluetti app.

I can tell you that even standard mode is a bit noisy. The unit has a built-in fan that cools the battery off when it begins to heat. This fan makes a louder noise than the fan in my Alpha ESS units, but Silent mode is… silent. Turbo mode is fast! Having options is good. If you prefer silence at the expense of a longer charge time you have that. If you want it charged ASAP, you have that option too.

PV Charging. The EB3A allows for solar photovoltaic (PV) charging. This is pretty standard on most portable power banks being produced these days and for good reason. The whole intent of these is to allow use of them when you’re away from or don’t have power, so long as you have the optional solar panels (and sunshine), you can charge your Bluetti EB3A outside. Those solar panels would be great if you’re a digital nomad spending a lot of time working from a laptop on the beach. Just set up your sun umbrella (keep the EB3A in the shade), plug your EB3A into the solar panels, and work away.

The EB3A is suitable for solar panels with an open circuit voltage of 12-28V. But for my intended use of the EB3A (limited time for small devices), that doesn’t matter. In a pinch I could always charge the EB3A off a larger power bank that is charged from solar panels.

Car Charging. The ability to charge this device in a vehicle is another reason why, for a device this size, I don’t feel the need to have solar panels for it. I have used a larger Alpha ESS unit for working from a laptop while on the road. While it’s great for that, it takes up a ton of space in the cab of my truck – and it’s heavy! I have to set it on the passenger side seat or floor, which becomes a problem if I have a passenger.

With the EB3A, I can set this on the console between the two front seats and it’s out of the way. I can plug it into the truck’s cigarette lighter port and hook my laptop into the power station, so the entire thing acts like an inverter. Again – options and size.

Powering Devices

Given the EB3A’s compact size, it’s best suited to powering small devices such as cellphones, lamps, laptops, speakers, etc. While it features a Power Lifting Mode (see below), that should be used more for temporary, in a pinch-type situations where you need to power more demanding devices. It’s great to have that as an option, but the EB3A simply isn’t big enough to power large devices for long periods of time. That’s fine because the tradeoff means smaller size, weight, and portability.

Hit the power button, indicated in the above picture by 3, 10, and 14, for the outputs you want to use. These buttons turn on the outputs within the outlined areas on the face of the device. The power buttons have a green indicator light when turned on. Turning the device off is done in reverse, hold the power button for a moment and it turns off.

I did not test the unit’s ability to power devices all all types, but it had no problem powering my laptop and kids’ cellphones on a road trip from northern Maine to New York City, and it took up little room in the vehicle.

The manufacturer lists its charging capacity based on device type below:

Modes

The Bluetti EB3A has three different power modes:

  • Setting Mode. You can customize some of the unit by entering Setting Mode and by downloading and using the BLUETTI App. Press and hold the AC and DC power buttons simultaneously for two seconds to enter Setting Mode. Repeat to exit.
  • ECO Mode. ECO mode is going to be the standard mode from which you operate the device. It’ll give you the most juice for the use, hence “ECO” for economy. Under Setting Mode you press the DC power to turn it on or off.
  • Power Lifting Mode. This isn’t for bench pressing or squatting the EB3A (it’s too light for that), but for kicking off more current to power more demanding devices (space heater in a tent, for example). The saying “the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long” applies here. What you get for higher output you lose in length of use; however, Power Lifting Mode is a great feature for when you need to power a bigger device if even for a limited time.

Bluetti EB3A Price

As I write this, the Bluetti EB3A sells for $299 on Amazon and just $239 on Bluetti’s site.

Bluetti EB3A Review – Small is Good

While larger power stations may offer more capacity, the Bluetti EB3A offers a significantly smaller size and lighter weight. A smaller portable power station like the EB3A is advantageous for several reasons:

  1. Easier to transport: With a smaller form factor, the EB3A is less cumbersome and easier to carry or move around compared to larger power stations. In everyday use, this is important because – let’s face it – in most cases people use portable power stations for charging small devices. There’s no need to go overkill if you don’t need it. In a crisis, small size is important when evacuating or relocating quickly during an emergency and you want to be able to power your communication devices.
  2. Space-saving: In confined spaces, such as a bug-out vehicle or a compact off-grid cabin, the smaller footprint of the EB3A is essential for efficient space utilization, allowing you to store other essential supplies and equipment. As indicated in the earlier picture, it’s also great if you need to power many devices on a road trip when you begin to run out of ports in the vehicle.
  3. Reduced weight: A lighter power station is not only easier to carry but also puts less strain on your vehicle’s payload when traveling off-grid, ensuring optimal performance and fuel efficiency.
  4. Faster charging: Smaller power stations typically have a shorter charging time, allowing you to get back to full capacity more quickly, especially when using solar panels or other alternative charging methods.

I like the Bluetti EB3A because it’s a quality unit, offers many options, and it’s small and lightweight. I don’t have to brace myself when lifting it up like I do with larger units and it can easily be tucked into tight spaces with ease.