The Southwire Elite Portable Power Station is perfect for RVers! It can be a game-changer, particularly for boondockers and tenters, and for use as backup power.
When I read that folks at TechnoRV had used one of the Southwire power stations to run their electric blanket while dry camping, I was intrigued and contacted them. TechnoRV graciously sent me the Southwire Elite 1100 Series™ Portable Power Station to test. The Elite 1100 power station’s top output is a hefty 1,000 watts!
While we have plenty of solar power (990 watts) and a generator to run most of the electronics in our motorhome, we still need to resort to heavy blankets when boondocking in the cold. We also have to use a small battery pack for my husband’s CPAP machine, and we usually never run the table fan in the heat of the Arizona desert. Yes, we have the generator for AC, but it is loud and most state or national parks have restrictive hours.
Out of the box
First off, since it’s the largest in the series, the Elite 1100 is surprisingly heavy. It is about the same size as an automotive battery and weighs 24 lbs. While I hadn’t expected that weight, the attached handle does make it easy to move around.
The power station came with instructions, a charger that plugs into an AC outlet, a DC cigarette lighter-style charger, and an assortment of DC adapters.
TechnoRV also sent the Southwire Elite Series™ 100-watt Solar Panel to test with the Power Station. I was very impressed with the design and ease of use of the solar panel. Not only was it highly functional, but it set up quickly and has elegantly designed accents. It is well thought out.
Easy to use
I had to read the instruction manual a couple of times to see if I was missing something because the Power Station was so self-explanatory. The single LCD screen indicates:
- The power source is actively being used: DC, USB or AC.
- Power input and output. If power output exceeds 1000 watts it automatically shuts off.
- Low power warning.
- High- and low-temperature warning.
- Power level percentage remaining and the battery level when charging.
Before the first use, the Power Station needs to be fully charged with the AC charger, DC charger, PD charger, PD charger with AC charger or the solar panel. The LCD screen estimates the hours needed to charge based on the power source. If charging with a vehicle through the DC car charger, the vehicle should always be running to not deplete the vehicle battery.
When charged, plug in the desired device into one or all three of the AC outlets, the USB, USB-C or USB-A outlets.
The LCD screen will show how many hours the device or devices plugged in will be able to run and how many watts they use.
Charging the Southwire Elite Power Station
These are the four methods I used as I did not have a PD adapter cord.
Charging with 100-watt solar panel
I set up the solar panel first. It was late afternoon and the Power Station showed that it would be fully charged in 14 hours. Had I started earlier in the day or wanted to charge for two days, solar, particularly when boondocking, would be perfect.
Charging with AC
I decided on a shortcut and charged with the AC charger with the motorhome plugged into shore power. The LCD screen showed it had four hours to fully charge from 40% to 100%, and that the AC to DC charger was putting in 111 watts.
Charging with house batteries and house solar panels
Next, I tried charging with the motorhome’s house batteries. The house batteries were being charged by the 990 watts of solar panels when not plugged into shore power or when running the generator. No problem—I can easily charge the power station with the AC power from the batteries. The Southwire Elite Power Station was pulling around 10 amps from the batteries. As we were putting in 30.1 amps from the solar panels on a sunny afternoon, we were golden!
Charging with generator
After that, I ran the generator and it was no problem to charge the Power Station and run the air conditioning, TVs, and our satellite at the same time.
Testing the Southwire Elite 1100 Power Station
There were several items that I was excited about charging with the Elite Power Station: our computers, printer, tablets, phones and my eBike. I wanted to test running the CPAP machine with full humidity, a table fan, a popcorn popper and, most exciting, the coffee pot! If I am up before generator hours I resort to boiled coffee rather than my favored drip coffee. Remember “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup”? Well, I need any brand of coffee in my cup!
The Power Station could go for hours charging our phones, tablets and computer. It could charge this iPad for 100 hours!
Wow, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to charge an eBike when out in the boonies? My eBike was about 1/4 down in power. Could the power station handle charging the eBike battery? The LCD screen showed that at 66%, the Power Station would charge for six hours at the 107-watt draw. If the eBike battery had been lower I may have had to charge in two-day segments with the solar panel. I am impressed!
We usually use a small rechargeable battery pack for my husband’s CPAP machine and always have to turn the heated humidifier off. It would be great if the humidifier could be on overnight and now it can … for 23 hours. Rested husband = happy wife.
A table fan was no match for the Southwire Elite 1100 power pack. It could run for 30 hours when using 22 watts. We could use the fan in the motorhome or outside. Score!
Here is the real test. Could we stay warm on frigid nights? Electric blankets usually use the most power when heating up and then shut down until needed again.
One side of the electric blanket on low would heat for five hours fully charged. When it heats to temp and is just plugged in with only 1 watt draw it is more than 930 hours!
Plugging both sides of the blanket on low reduces the time to three hours and draws 257 watts. When one side fully heats up and the draw is down to 102 watts, it shows that it can go nine hours.
As there is an extreme heat warning here, I did not try overnight use of the Power Station and electric blanket. The watt draw and use time were varying widely depending on how warm the blankets were, if they were at temp, and if they were turning off or not. I think in actual use I would plug in the blankets and warm one side up at a time then turn them off.
Instant Pot/slow cooker
What else would the Power Station be nice to have power for? Could it power the Instant Pot/slow cooker combo?
- Slow cooker. Yes, it would power it for one hour. But one hour is not enough time for a slow-cooked meal. Better to turn on the propane stove.
- The Instant Pot is the same thing and the Power Station can only power the Instant Pot for one hour. I don’t think I would want to use up all the available power in an hour. The Power Station smelled hot after I had the Instant Pot on for a few minutes so I unplugged the Instant Pot. The Power Station fan came on and cooled it off.
Portable electric heater
We sometimes turn on the portable electric heaters when we run the generator when we’re without hookups. I knew the high setting of 1,500 watts on the heater was too high, so I tested it on low power at 750 watts. After the initial surge of power, the heater was drawing 596 watts and running fine. For only one hour of heat, I might just run the furnace or use the portable propane Big Buddy instead.
No to popcorn
This is one of the things I can’t live without and will turn on the generator for. Alas, my air popper requires 1,475 watts and shut down the Power Station quickly.
Another no-go: the coffee pot
Bleep! My coffee pot is another no-go. Our particular coffee pot pulls more than 1,100 watts and instantly shut off the Elite Power Station. I will be on the lookout for a coffee pot and popcorn popper that needs fewer watts to run.
Specs: Southwire 1100 Elite Portable Power Station
- Lithium-Ion 1166.4Wh 324AH@3.6V capacity.
- Power output: 1,000 watts.
- Size: 13.19 x 9.8 inches.
- Protection: Surge, short circuit, over-current, low-voltage protection, temperature control.
- Weight: 24.7 lbs.
- Inputs: DC12-30V 5A, USB C Port.
- Outputs: USB C Port, USB A Port, DC 12V 5A x2, AC 120V 60H 100W.
The Southwire Power Stations are available in four power capacities: Elite 1100, 500, 300 and 200. The weight of the power packs varies from 24 lbs. down to an easily transportable 6.60 lbs for the 200-watt unit. Paired with the solar panel it really is a game-changer for RVers. It would be helpful to have something other than the handle to lock it up when charging with the solar panel outside.
I was thoroughly impressed with the system, its ability to power multiple items, how clear the LCD system showed pertinent information, and its ease of use and recharging. I liked that it could easily supplement our existing house batteries with solar, particularly charging my eBike and running the CPAP with the humidifier on at the same time and the electric blanket on.
You can find this Power Station as well as others on TechnoRV’s website.