Portable Power Bank Assistance

kilogulf59

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First, my apologies if this is in the wrong place or has been posted before. I looked around and figured this was it.
OK, now my questions. Now, mind you, I am not electronic tech savvy. What size Portable Power Bank would I need to power a computer with two monitors and an Internet router for four to six hours? This is a work from home/occasional power outage issue. I was investigating it myself, but it's all Greek to me. I figured you folks would be the people to ask. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

orbital

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700~1000Wh
That should be plenty for most computer systems, for that amount of time.

You can get an all-in-one powerbank 'generator'
or
battery and inverter setup.
 

idleprocess

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What size Portable Power Bank would I need to power a computer with two monitors and an Internet router for four to six hours?
This is less powerbank and more UPS or the newer power station category.

UPSs are an older technology intended to promote uptime:
  • Uninterruptable Power Supply: In the event of an outage they switch over to internal power in less time than an AC cycle takes to complete, allowing connected devices to operate continuously
  • They tend towards high output / low runtime
  • Battery technology is almost universally lead-acid
  • AC waveform tends to be poor - modified square wave is pretty standard which will provide a gross approximation of a mains power sine wave
Lithium power stations are more like generator replacements:
  • Intended to run devices standalone / offrgid on a low duty cycle
  • May offer pass-through AC power, or might need a DC adaptor to continuously run the inverter
  • UPS functionality is spotty. Some claim the capability but all that do I've encountered have switching times longer than an AC cycle, thus may not keep devices operational in the event of an outage.
  • Without UPS functionality you will need to manually plug equipment in during an outage
  • Tend towards medium-high output / long runtime
  • Far more likely than UPSs to use a sine wave inverter
  • Beware li-ion cells for the battery; LFP is preferred for its long cycle life and safer operation
Having acquired a number of UPSs over the years and knowing their shortcomings (and need for frequent battery replacements) I've opted for a small portable gas generator setup: the UPSs handle short outages and give me time during a long outage to setup/spinup the generators.
 
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orbital

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kilogulf59

I'd have to recommend a LFP battery (100Ah size) from LiTime, Amperetime or Powerqueen.
Then a decent pure sine wave inverter,, have to recommend Samlex PST series, they keep true 120vac and have low interference.

You'd have to get a LFP charger, 10Amp should be fine.
 

turbodog

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@orbital thank you. Is there a particular brand that's good or one to stay away from?

This, and an extension cord.

1681422634761.png


I personally prefer the 'go power' brand, but they are pricey. YMMV.
 

orbital

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If doing the battery/inverter is more involved than you'd like,
I recently suggested to the sister of my neighbor an ECOFLOW River 2 for a small solar setup.

They have LFP batteries inside & are a clean design.
Problem is the prices jump around so much it's hard to find the right time to buy. Just a few weeks ago the price was the lowest ever on the units,, that price lasted one day.

At $599 it's not cheap, but could be your solution::: https://us.ecoflow.com/products/river-2-pro-portable-power-station
 

KITROBASKIN

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Consider joining diysolarforum. It is 10 times larger than CPF and there are some very experienced individuals. The forum owner is big on the YouTube scene and has preferences but there are many options for you.

Hard to say without more information from you because I would like you to consider having a system that will use solar and never have to do anything special when grid power fails. Your computer will not even know the grid failed you. No tending an emergency device.

It is easy to get some kind of all-in-one portable unit (Ecoflow model that uses Lifepo batteries as well as others) but unless you envision taking it when vacationing or evacuating, there are higher quality, more bang for the buck options. When one component fails in an all-in-one (AIO), it's game over for at least a while.

Solar panels have never been less expensive and typically function for 20 or more years. I have some from 1995 that are just fine. Coincidentally I just received today a 24 Volt 100Ah LFP Epoch battery but also have SOK. Treated appropriately, they should last 10 years or more.

I like Victron components for charge controllers and inverters but Samlex is highly regarded (orbital mentioned) and the inverter turbodog linked could very well be a great value. There are many less expensive options.

Having a system you use 24/7 will surely justify the expense. A backup is going to be quite costly in terms of actual real time use, and may fail when needed because it has been sitting there unused. So much more complication instead of a running system. Batteries do not like to just sit there at or near 100%.

On the other hand, you may choose the simpler option of getting one thing. Try to get LFP's and a larger unit so as not to stress it running it at maximum for a long time.
 

orbital

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Should mention this,
I recently bought a 2000W inverter off A~Z 'warehouse' deals, it was pure sine and had a clean chassis, figured I'd get it as a backup.
What a P.O.S, it produced 108vac at 25V DC

Immediate return
 

kilogulf59

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First, my apologies if this is in the wrong place or has been posted before. I looked around and figured this was it.
OK, now my questions. Now, mind you, I am not electronic tech savvy. What size Portable Power Bank would I need to power a computer with two monitors and an Internet router for four to six hours? This is a work from home/occasional power outage issue. I was investigating it myself, but it's all Greek to me. I figured you folks would be the people to ask. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
More info was asked for , but that is about it. I'm actually inquiring for my son-in-law. They live in an apartment in town. He works from home on the computer/Internet. A few times a year, for whatever reason, they get an outage. It can be anything from a few minutes to a few hours. I thought there would be some simple power source device that he could get and plug his computer into it and be back in business in a few minutes. I've seen these gizmos that folks charge their cell phones with and figured there may be something like that only bigger. Heck, laptops can run on batteries, why not desktops?
Generators and/or going solar would be out of the question as they're in an apartment. Also, honestly, the problems the outages cause him are not that big of a deal to merit a generator or solar setup. I guess the closest I've seen here to what I was considering is the inverter with the car battery setup. However, I doubt he'd want a car battery inside his apartment, what with acid, fumes, and all. GEL and AGM batteries seem safer, albeit expensive.
All that being said, I will most definitely run all these options past him and he can decide what, if anything, he wants to do about it. As well, I'd like to thank all of you for the kind and extremely informative advice given here. Personally, I've learned a lot, though some of it is still Greek to me.
 

turbodog

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More info was asked for , but that is about it. I'm actually inquiring for my son-in-law. They live in an apartment in town. He works from home on the computer/Internet. A few times a year, for whatever reason, they get an outage. It can be anything from a few minutes to a few hours. I thought there would be some simple power source device that he could get and plug his computer into it and be back in business in a few minutes. I've seen these gizmos that folks charge their cell phones with and figured there may be something like that only bigger. Heck, laptops can run on batteries, why not desktops?
Generators and/or going solar would be out of the question as they're in an apartment. Also, honestly, the problems the outages cause him are not that big of a deal to merit a generator or solar setup. I guess the closest I've seen here to what I was considering is the inverter with the car battery setup. However, I doubt he'd want a car battery inside his apartment, what with acid, fumes, and all. GEL and AGM batteries seem safer, albeit expensive.
All that being said, I will most definitely run all these options past him and he can decide what, if anything, he wants to do about it. As well, I'd like to thank all of you for the kind and extremely informative advice given here. Personally, I've learned a lot, though some of it is still Greek to me.

1681478252142.png


This, and several spare batteries. Total cost < $500. Milwaukee also makes a similar item.
 

idleprocess

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Hard to say without more information from you because I would like you to consider having a system that will use solar and never have to do anything special when grid power fails. Your computer will not even know the grid failed you. No tending an emergency device.
I've long pondered two projects of this flavour:
  1. Install an offgrid setup in my shed: solar panels, battery, batter charger, inverter
  2. Implement an automatic integrated UPS for critical 120V circuits in my house
(1) Would be an interesting project that avoids permitting headaches and would provide some degree of utility - I could use the shed as a home office/mancave, just maintain some semblance of climate control, or gamble that the regulations on renting out ADUs loosen up and further upgrade it with plumbing and rent it out to someone adventurous enough to live in a net ~100ft² structure.

The fundamental problem with (1) is that of location. Winter sun is iffy due to the neighbor's house to the south. Summer sun is iffy in the afternoon due to trees to the west. I doubt I can overprovision enough panels to run even a very small window unit. If I ever want to make the structure habitable I'll just run electrical to the house's main panel somehow.

(2) Has utility similar to the OP's request, albeit without solar integration. The finances however would be questionable - power outages are uncommon and since I live in a standalone detached house a generator works well for emergency power and can run all day on a small amount of fuel for considerably less CAPEX than a few hours of battery power.

More info was asked for , but that is about it. I'm actually inquiring for my son-in-law. They live in an apartment in town. He works from home on the computer/Internet. A few times a year, for whatever reason, they get an outage. It can be anything from a few minutes to a few hours. I thought there would be some simple power source device that he could get and plug his computer into it and be back in business in a few minutes. I've seen these gizmos that folks charge their cell phones with and figured there may be something like that only bigger. Heck, laptops can run on batteries, why not desktops?
An enterprise UPS is probably what you want. The benefit of a UPS is that you don't have to stop working to futz with reconnecting and repowering your equipment.

One of the many incarnations of the APC 1500 should provide 30+ minutes of runtime for a high-power setup with its nominal 2x 17Ah/12V batteries - considerably longer for a lighter load such as a laptop, router, phone charger. There's a 3000 variant that looks to double the battery capacity, however it looks to be more than twice as much. These can be found used all the time, however you should plan on replacing the battery promptly in said units.

Do note that the lead-acid batteries in UPSs are effectively wear items that need replacement on a 12-24 month timespan. APC Cyberpower et al are fond of selling "cartridges" at significant markup, however they all use standard SLAs which can be sourced independently for markedly less (use quality batteries for this, natch) so long as one recovers the connectors from the old "cartridge" then reassembles them with new batteries.

The UPS market is ... slowly ... embracing alternative chemistries such as LFP which offer longer lifespans and better density than lead-acid. They're a tad bit pricey and selection is limited.

1681478252142-png.png

This, and several spare batteries. Total cost < $500. Milwaukee also makes a similar item.
I've used this very setup before. It's not unreasonable for a short outage where an absolute minimal power demand is needed - i.e. laptop + tethered phone. I determined that two 4Ah batteries would last almost an entire workday.

But it was also disruptive - had to undock the laptop, fire up the hotspot, and reconnect to everything.
 

Dave_H

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More info was asked for , but that is about it. I'm actually inquiring for my son-in-law. They live in an apartment in town. He works from home on the computer/Internet. A few times a year, for whatever reason, they get an outage. It can be anything from a few minutes to a few hours. I thought there would be some simple power source device that he could get and plug his computer into it and be back in business in a few minutes. I've seen these gizmos that folks charge their cell phones with and figured there may be something like that only bigger. Heck, laptops can run on batteries, why not desktops?
Generators and/or going solar would be out of the question as they're in an apartment. Also, honestly, the problems the outages cause him are not that big of a deal to merit a generator or solar setup. I guess the closest I've seen here to what I was considering is the inverter with the car battery setup. However, I doubt he'd want a car battery inside his apartment, what with acid, fumes, and all. GEL and AGM batteries seem safer, albeit expensive.
All that being said, I will most definitely run all these options past him and he can decide what, if anything, he wants to do about it. As well, I'd like to thank all of you for the kind and extremely informative advice given here. Personally, I've learned a lot, though some of it is still Greek to me.
Laptops are designed/optimized to run off lower power than desktops. UPSs are good enough to do a controlled shutdown of your system, not too much more for longer outages (unless it's a huge one).

I concur that UPS is a less good solution (assuming it's working correctly) than a backup supply which is good for hours. I was surprised to learn that rating on some gel cells used in UPSs is not so much amp-hours, as watt-hours per cell over a specified short interval (15-20 minutes I think). Typical small UPS uses two 12v 7-9Ah gel cells. One brand was rated "1234" which turned out to be 12v, 34Wh per cell (x6) over certain (short) time. That's not a lot for any substantial desktop computer.

Dave
 

idleprocess

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I have a feeling that what I have envisioned really doesn't exist.
A big UPS will do most of what you want, seamlessly, turnkey, and will be easy to operate. Downsides are that outside of an inconveniently large unit you'll struggle to realize the outer limit of 6 hours' runtime and the need to replace batteries with some regularity. I wouldn't worry too much about the units charging AGM/SLA batteries - there are millions of these things in use in homes and offices across the country.

A big lithium power station will also do the job, at the expense of probable futzing around with it during an outage - either because it doesn't support AC pass-through (and you'll need to plug things into it during the outage) or because its UPS function isn't reliable (and you need to re-power equipment). They scale a bit better than, don't sag as badly under greater wattages, and are all but maintenance-free compared to UPSs ... but do tend to be more expensive, can require more knowledge to operate (generally more feature-rich than UPSs), and are a less mature product category overall.

Otherwise ... if your son-in-law wants a project or that 6+ hours of uptime is really really important, then assembling components into a system can certainly be customized to meet needs and offer better performance than either of the aforementioned, but that's far from an off-the-shelf PnP solution.
 

KITROBASKIN

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Those all-in-one battery inverter units can be very handy and it seems like one can be found that has AC pass-through? Or perhaps the rare times grid fails it is not that big a deal if the computer goes belly up when power stops?
 

kilogulf59

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Yep, I doubt he'd want to go through all this time, money, or both just for possibly a few hours a year, if that. Like I said though, I'll show him this and he can decide.
We live outside of town and have a different electric company, which I feel is slightly more reliable. We're all city people, though I have more rural experience than the rest. My wife and I thought about a generator setup when we first moved in almost 18-years ago. It would've been a huge waste of money. He, my SIL, just has to get used to small town living I guess.
 
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