Yes, you can have electricity ANYWHERE you go! If that’s not enough, you can do it all within a tiny package. That’s thanks to the Bluetti EB3A, a game changer for camping, off-grid living, hunt camps, multi-day fishing trips and so on. It even applies to the digital road warrior, photographer, RC enthusiast or anyone else that carries a slew of battery-operated devices.
What we all have in common is more and more power-hungry devices like our phones, laptops, GPS, camera and so on. Devices that would only last for so long out in no man’s land… Until now!
In this post, we will review the Bluetti EB3A portable power station. We will address its function and merits, and we will also look at how to incorporate portable power into your next adventure! So let’s get started!
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Bluetti EB3A Portable Power Station
A small and mighty, battery based (268 Wh lithium iron phoshate) portable power station. Using USB A&C, cigarette lighter socket and inverter based AC output (2 outlets). Solar, DC car charger and household AC charging inputs. It’s an amazing little unit and our first 5 star review!
Small package with lots of power
Super fast charging
Long life battery
Won't shut off when plugged in
- What is a Portable Power Station?
- What Can You Run (or Charge) With the Bluetti EB3A?
- Charging the Bluetti EB3A
- Practical Applications
- Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery! And Why That Matters
- Other Cool Features
- The Verdict
- Purchase the Items in this Post
What is a Portable Power Station?
We already know that to use electricity, we need to tap into it (power lines) or make it ourselves which classically means a gas generator. Now you are hauling a heavy generator, gasoline and you need to deal with fumes and noise – all while also keeping it out of the rain. And that can be a challenge if not a royal PITA. Imagine tent camping with neighbours in a provincial park or state park and you’ll know that’s not happening based on noise alone.
Solar generation is always an option to “make” electricity. But it can be slow, not always readily available and it needs to be built up or “stored” (by the use of batteries) in order to have an actual useful purpose at a later time or date.
But wait, battery technology has come a very long way. So much so, we can have a lot of energy stored in a battery that is small and light enough to carry around. That covers the portability side of things – and that solar panel we just talked about is infinitely more useful. It allows us to tap into a resource when we are away from civilization.
In order to be a power station, it should now be able to use that special battery in order to provide for our electrical needs. So how about an all-in-one unit that has that battery, and DC power outputs to charge things via USB and your classic cigarette lighter socket? Now, add an inverter so you can get some AC power for all your corded 120v needs. Now you have a power station!
What Can You Run (or Charge) With the Bluetti EB3A?
Bluetti provides 2 USB-A ports. These are rated at 5 volts and 3 amps each which is nice as it’s a fast charge rate for a classic USB port.
I have a 2020 Jeep with built-in USB ports, and I swear it can’t be more than an amp as it charges painfully slow. I drove for 4 hours the other day it didn’t finish charging my iPhone, which was already at 50%. 3 amps here is outstanding!
Here we get 1 USB-C port. If you don’t know the difference between USB-A and C, the easiest way to tell is by the size of the plug, USB-C is a lot smaller. It’s also a LOT faster!!! In fact, many phones, tablets, and even laptops use USB C to charge which is awesome as you don’t need to haul around those awful big bricks with the thick AC cables they used to come with. I’m on a Lenovo Thinkpad right now that charges with USB-C.
Here’s the kicker, I also have an Apple MacBook bought in the last few years that also charges via USB C. The Apple brick is rated at 61 watts while the Bluetti EB3A goes up to 100 watts! That’s plenty of power that can charge a multitude of devices – for years to come.
Forgot your phone cable? No problem! On the top of the EB3A, the unit has a handle and some non-descript writing indicating wireless charging. I tested my iPhone 11 on it and it works like a charm. It’s rated up to 15 watts which is well past my phone’s charging capability of 7.5 watts. Again, as the tech catches up to the EB3A, we will be ready for even faster charge rates.
Other DC Ports
In the DC section, you’ll also find an old-school, 12-volt, cigarette lighter socket. This is rated up to 10 amps. And yes, it’s still very useful as it powers many devices, such as air mattress pumps.
There are also 2 x DC5521 ports. These are barrel connectors and just another way of connecting DC devices such as certain 12-volt appliances. You may or may never use this, but it’s there in case you ever need it and I guarantee Bluetti isn’t going to drive up the cost of these units by adding uncommon connectors.
120 V AC Power
The EB3A has a built-in inverter with 2 AC outlets. The inverter is rated for 600 watts and up to 5 amp devices. Below is a table of some common devices that you may be able to run with the EB3A:
These ratings aren’t etched in stone, they are general guidelines for typical devices. I pulled these figures from Generac which is a large generator manufacturer specializing in automatic backup power for residential and commercial properties. Ie. I trust their numbers.
If your device does not indicate watts, don’t panic! Most devices have some consumption info on them and you can calculate watts yourself. The formula is very simple: Watts = Volts x Amps. In other words, anything you plug in will be 120 volts and taking the drill as an example, 5 amps x 120 volts will equal 600 watts.
Off-topic for North America, the Bluetti EB3A can also output 220V, but the amperage drops to 2.6 amps. So yes, you can very well sit in a café in Paris, smoke your cigarettes to a fancy espresso and you won’t miss the soccer game because you CAN plug in a European 220-volt TV! There’s just something cool about that thought.
Here’s an interesting topic for electricity. Take a drill for example. When you initially pull the trigger, it takes a lot more effort (meaning energy) to get it spinning than it does to keep it running. So a device rated at 5 amps might momentarily surge to 7.5 at startup, and then drop and run continuously at 5 amps. This can pose a serious problem as that surge can knock out a breaker which protects its power source and/or simply knock out the power source altogether forcing a shutdown.
It should be noted that the EB3A is rated up to 1200 watts surge capacity. What that means is that it can temporarily handle up to 1200 watts, and continuously run 600 watts. But with the caveat that the extra surge capacity is not for all devices which we’ll cover a bit further below.
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
And here’s the second interesting topic for electricity. There is such a thing as clean electricity and dirty electricity. It also has nothing to do with the environment or HOW the electricity was made in this context.
Old school gas generators for example are big, loud, heavy and not of the “cleaner” variety. Some newer gas generators incorporate inverters to offset these problems and also output a cleaner source of power. But the price goes up substantially for an inverter-based generator and not all inverters are created equally!
The EB3A uses a pure sine wave inverter – this will ensure the AC output is “clean” and suitable for sensitive electronics such as computers. By clean, we are referring to the frequency of the power. You have all seen references to such things as 60 hz and you have all heard of sine waves. So to not bring back memories of high school science class, let’s just move on with this little equation: clean power = safe for a laptop!
Actual AC Run Time
For some real-world statistics, I plugged my 65″ Sony smart tv into the EB3A. The EB3A ingeniously displays battery capacity, output wattage and estimated runtime based on the current load. Upon turning everything on with the power station fully charged, it measured the TV at 160 watts and estimated runtime of 1.5 hours.
I plugged the tv in at 10:30 am and it died at 11:57 am. The estimation was accurate to within a few minutes. That’s impressive! I’m also happy with an hour and a half off such a small device. You have to remember that it’s a unit small enough that I can hold it up in the palm of my hand!
Charging Your Phone
Yes, I know, it’s probably the one thing you are dying to know… Bluetti claims it charges an iPhone 12 25 times. So I took my iPhone 11 at 29% and plugged it into the EB3A which was at 100%. After fully charging the phone, the EB3A dropped to 93%, or so it lost 7% of its power. And since 100 divided by 7 = 14.3, that’s the number I’m going with:) It may not be 25x but honestly, I’m happy with that. I can’t stress enough that the EB3A is a small unit.
Charging the Bluetti EB3A
Now that we know what we can run with the EB3A, and let’s face it that’s the juicy part, let’s look at what it takes to recharge it. And I have to tell you, this is where the EB3A really shines. I mean really, really shines!
The EB3A arrived at my house late Friday afternoon. I didn’t think much of it other than unboxing and plugging it in so I can test it out the next day. It arrived partially charged to 60%. Ok no big deal, let’s plug it in. I didn’t time it but what was about 25 minutes later, I walked by only to notice it was at 100%. What? Really? That’s insane and I like it a lot!
Now I’m curious as to how long a full charge takes. So after draining it completely (with the big screen tv), it recharged in 1 hour and 33 minutes to 100%. Bluetti claims on their website that the unit charges to 80% from empty in just 30 minutes – and that’s completely believable as those numbers assume a dual charge rate of AC and solar for a total rate of charge at 430 watts.
When I plugged in on AC alone, the initial charge rate was 265 watts and 50 minutes later, the rate slowed down to 104 watts. That makes sense: as batteries fill up, the charge rate lowers. With AC charging alone, the EB3A achieved an extremely impressive milestone of being charged to 79% in 50 minutes and that is impressive!
There are so many brands getting into these power stations such as Jackery, Ecoflow, Anker, Goal Zero and so on. While I can’t speak to those as I don’t own any, based on what other reviewers have to say, they charge substantially slower. For example, a comparable Jackery unit (sub $300 US) took 5 hours to charge. Vey quickly it becomes obvious that it’s one of the EB3A’s best features.
The EB3A has a completely separate solar charging input. It also came with cables incorporating the appropriate MC4 connectors. The panels can be connected in series or parallel but they must be within the following specs: 12-28 volts, 8.5 amps max, input power up to 200 watts max.
Solar charging is a camper or off-gridders dream! And the blazing fast charge rate of the EB3A makes it the ideal companion for the off-gridder as it allows a recharge on those days when the sun isn’t out for long. Going back to the Jackery, there are plenty of days when we just don’t get 5 hours of sun – and if you have my luck, it’s usually raining when you are camping:)
Solar panels are purchased separately and that makes sense as not everyone needs it.
Other Charging Methods
This power station also charges via a cigarette lighter socket (cable not included) or via a generator.
Once you have a second charging source, you can get into combination charging modes such as AC + Solar. Or even AC + T200S (AC to DC adapter) but let’s call that AC+AC since we are technically using a secondary AC source to provide a DC power input.
I stayed at a friend’s hunt camp last December and every day after the hunt, we’d get a fire going in the tiny cabin for heat and we would start the little Honda generator for power. They are great little machines those Hondas but we ran a 2200-watt generator for 5 hours a day only to run a super tiny tv, DVD player, 1 light bulb and 1 phone charger. ALL things the EB3A can handle with ease, without the fumes and buzzing.
When watching TV at night and getting tired, you would have to go out and shut off the generator. Come back with a flashlight, often in the rain and always in the cold, and you would wake up in the process. Now I’m not complaining, it’s a part of those off-grid experiences. But with a good power station and solar panels, that can all be avoided. Failing a sunny day, or even not having solar panels at all, we still have a huge upside thanks to the EB3A’s remarkable recharge rate. We could run that same generator for an hour to recharge the power station AND that means we only need 1/5th of the gas we would typically use! Gas that needs to get to the middle of nowhere for that matter which takes more room in the truck, space that could be used for other gear.
Pass Through Charging
Pass-through charging means we can use the EB3A’s output power while simultaneously charging the unit itself. In other words, the EB3A doubles as a UPS or uninterrupted power supply. The UPS is an old concept for computers so that when the power goes out you can finish and save your work – and shut your machine down gracefully.
Take the example we have above with my friend’s hunt camp and let’s couple that with the EB3A’s pass-through charging capability. We couple plug in the TV, DVD player, lightbulb, cell phone charger and so on into the power station. We then run power from the solar panels and/or generator to the EB3A’s charging input. And off-grid life, just got a lot easier! There’s no need to EVER have to change cabling.
I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone looking for a power station to NOT buy one unless it has this pass-through charging feature! And that’s for a multitude of reasons.
Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery! And Why That Matters
Naturally, we can’t skip over the actual heart of this power station, and that is its battery.
Going back to when I was a kid with an RC car in the 80s, rechargeable batteries were something new. Dare I say it, it was space age and mythical at the time. But they were NiCd (nickel-cadmium) and had quite the memory effect – meaning you had to be anal about fully draining them, and fully charging them in order to maintain their capacity. Next came NiMh (nickel metal hydride) which was better, but not perfect.
Now we are in the lithium days and lithium-ion has been around for a while. And as far as I know, they have no memory effect. For RC cars now, where we need sudden and quick power, Li-Po batteries are a big rage. But these guys can literally blow up when charging. While probably rare, the risk is there. That’s not the case with the EB3A, see below.
EB3A Battery Specifications
The EB3A incorporates a newer lithium ion-based technology and that is LiFeP04 or lithium iron phosphate. Quoting Wikipedia, these batteries are “lower cost, high safety, low toxicity, long cycle life” meaning it has everything a consumer is looking for and if you haven’t guessed it, it’s popular for EVs and backup power.
Now comes the part of why we are talking about batteries so much. According to Bluetti, the EB3A is rated for 2500+ life cycles to 80%. What that means is you can charge it thousands of times before its battery can only use 80% of its original power. That is insane and here’s some math: even if you fully drain and charge it daily (2500 / 365), it will last for 6.8 years at which time, it will still give you 80% capacity.
These numbers are not just marketing hype either. It’s common knowledge and in fact, at 2500+ life cycles for LiFePO4, the numbers are quite conservative. Comparatively in a solar generator aspect, traditional lead acid (car batteries) are rated for 200-300 life cycles and anywhere from 500-2500 for lithium-ion. There are in fact portable power stations out there from big brands rated for only 500 life cycles – and if you’re not buying a Bluetti with a LiFePO4 battery, I suggest you do your homework BEFORE BUYING!
The EB3A is Bluetti’s smallest power station. It comes in at 10.04″ long x 7.09″ wide x 7.2″ tall. It’s also 10.14 pounds but it doesn’t seem to feel like half its weight thanks to its top folding grab handle.
But product reviews are a funny thing. Any reviewer can regurgitate the specs and give you their opinion. A better reviewer will put things through its paces which we always do here at BushLife. But the most important thing I always stress is to consider YOUR intended use! Otherwise none of this matters!
A Larger Power Source
So let’s put the EB3A into perspective based on size vs power and compare it to a larger unit:
Honda Eu200i Generator
- 1800 watts continuous
- 20.0″ x 11.4″ x 16.7″ LxWxH
- 46.5 pounds dry!
- Plus gas…
- 16.5″ x 11″ x 15.2″ LxWxH
- 60.6 pounds
- no gas!
- no noise!
While you have about triple the power in either unit, you also have at least double the bulk and 6x the weight regardless of which route you take. They are both great units, don’t get me wrong I’m not knocking them at all. The point is you don’t want to lug these around for day trips, weekends, and so on. You want to carry as little as you need to get by and that is what is meant by your intended use.
Finding A Balance
The ideal portable power station is the one that will give you all the power you need. But it will do so in the lightest and smallest package possible! Just be sure to factor in recharge capabilities and you might just be able to get away with a lot less than you think.
From experience on my hunting trips or camping adventures, I simply don’t have room for anything larger than the EB3A. With the ability to charge an iPhone 13-17 times or a laptop 5-6 times, it also does exactly what I need!
Other Cool Features
You thought we were done, didn’t you? Almost, but not yet. Of course, the EB3A has an app, so let’s talk about it amongst some other things.
The Bluetti Phone App
A quick download on the iPhone app store and down comes the Bluetti app. Even without an account in its “offline” mode the app goes over to Bluetooth and detects the EB3A. One-click brings up this screen here:
The top row shows charging inputs. Left is solar (DC), right is grid (AC). Since it’s plugged in, it lights up green, with watts at 0 since the unit is full. In the middle, we have big numbers showing the charge capacity of the battery in percent. And below are the outputs. DC on the left shows it’s on and outputting 6 watts (charging an iPad on USB-C) and AC on the right.
At the bottom is a red button to turn the unit off (including Bluetooth). The DC and AC tabs separately control their respective output functions with the ability to turn them off and on.
It’s all easy to access, nice and simple, and very responsive! Love the app so far.
Charging mode actually does something cool. It provides 3 options: standard, silent, and turbo. I recommend using the default setting of the standard as faster charger rates aren’t always good for batteries. But it’s there if you need it – with some added fan noise. Silent charges silently (no cooling fan noise) but at the expense of speed.
ECO is an auto power-off function and LED Light turns on the EB3A’s built-in light.
Powerlifting doubles the AC wattage to 1200 (remember that surge capacity we talked about), but ONLY for certain heating devices like space heaters or electric irons. NOT applicable for motors.
Finally, the version covers firmware and updates.
The settings pane is straightforward and most people will have no need to fiddle with it. If I had a complaint, the LED light should be on the main screen as it’s more of a function than a setting. So it should be easier to get to. Finally, the app is also available for Android.
Built In Light
Generally, I find built-in lights to be hokey. It’s the type of thing you find on $25 cigarette lighter socket air compressors. I have to say, the EB3A’s light is extremely bright and actually useful. It’s also only a button press away on the front panel of the unit. It also toggles between medium, high and SOS which is basically a strobe. I’m pleasantly surprised here and with LED, it should last as long as the unit itself.
Nothing is ever perfect, is it? However, sometimes things are genuinely negative and for other items, we just want features that are important to us but may not be for others. The EB3A has a few, albeit very minor flaws.
When plugged in on AC power (but fully charged to 100% for quite some time) the unit does get warm. That means it’s drawing energy and we know it’s happening since it’s converting that energy to heat. This is called a parasitic draw and it’s needless.
It’s been really hot here lately at the time of writing, I mean 30 degrees Celsius and I literally just flipped over to air conditioning mode. With no AC, it’s been 26-29 degrees indoors, so the EB3A’s fan even comes on from time to time during this idle period of not-charging.
As an update, things have since cooled down weather wise and this fan noise has totally disappeared. It’s typical room temp at around 22.5 degrees, so that’s really good news.
Now, if you go to the Bluetti app to turn the unit off, it simply instructs you to unplug from AC power first. In other words, as long as it’s plugged in, you can’t shut it off. I see this as a genuine negative since being plugged in guarantees it’s drawing some power. But then again, MOST devices we own that are always plugged in have a parasitic draw… Even the microwave is constantly sniffing for a software update:)
Speaking of software, I suppose it’s an issue that can be solved with a future firmware update. And yes, it is 100% capable of updating its firmware or “brains”.
Buttons / Screen Timer
Pressing any button on the unit awakens its beautiful info panel that shows charge level, power going in and power going out. But that times out after so many seconds. I wish there were some settings in the app to control the delay before it shuts off the display. Perhaps even always leaving it on when plugged into AC.
As to buttons, you have to hold them to toggle on or off their actual functions. Whether that is DC or AC output. I wish the toggle was a button press instead as it takes a little getting used to.
These are minor issues and more of a pet peeve.
Let’s see, as a person I always carry a phone. As an outdoorsman add a headlamp and flashlight. Being a father we worry about survival so now add a GPS – and the kids’ iPads… And don’t get me started as a blogger. As content creators, we NEED a DSLR camera, GoPro, Insta360, drone, portable accent lighting and of course a laptop. I’m happy to report the EB3A charges all of them with ease and on the go! I also couldn’t be happier owning one of these units.
If you are into the outdoors or getaways, or maybe your life is about being on the road a lot, a portable power station is a must! And the EB3A is a sure winner, especially with how quickly it re-charges and is “back in action”. I could NOT be happier!
I hope this guide was helpful! If you need more ideas, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or connect with us on social media to share your suggestions and join the conversation!
Purchase the Items in this Post
For a limited time, Bluetti has a sale on the EB3A. Now is the perfect time to give this portable power station a try.
Bluetti provided the EB3A for us to review. They did not provide payment for this post nor are we sponsored by Bluetti. The review is based on our unbiased opinion and real world testing of the product. Links to Bluetti and other products on our site do provide a small commission to BushLife at no cost to you. We appreciate you using our links and sharing on social media – it greatly helps the blog and allows us to keep great content coming to you.