A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Bluetti AC60 compact power station. This device was already great on its own. But, I had a critique about its capacity of only 403Wh. Today, I show how to extend the AC60 to become the perfect power solution for the road and the office.
First things first: The AC60 has recently been upgraded to the AC60P, which now has a capacity of 504Wh. It puts it into the sweet spot for a power station of that size. I was just a few weeks too early when I got the AC60. The good thing is that Bluetti's power stations are extensible, and the perfect match for the AC60 is the B80.
Bluetti B80 Expansion Battery
The B80 expansion battery has similar dimensions to the AC60. It weighs just below 10kg, is weather-sealed with an IP-65 rating, and uses LiFePO4 batteries and a BMS for a long lifetime. Its robust build makes it the perfect travel companion for a long photography trip that involves camping and being off the grid for several days. With a capacity of 806Wh, you can triple the capacity of the AC60 by connecting the two with the included cable. If one B80 is not enough for you, you can connect two of them to the AC60 for a combined capacity of more than 2kWh.
The B80 is not cheap. The original price is $699, but since Bluetti does sales several times a year, you should get it for less than $600 if you time your purchase right. You'd expect more than just an extension to the AC60 at such a price. The good thing is that the B80 also works as a stand-alone battery. It has a 100 Watts USB-C port, an 18 Watts USB-A port, and a 12V - 10A car cigarette lighter port. If you only want to charge DC devices, the B80 is all you need on a trip.
The B80 also comes with a 200-watt solar charging port. This port doesn't only work with solar. You can use it to charge from your car's cigarette lighter port while driving, and you can get an additional adapter from Bluetti for charging via a wall outlet. A set of LED lights indicates the current charging status.
The main operation mode of the B80 is via the AC60 or one of Bluetti's other power stations. Once connected, the AC60 directly shows the combined capacity. In the Bluetti App, the B80 is then listed as an additional battery pack alongside the AC60's battery. The charging of the B80 now also works via the fast charging of the AC60, and you can power AC devices via the inverter of the AC60. Expect an efficiency between 75% and 85% based on the load. I also tested the efficiency of the B80 alone, using its USB-C output to power my Dell XPS. My measurement showed nearly no loss.
Bluetti PV120 Solar Panel
There might be times when you need to get off the grid for an even longer period. If you own an RV and like to hit the road for a week or more while avoiding powered campsites, the AC60 with the B80 won't be enough unless you do daily drives to recharge them. You can get one of Bluetti's larger stations or a portable Solar Panel like the PV120. It is Bluetti's smallest solar panel, weighing less than 6kg. Its folded dimension is just 53cm by 47cm.
I tested it on a sunny day in November and got 111 Watts of charging power out of it. In late spring and summer, I should be able to charge both the AC60 and the B80 during a cloudless day. If it's cloudy, don't expect a too high efficiency. As with all solar panels, the charging speeds will be much slower. As you can see in the video, I got between 20 and 30 Watts with the sun behind a layer of clouds. On a dark day, I assume that it will be even less.
The PV120 comes with a standard MC4 connector, so it is compatible with other devices that fit its specifications for current and voltage. Bluetti also offers a PV200 panel with 200 Watts. It is larger and a bit heavier but still works with the AC60 and the B80.
What I Like
I've now tested three Bluetti products, and the thing I like the most is their rugged build. Those devices are weather-resistant and made for outdoor use. The extensibility provides a lot of flexibility, which allows you to upgrade the system step by step. Up until now, everything worked seamlessly together.
I also love the choice of LiFePO4 batteries. Those are more secure than Li-Ion batteries and have a much longer lifetime.
What Could Be Improved
The connector cable between the AC60 and B80 is too long. I typically use both stacked on top of each other. For this use, I would love to see a shorter, more flexible cable to reduce the footprint of the system.
I would also like to see Bluetti tuning the operation of the fans in the AC60 with an upcoming firmware update. My office setup has a load between 60 and 80 Watts. Most of the time, the fans of the AC60 will be active at a low but still audible noise. It would be great to have an even lower setting for the fans
The combination of the Bluetti AC60(P), the B80, and the PV120 is a very flexible power solution. Depending on the length of the trip, you can choose to bring only the AC60, only the B80, or both. If you want to be completely independent of the grid or your car for charging, add the PV120, and you're good to go. But this setup is also great for powering a small office. I can get more than 12 hours out of it. I will soon buy a long solar extension cable and use the PV120 to power my office on sunny days.
This power solution comes at a price though. When writing this article, it's Black Friday week, and the whole kit is available for $1477. The regular price currently sits at $1697. Quality has its price, but I suspect that it will drop over the months with further sales coming up.