Any do-it-yourselfer or handyman will agree: having easy access to power is a necessity for getting projects finished—especially when it comes to running tools that require electricity. For times when the task at hand takes you far away from an available AC outlet, an alternative power source is therefore essential. But can a portable power station run power tools?
Anker Ambassador Chuck Cassady had the same question.
No stranger to working with some of the most demanding tools found in a metal shop, Chuck thought of a fun experiment to try for his next project at Chrome Yellow. The challenge? See if Anker PowerHouse has what it takes to power his entire job from start to finish. He'll be using some of the most intense machines available—a flux core welder, air compressor, band saw, and angle grinder—and he'll be running them all through a single portable power station.
If you're curious to see how well a PowerHouse stacks up against heavy-duty power tools, then this is the article for you!
Powering an Entire Metal Shop with a Portable Power Station - Can It Be Done?
Providing enough juice for the many power-hungry tools and devices found in a typical metal shop is no small task—particularly for a portable power station. From welders to drills to saws, there are plenty of opportunities for a portable generator of any kind to buckle at its knees and surrender.
That won't stop Chuck Cassady from trying, though! With his trusty PowerHouse in tow, he'll be testing its limits and seeing just how much energy it can reliably provide.
But will the PowerHouse succeed? Let's find out!
The Task: Install a Skoolie Luggage Box
One of the difficulties of bus life is finding enough space to store all your stuff. Fortunately, although your living quarters might be cramped, there just so happens to be ample storage room right under your feet.
This underbody space beneath his bus is where Chuck intends to install a utility luggage box for convenient extra storage that will travel wherever he goes. The "underbed truck utility box", as he calls it, is a hefty beast made of all steel and measuring 48"L x 18"H x 24"D. Getting this properly mounted is going to require great skill - and just about every power tool in his arsenal.
Through the entire installation process—cutting, grinding, welding, drilling, and running an air compressor—Chuck will use portable power to keep the tools of his trade fired up and ready to go.
Why Use a Portable Power Station?
There are many reasons why professionals or DIYers might opt for a portable power station to run their tools. No matter what type of job or project you're working on, there is an undeniable satisfaction in having convenient access to a power outlet wherever you need it.
For professionals, portable power stations offer the convenience of not having to run long extension cords across job sites, or having to haul around bulky generators that spit out unpleasant fumes and irritating noise that further adds to the commotion onsite.
And, if you happen to work on projects that are completely off-grid, like home renovations without electricity, then the portability of massive power for your tools is invaluable. No more lugging around heavy gas cans for your generator!
For the DIYer, portability is also key – especially if you’re tackling home improvement projects in multiple rooms or locations throughout your house. With a portable power station, no matter where your task takes you, you can have power outlets right at your fingertips.
And when it comes time to recharge your power station's battery, you won't need to rely on non-renewable resources like diesel or fuel—or even a nearby AC outlet for that matter. Simply find a sunny spot outside and connect your portable power station to some solar panels for an efficient, sustainable, and free recharge in the sun!
Whether you're out in the middle of nowhere or right at home, a portable power station is essential to getting any heavy-duty job done.
The Power Station of Choice: Anker PowerHouse 767
Of the several portable power stations made by Anker, the PowerHouse 767 is the current king of the crop. Ultra-powerful in its output and battery capacity, and extremely portable with its suitcase design, the PowerHouse 767 is a top choice for professionals who need a reliable and hearty source of power for their demanding tools and gear.
Chuck is confident that the 767 will give him enough juice for the job—and the reason is pretty obvious. The 2400 watts of AC output offered by the 767 happens to equal the exact amount of power fed from a typical 20-amp AC circuit in a house. Essentially, wheeling the PowerHouse 767 around your workshop is like having a full-powered AC outlet that's always within reach.
To ensure he has enough power stored up for the entire job, Chuck has opted to double his battery capacity to 4096Wh using the Anker 760 Portable Power Station Expansion Battery. This gives him abundant energy to power his tools for an extended period of time — and even perhaps enough left over for other projects...
Installing a Utility Box with Power Tools and Portable Power
Before getting started, Chuck reviews the tools and materials he'll be using for the job. The setup begins with his angle grinder and band saw that are both running into a splitter cable, which connects to an extension cable plugged into one of the PowerHouse 767's AC outlets. Another AC outlet is occupied by the first device we'll talk about:
Camera Battery Charger (28 watts)
As Chuck happens to be recording the entire process from start to finish, he'll of course need to keep his camera batteries charged up and ready. For the duration of the project, Chuck has an LP battery charger plugged into the AC outlet, which keeps his Li-ion DSLR batteries charged.
By itself, the charger actively draws a current of about 28 watts. This is obviously a minuscule threat against the power and capacity of the PowerHouse 767 - which according to the battery readout on the LED screen, could charge his camera for 3.3 days straight with its 2048Wh capacity.
Safety Glasses, Gloves, Ear Protection (0 watts)
Whenever Chuck is using power tools, he ensures to suit up with the appropriate gear. Safety glasses, gloves, and ear protection are all must-haves when operating extreme machines like the angle grinder or band saw.
It's tough to say, but their combined power draw of zero watts might prove a challenge for the 767...
Band Saw (540 watts)
OK, now moving on to the heavy stuff.
Chuck busts out his trusty old Rockwell Porta-Band saw to cut long strips of metal down for the support rails. While running the band saw on high, it draws a respectable 540 watts from the PowerHouse 767.
Not too shabby. But the PowerHouse is thirsty for more.
Angle Grinder (500-1600 watts)
As Chuck explains, any good fabricator will take the time to grind down the rough edges of the metal he just cut. For that task, Chuck uses his Makita Angle Grinder.
During the process of grinding, the Makita pulls roughly 500W. Obviously the PowerHouse can handle much higher loads than this – so just for fun, Chuck tries pushing it further to its limits. By grinding directly onto the side of the welding table to give the tool a heavier workout, the Makita ends up drawing 1600W of power from the battery.
Most portable power stations would overload and shut off at this point. But the PowerHouse 767 with its Expansion Battery could keep up at this pace for nearly 3 hours straight.
After finishing with the angle grinder, Chuck checks his battery status: Only 6% of the Expansion Battery has been used (or 3% of the total capacity including the base unit).
Flux Core Welder (1800 watts)
Now it's time to weld the support rails to the utility box.
Welders are no joke. Critical safety measures need to be taken when operating them, and they are exceedingly power-hungry when in use. As Chuck notes, his 120V Titanium Easy-Flux welder requires 1800 watts of continuous power to operate.
When the welding is complete, Chuck is happy to find that the Expansion Battery has only dropped to 74% capacity, with the primary battery still at 100%.
After cleaning up the welding with the angle grinder (and doing much more grinding than necessary just to try to wear out the PowerHouse) we're now at 69% left on the battery.
More Angle Grinder
The last step of the day is to cut out a space for the luggage box to sit. Chuck slices out a panel of the bottom side of the bus using his angle grinder again, making a space for the box to slide in.
After an entire day at the shop, the Expansion Battery now sits at 63% capacity.
The Next Morning
Chuck is back at the shop and ready for another day of pitting power tools against the PowerHouse.
He realizes, however, that he accidentally left his camera battery charger plugged into the AC outlet overnight, which drained an unnecessary 12% from the power station. Whoops!
*Pro Tip: To prevent something like this from happening again, make sure you turn on the Power Saving Mode switch located on the front side of the PowerHouse. When engaged, this will shut down any output port once a connected device has been fully charged, preventing unwanted battery drain.
Cordless Tool Charger (68 watts)
With the second day of the project underway, Chuck now moves on to his impact gun and power drill - both of which operate off of batteries. In fairness to simulate a charging station for cordless tools, he plugs his multi-voltage li-ion battery charger into the AC outlet of the PowerHouse 767.
The charger pulls a consistent 68W while charging his tools' batteries, which is a walk in the park for the PowerHouse.
Drilling Support Beams Into Place
Chuck raises the mother-in-law suite—err, the luggage box—into the area he created under the bus. He then drills bolts into the support beams to secure them in place.
Air Compressor (800 watts)
Now it's time to rivet the trim pieces onto the side of the bus. Chuck notes that his rivet gun will require the use of an air compressor, which must be 120V so it's compatible with the PowerHouse. For that, he'll be using his old pancake air compressor, which draws 800W when in use.
Welding, Painting, and Finishing Up
Next, Chuck does a bit more welding to finish off the metal trim pieces.
With a quick paint job to finish off the aesthetic, the project is at last finished!
After two full days of running heavy-duty power tools in his metal shop, the final battery life readout sits at 20% capacity on the Expansion Battery. The main battery of the PowerHouse 767 was never even touched!
The results are conclusive: PowerHouse is a true champion when it comes to running your power tools. (You didn't really doubt it, did you?)
Whether it's the convenience of getting rid of extension cords around your shop, or the necessity of having access to power on the road, portable power stations have proven invaluable for professionals and DIYers alike who need to run their power tools whenever and wherever they're required.
And if you have an intensive project that relies on power tools in remote areas, then the Anker PowerHouse 767 with Expansion Battery is a proven warrior that will keep your project powered for days.