The Bluetti AC180 is a small yet powerful power station perfect for photographers and videographers. Its compact size and relatively easy portability make it ideal for use on location, while its extensive range of features ensures it can handle even the most demanding shoots. The app control and monitoring are excellent, offering numerous ports for various devices and super-fast charging capabilities through AC mains or Solar.
One downside is the limited battery capacity considering the possible output, which can be drained quickly by high-wattage devices. However, the fast charging time helps to mitigate this issue in the right setup. It would be great if Bluetti offered the option to expand the capacity with additional battery packs, making the AC180 even more versatile.
Overall, the Bluetti AC180 is an excellent choice for photographers and videographers who need a portable power solution for small to medium-sized shoots. With its impressive power capabilities, fast charging, and easy-to-carry design, it’s hard to find a better option on the market today.
What is the Bluetti AC180?
The Bluetti AC180 is a compact, powerful, and versatile power station designed to meet the needs of photographers, videographers, and other professionals who require portable power on location.
Despite its small size, it packs a significant punch, providing up to 1152Wh of power and offering compatibility with a wide range of devices, including cameras, laptops, lighting equipment, and even high-wattage appliances like kettles and irons.
The AC180 features a LiFePO4 battery, ensuring safety and reliability, with over 3,500 life cycles and a 5-year warranty for peace of mind. With multiple charging options, including AC outlets, solar, car charging, and lead-acid batteries, you can keep your power station topped up no matter where you are.
For added convenience, the Bluetti AC180 also comes with a smart app that allows for remote monitoring and control and a silent charging mode to minimize noise while in use.
In my experience with power packs, I’ve noticed that charging speed has become an increasingly important feature. The Bluetti AC180 stands out as one of the fastest charging packs available, achieving a full charge from 20% in just under an hour when connected to the mains.
With a maximum input of 1,440W through the mains, this power station surpasses the battery’s equivalent capacity, drawing an impressive amount of power from the grid.
Checking out the Wattage input on the small monitor can be somewhat daunting as the power draw indicator gradually increases. Unlike some other power stations that instantly ramp up to maximum input, the AC180 steadily gathers pace. The input rises through the W input and briefly exceeds the 1,440W maximum to reach 1,471W before settling down to around 1,410W.
Solar charging is also excellent, with the AC180 charging in about three hours when connected to two JA Solar 385W panels generating 350W.
Once charged and packed up, the size of the power station means that it neatly packs away in the van with the other kit. Then on arrival at the shoot location, the AC180 is easy enough to transport, weighing in at a heavy, but manageable 17kg; this makes it easier to transport than heavier options. Its design allows for secure strapping to a luggage trolley if necessary.
Despite its relatively small size and capacity, the AC180 can run computers, cameras, and lighting without any issues. However, the capacity can deplete quickly during use. Thankfully, the AC180 features pass-through power, enabling users to charge and use devices simultaneously.
Surprisingly, unlike many other power stations, the AC180 can handle the massive power draw of a kettle without tripping, or at least ones up to 2700W, my 3000W kettle tripped the switch. Likewise, other devices exceeding 2,700W, such as high-powered kettles, the Dyson Hot and Cool and other powerful heaters and devices, will cause the AC180 to trip. Users can operate any single device up to 2,700W without issue, but anything beyond that will result in a temporary shutdown – is this an issue? Not really, seeing as how all other power stations of this capacity will trip around the 1000W mark, so essentially, you have a big invertor inside that means that AC180 packs well above its weight.
As the power draw increases, so does the volume of the fans working to keep the system cool. Although slightly noisy, these fans are much quieter than a diesel generator and the AC180 can be placed out of earshot with an extension lead providing power to where you need it.
The AC180’s significant power capabilities come at the cost of rapid battery depletion. Unfortunately, the unit does not support extension batteries like the AC500 with the B300S, which would offer a lightweight, expandable portable power station. Nonetheless, the AC180’s swift charging time helps mitigate this drawback. You could, however have an AC500 in the Van and then use this to top-up the AC180 as and when.
As you use the AC180, the on-device display comes in handy as it shows the power input and output – With both the AC200 and AC500, a touch screen is used; however, here, on this smaller model, the screen is simply a screen with physical buttons being used to power on and select either AC or DC.
Lastly, the AC180’s app is well-featured but could offer more in-depth information. While users can see the power draw for all AC sockets and DC ports, individual breakdowns are not provided. Additionally, the power station includes a convenient 15W wireless charging pad on top.
The Bluetti AC180 stands out as the best compact power station currently available for photographers and videographers. Its relatively small size and manageable weight make it easy to transport and use on location. Its power capabilities allow it to handle a variety of devices, including those that require a higher wattage than other power stations can provide.
The AC180’s fast charging time is a major advantage, helping to offset its limited battery capacity. The ability to charge and use devices simultaneously proves to be a highly versatile and functional solution for on-location power needs.
There are a few areas where the AC180 could be improved, such as expanding battery capacity with additional packs and providing more detailed information in the app. However, these minor drawbacks do not detract from its overall effectiveness and value.
Ultimately, the Bluetti AC180 is an outstanding power station offering more power and versatility than many competitors. Its compact design, rapid charging, and broad compatibility make it an ideal choice for photographers and videographers needing reliable, portable power on set.
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