Convenient Backup Power for Apartment Preppers


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xantrex xpower powerpack 1500Several weeks ago I was doing some thinking about how prepping must be different for people who live in places like apartments. I have to admit that I tend to focus on prepping from my own perspective. I live in a rural area where there is plenty of water, firewood, wild game, and fish. We also have emergency backup generators in the event of a power outage.

This line of thinking led me to wonder about backup power options for apartment preppers. I wondered what I would do if I actually lived in an apartment? In most cases, the very nature of the way apartments are built would rule out the use of a gasoline powered generator as an option.

I enjoyed this little “mental exercise” and my initial thoughts were that the ideal scenario for me, if I lived in an apartment, would be to rent one with a south facing balcony. This would enable me to set up a mini solar array, battery bank, and power inverter.

While this might be the ideal scenario in my mind, it’s just not realistic for all apartment preppers to have the luxury of setting up this type of system. With this in mind, I started doing some online research for a portable battery bank that would be useful for preppers who happen to live in apartments.

I didn’t have to look long because the first website I went to was Xantrex.com. During our 8 year off-the-grid adventure, we became life-long fans of Xantrex products. I initially started browsing through their website to compile a list of components that I would recommend for someone who wanted to build their own portable backup power station.

Much to my surprise, I discovered that the good people at Xantrex were one step ahead of me. They actually had a product in their line-up called the xPower Powerpack 1500 that has everything built into it that I would put in a product like this if my husband and I were to build our own.

I reached out to Xantrex and asked if they would send me a demo version to test and review here on Preppers Illustrated. After a couple of weeks, I received a call from them and had a very delightful conversation with a gentleman who worked in their marketing department. The end result of the conversation was that he agreed to send me a free sample to test and review.

To be honest with you, I actually received it several weeks ago but life has been so busy around here that I just hadn’t gotten a chance to review it until now. There is a very interesting story behind why I chose today to write about this innovative backup power product. As it turns out, I just came inside from working in the yard and as luck would have it, the power is out.

I sat down to go online to check and see why we don’t have any power and realized that without power, I can’t go online. Not only does my computer need power, my internet modem and router also need it. It was then that I looked down and right next to the chair in my office was a fully charged Powerpack 1500! If that’s not a sign that I need to write this review today, I don’t know what is!

Let Me Introduce You to the xPower Powerpack 1500

The best way I can describe the way this device looks would be to say that it looks similar to the type of coolers with wheels and a handle on them. I’m talking about the type that you wheel around like carry-on luggage at the airport.

Inside the hard plastic case are batteries and a power inverter. If you don’t already know, electricity that is stored in batteries needs to be converted from DC power to AC power like your home uses.

On the outside of the case, there are a couple of switches, one is used to determine the level of charge that your batteries have, the other is used to turn on the two AC power outlets. It also has a DC power outlet which just so happens to be the same place that you plug in the supplied AC and DC power chargers.

My Initial Impression of This Product

When the box first arrived, the very first thought I had was, “This thing is heavy, it’s a good thing it has wheels!” According to the manual, it weighs in at 53.5 lbs.

Assembly was remarkably simple. All I had to do was ask my husband to help me get it out of the box (only because I wanted to save the box) and attach the handle. It didn’t require any tools at all to put together. I simply had to depress the metal buttons on the handle and slide them into position until they clicked into place.

That’s all there was to the assembly process! The next step was to charge it up. At first, I thought that they must have forgotten to send me a charger but then I realized that both the AC and DC power chargers were conveniently stowed away in a cleverly located storage compartment on the top of the case.

Charging the Powerpack 1500 is also very simple and straight forward. All I had to do was plug the end that goes into the Powerpack into its outlet, plug the power cord into a wall outlet in my home, and flip the switch on the charger to begin the charging process.

How This Product Can Help Apartment Preppers

Let’s use the experience that I’m having right this very moment to describe how this product can be of use to you if you live in an apartment. The power is out, yet I’m sitting here typing on my computer that is plugged into the Powerpack 1500.

I know that the reason the power is out is because someone hit a power pole with their truck and that the power should be back on by about 7:30 PM. The reason I know this is because my emergency scanner is also plugged into this product. My home office doesn’t have much natural light and I don’t like to type in the dark so I also have a lamp that is being powered by this cool backup power station as well.

Now, granted, the things I’m doing right now aren’t a matter of life and death. I don’t HAVE to use my computer right now but I CAN because I have the Powerpack 1500. Sure, I could have just went out and started a generator but if you live in an apartment, that’s most likely not going to be an option for you. See where I’m going with this?

Yeah, But How Much Power Do You Really Have?

I think I’ve made it clear that I really like this product but you might be wondering how much you can actually power with it and that’s certainly a valid question. This is a fairly compact device so it is limited by its size in terms of how much power can actually be stored in the batteries. The manual says that the dimensions are 15.6″ × 12.3″ × 14.5″. To put this in perspective, I’d estimate that it’s about the size of a medium sized ice cooler.

According to Xantrex’s website, here’s what they say about battery capacity, “Sealed, non-spillable 51 amp-hour AGM battery”. They use the term “battery” but the instructions use the term “batteries” so I assume that there is more than one battery in the case to provide the 51 amp-hour capacity rating.

Keep in mind that this device isn’t designed to run your whole house. It’s designed to be a source of backup power for a few electronic devices during times when you either can’t or don’t want to run a generator.

You can see the expected run times of a variety of electronic devices on the online product manual which you can read by clicking here: xPower PowerPack 1500 Manual.

In a nutshell, the more power the device you’re trying to run consumes, the shorter the battery life will be. If you’re powering something like a small refrigerator to keep food or medication from spoiling, you’ll deplete the battery much faster than if you’re just charging your cell phone or powering a couple of small lamps.

Some Other Uses for This Product

I’ve written this review from the perspective of an apartment prepper but I can think of several other uses for it. I’ve listed a few below.

  • If you’re going camping and you’ll need a source of power but you don’t want to run a generator.
  • If you live in a college dorm room and your have homework to get done but the electricity goes out, you can power your computer, a lamp, and printer and get your assignments finished and handed in on time. As a parent, this is something that I plan on providing my child when she goes off to college.
  • If you own a business and you want a source of power to run your office equipment for a short time, you can use these devices instead of having to send your employees home for the day.

My Final Thoughts on This Gadget

In summary, let me share some of my final thoughts after using this device in a real life grid-down scenario.

  1. I LOVE that it’s absolutely silent. No noise whatsoever during use! While charging, you do hear the hum of a small fan in the charger but it’s not very loud.
  2. One advantage that this device has over a generator is that unlike a generator, this device can be used indoors. Everyone knows that generators must NEVER be used indoors.
  3. I really like that I didn’t have to go start my generator today because I know that in this case my food won’t spoil before the power is expected to come back on.
  4. I think Xantrex did an amazing job of making this device so incredibly simple to use. It’s so simple, just plug in your device, turn on the Powerpack 1500, and you have power.
  5. I like that if I wanted to, I could set up some portable solar panels to keep this device charged in a real life extended grid-down scenario.

The bottom line is that I won’t be getting rid of my generators because I suddenly have this new device but I can honestly say that it’s getting used right now and I’m sure that we will have lots of other occasions to use it in the future.

Now, if I lived in an apartment or I had a situation where running a generator was impractical or impossible, I would definitely want to have one or more of these devices around.

As of the time that this review was written, you can pick them up on Amazon for $399.40 + $70.60 in shipping which is a price that I don’t think is unreasonable at all when you consider that you’re getting the batteries, chargers, and a built in power inverter, all encased in an easy to roll around enclosure.

The Xantrex xPower Powerpack 1500 definitely gets two thumbs up from me! Oh, my husband, who is a HUGE Xantrex fan loves it too!

For more information on this product visit: xantrex.com/power-products/backup-power/xpower-powerpack-1500.aspx

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