Bluetti AC180 review: the Goldilocks of portable power stations ($ update)

Bluetti AC180 portable power station review

We all remember the story of the three bears, where Goldilocks repeatedly finds her happy medium that is “just right”. That’s what it feels like using the Bluetti AC180 portable power station, a model made to fill a gap in the market. For many users, it’s a source of power that’ll be “just right”, hitting the sweet spot of capacity, fast charging times, and portability.

Bluetti AC180 Power Station

Price (RRP)$1499
WebsiteBluetti Australia
FromBluetti or specialty dealers
Warranty5 years
About:Bluetti manufactures solar generators, power stations and other related products. They are known for producing powerful and durable power stations suitable for off-grid living and outdoor activities.

What size portable power station do I need?

Firstly, it’s important to understand what a portable power station is and how it functions. We go into more detail on this topic in our review of the Bluetti AC200Max, but here’s a quick refresher. A portable power station is an all-in-one battery and electrical components in a box that allows you to draw 240-volt AC power or 12V DC power to let you run home appliances and tools or charge your phone, GoPro etc.

Bluetti AC180 portable power station comparison
Bluetti AC200Max, AC180 & EB3A

Portable power stations are rated in two ways:

  1. The amount of power the unit can supply at once. This is measured in watts (W)
  2. The amount of power that can be stored. This is calculated in watt-hours (Wh)

If you had a toaster rated at 1500 watts and a portable power station rated at 1000 watts, you could not run that toaster. The power station would need a rating of 1500 watts or more. Electrical appliances have a label that will indicate the watts required, which is also their usage per hour.

Let’s assume we have a 100W light bulb. If we used a 1000W power station with a 500Wh battery, 100 is less than 1000, so the globe will work. In theory, the light will run for five hours, because we divide the watt-hours by the device’s watts.

Note that the battery capacity is not what you will get in real life. In the case of Bluetti (which will be similar to other brands), you lose power as part of the process. Important factors to consider include:

  • You can only use 90% of the stated battery capacity to ensure longer battery life
  • The power station itself consumes power at about 15W
  • The inverter, which turns the DC battery power into 240-volt AC, has an efficiency of 85%

Using our example above, 500Wh x 90% x 85% / (100W+15W) = 3.3 hours. Thus the light bulb would work for around three hours, not five hours.

Now you can calculate your usage. It would be best to consider how long you want the power station to last before it is recharged. Remember to always give yourself some buffer. If you are using a solar panel to recharge your power station, consider how a cloudy day will affect your ability to recharge.

What makes the Bluetti AC180 a great power station?

The Bluetti AC180 is a portable power station able to run appliances up to 1800 watts from a 1152Wh battery.

The table below shows that Bluetti had a hole in their range. You either had a battery that was too small or more expensive than needed.

Power watts60070010001800200022002200
Battery Wh2685377161152200020482048
Surge watts1200140014002700480048004800
Solar input watts200200200500700900900
size (LxWxD) cm26x18x1828x20x2032x22x2234x25x3242x28x3944x30x3942x28x39
weight kg4.67.59.716.227.528.128.1
AC charger watts3502002001440500500500
Price $599 $899 $999 $1499 $2,799 $2,999 $2,999
Bluetti Power Station range

For those of you who are more technical, you will realise that the AC180 is equivalent to a 100AH battery. Given our equation above, you will have approximately 1000Wh of usable power between charges.

What is in the Bluetti AC180 Box
What’s in the Bluetti AC180 Box

If, like me, you were to run a 12-volt camp fridge, this would keep the fridge running for two days and allow you to run some LED lights and charge your mobile. The AC180 could continuously run a circular saw on a job site for about 30 minutes. Remember, you would only use a saw for a few seconds occasionally.

The big difference with AC180 is its mains charging rate. Being able to inject up to 1400 watts an hour means charging the battery to 80% in 45 minutes from empty. If you had a power-hungry job, you could forgo extension cords and recharge the units during lunch.

Bluetti app screenshot

While using the Bluetti app, you have three charging modes to choose from: Silent, Normal, and Turbo. The silent mode allows the AC180 to be charged without using the internal fan. It achieves this by lowering the charging wattage so less heat is generated. The effect of this is it is super quiet but can take up to five hours to charge. The other modes can be quite noisy due to the fan running.

Because Bluetti uses LiFo4 batteries, they are safer to use than your mobile phone. They also support 3,500 charges before they are at 80% capacity versus new, which equates to nine-plus years if charged daily. Bluetti provides a 5-year warranty on this model.

Bluetti plan to release a new expansion battery, the B80, which will add 806Wh capacity to the AC180/EB3A/EB55/EB70. This will provide a similar capacity to the AC200 range but in two more easily moved components.

Using the AC180

The size and weight of a portable power station directly correlate with the battery capacity. At 16.2kg (Bluetti quote 17kg), the AC180 is not too heavy to be moved around by hand. It is the size of about a 30cm ruler in all directions, meaning it will easily store in a car’s boot or under a desk.

You may put it under a desk because the AC180 is also a UPS or Uninterrupted Power Supply. A UPS allows your appliance to continue running during a mains power outage without any power interruption. This is useful for sensitive equipment like computers or medical devices like a CPAP machine where a power interruption could lead to disaster.

Having previously reviewed the EB3A and the AC200Max, I was surprised when I first plugged this unit into the mains because the charge rate was so high. In real terms, it charges fast to around 80%, but after this point, the charging reduces to just under 300 watts.

Compared to some other models in the range, the AC180 has only one power input, so only one power source for charging can be used at a time. I really liked the big buttons which are not as fiddly as found on other models as they were “just right”.

The screen is identical to the EB3A, and I like that, unlike the 200Max, it provides an indication of how long the expected charge time is, plus the time to empty based on the current load. I would have liked to see this feature also available on the app.

app screenshot
The Bluetti App works with this model and has a few more features unavailable on other models.

The additional key feature is much greater control as to when the Bluetti switches itself off. When running with no load, the Bluetti uses power. To minimise this, you can now specify how long and what power draw would trigger a shutdown to save battery power.

There is also a feature called Grid Boost mode which ensures that the grid can charge properly in the event of large voltage fluctuations in the grid. It’s useful if you’re charging off an old non-inverter-style petrol generator.

App screenshot displaying capacity

The AC180’s normal operating range is 1800 watts but is also quoted as being able to support up to 2700W. I first tested this feature in the EB3A, so the hair dryer came out again. After turning the hair dryer to full, the AC180 powered the hair dryer for about three seconds at 2100W before shutting down and issuing an AC overload error. If you go into the app and switch on Power Lifting, then run the hair dryer, it will operate, but you hear a reduction in fan speed. Power Lifting increases the wattage but decreases the voltage. This means you can still run appliances requiring a higher wattage as long as they are not voltage sensitive. Hair dryers, kettles and coffeemakers are fine but do not use voltage-sensitive devices like computers in this mode.

GadgetGuy’s Take

Of the Bluetti range, this is my favourite model so far. It is not too heavy to lift, provides enough power for an overnight camp and can add value to a worksite, especially with the fast charging to allow you to get back on the tools.

The feature set is just what you might need rather than what you don’t, with the ability to run or charge most modern-day appliances. The unit’s operation is simple, and you can check your retaining battery capacity from your phone.

The Bluetti comes with an impressive 5-year warranty, although a big investment upfront should give you a life of more than 10 years. Keep an eye on the company’s website for a deal, as Bluetti have regular sales.

Update: Launching 15th May 23 with an introductory price of $1199.

Bluetti AC180 portable power station
Value for money
Ease of use
Fast charging all-in-one power supply
Highly portable
Value for money when compared to the competition
No predictive time usage on the App