Portable battery packs have become a common accessory for smartphone owners to carry and use on a regular basis. Power stations, like the Honda 290 made by Jackery, however, are starting to get more attention.
Note: This review is part of our roundup of portable power banks. Go there for details on competing products and our testing methods.
The Honda 290 is big, measuring 9.0 x 7.8 x 5.2-inches and weighing 6.6 pounds, but it packs a ton of power. There’s a small display where you can view the current charge level, along with input and output amounts. There’s a 12V charging port, two USB ports, and a standard AC port. There’s also a single input port, used for charging the power station itself.
Each section of ports has a power button next to it, with a small light that lets you know if that section is currently turned on. For example, if you plug something into a USB port, you have to press the power button for that section. Once the device is charged and you unplug it, you have to press the power button again to turn off that section of ports. It would be nice if each port would timeout and turn off if there wasn’t any output for, maybe, 15 minutes, but remembering to press a button isn’t that big of a deal.
The two USB ports are capable of putting out 5V at 2.4A each, while the standard AC adapter will put out 110VAC at up to 200W. The car port puts out 12V with a 42W max.
There’s a total of 292Wh capacity in the Honda 290, and when draining the battery from full to empty over 22 hours, I found it to have 90.63 percent efficiency. That’s a solid result, and one I honestly didn’t expect. There’s a fan inside the casing that kicks on when the unit gets hot over time, so that eats into the total Wh available. Although the display turns off after a couple of minutes, it uses a share of the power, as do the power indicator lights for each section of ports.
But I didn’t want to only rely on testing its efficiency. Assuming someone would use the Honda 290 in the event of a power outage, I plugged a lamp into it when it had a full charge. The lamp turned off right around six hours of constant use.
Charging the Honda 290 is done via a dedicated input and took 7.5 hours from completely empty to full. There’s a solar panel accessory for charging the station, but that’s a tough sell given how slow it would be.
The Honda 290 isn’t a battery pack you throw in your backpack or suitcase for an overnight trip. It’s a backup power supply, that will get you through power outages from storms, or a camping (glamping?) trip over the weekend.
The biggest downside I can find is the price. The Honda 290 is priced at $350—ouch. But for someone who needs portable power that’s good for more than just one or two smartphone charges, the Honda 290’s got it.