Portable battery power stations, power banks, and solar panels.
Few things are more pleasant than camping. The fresh air, babbling brooks, warbling birds, and toasting s'mores by the campfire all soothe frazzled nerves and prepare us for reengagement with the urban melee.
Still, a few modern amenities never hurt. If you have kids, in fact, they're almost essential. Sometimes you need to give them a little game time on a tablet just to get a breather of your own -- which, of course, requires some access to electricity. RV-ing it? Then you really need a reliable source of electrons for the refrigerator, lights -- even a television.
One solution is a gas-powered generator. But -- let’s face it -- it's a poor solution at best. Generators are noisy, they're smelly, and transporting the fuel in an RV is inconvenient and potentially dangerous.
There's a better way: small but powerful battery-backed power stations and power packs.
One of the leading manufacturers of these devices is California-based NinjaBatt. The company started out eight years ago selling laptop batteries on its website, and eventually switched its business model to sell almost exclusively on Amazon.
"That was the game-changer for us,” says Reshef. "It just made ecommerce so much easier, allowing us to focus on product development rather than warehousing and shipping. We've become one of the biggest sellers on Amazon, and we've expanded beyond laptop batteries. Power stations and power banks are now our flagship products."
NinjaBatt currently offers two power stations: one rated at 560Wh, the second at 280Wh. Both can be charged via a wall outlet, through a car or truck lighter socket, or from solar panels. Supported by powerful backup batteries, the stations include USB ports, 12V/24V DC outlets, AC ports and emergency LED lights. Pure Sine Wave inverters assure the safety of any plugged-in device that operates below each power station's rated wattage.
The company also sells power banks -- pocket-size storage devices that are especially convenient for ensuring quick and reliable power for personal devices including phones, laptops, and tablets.
"Our power stations and banks are ideal for recreational camping, but we've designed them for much more than that," says Reshef. "These are products that allow you to go completely off the grid. They'll power all the devices on your RV or allow you to live comfortably and connected in a completely isolated cabin or on a sailboat. They represent true freedom -- but with convenience and security."
NinjaBatt power stations punch well over their weight. The 280Wh station weighs 7.3 pounds and can power a refrigerator for up to six hours, run lamps congruent with cited wattage for 30 hours, charge a smart phone more than 40 times, or charge a laptop five times or more.
Weighing in at 12 pounds, the 560Wh model allows you to run a big screen TV in your RV while simultaneously charging your iPhone and chilling down a six-pack of microbrew in the mini fridge. It can run your lights for 60 hours, the refrigerator for 12 hours, charge your phone more than 80 times, and charge your laptop more than six times.
"I'm not exaggerating when I say we know charging technologies," says Reshef. "Our power stations are tough and utterly reliable, and we're expanding the product line to accommodate customers who may want greater or lesser capacity. We're introducing a 148Wh mini station that weighs only two pounds and is ideal for backpacking, and we're planning to release 1,200Wh and 2,000Wh stations. We're also going to release 120Wh and 200Wh solar panels by the end of the year."
When combined with the power stations, the solar panels will complete a virtuous circle of total and environmentally sound energy independence.
"With a 200 to 300Wh solar panel, five to nine hours of sunlight will be sufficient to recharge even the larger power stations," says Reshef. "If you have sunlight, you'll have freedom from the grid and freedom to go where you want with all your power needs accommodated."
But NinjaBatts are more than a means for roaming in comfort, emphasizes Reshef: they're the logical solution for energy needs in disaster situations.
"Most people opt for portable gasoline generators following natural disasters like floods, wildfires, and earthquakes," says Reshef. "But gas generators have multiple drawbacks. They're noisy. They pollute the air. Fuel can be hard to find after a disaster. Our power stations are silent, safer, better for the environment, and much more portable. They just make sense for today's world."
Challenges: "We import components from Asia that must meet our very strict specifications," says Reshef, "but our direct competitors are Chinese manufacturers who don’t match our rigorous quality control or follow American shipping regulations, and who derive an unfair advantage by lowballing on price. They're simply producing inferior products -- in some cases, flawed and dangerous products. There are potential hazards with this technology, and your standards must be high to protect the consumer."
Opportunities: "I think we're in the discovery mode for this product line," says Reshef. "People are realizing we're not only competitive with gas generators -- we're better for a variety of reasons. The growth curve will be upward and steep as people learn what it is we do and what we're offering."
Needs: "That gets back to our challenges," observes Reshef. "Some equity in the marketplace would be nice. We need better enforcement of existing regulations to ensure the game is fair. That won't just benefit us -- it will protect the consumer."