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BioLite BaseCharge Power Station & Solar Generator Review

The world has come a long ways in the products available for our outdoor adventures. Power stations like the BioLite BaseCharge 600 and BaseCharge 1500 and their ability to be charged via 100 watt (W) solar panels exemplify this and open up a world of powered possibilities when we are away from home. Things I have never even considered taking with me to the campsite become a reality, and in some cases, emergency situations can be mitigated by having a solar generator.

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Additionally, these little powerhouse units double as a backup power source in the event of a loss of power at home, which could mean the difference between losing a freezer full of food and precious wild game meat and keeping your hard-earned food source frozen.

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What Is A Power Station? – BioLite BaseCharge Review

It might sound simplistic to start here, but unless you are familiar with power stations, they might be somewhat foreign. If you think of the BioLite BaseCharge power station as a power unit that can be used for just about anything you would use in your home, the world of possibilities opens up beyond what you might think possible on a camping, hunting, or overlanding trip. If you select a high quality charge station like these Biolite BaseCharge systems, you can literally power most of your devices and systems while away from home.

Why Would You Need One – BioLite BaseCharge Review

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

Answering the question of “why would I need a solar generator” is not easy but ultimately comes down to what you want it for. The possibilities are nearly endless, but here are a few of the reasons I can personally see wanting and using one:

  • Home emergency power backup
  • Power station for extended camping trips (charge devices, power appliances and lights in your tent, etc.)
  • Power a cooler/refrigerator for extended camping trips

The possibilities are nearly endless and include giving you the ability to power up and work from a remote location if your job allows, use power tools for a project on the “Back 40” where extension cords will not reach, power your laptop for a work meeting, run a cooler, and so much more.

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Best uses – BioLite BaseCharge Review

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

We have established that the uses are nearly unlimited with these BaseCharge units, but what are the BEST uses? Again, that will be different for everyone, but for me, I found them especially useful for the following:

Recharging Gear On Hunting or Camping Trips

This covers a wide range of applications, but any time I am out on an extended hunting trip and hunting from a base camp, having the BioLite BaseCharge 600 or 1500 is a huge plus. Having the ability to keep my headlamp charged and light up my Kodiak Canvas 12×12 Cabin tent for an extended period of time is a game changer. Heck, one could even bring a coffee pot or any other portable appliance to camp if you wanted.

This can be especially critical if you are hunting or camping during months where the days are short and you spend a lot of time in your tent (hopefully with a wood stove). You will go through lantern batteries in a hurry and will likely need to recharge them a few times over the course of a week-long trip.

Recharging Camera Gear

Since pictures and video are a big part of many trips, not having to bring a pile of small power banks to keep camera and phone batteries charged is a massive win. If you or someone in your party like to film your adventure, you will go through batteries like crazy, and having the ability to charge a bunch of them quickly is huge.

Work Away From Home

If you happen to have a job where the location you are working from does not matter, the BioLite BaseCharge 1500 and BaseCharge 600 have the ability to provide enough power to work remotely from just about anywhere. While this is not the case for all of us, it sure is a nice benefit if the opportunity ever arises.

Power Your Toys

If you are someone who likes to take a lot of toys when you go camping, well, the BioLite BaseCharge 1500 and BaseCharge 600 are your ticket. Heck, you could even bring your TV and easily have a relaxing movie night in your tent if you wanted. I know, a lot of us are looking to get away from electronics when we are out camping, but if you like to bring those amenities, the BioLite BaseCharge units can be your friend.

Power Your Cooler

I have not personally used the BioLite BaseCharge 600 or 1500 for this purpose because I do not own an electric cooler, but these power systems allow you to go on extended trips without having to run to the store for more ice.

Specs – BioLite BaseCharge 600 & 1500

So, let’s say you have decided to invest in a portable power station and you have narrowed down your choices to the Biolite BaseCharge 600 and BaseCharge 1500. Deciding which one you need might be a little challenging, but thankfully we were able to test and use both of them to help you decide. If specs are the determining factor, here is a breakdown of the differences:

FeatureBaseCharge 600BaseCharge 1500
Weight14 lb28.5 lb
Dimensions12.2 x 7.9 x 7.9 in
(309 x 200 x 201 mm)
14.4 x 12.2 x 8.2 in
367 x 310 x 209 mm
Capacity622 Wh1521 Wh
Charging Outputs1012
Solar CompatibleYes – 100 WYes – Up to 400 W
Wireless ChargingYesYes
High Speed USB-CYes – 1Yes -1
Dual Input ChargingYesYes

What on Earth is A “Watt-Hour” (Wh) – BioLite BaseCharge 600 & 1500

If you are new to energy consumption terminology, a “watt-hour” may be a foreign term. The official definition is: “a unit of energy equivalent to one watt of power expended for one hour of time”. By contrast, power companies typically charge you for the electrical energy you consume by the kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is equal to 1,000 watt-hours. Effectively, watt-hours measure energy used over a specific time period or duration, while watts represent power usage at a single point in time.

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

So, if you really wanted to see what kind of power you might need in portable power station, you could do some math based on your usage at home. However, if you are like me, I am not looking to power an entire house, just have some extra power for isolated uses when I am away from home.

For a frame of reference and simple math, let’s use a 100 W incandescent light bulb. If you leave that 100 W light bulb on for one hour, it will use 100 Wh to power it. Similarly, an LED equivalent to a 100 W bulb may only use 10 or 11 watts (or 10-11 Wh over the course of an hour), so obviously you will want to plan accordingly and pick the size of unit based on how much you plan to use it.

Design and Features – BioLite BaseCharge 600 & 1500

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

If you have looked at solar generator units, one of the things you will notice and appreciate about the BioLite BaseCharge solar generator systems is that a lot of thought went into their design. These are not “budget” units, as they feature top notch design features like wireless charging, high quality components, and extra safety features. These BioLite BaseCharge power stations certainly are not the cheapest you can find but they are absolutely high quality.

Display Features – BioLite BaseCharge

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

One of the awesome things about the BioLite BaseCharge systems is their easy to read, real-time display that tells you everything you need to know about the power you are using, how much longer you have, remaining power, and even what ports are outputting power and how much power is being pushed out of each port. It an impressive digital display that tells you everything you need to know about your system.

What Size Do I Need?

This was a question I found myself asking when I first started looking at portable power stations. The answer largely depends on what you are planning on using it for, how many devices you want to power with it, and how long of a trip you will be on. Additionally, if you plan to use solar panels to recharge your power station, you may not need to bring as big of a unit as if you are looking to just have some reserve power without recharging until you get back home.

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

At the end of the day, where I landed was that the BioLite BaseCharge 600 was typically plenty for me on my weekend camping or hunting trips, even without using solar panels. If I was planning on a longer trip, I wanted to bring the solar panel(s) and/or the larger BioLite BaseCharge 1500. I typically brought at least one solar panel either way just in case.

If you simply want an emergency power supply but do not plan to use it very heavily, something like the 230 Wh Grecel Portable Power Station that we tested this year will do the trick. It certainly is a more basic unit, and will not power anything that requires more than 300 W of output, but it works great as a more basic, budget-friendly option.

BioLite Solar Panels – Do They Work?

During our time testing out the BioLite BaseCharge 600 and BaseCharge 1500, we were able to use each unit with the BioLite Solar Panel 100 W accessory to see how well they performed when the time came to recharge and use them while capitalizing on its solar charging capabilities.

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

To frame this, it is important to understand that solar can be finicky and as a whole, generally does not provide the maximum watt input that it is rated to. That was certainly our experience with these BioLite 100 W Solar Panels as we typically were able to set them up to receive around 60-70 watts of solar power. We found it difficult to obtain the full 100 W max with any consistency, even when using the integrated Optimal Sun System. Additionally, if we were able to get close to that 100 W input, it took a lot of care to reposition the panel(s) every hour or so as the sun moved.

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

At the end of the day, we found it best to expect to get roughly 50-70% of the maximum watt capability from the solar charging system. While this might sound disappointing if you have not used solar much, this is not abnormal at all. Bottom line, solar is very finicky, so expect that no matter what solar generator system you go with.

Charge Times / Performance – BioLite BaseCharge 600 & 1500

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

As you can imagine, charging times vary widely if you are using solar because the incoming charge varies as the sun moves and clouds roll by disrupting the amount of sun your panel is getting. That said, the BioLite website lists the following charge times (charging to 80%):

FeatureBaseCharge 600BaseCharge 1500
A/C Adapter7 hr13.5 hr
A/C + USB-C3.5 hr8 hr
Solar Panel (1×100 W)6 hr16 hr
Solar Panel (4×100 W)N/A4 hr

Quantifying the charge time when using your outlet at home is easy, but not so much when using solar. I did not have four of the BioLite Solar Panel 100 W to test how fast I could get the BioLite BaseCharge 1500 to charge, but I was able to use two of the 100 W solar panels and found that I was regularly able to get around 140-150 watts of incoming power to charge the unit. However, that required readjusting the panels every hour or so.

In real world use, I would expect to get roughly 50% of the max power from the solar panels and anything above that is gravy. For me, this is more realistic as I want to be able to set the panels up (on the top of or around my tent), leave for a day of adventures, and come back to as much power as possible. After all, I did not go to the mountains to babysit solar panels.

Transporting Your BioLite BaseCharge 600 & 1500

I found it interesting that BioLite does not yet have a carrying case for their BaseCharge units. Given that they are a significant investment, I really wanted to protect them from the elements, especially during transportation to and from my destination. Oftentimes that involves rough dirt roads where everything gets bounced around, so keeping the BioLite BaseCharge units safe from the dust, rain, and bumps is critical.

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

After looking around at the options out there, I picked up some Pelican Cases which offer the ultimate in protection from the elements. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and allowed me to throw the solar panel in the case as well.

Biolite Basecharge 1500 and Basecharge 600 review - Portable solar power generators

For the BaseCharge 1500 I selected the Pelican Air 1637 case with foam, and for the BioLite BaseCharge 600 I went with the Pelican Air 1557 with foam. Both of those are PHENOMENAL and worked perfectly. The pick apart foam allows you to customize the interior to whatever you need, depending on what you want to take with you. Pretty sweet setup and I highly recommend Pelican cases.

What I Liked – BioLite BaseCharge 600 & 1500

There are a TON of awesome features that the BaseCharge units offer. It is a very well-made system with a lot of built-in safety features to protect your device as well as the system itself.

  • Real-time accurate readouts
  • Excellent display
  • Lots of outputs
  • Fast charge and wireless charging
  • Extensive accessories offered
  • Nice easy-carry handles
  • High quality components and safety features
  • Built-in fan
  • Solar-compatible

All together, these characteristics form a top notch portable power station that can be used as a stand-alone system or as a solar charging station if you add in the optional 100 W solar panels. The USB-C fast charge port is a favorite of mine, and the display is awesome.

What I Disliked – BioLite BaseCharge 600 & 1500

I really liked most things about the BioLite BaseCharge units; however, there are a few things I felt could be refined to make them a bit more user-friendly:

  • Finicky wireless charging
  • No carry case offered (or included) from BioLite
  • Only included a wall-mount charging cable

While these are all small things, I found the wireless charging to be extremely sensitive to the placement of your phone, to the point that I sometimes worried if the phone was actually charging. It would be an improvement if the wireless charging area was a bit more forgiving and even allowed for more than one device at a time.

It would also be nice if the BioLite systems came with more than just the wall-mount charging cable (like a car charger adapter) and offered a carry case specifically designed for their units. While I absolutely love the Pelican Cases that I found, they add expense and took a little bit of customization to get the foam fit just right. It would be better if BioLite included at least some kind of cloth carry bag for the BaseCharge units.

Conclusion

After spending many months using these BioLite BaseCharge 600 and 1500, I came to appreciate all they can do and the possibilities they open up. I will be honest, I had never really been that interested in them before diving into this review. However, the more I used them, the more I realized that not only are they extremely convenient to have on camping trips, they are fantastic to have at home in case of an extended power outage. We tend to have a lot of food stored in our home freezers, and these units might just save us a LOT of money and wasted food if we ever get hit with an extended power outage.

If you have looked around at portable power stations, you likely noticed that there are A LOT of them on the market. While I have not tested enough of them to say how the BioLite BaseCharge systems compare, I can say with certainty that they are extremely good quality, well-made units that offer you a lot of features to go along with great performance. They will do everything you need them to and likely a whole lot more.

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