Picking a Power Station for a MacBook Pro (And More)

Originally published at: Picking a Power Station for a MacBook Pro (And More) - TidBITS

After a 2016 MacBook Pro failed to provide sufficient battery life for a track meet, Adam Engst started researching alternative ways of powering it, only to realize that he had something in the car all along that would have solved the problem.

Good article. Just one word of caution if you’re going to use your jump-starter for your computer. Make sure you don’t drain it so far that you can no longer jump-start the car or you’re going to feel very silly when calling for roadside assistance.

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I’d be interested to know how much noise the Technet makes in a quiet environment. I’m looking for something to support an aging iPhone used to video record meetings that typically run about an hour, and I’m wondering if its sound would be a distraction.

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Yeah, that would be a perfect storm of bad stuff—dead devices and a drained car battery. :-) I was worried the one day I had to drive the car because I forgot that the jump starter was in the house when I left, so I was hoping it wouldn’t be the day I’d need it. Generally speaking, I’ve mostly had to jump-start the car in our garage—leaving a door slightly ajar won’t be a problem during a day out.

A good question, and I’ll report back. My impression from reading about so many of these products is that the fan will come on only when the AC outlet is in place, not the USB outlets. But we’ll see!

I would recommend a power station like a Jackery or Rockpals. It’s not used to start a car, rather as a non-gas-powered station. There’s a large battery inside it which you charge with AC or car or solar panels. The models that put out max 500 watts will keep your 100 watt laptop running for over 4 hours. It’s also a good investment for the coming times when AC power will be spotty in your home. You can’t run appliances off it but light bulbs like 10 to 50 watts will run for hours.

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Regarding your option of Windows for ARM on a newer Mac, I can say that I was quite impressed with my move to Windows 11 for ARM under Parallels Desktop on my M1 MacBook Pro. I do embedded software development, and use an IDE that hasn’t been updated in over 10 years, with FTDI-based USB serial cables. I have not had any problems with the IDE interfacing with my embedded hardware.

I’ve installed other non-ARM Windows software and so far haven’t run into any trouble with it.

I also went down the path of the $199 battery replacement on my 5-year-old Intel MacBook Pro so I could continue to access my Intel-based Windows VMs for some time to come. In addition to a new battery, it also replaced the problematic keyboard with a few broken keycaps.


I have been using Ego battery-powered tools for several years, including a lawnmower and a snowblower. When they released an inverter which used the batteries for these devices, I purchased it. I find that it works quite well to power a laptop for 1 to 2 hours on a charged 5000 mAh battery. I have two 5000 mAh batteries for the mower and two 7500 mAh batteries for the snowblower, so I can run my laptop for quite a long time across all four batteries. Note that this is the rather small 150w inverter (for $100) and not their much larger power station.


Adam, for the ones that only had 2-prong outlets you could use a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter. Just attach a wire to a ground point on the power station and have an alligator clip on the other end that you clip to the ground tab on the adapter. However, it sounds like you have have found one that will meet your requirements.

Thanks for the article. A good reminder to get a car start device. Our Prius battery went dead twice in 2020 for probably the same reason as you. (Rant: why can’t Toyota leverage that huge battery to start the car? The 12V battery is needed presumably to get the electronics going.)

One nit: you probably won’t need power for your M1 MBA on a long flight if the reported battery lives are accurate.

I couldn’t resist delving into the rathole of random-brand Chinese manufacturers on Amazon

Sounds like fodder for the BigClive.com youtube channel. :laughing:

Looking forward to hearing the results of the device you bought.

…and how on earth can RS-232 still be a thing these days?


I’ve a photography project on a remote island I am working on for the past year or so, no power there so a generator and petrol needed to be ferried over to cover periods of two weeks alone there ( along with water/food/camping/tools and kit).

I ended up buying a Honda E2200i which features the all important inverter for charging electronics. I could isolate the generator to a point with a long cable and it’s among the quieter models out there but still a pain to schlep the fuel and to have the noise instead of the sea and bird life. And I had to run it for about four hours a day to keep my iPad Pro/GFX batteries/lamps/torch/power pack/iPhone all fully going.

I only came across the Jackery 1000 after last winter which comes with optional solar panels to recharge. I’m very curious to pick one up and test to see if the power I needed could be handled (in the grey Irish winter!) by that combination. That would be about the same price as the Honda which I would sell off.


I’ve been considering for backup power of a fridge or home electronics, a Bluetti power station. Normally I don’t promote something I don’t own yet, and had been lucky to have some neighbor I could throw an extension cord to for last outtage, that powered my fridge off their house generator. But I don’t feel the noise and fumes, and cost, was worth a Generac. So then some Youtubers I watch, that camp, use the Bluetti to power their gear, their laptop (MacbookPro) and edit then upload their videos, using either mifi devices to cellular net or satellite. Much less noise then a Honda generator, no pollution, can be right inside your tent or camper or house, and has ports for devices. Cost on par with new macs! :rofl:

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A post was split to a new topic: Track meet management software

Over at https://shuttermuse.com/?s=Jackery Dan Carr has reviews on these which he uses for his photo trips.

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Very useful Neil, thank you.

I recently bought a small inverter from Ryobi, Model RY18BI50A, which has a mains outlet (150W) and two USB-A charging ports (2.5 A). I already have a selection of their tools and 18V batteries so the inverter was a no-brainer. The good thing with this, of course, is that the batteries are instantly swappable, so you are not limited by the capacity of internal batteries and you can choose the battery capacity you need for the task. I have used it to power my M1 MacBook Pro and two iPads with good results. It is silent most of the time but a small, nearly inaudible, fan will operate if the loads are heavier. It also has a dimmable lamp and is very easy to use. I measured no current draw when the battery was connected and the inverter switched off, so leaving a battery installed will not run it down. Like all these small inverters it outputs a modified square wave but everything I have connected to it so far has operated normally.

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I’ve heard it’s occasionally a bit windy in Ireland. This looks like a it might work. (He looks like a photography enthusiast too… give him a call)

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Great article. And definitely a solution for some locations. Unfortunately, it does require quite a bit of open land (where I live, the kite would end up hitting trees or neighbors’ homes) and you need to be in a place where there is a steady supply of wind. I’d also love to see how much work is involved in launching the kites.

So it’s probably not going to be a substitute for large-scale wind turbines, but definitely a great idea for those whose locations and power requirements make it practical.

An interesting article Adam.
For those of us that use battery powered hand tools:
I use MANY Ryobi battery powered hand tools and last year bought a Ryobi battery powered lawn mower as a back up to my gas mower.
The newest tools use a 40V battery pack. Over the last few years I had collected several of these large batteries, but last summer we had an enormous amount of rain here in the northeast and my sump pump was not operating when the power was out, however, the power wasn’t down long enough for me to get my gas generator going, or it was happening in the middle of the night.
My solution was to utilize these batteries I already own by purchasing this:

You simply slide the batteries into the slots (Can take up to four) and I was able to run my sump pump using this unit.
I have also found I can run my chest freezer off of this, as well as charging laptops and other devices that are charged up using a USB cable.
There is an APP for this on the app store that connects via BT that gives you info on the batteries and current charge condition.
I too, looked at the Jackery at first, but then discovered this unit so I could use the batteries I already have.

Rich Lefko

When you test it, try to find out how many overcast days you can handle in a row. Please let us know the result of your test.