September 9th, 2008

Portable AC and DC Powerpacks for the Range

An electronic powder dispenser and digital scale can be very useful tools for load development. However, you’ll need a power supply if your range doesn’t offer AC outlets. Many folks have asked us “How can I use a laptop, chronograph, or electronic powder dispenser that requires 110/120 volt power when I’m at the range?” Sure you can take power from your car’s 12 volt cigarette lighter jack, but you’ll still need a very long cable and a 12 volt to 120 volt step-up transformer. If you run a cable from the parking lot to the bench or shooting bay you’ll have to leave a window open in your vehicle and fellow shooters can trip over the long cord.

Black and Decker 12v 120v powerstation

A better solution is to get a portable 12 volt/120 volt power station. These are offered by many manufacturers, starting at about $40. Most have a large lead-acid battery inside a plastic enclosure with built-in 12 volt and 110/120 volt outlets. Some units also include air compressors and jumper cables so you can inflate a flat tire or jump-start your vehicle.

Among the available units, we like the Black & Decker VEC026BD Electromate 400 AC/DC Portable Power Station. The B&D Electromate (also sold under the Vector label) offers 400 watts of 120-volt AC power, plus 12.5-volt DC output. There are two three-prong AC outlets and two cigarette-jack style 12v DC outlets on the front of the unit. The Electromate 400 also features an air compressor and permanently attached jumper cables stowed in the rear of the unit. This Black & Decker power unit is currently on sale at Tyler Tool for $99.95. If you don’t need the full 400 watts and air compressor, Black & Decker offers the VEC1026BD Electromate 250 ($61.99 at This has jumper cables, but no compressor and just one 120 volt outlet and one 12 volt outlet.

Guide Gear 12v 120v powerstation

Sportsman’s Guide offers a similar product, the Guide Gearâ„¢ Power Station. This versatile, 5-in-1 product includes Jumpstarter, Air Compressor, 12V Power Inverter, 12V outlet, 110/120 volt outlet, and Worklight. Priced at $89.97, the Guide Gearâ„¢ Power Station offers 400 watts of power and can be recharged from either home or vehicle (both AC and DC cords included). Jumpstarter cables stow neatly in the ends and the unit features heavy rubber protective edges.

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