Just before Christmas, I received a device called an ArkPak. It’s referred to as “The world’s most advanced battery box”. And that is exactly what it is, it’s a portable battery box, inverter, smart charger all in one.
At first PB couldn’t see any use for it, but as he began messing with it, helping me put it together, he has gotten more and more interested in it, he wants to put it into the VW Bug, as a battery box and backup power, I think he might have to tweak the VW’s system to do that, but knowing PB, it’s something he would be willing and able to do. :)
Bottom line, it does what it claims to do, it’s a self contained uber-battery box, it comes complete with an inverter, charge controller (for AC main power), it has the ability to diagnose your battery and tell you the percentage of the charge, the charge controller in it will help maintain your battery. At around $400, this is geared toward people who are going somewhere where there is not any electricity available — camping, off roading, remote work sites… and it is good to keep around for emergency backup use; just keep it plugged up in the garage to maintain the battery and use in the event of a power outage. It would be good to keep in your vehicle if it was big enough, this will give you backup power to jump start your vehicle or another vehicle, or run power tools like an air pump.
It would also be good for someone who is just starting their off grid life, building in a remote place, you will need a way to power your power tools and light up your camp at night. This would have been great to have when we first started out, before our solar system was set up, PB absolutely could have used this to begin building the sky castle. It is something that we can use on remote parts of our property where we don’t have power or a solar system set up, I’m thinking the garage area where we park our vehicles, how nice it is to be able to air up a tire, or use other power tools down there while finishing out our garage.
I haven’t tried charging the battery while in the system, it seems pretty straightforward though, especially if you have grid power. BUT if you are trying to charge with a solar panel, you need to add a separate charge controller, they said they didn’t include it because it would have added to the cost and the potential problem with the different kinds and setup, I am not an engineer or technician, but I don’t agree with the latter reason, adding a charge controller for a solar setup wouldn’t be difficult at all, and it shouldn’t add that much to the cost, again it could be something that could be an OPTION with the appropriate extra cost if necessary. It shouldn’t make it any more complicated.
When I first set it up, one thing I noticed, before adding the battery, with it empty, it was top heavy, I had to hold the lid while it was open to keep it from tipping over. The electronics are located in the lid, a good place for it, you don’t want your electronics to be below the battery especially if you are using a wet type battery. Once the battery was in place, it stood on its own with no problems.
It has all the connectors you would need, you can plug in any standard AC plug, it also has a USB port for charging your USB goodies, 2 12-volt sockets, all of which have fuses to protect everything.
I would like to see wingnuts instead of standard nuts for the battery connection, the fewer tools one HAS to use the better IMHO, it is an easy fix though, I will just replace the nuts with wingnuts.
The drawbacks that I can see is it’s heavy, but that’s because of the battery, anything like that is going to be heavy, we estimate the whole thing (including the battery) weighs in at 70 pounds, it’s not going to be something I’ll be lugging around by myself. It would be nice to have wheels, maybe a setup like luggage with wheels and a pop-up handle… it could be a separate thing they could offer as an accessory, it would be the only way I could move one around by myself. It would need to be robust enough to handle the weight and possibly being moved over rough terrain, maybe even offer 2 sets, one light duty for moving across concrete and smooth surfaces and the other more robust for moving on dirt, rocks, uneven ground.
The other drawback is the price, even with the drop in price they just implemented, it’s still pretty pricey for the likes of me, but I tend to be a DIY kind of person, I see the money I would spend on that unit as something I could spend on making my own system, putting together my own package, for the person who is less handy or just wants something already set up, it would be perfect.
One more thing I would want to see is a more powerful inverter, 150 watts is not very strong, of course the tradeoff would be the higher the wattage you are using, the quicker your battery will run down, that could be another option to add a higher powered inverter, maybe something in the 500-1000 watt range would be nice.
Honestly it’s pretty pricy for us, but we live very much on the cheap, but in all fairness, it’s much less expensive than their nearest competitor the Yeti 1250, which comes with a battery already installed and theirs is not user friendly to change out, so taking that into consideration, it really is a bargain even with the price of adding your own battery. I look forward to seeing PB play with it some more. I wanted to get some “action shots” with this, but wow, our weather just hasn’t cooperated with it, doing anything outdoors has been near impossible, it’s either really cold, really windy, really windy and cold…. I think you get the idea. I’ll see what I can do about getting some outdoor action pix of PB using this device. :)
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