- Powering Electronics Mid-Flight
- Using Appliances and Accessories
- Extending the Experience
- Emergency Preparedness
- Choosing the Right Portable Power Station
- Operation and Safety
- Balloon Ride Checklist
Floating high above the ground in a hot air balloon is an unforgettable experience. From spectacular views to peaceful serenity, hot air balloon rides allow you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. But modern technology and electronics are also critical parts of balloon flights these days. Cameras, GPS devices, tablets, and more are commonly brought along. Unfortunately, relying on battery power alone may cut rides shorter than desired when devices run out of juice. That's where portable power stations come in handy!
Portable power stations provide reliable, portable power to keep your devices charged and operating during your airborne adventures. With the right power station, you can extend flights, run accessories, prepare for emergencies, and get the most out of your ballooning experiences.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about choosing and using a portable power station for hot air balloon rides.
Powering Electronics Mid-Flight
One of the best advantages of having a portable power station during hot air balloon trips is keeping your electronic devices powered up and running the entire time you're in the air. Battery life can drain quickly on devices like cameras, GPS units, tablets, and smartphones when capturing photos, shooting videos, mapping your position, or accessing apps hundreds of feet in the air. A portable power station gives you the juice needed to prevent unexpected shutdowns mid-flight.
Extending Battery Life of Devices Used During Rides
- Cameras - Frequently snapping photos or recording video will quickly deplete camera batteries. A power station lets you recharge or continuously power your DSLR, mirrorless, or action camera to keep documenting the sights without interruption.
- GPS - On-board GPS devices are essential for monitoring speed, altitude, direction, and position during balloon trips. But their screens and navigation functions use a lot of power. Plug in your GPS unit to a power station outlet to maintain optimal battery levels.
- Tablets - Tablets are great for aerial mapping apps, accessing weather conditions, or atmospheric data. But operating a tablet screen at full brightness for an extended period drains the battery. Connect your tablet to a power station to get hours more run time.
- Smartphones - Smartphones also get used heavily in flight for photos, video calls, apps, and more. Keep your iPhone, Android, or other phone powered up with a portable charger connected to the power station.
Using Appliances and Accessories
In addition to powering electronics, portable power stations allow you to run small appliances and accessories to improve your overall balloon ride experiences.
Keeping Devices and Accessories Running
- Headlamps -Portable headlamps provide hands-free lighting during pre-flight setup, night launches, and landings. Power stations can run headlamps for days without new batteries.
- Walkie Talkies - Crews use two-way radios to communicate during rides. Rechargeable walkie talkies connect to power stations for nonstop, reliable communication.
- Heating Pads - Heating pads keep you comfortable in the cold upper altitudes. Run electric pads off a power station without worrying about battery life.
- Electric Blankets - Likewise, small electric blankets can provide warmth in the basket without draining battery banks.
Extending the Experience
One of the biggest perks of having a power station aboard is the ability to extend flights and stay airborne longer. Powering gear like fans, instruments, and other electronics lets you push past the limits of battery life and continue soaring high.
Staying in the Air Longer
Onboard fans require power to direct the balloon and prevent early landings. Connect fans to a power station to enhance maneuverability when winds are low. Keep systems running to extend trips beyond the usual 1-2 hours most battery packs allow.
Avoiding Early Landings Due to Drained Electronics
Instruments, GPS units, radios, and other electronics shut down too early because dead batteries can cut rides short. A portable power station keeps everything energized longer, preventing premature landings from equipment failures.
Safety is paramount when flying hundreds or thousands of feet in the air in a wicker basket. Portable power stations provide backup power for essential safety gear and emergency communications.
Portable Power as Backup for:
- Emergency Communications - Stay connected with your ground crew and emergency services through your satellite phone, radio, or other devices. Power stations charge handheld transceivers, phones, and broadband terminals for emergency use.
- Medical Devices - Portable medical devices like oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines, and nebulizers can run off a power station's AC outlets if needed. This provides critical medical care during extended or emergency landings.
- Safety Lights and Beacons - Marker lights, flares, flashing beacons, and illumination sources can connect to a power station for emergency signaling and visibility.
- GPS Trackers - Independent GPS trackers with built-in batteries provide backup location capability if your primary GPS fails. Keep extra trackers charged in the power station for redundancy.
Choosing the Right Portable Power Station
With so many electronics and accessories to run, it's important to choose the right power station for hot air ballooning. Models optimized for size, weight, power output, and reliability make the best balloon companions.
Factors to Consider
- Weight – The station should be as lightweight as possible for easy balloon launching without excess baggage. Look for compact lithium power stations under 10 pounds.
- Size - A smaller, more portable model takes up minimal space in the basket while providing ample power and outlets. Opt for a compact, handheld design.
- Battery Type - Lithium batteries are lighter, smaller, and hold more long-lasting charges than older lead-acid designs. Lithium is ideal for airborne use.
- Output Wattage - Choose a station rated for 200W or more to run multiple electronics, accessories, and safety systems simultaneously if needed.
- Power Cycles - The battery should provide thousands of power cycles over its lifespan for repeated balloon flight usage.
- Outlets - Look for multiple AC outlets, USB ports, 12V DC ports, wireless charging, and laptop charging to power all your gear.
Operation and Safety
When powered up in flight, portable stations need to be operated carefully to avoid risks. Follow usage and storage best practices for flight safety.
- Only turn on/operate the station once your balloon is airborne and stable. Switch off before landing.
- Prevent overheating by keeping the unit out of direct sunlight and ambient temperatures under 110°F.
- Do not attempt to recharge the station while in flight. Only charge while on the ground.
- When not in use, store the station in protective cases away from weather, moisture, and temperature extremes.
- Ensure all electronics and devices are securely plugged into outlets and won't become entangled or disconnected in flight.
- Avoid running high-draw appliances like electric grills or generators, which could overload the station.
- Adhere to TSA and FAA regulations when transporting lithium batteries.
Balloon Ride Checklist
To get the most out of your balloon adventures, here are some recommended items to bring:
- Portable lithium power station rated 200W+
- Fully charged smartphones, tablets, cameras
- GPS unit, maps
- Extra battery packs, cables
- Oxygen concentrator, if needed
- Radio transceivers
- Headlamps, flashlights
- Electric blankets, heating pads
- Backup safety beacons, locator devices
- First aid kit
A hot air balloon ride with full power for electronics, accessories, and safety systems is an unbeatable experience. Portable power stations provide reliable juice for maximizing your air time while capturing photos, videos, data, etc. Choosing the right power station optimized for airborne use will allow you to fly longer and be prepared for any situation while soaring gracefully above the world. Bring power and peace of mind along for the journey with a portable station designed for the demands of ballooning adventures. You'll enjoy the ride more than ever.