iForway PS500N Review: Your Party-Ready Portable Solar Power Station

For those looking to upgrade their power reserves for exploration, entertainment, and emergency, the iForway PS500N offers a fine balance.
iforway ps500n outdoors

For those looking to upgrade their power reserves for exploration, entertainment, and emergency, the iForway PS500N offers a fine balance. Not all will appreciate the included speaker over other features, but it's a quality product for the right user.

  • MPPT controller
  • 10W Bluetooth speaker
  • Four different light modes (half brightness, max brightness, SOS, and strobe)
  • 500W pure sine wave inverter
  • AC plugs with safety switch
  • Brand: iForway
  • Weight: 13.13 lbs (6.0 kg)
  • Size: 11.4" x 6.1" x 7.4"
  • Capacity: 462Wh
  • Maximum Discharge: 500W continuous / 800W peak
  • Maximum Charge: 120W
  • Solar Controller: MPPT charge controller
  • Ports: 2 x USB, 1 x QC 3.0, 1 x USB-C PD, 3 x DC port, 1 x 12V car port, 2 x 110V AC Outlet
  • Diverse range of ports for different needs
  • Efficient solar charge with MPPT controller
  • Good secondary outdoor speaker with volume and playback buttons
  • Light provides impressive luminence (36 LED chips)
  • Lacks ruggedization for an outdoor battery
  • Fairly heavy at 13.3 lbs
  • Unregulated 12V
  • No LCD screen to monitor input/output

Portable power stations help us in times of need. Whether dealing with an emergency, camping, or venturing into the outdoors—they provide power on demand.

The iForway PS500N offers the power you need in those settings while also livening them with a wireless speaker. The question is whether this solar power generator works best for your home, or if it can tackle the outside world with equal measure.

iForway PS500N Design

When first handling the iForway PS500N, you'll notice there's some heft to the elongated power bank. It weighs just over 13 pounds, but it distributes this weight effectively across its width of 11.4 inches, the height of 6.1 inches, and its depth of 7.4 inches.

iForway handle hold

Thanks to the sliding metal handle, it's easy to shift the weight distribution. However, this handle is more about functionality than comfort, so you won't want to carry it around needlessly. Just keep that in mind before making any large journeys into the wilderness with the power station.

Is It Rugged Enough?

When looking at a power bank for the outdoors, a primary consideration is its ruggedization. While this charger does feature some rubbering on its feet, it's nonexistent otherwise. Since there's no rubbering on the sides, you need to especially be careful of any side impacts to the metal casing.

iForway resting in grass

While you wouldn't want to be rough with a lithium-ion battery in general, it's a consideration to keep in mind while transporting it. Otherwise, its rubbered feet keep it elevated off the ground, so it rests securely in outdoor settings. The device also doesn't have an IP waterproof rating, so you'll want to keep it dry.

Powering On, LED Visuals, and Patterns

iForway ports

Rather than utilize an LCD, the iForway alerts you of power status via bright LED lights. When turning on the device, long-press the power button until its green LED light comes on. Keep in mind there's no auto-shutoff, so you'll need to deactivate the battery in the same way to prevent drainage.

To see your current charge after the initial powering on, you can also press the power button to display its charge state once more. While this suffices for most cases, those concerned with exact numbers may wish to consider the iForway PS500P for its LCD instead.

Offering Balance Between USB Port Types

iForway USB ports

When it comes to USB ports, the iForway PS500N strikes a fine balance of standard and faster-charging ports. From left to right, there's one power delivery 60W USB-C PD socket, one quick-charge USB-A QC 3.0, and two standard USB-A sockets running at 5V/2.4A.

As a metric, iForway notes it can provide your phone with 45 charges, your camera with 75 charges, and tablets with 12 charges. During testing, I did try charging all three device types at once without making any real dent in the battery life. Suffice it to say, the battery capacity of 462Wh has more than enough power for multiple charges in a pinch.

IForway bluetooth speaker dB

Beneath its USB ports, the iForway PS500N has its own 10W wireless speaker. As a non-standard addition, you might worry there's a quality trade-off. However, it produced quality sound without any noticeable distortion when cranking up the volume.

The other common concern with wireless speakers is their Bluetooth connection. While pairing it across different devices, there weren't any detection issues. When moving the speaker away from the paired device to other rooms, the connection stayed.

To pair via Bluetooth, hold the play-pause button for two seconds to turn on the speaker. After alerting you with a power-up noise, you'll see a blue LED light.

Once it's ready to pair, it'll begin blinking blue. You'll see PS-Speaker appear on your device, and you can connect as per normal.

iForway bluetooth connection

For those wanting control at your fingertips, it offers that as well. If you click the minus button (-) it'll decrease volume, but it'll go to the previous song with a long press. In contrast, the plus button (+) will increase volume with a single click while going onto the next song with a long press.

While the play/pause button will disable/enable the speaker with a long press, it also serves as your primary playback button. For those not interested in music much, it also controls playback on streaming services such as Hulu.

So if you want to have an outdoor party, want to casually listen while charging, or want an additional method to alert others in case of an emergency—it's all possible here. If you want to plug in your headphones, there's also an AUX-IN located next to the controls as well.

iForway light press

One of the all-around helpful features is the 5W LED light panel. After enabling it from the rightmost button with a long press, it offers four modes: half brightness, max brightness, SOS, and strobe. From any of the first three modes, you can hold the button for two seconds to turn it off; you can also press it once after strobe to turn off the light.

For what power it does consume, the LED light panel is bright enough to fill even the darkest of spaces. Whether you're in the woods or dealing with a blackout, its brightness can help you navigate the darkness or signal for help with the included SOS mode.

Charging the iForway PS500N Solar Power Generator

IForway charging

The iForway PS500N (or PowerElf 500) comes with a 462 watt-hours lithium-ion battery and a 500W pure sine wave inverter.

If you want to charge with a solar panel, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. iForway does offer its own solar panels (60W and 100W). However, this portable solar power generator supports up to 120W.

For testing, I used a 100W RockPals solar panel that was on hand. As a rough estimate, the 100W iForway solar panel is said to charge in 6-12 hours. The 100W RockPals panel charged up the device at the higher end of that range (around 9 hours) under variable sunlight.

Always remember that these values will fluctuate based on the amount of light you have and what panels you possess. The iForway PS500N is also sensitive to direct sunlight, so you'll need to place it behind the solar panels to protect it during charging.

February 23, 2021 — rex wong