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Portable Power Off The Grid: The ArkPak

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ArkPak

The ArkPak is a portable power pack made by an Australian company. Available in Australia for a couple of years, the ArkPak is a popular unit with Australian adventurers. Recently made available in the USA and Canada, I finally had a chance to review it.

While the unit can be used for a variety of purposes (from camping to boating to tailgating), I’ve reviewed it as an emergency preparedness or “off-grid” power device. Here’s a brief review of the device’s capabilities and features.

Battery Set-Up

The heart of any portable power pack is the battery, and the ArkPak’s battery setup is unique. Unlike off-grid power units from Goal Zero – or small portable power units from companies like Black & Decker or Duracell – the ArkPak’s battery is not included. Instead, Ark designed the unit to work with any standard 12V lead-acid deep cycle battery (group 31 or smaller). The advantages in this approach are:

  1. You can add a very large capacity battery (100ah or more)
  2. You can replace or swap out batteries quickly and easily

Comparing the ArkPak’s maximum battery capacity of 130ah (using a flooded cell that’s often used in solar energy storage setups) to the Goal Zero Yeti 400 (33ah battery capacity) or Yeti 1250 (100ah battery capacity), the ArkPak offers more maximum energy storage capacity.

Installing the battery is no more involved than just dropping it into the box, securing the battery strap, and connecting the terminals to the included cables. Then, the ArkPak is plugged in (either to the wall or a standard vehicle 12V power outlet) and the unit’s battery charger/conditioner goes to work.

Charging and Use

Once the box is activated, the instrument panel illuminates and a quiet fan for cooling is engaged. The display shows the charging level of the installed battery, and then the ArkPak automatically begins to condition and boost the battery charge to both a) maximize power levels and b) maximize battery life.

The charging system is the heart of the ArkPak – it’s rated at 6A, which is considerably more than most battery charging/conditioning systems. The typical $20 battery charger you find at your local department store (for example), is typically only rated at 500ma. This higher amperage means that the battery inside the ArkPak can be recharged quickly.

However, for off-grid users, the charger lacks a key feature: the ArkPak does not have a built-in solar charge controller, which means your solar panel(s) will need to be hooked up to an external solar charge controlling unit.

Another usage limitation is the ArkPak’s 150W 120VAC inverter. At only 150W, most standard electrical appliances can’t be powered by the ArkPak. While 150W is more than adequate for charging cell phones, tablets, and can even power most computer systems, it’s not enough “juice” for anything larger. Thus, if you want to power a coffee maker or hotplate with the ArkPak, you’ll need these appliances to have a standard 12V automotive power plug.

Still, the 150W rating is a blessing in disguise. With a 100ah marine battery installed, the ArkPak could provide a full 150W of power at 120VAC for 7-8 hours. That makes the ArkPak a great tool for powering small electronics for days at a time (most small electronics can re-charge in an hour or two, and rarely use a full 150W to do so).

Other features/benefits of the ArkPak:

  • It’s relatively portable. The unit is about the size of a small toolbox, and weighs 60-75lbs with a battery installed (depends on how big your installed battery is). It’s easily hauled around in a vehicle.
  • It’s capable of charging/powering multiple devices at one time. USB power plugins make it easy to recharge all sorts of electronics while the dual 12V outlets and 120V plug can be used for heftier power needs.
  • It’s considerably less costly than a generator or similar products from Goal Zero – the ArkPak is $399 and includes car and home chargers. A deep-cycle battery is another $100-$150…that’s $500-$550 total for 100ah+ of power storage capacity.

If the ArkPak is used as an emergency power source for a remote cabin – and recharged with solar panels – it could keep a limited number of appliances and electronics running indefinitely.

Summing up, the ArkPak is a great toy for campers and hunters, tailgaters (it could easily power a small TV for hours), and boaters. However, as a “power center” for off-grid living, it’s a decent low-cost and low maintenance power option when paired with a solar charging setup.

You can learn more about the ArkPak at ArkPortablePower.com.

Jason Lancaster is an avid automotive enthusiast who works with AccurateAutoAdvice.com, a site that provides car owners with timely tips, advice, and information.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to Replace a Car Battery

  2. Jenn

    January 4, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Great review and thanks for comparing it to the Goal Zero products, that was particularly helpful.

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Cars

Review: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T

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2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

In general, the midsize sedan world is about as sexy as a Billy Bass with Alexa’s voice. Where supercars with curvy looks get all the credit for automotive sexiness, though, midsize sedans actually do the work of being realistic. The good news is that being pragmatic and going for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata doesn’t mean you have to settle for frumpiness, as this is a really sleek-looking sedan.

For the 2018 model year, Hyundai didn’t do much to change the already well-done Sonata. A few tweaks to the interior design, some added suave to the exterior, and a lot of extra safety features make up most of the changes for this model year. The 2018 Sonata is otherwise the top-shelf sedan it’s been for some time.

From the outside, curb appeal is eyebrow-lifting with the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. The signature Hyundai diamond-shaped grille is flanked by a curved, beautifully sculpted hood and long, narrow LED headlights. Tapered fenders and a sporty lower intake and aero baffle are set off by large intake/fog lamp bezels. The bodywork on the Sonata features a strong upper beltline groove and edge, a well-defined and curved running board cut below, and an aggressively sporty roofline and fastback rear end. Noticeably on this new Sonata, the deck lid has an integrated spoiler replacing the add-on aero from before.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

The rear wheels of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata are pushed to the corners’ edge while the front wheels feature some overhang ahead that promises smooth handling. Ground clearance is a sporty straight line that matches the beltline above.

This is a great look for the 2018 Sonata and it’s really set apart in the crowded midsize market. Once inside the Sonata, we found, the exterior’s beauty continues with intelligent and well-done interior design.

A new three-spoke steering wheel is fitted to the Sonata to emphasize a driver-centric feel for the cabin. The dashboard and center console have been reworked to make them less bulky and more modern. Seating is very comfortable with a lot of creature comforts available to add to that. The rear bench can seat three across and has excellent outboard positions with plenty of head and legroom despite the sloped roofline and smaller appearance of the rear doors.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

Many of the additions to the 2018 Hyundai Sonata are in the technologies found behind the beautiful design work. Updated suspension and handling mean better ride quality and more engagement at the wheel. Technologies now standard in the Sonata include advanced options like blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change assist.

The Sonata has a host of trim level options (seven in all). Three four-cylinder engines can be chosen from, each with either a six-, seven-, or eight-speed automatic transmission on offer. That’s a lot to choose from, sure, but it means that the Sonata can be tailored to meet needs without sacrificing looks and comfort.

The base model is the SE, followed by the SEL, the Sport, and the Limited. These four models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 184 horsepower to a six-speed automatic transmission. A much more interesting turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder (245 hp) and an eight-speed automatic transmission are found on the Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T trims. Finally, the Eco trim has its own 1.6-liter turbocharged four that outputs 178 horses into a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic.

2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited - Interior

Prices vary based on which trim level you choose, of course, but the base model’s price tag is lower than all but one of its competitors in the segment, and the Sonata comes with more standard equipment than almost all of the others. The Eco model is only $600 more than that, upgrading just the powertrain to improve fuel economy.

We drove the Limited 2.0T trim and would highly recommend the turbocharged two liter for its peppy drive quality, fast responses to the throttle, and smooth-shifting transmission. This combination brings a whole ‘nother level of sexiness to the 2018 Sonata and is well worth the extra money spent.

It is possible to have everything in one package and the 2018 Hyundai Sonata certainly does a good job of offering just about the whole shebang in one car.

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Luxury

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Is The Most Luxurious SUV You’ve Ever Seen

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Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV

After years of anticipation, Rolls-Royce finally took the wraps off its ultra-luxury SUV today in London, revealing to the world the Rolls-Royce Cullinan in all of its glory.

Now as you might imagine, the notion of a Rolls-Royce SUV caused quite a stir among purists, who believed that the world’s leading super-luxury brand should stick with cars. But according to Rolls-Royce, their customers were asking for a car that would allow them to “go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be.”

With the super-luxury lifestyle evolving, so did Rolls-Royce, leading to the development of a vehicle that offers uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture. Cullinan is that car.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan, named for a diamond that’s part of the British crown jewels, follows in the footsteps of the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, offering up an ultra-luxe SUV that can satisfy the adventurous urges of their clients.

Under the hood, there’s a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that delivers 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque to an all-new, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system. This engine has been reworked to make the Cullinan comfortable even while it’s off-roading.

A “Magic Carpet Ride” air suspension system keeps things civilized in the cabin when you’re off the beaten path, because you wouldn’t want a passenger to spill their glass of champagne.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV interior

Naturally, being a Rolls-Royce, the interior is bespoke and fit for a king, with only the finest leathers and appointments. But perhaps the most interesting feature is the pair of jump seats that come out of the trunk, presumably so you can sit while falconing in the desert.

The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan is expected to go on sale late this year, with a starting price of around $325,000. Of course, one you start adding bespoke features and customization options, that price could go north of half a million in a hurry.

What do you think of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan?

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Cars

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Gets A New Dual-Snorkel Hood

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2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat teaser

While the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon turned out to only be a one-year affair, the less powerful Hellcat model isn’t going anywhere just yet, with Dodge releasing a couple of teaser photos showing off the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat’s new dual-snorkel hood, which “pays homage to the distinctive Mopar design themes from some of its most famous muscle cars.”

The Challenger Hellcat has always had a mean look about it, but the new fully functional hood harkens back to the 1960s and ’70s, with a modern interpretation that looks even more sinister and provides maximum air intake to the supercharged powerplant. If you’re driving along and see this reflection in your rear-view mirror, you’re going to want to get out of the way!

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat teaser

Dodge’s press release was sparse on details, but the 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat is rumored to have an optional Drag Pack, which would increase horsepower from 707 to 725HP. The Drag Pack is also rumored to get some other goodies from the SRT Demon, including Nitto tires, a torque reserve function, and a TransBrake, which should really pay off at the drag strip.

The teaser photos above show fender flares, too, but it’s unclear if the Hellcat Widebody will continue on as a separate model, or if the widebody option will become standard. I’m hoping it’s the latter, as long as it doesn’t result in a huge increase in price.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Stay tuned, as we’ll have more details on the 2019 Hellcat this summer..

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