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The Growatt VITA 550 marks the manufacturer’s first foray into the truly budget friendly entry-level portable power station market which has been dominated for years by the likes of Bluetti, ANKER and more recently by AllPowers.
And, while the Infinity 1300 and the 1500 series easily found their way into the market due to the higher output, the 600W Growatt VITA 550 may need a bit more persuading, right? Well, it may actually be the other way around. Surely, those that drive campervans will welcome the high-output stations, but most people that go camping (from morning to noon) just use their regular cars and have less requirements in terms of devices that need power.
A few smartphones, a laptop and why not, even a portable projector can be handled by the Growatt VITA 550. And the good news is that you can use solar panels to keep the power station charged over the day as well. One interesting aspect behind the Growatt VITA 550 is that it uses LiFePo4 batteries which means that the entire unit will be more lightweight, it will provide more charging cycles and it should also recharge faster.
Growatt mentions 1.6 hours with AC and 2.5 hours using solar panels, but we’ll check these claims for ourselves. There are also lots of outlets and ports, as well as support for WiFi connection (yes, there’s an app), so let’s put the Growatt VITA 550 to the test and see how well it performs.
Design and Build Quality
I have recently tested a 400W power station from Allpowers (the R600) and it was interesting to see that the Growatt VITA 550 is not that much bigger despite the 600W output, while having a similar amount of ports and charging options. Indeed, the VITA 550 measures 12.2 x 8.4 x 7.8in (31.0 x 21.3 x 19.8cm), so while not seemingly that compact (it actually is when compared to other similar devices), it does have some elements to allow the user to easily move it around. Well, it’s just an element, the handle at the top.
But how heavy is the Growatt VITA 550? It weighs 17.99lbs (8.16kg). The case of the portable power station is made of plastic and it’s covered by a darker gray matte finish (and a lighter band near the top). I do have the same complaint here that I had with the Allpowers R600 and the S700: it’s not possible to replace the batteries. I don’t deny that they last for a long time, but adding the ability to add new batteries should still limit the amount of e-waste that’s thrown on landfills to a certain extent.
I understand that it may not be as easy as on UPSes, but I am sure the engineers can come up with clever designs to allow it. While the weight of the device is enough to keep it steady into place, the manufacturer has also attached four large silicone feet at the bottom, so no, the power station will not budge an inch regardless of the amount of cables that are connected. I have looked around the case to search for any ventilation holes and it seems that there are only two, one on the left and one on the right side of the case. If you look closely, you should see a fan which pushes the air out, while on the other side, there’s the air inlet section.
This small fan immediately started after I connected the Growatt VITA 550 to a power source and it will remain operational for the entire time the batteries are recharging. And yes, it’s fairly loud for the entire duration. The top of the unit is home to the wireless charger, a feature that seems to now be common on portable power station (I’ve seen it on the R600 as well). Of course, the wireless charger is turned off by default, but it will be enabled after pressing the DC Power button.
The maximum that this charger can reach is 15W, but, since Apple is being Apple, if you want to recharge an iPhone, the output will be limited to 8W. On the right side of the Growatt VITA 550, you will notice that there is a cover which, when removed, it will expose the AC in port, a Fast Charging Power indicator and a solar charging port. I really liked that the manufacturer has included a MC4 to XT60 solar panel charging cable into the box, so you only need the panels and you’re good to go.
The aforementioned indicator is also a button which you need to press in order to enable the AC fast charging feature, otherwise, it’s going to recharge slower. The front panel is the main area of interest and I like that the layout is well thought-out, each section having a particular type of ports. There’s an LED display in the middle of the top half of the front panel, and there’s an ON/Off button underneath it. To the right, there’s a car outlet, as well as two DC 5521 outlets, while immediately underneath, there’s the DC button.
This button will also enable the wireless charger, but don’t forget that the USB ports are also DC, so enabling them will turn on the wireless charger as well. It’s also worth mentioning that there is a fairly long (5-foot) car cable in the box. On the left side of the display, there is a flashlight (it does have a flashing light pattern besides the static white light). Underneath the flashlight, there’s the USB ports area: two regular USB-A ports (12W max), one fast charge USB-A port (19W max) and a USB-C port that can go up to 100W.
To the right, there’s the WiFi button (to enable it) and the AC receptacles. Depending on the area you purchase the Growatt VITA 550, you may get three receptacles (US) or two of them (EU). Unlike the car outlet, there is no cover over the AC outlets.
The display is not really incredibly big (about the same size as on the R600), but it does show all the necessary info with large icons that are easy to understand. The display is colored and it does have a backlight, but, to preserve battery life, it does turn off after a few seconds. You can re-enable it by short pressing the Power button. After a few minutes have passed and no device is connected to the Growatt VITA 550 (or doesn’t draw power from it), then the portable power station will enter in hibernation mode.
To return it to normal mode, long press the Power button. By default, the display will show the amount of battery life that’s available (0 to 100%), while the Input power is displayed on the left (in Watts) and the Output power will be shown on the right side (also in W).
On the lower right corner, you can see how many hours of power are left. If you enable the AC Power block, then the display will show the Voltage and the Hz. Also, when charging up, you will see the remaining time on the bottom left corner (until it reaches 100%). After pressing the WiFi button, I saw that the Growatt VITA 550 also supports Bluetooth (the WiFi and Bluetooth icons will appear on the screen) and, depending on the type of device that’s being charged (or charging the power station), various icons will appear at the top left and right corner of the display.
Unlike some Allpowers power stations, it does seem we get pretty much the full experience without needing to rely on the app, but even so, let’s see what it has to offer.
The Mobile Application
Next, I could create an account (possible with an email or phone number). Well, could is a big word because things got very weird from this point forward. I first entered a complicated password with symbols and numbers and it seemed to have been accepted by the servers. But, after trying to log in, the password was wrong – impossible since I use Bitwarden.. Anyway, I decided to change the password and I got ‘Network error, please check network and try again’. What does that even mean?! We haven’t yet entered any network credentials.
I also tried third-party login and after getting all the data, it said Logging in, only to show the Registration page again. What is going on? And that’s when it occurred to me that I was using an iPhone, so let’s see if Android yields better results. What do you know, it worked.. So, despite the supposed support for iOS, you cannot create an account or change the password on iOS. With that out of the way, I finally got to the pairing process – and I could either use WiFi or Bluetooth.
I chose the former and then I could select the VITA 550 from the list; afterwards, it asked for the WiFi credentials (supports only 2.4GHz) and I finally gained access to the user interface. There are two main sections, Input and Output. The Input section does show a bit more info than what we get on the display, such as the temperature and the Solar/Car Charge, while the Output section allows the adjustment of the flashlight (the brightness), it can enable the AC and/or the DC blocks.
And you do get to see a live graph of the performance of the Growatt VITA 550. There are a few extra Settings which you can access by tapping on the cogwheel icon and here you can set a Discharge limit (to increase the longevity of the battery), set the Temperature Unit and it’s here where you can set the Charge Mode (Super or Slow). It’s possible to set a time limit for when the AC will enter in timeout mode, same as the Screen.
What’s inside the Growatt VITA 550?
The Growatt VITA 550 has a FCC ID page, so I didn’t really have to open the device myself and, from the photos that were uploaded, we can see the three-coil wireless charger, so you get more flexibility in terms of the area where the smartphone needs to be placed. Underneath it, there’s the main PCB with all its main components. I could identify the ESPRESSIF ESP32-C3 Bluetooth WiFi antenna. Beneath this board, there’s the PCB with the inverter circuitry.
Further down, we finally can reach the section with the batteries and we are dealing with multiple cells – there seem to be 28 in total. I kind of get why you can’t replace them easily, but I guess the manufacturers could make a removable block of cells, allowing the user to continue using the Growatt VITA 550 even after the cycle of the initial batch has ended.
The Growatt VITA 550 in action
The first thing that I did after taking the Growatt VITA 550 from the package was to charge it up to 100%. It took about an hour and a half to go from 35% to 100%, which makes sense considering that I did not enable the Fast Charging option (no reason to put any strain on the batteries yet). Then, I decided to check out if the device can handle a couple of my tools.
The first one is a 400W Black and Decker drill and it did work most of the time, but I did experience an error at some point, the screen showing F01. The manual says that this means there was an output short circuit. The good news is that it cleared after I reconnected the drill which, by the way, required about 242W when not pushed to the max. In this state, the Growatt VITA 550 would have handled it for almost two hours which is not bad at all.
Moving forward, I connected a 900W Dewalt angle grinder and the portable power station handled it without problems. The displayed showed that the average power that it drew was 390W (it can go higher) and, if kept in this state, the Growatt VITA 550 would keep the angle grinder functional for a bit over an hour. Afterwards, I connected a Desktop PC which requires only about 60W to run Linux and we see that the power station could keep this device alive for close to 5 hours which is impressive. The interesting thing is that the fan started up, but only on its lowest setting (barely audible).
I wanted to see if the DC and AC outlets manage to offer the output that’s promised by the manufacturer, so I used the Kaiweets KM601 multimeter to first check the two AC receptacles. Since the unit that I have is built for EU standards, there are only two outlets available and, while the screen said that the output is 230V, 50Hz, the multimeter showed 231.5V and 50Hz.
Next, I enabled the Car outlet DC power block and, as you can see, the multimeter showed an output of 13.15V for the car outlet and the two DC5521 outlets. The target is 12V, so there is a mild deviation, although not enough to mess with any connected electronics.
Now let’s move to the USB ports. To check their output, I used two separate types of multimeters. The USB-C port can reach up to 100W, but I do not have a device that will require such a high input. I can only connect the 13-inch MacBook Pro that I used when testing GaN chargers. I used a Thunderbolt 3 cable and it seems that it’s not supported (in hindsight, it does make sense), so I had to use a regular USB-C cable to power up the MacBook Pro.
As you can see, both the multimeter and the display show an average of 57W and the voltage is 19.91V which is very close to ideal. The two USB-A ports are said to be able to reach up to 12W and it’s true as you can see from the photos that it did reach 11.8W (5.14V). But I couldn’t properly check the Fast Charge USB-A port because the multimeter was limited at 5V (the port can go up to 9V and even 12V).
Now let’s talk a bit about the protection features that the Growatt VITA 550 has put into place. There’s over charging and over discharging protection, there’s over and under temperature protection, as well as protection against under and over voltage. Additionally, we already saw the short circuit protection in action and there is also overload protection. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the Growatt VITA 550 can be used as an UPS.
The Growatt VITA 550 seems to have everything that’s necessary to be an appealing option for the people that want to have a short trip in nature, but still need some way to keep their devices powered up. The output for the USB ports and the outlets is within norm and there is a fairly wide variety of ports to choose from. The device is not really lightweight, but it does have a handle for moving around. And it’s possible to charge up the station quickly enough either from a wall outlet or using solar panels (all the needed cables are in the package). So, if you’re in the market for an entry-level power station, look no farther than the Growatt VITA 550.
Growatt VITA 550
- Uses LifePO4 batteries.
- Colored display with lots of info.
- Wireless charger.
- Multiples types of ports and outlets.
- Can be fast charged + support for solar panels.
- Can’t create an account or change the password using iOS.
Mark is a graduate in Computer Science, having gathered valuable experience over the years working in IT as a programmer. Mark is also the main tech writer for MBReviews.com, covering not only his passion, the networking devices, but also other cool electronic gadgets that you may find useful for your every day life.