The Ultimate Road Warrior Must Have: The Freedom-1 Portable AC Power System

There are very few gadgets out there that I can honestly say are "must haves" for just about every road warrior out there… but I think I may just have found one.

For every photo/video enthusiast, photographer, filmmaker, line-producer, musician, time lapse photographer, audio-engineering computer geek…. anyone who likes to always be on the road and on the go, ONE thing always seems to stand in the way of true freedom out on the road: PORTABLE POWER.

And I think I just found the ultimate gadget to finally say goodbye to limitation: the Freedom-1 Portable AC Power Solution battery pack.  You can carry an AC outlet with you wherever you go!

Say goodbye to those cigarette plug power adapters that constantly switch off, USB cigarette adapters & the spaghetti of power cords… this is one tight little package with impressive performance, designed to produce ultra clean AC power (i.e., for high-end electronics and photographic gear). No more running around to find power outlets, waiting endlessly for them to charge, or deciding which one to charge ;)

So, what can you do with the Freedom-1?

Well to start with, it makes charging accessories a cinch – but it will also make working with computers, video lights, and cameras on the road (and remaining cordless) a breeze…

Keep in mind that this unit has three 3-prong standard AC outlets, which can power just about anything—including a wide array of digital and cine equipment that can run off of this fully self-contained AC power source. It’s best to choose equipment that is already energy efficient (e.g., drawing up to say 200 Watts). The unit itself is relatively small and lightweight – weighing in at 12.3 lbs (5.5 kgs) with its removable F1 Power Module. Its smaller and far lighter than a standard car battery.

Have you ever needed to light your run-and-gun production, but you simply don’t have access to AC power outlets or generators?  

Well, I was able to power a Litepanels Sola 6 LED, which outputs the equivalent of a 350 Watt HMI for 54 minutes off of one F1 Power Module. The swappable F1 Power Modules are rated to provide power for approximately one hour with a unit drawing a full 100 Watts continuously.  With the Sola 6’s 104W draw, the math proves true. I’ve also been able to power one of the new iMacs for well over two hours (depending on CPU, HD performance of course) and to charge my battery units – be it Anton Bauers Dionics, RED Epic, Canon 5D MKIII, iPhone, iPad – you name it – at approximately the same rate they would charge off of a regular outlet (but while on a plane or in a car.)  

This opens up a whole new series of opportunities for powering an entire kit of LED 1X1 Litepanels, Sola ENGs, or Joker 200 HMIs  (the latter can be powered for 30 minutes per every Power Module or more, depending on your power settings.)  

The Freedom-1 will also prove to be a darling for DITs (Digital Imaging Technicians) out in the field who are working off raided drives, laptops and iMacs off of their cart and want to stay mobile. I know that when we shot "Epic 308" and drove in an RV for a week around the Californian coast – we were forced to use our RV’s generator (even while driving) for hours upon hours to power up our laptops, raided drives, camera chargers, and phones – which was extremely noisy and costly in terms of fuel and environmental impact. I would have LOVED to have this unit (or several of them to be honest) back then.   

Also if you like to surf the web all day in your car, in your RV/camper or any place without an outlet – my 11" MacBook Air lasted a full 8 hours – to the minute – while looping Tom Lowe’s Timescapes video at 1080p in video non-stop via Apple’s Quicktime player (while starting off of a full battery.) That means that one of the swappable Power Module units added an additional 4 hours and 39 minutes to the internal battery’s performance. With a second battery you can go for more than 12 hours…Oh and did I mention this unit is completely silent if you’re running less than a 200 Watt power load?  No more fans, buzzing etc. – in other words a really nice kit to have on set when you’re recording audio.

This is the perfect unit for running your reference monitor on set (wirelessly) as well as powering your lighting kit and/or camera kit.

For example, The 11" MacBook Air draws an average of 13-25 Watts, while the power hungry MacBook Pro 15" Retina lingers closer to 90 Watts when chugging through files (the range is between 25-90 Watts). Keep in mind that the power-hungry MacBook Pro 15" Retina can’t be powered by most airline seats that I’ve been on so far…)

As far as iPhones and iPads – this unit powers your devices up at just about the same pace as a standard outlet – it powered a dead iPhone 4s from 0% to 33% power in 29 minutes, 50% in 41 minutes, 75% in 65 minutes, and 100% in a little over 90 minutes.  The Freedom-1 easily powered up a MacBook Pro 15" Retina, an iPhone, and iPad 2 to nearly full power in under two hours (the Retina drew most of the power from the unit.)

The Freedom-1 comes in either 110V or 230V (Europe) configurations.  The European model comes with Euro and UK AC cord adapters, which is quite handy. The unit comes in a small bag that I bet you can sneak onto any airline as your personal item, along with your normal backpack/roller.  In fact I know of someone who has done this without any hitches.  The batteries are NiMH so no need to worry about Lithium battery issues.

The unit comes with 1 charger, so you can charge one F1 power module while you are using the other; a few 30 amp back-up fuses; and car battery bolts; plus for a limited time you get a second F1 Power Module free. The kit also includes an AC cord, F1 charger, and a car’s cigarette lighter adapter cable. And more importantly, you can re-charge the F1 Power Modules while they are either inside the Freedom 1 – or out of it.  Which means that with two chargers and 3 batteries, you can come close to cycling through the 3 batteries on a continual basis is you keep the power draw to are 50 Watts. You can fully charge one of the F1 Power Modules in approximately 4-6 hours from a standard outlet. The Freedom-1 unit provides up to 750W of power, with peak power at 1400 Watts. The company also offers optional car jumper cables to run the unit from your car/production van (producing 750 Watts of continuous AC power!)

The Freedom-1 comes in either 110V or 230V. The European model comes with both Euro and UK AC cords, which is handy to say the least. Additional F1 power modules and chargers are also available.

Some test results:

With a MacbookPro 15" Retina drawing between 50 Watts-20 Watts in what I would call "normal" use you can expect an additional 2-5 hours.

One battery will give me 2+ hours on a 50W draw – such as a 1X1 Litepanels Bi-Color (48W draw) or I can use a set of 3 1X1 Litepanels for 40 minutes.

An iMac draws between 25-50 Watts – so it will last you between 2-hours.

I did a stress test on my MacBook Pro 15" and processed 231, 21 Megapixel JPEGs from RAW files blown up to 500% (creating 200-300 MB JPEGs), while also copying 200 GB from one USB 2.0 drive to a USB 3.0 drive, and outputting a  5K video file in Adobe’s Premiere to H.264 codec continuously – all simultaneously. Basically I put my MacBook Pro into overdrive in terms of CPU, GPU, and Hard Drive use. I started with the battery that was fully dead, at 0% and did the above tasks simultaneously. The Feedom-1 battery provided the laptop with enough power to do all of the tasks above in 80 minutes, and at the end my laptop was charged to 35%, my iPhone to 72% and my iPad 2s to 65% – not bad for a little battery.  (Both the iPhone 4s and the iPad 2 started completely dead.)  So you can see how useful this unit would be for a road warrior who comes back to an RV/Car/Tent/Basecamp with all of his/her camera batteries dead from a full day. The Freedom-1 will give that person anywhere from a few hours of additional use (and a full charge) to 80 minutes of use while charging the units.  And then… you can swap in a second F1 Power Module.

The unit is available at PortableACPower.com for $749 and includes a second F1 Power Module for a limited time.