Frugal Homesteaders Product Review
Power DomeTM EX
by WAGAN TECH
Frugal Homesteaders Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars
My purchase recommendation: Purchase it locally or from an online retailer offering free return shipping. Typically priced between $100 and $160, the Power Dome EX is a frugal buy when considering the features that it has. I originally planned to purchase one of these for each of our three vehicles, but am still unsure if I will purchase the other two units. The only reason I say this is because my unit had several DOA features straight from the factory and WAGAN TECH did not back the product as well as I feel they should have. If you buy this, and get a working unit, this is a good buy. If not, make sure you purchase it from a retailer that you would not have to pay out of your pocket in order to return it.
Update: The second time I attempted to use the compressor, two days after my initial test for this review, the compressor pump has completely failed. I can hear the motor run, however, the pump does not make the normal compressor sound and it does not inflate even a bicycle tire.
- Very heat tolerant - left it in a dark colored closed vehicle for 14 days with the windows up. The daily high was 98 or higher every day, with the highest outside temp reaching 106 degrees. The unit still worked fine after this, and the battery retained 95% of its charge.
- With its integrated light, radio, USB, 12v & 110v outlets, air compressor, and jumper cables, it will certainly get you out of a number of bad situations.
- Compressor & inverter have ample run time on the internal battery
- Will alert you if you hook the jumper cables up to the battery terminals backwards
- A lot of features in a small package
- Three items were DOA on my unit
- Even though it was factory defective, the warranty requires me to pay $50 return shipping. I have grave concerns about a company that doesn’t back the quality straight out of the factory. This was the primary factor in me not giving this unit 4 or 4.5 stars.
- Entire radio assembly seems cheap, antenna likely to get broken
- The plastic used to make the jumper cable clamps and knobs on the unit seems cheap
- The “powerful light” functionality did not meet my expectations
- Made in China
The Wagan Tech Power Dome EX is a useful, versatile product sporting many useful utility and emergency features. The product does have some great features, however; the quality and warranty policy have room for improvement.
When I received the Power Dome EX, I was very excited and looking forward to using it in the car, in the storm shelter, on the lake, and even while on picnics. Before you can use the product, it must charge for between 40 to 48 hours.
I was disappointed to find several of the features of my Power Dome EX were dead on arrival. The USB port does not provide power to devices. The volume knob on the radio is shorted. As a result, it has only two options - all the way down, or all the way up. The AM/FM switch does not work. When I switch it to AM, it remains on AM, even after moving the switch back to the FM position. When I received the Power Dome EX, the WAGAN TECH company emblem on top was partially peeled off and would not stick to the unit. The unit I purchased was new. I contacted WAGAN TECH to express my concerns. They issued an RMA, but said I would have to pay to ship the product back to them. Considering I paid just over $100 for the unit, and the cost for return shipping was $50 for ground service, I opted not to send it in for repair. Even though most companies get huge shipping and return shipping discounts to the tune of 80% off, WAGAN TECH would not pay for return shipping of the defective product, even though it was factory defective and never worked.
Following, is a list of each feature of the Power Dome EX, and my comments about each:
- Auto Jump Starter - The 600 cranking amp auto jump starter seems adequate for starting small passenger cars. I tested this on a 1991 Pontiac with a 3.1l v6 engine and it was able to start the engine. When testing this fully charged on a Ford v8 5.4l engine, it was able to turn the engine slowly, but it was enough to start it. The Powerdome EX, like most self contained jump starters, is not capable of starting vehicles with two batteries such as diesel pickup trucks. (tested on 2004 Dodge RAM with a Cummins, and a 2000 Ford Excursion with a 7.3 liter diesel engine). These results met my expectations. I consider this a great tool that you can carry with you that will certainly get you out of a bind if you accidently kill your car or truck battery.
- Air Compressor - The PowerDome EX has a built-in air compressor. WAGAN TECH states that it is a 260 PSI high power motor air compressor that can inflate a 16 inch tire in only 5-10 minutes. Because of the on-board battery, this air compressor does not require a separate 12v power source. This is a great feature if you have a long vehicle such as a crew cab pickup truck with an eight foot bed where many conventional tire inflators will not reach. My only complaint about the compressor is that the hose is too short. It will not reach to the top of my wheels if the valve stem is rotated to the top. I had to drive a few feet to get it down to the bottom so the hose would reach. I tested the unit fully charged on a heavy duty oversized light truck tire to see what it would do. The 10 ply tire size was 35x12.50R17 and was on a Dodge RAM 2500 weighing in at about 9,500 pounds as it sat during the test. To my absolute astonishment, the Power Dome EX inflated the tire to 65psi under its own power. Total time: 57 minutes. Be careful after use! The air hose becomes extremely hot! The compressor on the Power Dome EX exceeded my expectations. (Updated Note: I attempted to use the compressor two days after I documented it, and the pump has now failed after one use.)
As you can see, the heavy duty oversize tire was completely flat.
The PowerDomeEX made inflating the tire easy, and it was able to inflate it to full pressure.
- AC Power Inverter - The AC power inverter is rated at 400 watt continuous, and 800 watt surge. I tested the function of the inverter and it seems to provide stable, clean power. Since this is not a true sine wave inverter, some things won’t work on it – but it’s great for most things you would ever need! Any time the AC inverter is turned on, the cooling fan runs. A more efficient use of power is to only turn the cooling fan on when it is under a load that requires the cooling. Overall, great job on the self contained inverter!
- USB Power Port - This product has one 5v DC charging port for USB devices. The 5v DC USB charging port on my Power Dome was broken from the factory. I attempted to use it to power several devices, individually. It fails to provide power, even when the power switch is turned to either of the two “ON” positions. I opted to use a 12v USB adapter to charge my devices rather than spending $50 in return shipping to repair a DOA product.
- DC Power Source - The Power Dome EX has a standard 12v DC outlet. The 12v outlet provides a good power connection and stable power. Many 12v outlets are built cheap and often allow the plug to back out, or lose its connection. That is not a problem with the Power Dome EX. It works great for powering 12volt devices.
- High Intensity 5 LED Worklight - With the minimal battery draw from LEDs, and the large size of the Power Dome EX batter, I was extremely disappointed in the small amount of light output. The LED flashlight that I received free from Harbor Freight using a coupon from the newspaper seems about twice as bright as the Power Dome EX. If the free Harbor Freight lights can run for a few hours on three AAA batteries, and are brighter, I would expect much more light from the Power Dome. The light certainly does work, but in my opinion is far from meeting the expectations of a “powerful light”.
- Radio - The radio is an AM/FM radio with a built-in antenna. The antenna, on top, is slightly recessed, but not held in place by a guide like most portable radios. Considering the ruggedness, weight and other functions of this product, I do not expect the antenna to survive. The AM/FM switch on my Power Dome EX does not work properly. Once on AM, you can return the switch to the FM position, but it is very difficult to move it just right as to get the FM stations back. The volume switch was shorted when we received the unit. It will turn the volume all the way up, or all the way down – but there is nothing in between. Because of this, the radio is not usable. The reception is also poor compared to other radios I own. There are transmitter towers less than 15 miles from our home. The Power Dome had problems picking up those stations. They are easily picked up by car 70 miles from the transmitter. My other battery operated radios pick these stations up clearly when locked up in our tornado shelter that has 8 inch thick steel reinforced concrete walls. The Power Dome has almost no reception in our shelter. I did not test the audio input jack. The radio did not meet my expectations on any level.
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