Using consumer power packs for strobes?


Watch the Birdy!
Staff member
Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2005
Reaction score
Victoria, BC
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I was wondering if anyone had ever tried using one of the consumer power packs, such as this one that you can purchase from automotive and similar retailers to power their strobes in the field? I don't have a lot of requirement to do this, but and while I would like the capability, I'm hesitant to pay the price for a Buff or Profoto power unit (simply because I wouldn't use it enough to justify the cost).

These seem like they might be a reasonable alternative for light-duty field use.

Thoughts? Experience?


TPF Noob!
Apr 22, 2008
Reaction score
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
funny that you mention this.

i was SET on getting one of these units to power my strobes on location.

in all of my research, what i discovered was a question of pure sine waves vs. modified sine waves.

i have VERY little understanding of elecricity/tronics, but what seemed to be the consensus was that most of these consumer type car powerpacks use a converter that outputs modified sine waves. strobes are very delicate, and they seem to want pure sine power. again...this all over my head.

that said, i was looking at a powerpack 400w for about $95. but then i learned of the sine wave issue. you can get a converter that outputs pure sine waves, but they seem to be somewhere around the $140 mark. now we're talking roughly $250.
for an extra $50, you can order a vagabondII from alienbees that was made specifically for strobes.

that's where im at. maybe someone with more knowledge can chime in and set us both at ease. :D

Most reactions