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EcoFlow River 2 Pro Review: A fast-charging power station with lots of polish…

EcoFlow River 2 Pro Review: A fast-charging power station with lots of polish…

    EcoFlow River 2 Pro Review: A fast-charging power station with lots of polish

    In my ongoing quest to keep my gadgets fully juiced in the inevitable collapse of civilization, I’ve stumbled upon the EcoFlow River 2 Pro, a midtier power station small enough to toss in the trunk, but large enough to power many household loads. EcoFlow is well-established in the power station space, so I was pretty excited to give its latest and greatest a shot.

    Let’s start with the basics. This pack has:

    • 4 AC outputs, up to 1600 watts
    • DC output, 126 W
    • 3 USB-A outputs, 12 W
    • 1 USB-C input/output, 100 W
    • XT60 solar/car input, 220 W
    • AC input, 940 W
    • 768 watt-hour capacity, up to 800 W out

    The whole package is 17 pounds. Fully charged, it has enough power to keep my laptop, external monitor, and mobile devices buzzing along for a workday comfortably. My full-sized TV and gaming PC made it about an hour running on this battery pack.

    At this point ,I’ve played around with enough midsized power stations to know what I don’t like. So far the EcoFlow River 2 Pro manages to evade several common pitfalls.

    For one, the hardware layout is sensible. A flat top is important for stacking and packing, which was a significant pain point with the Anker model I reviewed last year. Common power inputs in the back make it easier to have stuff charging through the outputs in the front at the same time. The AC outlets are well-spaced, raised, and flap-free, making them accessible for plugs of various sizes.

    Almost completely mobile-friendly

    EcoFlow has a slick mobile app. Many power stations don’t, and the few I’ve tried have been janky as heck. Setup over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth was painless, and the interface is uncluttered. Settings like minimum and maximum charge levels and activity timeouts are useful for maintaining battery health. Wireless charging on the top of the hardware and maybe one more high-speed USB-C slot would have made the EcoFlow River 2 Pro even more mobile-friendly.

    Need for (unnecessary) speed

    A major selling point on this model is its charging speed. I’m used to waiting around three hours to charge batteries in this class. By contrast, I was able to top up the EcoFlow River 2 Pro in about an hour. Our Emporia Smart plug clocked around 600 Wh between a few full charges and discharges, which is shy of the 768 Wh rating on the box. It’s a small enough discrepancy that I’d be willing to chalk it up to a safety buffer or inconsistency in the Smart plug.

    Now, given that speedy charging is cool, I’m not often in a spot where I’m on the clock and I have to charge a large battery pack as quickly as possible. I bump into those demands far more often with phones and laptops. I’m sure the battery management system on the River 2 Pro mitigates the risk caused by the extra heat of quick charging. Still, I would trade in that speed for a few more cycles if the stress of fast charging reduces the battery’s overall lifetime. As it stands, the five-year warranty affords some long-term peace of mind.

    Better outdoors

    Let’s dig into use cases a bit. This pack isn’t really built for home power backup, although there is a handoff feature that can quickly kick in battery power when the lights go out. The EcoFlow River 2 Pro failed to run my microwave, contrary to some of the marketing. It was able to get the electric kettle to a boil using about 10% of the battery’s charge. EcoFlow’s Delta family is better-suited to the task of home power backup thanks to higher output and capacity.

    I think framing the River 2 Pro as a camping companion makes a lot more sense. It’s small enough to be portable, and big enough to keep everyone’s phones and drones powered for a few days while out in the boonies. It’s got an IP68 waterproof rating and a degree of independent security certification, which gives some confidence in its outdoor performance.

    Solar-ready

    Solar compatibility gives the EcoFlow River 2 Pro additional outdoor chops, especially if you intend on staying out for more than a few days. It’s easy to see a portable solar setup like this working in an RV situation. EcoFlow does have a bundle that includes a 220W portable solar panel, though I didn’t get to test it.

    I was able to connect another brand’s solar panel to it without any issue, however. Solar charging times in general vary wildly depending on the size of your panel, direct sunlight coverage, how much you’re willing to babysit and reposition the panels, and whether Mercury is in retrograde. It’s black magic all around, so I won’t dare to provide charging time estimates, but if you’re going to bother, make sure you get panels that are a decent size.

    The LCD display covers all the bases, including estimated charge and empty time, input and output rates, and warning messages. It would be nice to have an audio alert when the battery is about to die, but otherwise, there aren’t any complaints about the hardware interface.

    ecoflow, river, review, fast-charging

    The EcoFlow River 2 Pro is using a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) chemistry, which is common enough in this category. It’s a bit less energy dense than the batteries you’ll find in phones and laptops, but LiFePO4 batteries have the benefit of avoiding problematic cobalt supply chains. EcoFlow tells us that it holds their suppliers to “high environmental protection standards,” and that it encourages suppliers to get ISO 14001 certification. Unfortunately, the doesn’t tell us much about specific environmental benchmarks. For a brand with “eco” in its name, I was hoping for a bit more information on sustainability. On the upside, EcoFlow does have a trade-in program to handle products at the end of life.

    EcoFlow River 2 – Full Review | Ultra-Fast Charging with Maximum Power

    The EcoFlow River 2 is a new portable power station designed for outdoor use and reliable home backup power.

    Its light weight and portable design let you take it anywhere. Plus, it has enough power to fuel your fun! Charge your phone, laptop, computer, camera, drone, CPAP machine, mini-refrigerator, and more!

    EcoFlow is one of the most trusted brands in the industry and consistently receives top reviews from our readers.

    Here is everything you need to know about the EcoFlow River 2. Including a full review and buyer’s guide to see if it is right for you!

    ecoflow, river, review, fast-charging

    EcoFlow River 2. Full Review and Buyer’s Guide

    We conducted a full review of the EcoFlow River 2 based on its hardware, specs, design, battery capacity, power, and safety features.

    Additional Information

    Perfect for Camping, Outdoors, and Home Back Up Power in an Emergency

    -60min Charge

    -Can Power 6 Devices at Once

    -Use it for CPAP Laptop Computer Phone Tablet

    Lights Blender Coffee

    and more

    -Affordable, well-priced

    -Solar panels available

    EcoFlow River 2. Maximum Power with Ultra-Fast Charging

    The EcoFlow River 2 is an affordable, lightweight, powerful solar generator that you can use at home or on the go.

    At only 7lbs, you can take it anywhere and power just about anything. including your phone, laptop, camera, CPAP, blender, microwave, and more! Perfect for daily use to save money, on camping trips, and in emergency situations like blackouts and storms.

    See why it is a best-seller on Amazon and why our readers rave about it!

    What’s In the Box

    • Ecoflow River 2 portable power station
    • AC charging cable
    • Car charging cable
    • User manual

    Battery Capacity and Power

    EcoFlow is known for its state-of-the-art power.

    The EcoFlow River 2 offers 256wh capacity with 300W output. That means you can power all of your essentials such as your phone, tablet, computer, coffee maker, CPAP, drone, and more!

    Perfect for the outdoors or at home during an emergency.

    Plus, it has X-Boost technology to power 600W appliances without overloading the system. The unit has a ton of safety measures such as surge protection and a Battery Management System.

    Port Selection and Performance

    The EcoFlow River 2 has enough ports for all of your devices!

    It can power 6 devices at once and has 2 AC outlets, 2 USB-A ports, a USB-C, and a car outlet!

    Plus, it has an auto-switch that will kick in to keep appliances running if the power goes out. This is an awesome feature that sets EcoFlow apart from other brands.

    Best of all, the EcoFlow River 2 is built to last over 10 years! That is 6x longer than the average portable power station and will get you over 3,000 cycles.

    Design Features

    Our readers love EcoFlow’s sleek design. The silver and black look blend into any environment and the LED display is bright and easy to read.

    Also, it features an app that lets you control and monitor the usage from your phone anywhere at any time. It connects to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for easy, convenient control in the palm of your hand.

    Weight Size

    This unit is small, compact, and only weighs 7.7lbs. Easy to carry but still provides a ton of power. It is the smallest device in the River 2 lineup and is the most affordable.

    EcoFlow River 2. Combo Pack with Solar Panel

    The EcoFlow River 2 includes solar panels in a convenient combo pack! The solar panel plugs right in to give you 100% clean energy from the start. Easy to use and no complicated plugs or setups.

    No more paying for electricity, just harness the power of the sun!

    Charging

    Finally, there are 4 ways to charge the unit anywhere at any time.

    The ultra-fast charging is a huge pro. This model charges from 0 – 100% in 60 minutes! You can plug it in right before a storm or a camping trip and have peace of mind knowing you can power your essential devices.

    What We Like – Pros

    We love that the EcoFlow brand is reliable and a good value that isn’t overpriced.

    • Lightweight
    • Portable
    • Well-priced
    • Lots of ports
    • Includes USB ports and AC outlets
    • Provides maximum power
    • Trusted brand
    • Sleek look
    • Reliable App
    • Long lasting
    • Awesome design and thoughtful safety features

    What We Would Change – Cons

    As for what we would change, we wishEcoFlow had thought to add wireless charging pads so you could set your iPad or phone directly on the unit and charge without any cords.

    Final Thoughts and Rating

    Overall, the EcoFlow River 2 is a great unit that is affordable, easy to use, and provides a good amount of power and ports.

    It is small enough to use around the house or take on a camping trip. You can power 6 devices at once and the fast charging is huge for those that want to use the unit right away instead of waiting around.

    We give it 5 stars based on the value for the price and all of the advanced features and multiple quick-charging options, including solar.

    Alternatives

    EcoFlow Delta Max. Power For Days

    It can easily power 15 devices at once! Including your full-sized refrigerator, cooking supplies, washer, dryer, air conditioner, heater, TV, router, and more.

    Bluetti AC200P. Wireless Charging Pads

    Alternatively, the BluettiAC200P has wireless charging pads and can power 16 devices at once!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is EcoFlow the best portable power station?

    In our opinion, EcoFlow is the best portable power station because of its ultra-fast charging, sleek design, excellent battery capacity, and reliable power. It frequently gets the best reviews on Amazon and was featured on Time Magazine’s Top 100 Inventions list, a prestigious and unique honor.

    A close second is Bluetti and in third place is Jackery.

    Where can I buy a portable power station?

    You can easily buy a portable power station online on Amazon. There are tons of reviews and comparisons to help you find the one that fits your needs.

    Alternatively, you can go directly to the manufacturer’s website or your local hardware store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.

    Is EcoFlow affordable?

    EcoFlow is incredibly affordable. You can purchase starter models to power small devices such as your phone and laptop for a few hundred dollars. On Amazon there are often sales and coupons available to help save money.

    Which is better Ecoflow or Jackery?

    Jackery is another popular brand that sells portable power stations. While we love that it is lightweight, rugged, and affordable – EcoFlow beats it on charging times, extra features such as X-Boost, number of ports, and design. Our readers usually rank EcoFlow above Jackery.

    Does the EcoFlow River 2 have LifePO4 batteries?

    Yes, the EcoFlow River 2 includes LifePO4batteries. LifePO4 batteries are often higher-quality and last longer. The best portable power stations typically have LifePO4 batteries.

    Does the EcoFlow River 2 include solar panels?

    You can purchase the EcoFlow River 2 with solar panels on Amazon in a convenient combo pack. Otherwise, the unit does not normally include solar panels.

    How long does EcoFlow last?

    EcoFlow portable power stations last 10 years and over 3,000 cycles.

    Can EcoFlow power a refrigerator?

    The EcoFlow River 2 can power a mini fridge for 3-6 hours. However, the EcoFlow Delta 2 and Delta Max can power a full-sized refrigerator for up to 3 days during a power outage, storm, or emergency.

    Does EcoFlow support pass through charging?

    Most EcoFlow models supports pass through charging, including the EcoFlow Delta, EcoFlow Delta Pro and EcoFlow Delta Mini. Pass through charging means you can use the unit to power your devices and charge it at the same time.

    Does EcoFlow have a USB-C port?

    The new EcoFlow River 2 series include USB-C ports for additional convenience and quick charging.

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    EcoFlow River Max review | vs Jackery Explorer 500, Bluetti AC50S | Ecoflow 160W Solar Panel

    The Ecoflow River Max comes nicely packaged. Inside the box you get the power station itself, the mains charging cable, a MC4 to XT60 solar panel charging cable, a car charging cable also with an XT60 connector and a DC5521 to DC5525 lead. I’ll discuss these accessories shortly. There’s also a comprehensive and well presented user manual and a quick start guide for connecting to the smartphone app. There’s no case for the power station and there’s no included pouch for the accessories like you get with Jackerys’ chargers.

    The power station has a clean modern design and feels well built, constructed of sturdy black plastic with grey trim. But like other power stations I’ve reviewed it doesn’t have any ruggedness or waterproof rating so you’ll need to keep it undercover.

    The River Max weighs a pretty hefty 7.8kg and you can see its dimensions on the screen. But you do get a 576Wh Lithium Ion battery inside. To put that in context, an average laptop might have a 50Wh battery so you could charge it over 10 times from completely flat. Or the latest 16” M1 MacBook Pro with its 100Wh battery around 5 times. Alternatively you could run a typical 55” TV for up to 10 hours or a 60W mini fridge for around the same time – probably longer depending on the ambient temperature. EcoFlow’s website gives many more runtime examples depending on how you might want to use the power station.

    Clockwise from the top left the front of the unit has a LED torch, an 8cm two colour LCD display and below that a 100W USB-C charging port, two standard 12W USB-A charging ports and a fast charging 28W USB-A charging port. Underneath the USB ports is the main unit’s on / off button. A short press turns the power station on and turns the screen off, and on when it times out. And a long press turns it off.

    Then there’s the 12V 10A DC car outlet together with two 12V 3A DC 5521 ports. These DC ports have their own power button.

    The ambient light above the Ecoflow logo pulses when the display is on by default and is configurable in the app which I’ll come back to.

    The left side of the unit has the mains charging port, the overload protection switch and the DC charging port for connecting to your car or a solar panel. The hinged door does make a slightly alarming click when you open it, but it’s survived plenty of use so far. Below these ports are cooling vents.

    The right side of the unit has the cooling fan and below that two 230V AC outlets with their own power button. These outlets support 600W continuous output with a 1200W surge peak at 50Hz here in the UK and many other countries or 60Hz in America. Via a little trickery it can power some devices up to 1800W which I’ll come back to.

    The bottom of the unit has four rubber feet with four bolts holding in the detachable base which I’ll come back to.

    Charging

    Probably the biggest selling point of this power station is just how quickly it charges, which gives it a huge advantage over other units I’ve looked at. It charges directly off mains voltage with the included ubiquitous IEC mains cable – sometimes called a kettle lead. The same cable that plugs into the back of your desktop PC. You don’t need the usual DC adapter which is one thing less to carry.

    It can charge at up to 500W which according to the specs can take the battery from 0% to 80% in one hour. In my testing it took a little over that – around 75 minutes to get to 80% charge and full charge in around 2 hours which is still very impressive. But this will depend on ambient temperatures and the temperature of the unit itself.

    In comparison, the Jackery Explorer 500’s 518Wh battery charges at only 85W and takes 7 hours to charge, and the Bluetti, or Poweroak in the UK, AC50S is about the same with its included charger, but does support charging at up to 120W with a beefier charger.

    It’s generally advisable to charge at slower speeds to extend battery life, and fortunately you can turn off the so-called X-Stream Fast Charging in the app if you’re not in any rush.

    You can also charge the unit with a solar panel or via your car’s 12V output. With the included car socket plug to XT60 cable, the River Max charged at around 100W with the engine running so should take around 5 hours to charge the battery from empty.

    The XT60 DC input on the power station will support solar charging at up to 200W or 12A at 10-25V. Ecoflow includes an XT60 to MC4 cable which will connect to many solar panels including their own Ecoflow 160W Solar Panel. But with the right cables and connectors you can connect most solar panels to the EcoFlow and I like that they use the popular and inexpensive XT60 connector which makes soldering up your own cables pretty straightforward.

    This is a quite substantial solar panel weighing just under 7kg and comes in a grey zippered fabric pouch with a carry handle. You can see its folded dimensions on screen. The solar panel has an IP67 dust and water resistance rating unlike the power station.

    The solar panel itself unfolds and then hooks onto the storage case which has one rigid side that acts as a kickstand. Unfolded it measures 157 x 68cm and around 2.4cm thick.

    It doesn’t have any built-in USB charging sockets like the Jackery SolarSaga 100 – just the two MC4 male plugs.

    It’s also a lot heavier than the SolarSaga 100 which weighs just 3.8kg and the Ecoflow is far more fiddly to set up. But it is a lot more powerful – 160W vs the Jackery’s 100W. I’ve been trying to test it here in the UK in winter.

    But even in a short spell of sunshine, the sun was too low in the sky and I could only get around 10W. I’ll provide an update to confirm its rated output and compare it to the Jackery and also the Bluetti SP120.

    With plenty of sun, you should be able to fully charge the River Max off this solar panel from completely flat in under four hours which would be very useful. Or you could get a couple of inexpensive 100W solar panels off Amazon and run them in parallel with an MC4 parallel connection cable to charge at the full 200W.

    The River Max supports pass-through charging so you can still use all the power stations’ outputs whilst it’s charging from mains or DC.

    Performance

    The LCD display is the best I’ve seen on one of these units so far. It’s bright, clear and easy to read. And it shows everything you need to know. Like most power stations it displays power output in watts of whatever is connected and it shows input power so you know exactly what you’re putting in, which is particularly important when you’re using a solar panel which is hugely variable.

    But unlike other units I’ve tested it also shows the discharge time based on current usage, and the remaining charge time depending on what you’re using to charge it.

    So if for example if you’re running the River Max at its full rated 600W output, the display will show just under one hour of usage remaining. You could mentally estimate this out in your head, but it’s very convenient to see this information worked out for you. There are also icons showing which ports you have connected, warnings and even an animated cooling fan speed icon whose speed relates to the actual fan speed.

    You need to turn the unit on first to use the LED torch. A single press then turns it on in low mode, a second press switches to high mode, a third press turns on flashing SOS mode. Press the button again to turn it off, or a long press turns it off from any mode.

    It’s a useful 1W light in low mode and 3W light in high mode, but I’d prefer a flood light like on the Bluetti AC50S, rather than this focused beam. The unit’s much too heavy to use it in this way in most practical situations.

    Moving on to the USB ports, I’m pleased to see a 100W USB-C charging port that supports Power Delivery – something I’ve been after for a while, but missing on other units I’ve tested. This lets you charge even power hungry devices with just a USB-C cable. From this Lenovo Chromebook to the latest MacBook Pros. It’d even charge the Lenovo Legion 5 gaming laptop I reviewed recently. But it’ll also fast charge the latest smartphones, or an iPad Pro and lots of other gadgets.

    To get the full 100W (20V at 5A) you will need a USB-C cable with an E-MARK chip. I had several high quality USB-C cables that couldn’t achieve this full 100W, even though they could with other 100W chargers.

    You want a cable that either mentions this E-MARK or at least says it’s capable of 100W like this one in the photo above which even has a built in power display!

    The two standard 2.4A 12W USB ports don’t support any fast charging standards but the rightmost blue USB port supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 up to 12V and 28W.

    I tested all these ports to their maximum rated output and found no issues. And they can be all used simultaneously as required.

    The 12V, 10A or 120W car outlet is useful for devices like car fridges. It measured 13.6V with a multimeter which confirms it’s a regulated output and will remain at this voltage as the power station loses charge.

    I tested it with a 12V air pump and used it to charge a Jackery Explorer 1000. I didn’t quite get the 120W output, but that’s a limit on the Jackery’s maximum input.

    I then tried using this DC output for the DC input of my Hota LiPo charger which charges the batteries for my RC cars. I was able to charge a 4S 16V battery at 125W which displayed 140W on the EcoFlow, even more than its 120W rated output. You can pick up cheap powerful DC only LiPo chargers, so this could make a handy power supply for them.

    There are also two 3A 12V DC outputs with the popular 5521 plugs with their 5.5mm external and 2.1mm internal dimensions. I’m pleased to see both of these ports are also regulated again measuring 13.6V with a multimeter. I put one of the ports to use using the supplied DC 5521 to DC 5525 cable plugged into a 12V LED lighting strip. This used around 20W according to the EcoFlow’s display. But as I’ve commented in other power station reviews I can’t find too many other uses for these ports.

    The only thing really missing with the DC output of the River Max is a wireless charging pad like on the Bluetti AC50S.

    The main attraction of these portable power stations are the AC outlets. There are two 600W pure sine wave AC outlets which are 220-240V in the UK and 110V in the US. I confirmed their pure sine wave output, which is important for sensitive electronics, with a graphical multimeter.

    EcoFlow have put some thought into the positioning of the outlets even taking into consideration our rather oversized UK plugs. Firstly they’re at the side of the unit so even larger plugs don’t obstruct other ports or the display. Secondly they’re rotated 90° and both sockets face each other. So two plugs, even larger ones, can generally be used at the same time. My only minor complaint is the power button to turn the AC sockets on and off is obstructed by the front plug, so is hard or impossible to access depending on the plug size, without removing the plug first.

    The built-in 600W inverter is powerful enough for many items you’d want to plug into a unit like this, but as I’ve covered extensively in my other power station reviews, you need to be aware of what you’re plugging in. A cheap energy monitoring plug is a useful investment.

    The Ecoflow does have an interesting feature for devices with greater power requirements. Its X-Boost technology, which is enabled by default, will let you plug in higher wattage devices up to 1800W. This is an interesting concept but you need to make sure you understand how it works.

    The output of the unit still can’t exceed 600W, with a brief surge to 1200W. What the X-Boost technology actually does is to dynamically lower the output voltage of the unit so that you can still run devices with higher power requirements. If you recall the formula Power = Current x Voltage, a derivative of Ohm’s law, by lowering the voltage of the output of the power station you can still run the device, but at this lower power.

    This is much clearer with an example. If I run this 1600W hair dryer off the mains, you can see the energy monitoring plug shows just over 1440W, or around 230V x 6.3A as measured by the monitoring plug.

    If I plug this into the River Max with X-Boost turned off in the app, the power station shuts off with “Overload” flashing on the LCD screen and the ambient light flashing red.

    When you turn X-Boost on again you’ll get a warning message which is worth reading. It’s really only advised for appliances which don’t have strict voltage requirements, typically items with heating elements like this hair dryer for example.

    Now I can run the 1600W hair dryer albeit with less power but it’s still very usable. The energy monitoring plug now shows the voltage drops to 145V, pulling 4A of current which equates to around 580W.

    It’s a useful feature but I’d be careful using it. I don’t think it should be on by default and I’d only recommend turning it on as needed. I’m happy plugging in this hair dryer since it’s not mine, but I’d be very careful plugging anything in with sensitive electronics and although EcoFlow suggests power tools, I wouldn’t plug in any of my power tools with X-Boost turned on. I’d stick to devices with heating elements, like this hair dryer, a sandwich maker, small fan heater or a toaster. And it’s important to note you’re still only getting 600W of output so it’ll take longer to toast your bread or dry your hair.

    Still it’s a clever feature, and would be very useful in an emergency, or for camping where it could save you purchasing low powered camping specific kit.

    Just as a note, I did have an issue where I left the AC on with nothing attached and came back to the power station completely drained less than 24 hours after. The AC sockets do consume some power even with nothing plugged in, so you need to try and remember to turn them off. The latest app update mentions an AC timeout setting which might fix this issue, but after updating I still don’t see this setting.

    EcoFlow also advertises the River Max as an entry level UPS or uninterruptible power supply. So for example you could have your desktop computer plugged into the River Max and the River Max plugged into the mains. Your computer would bypass the power station and run off the mains, until there was a power cut where it would switch across to the power station. I tried this feature and it worked fine – my computer carried on with no interruption after I pulled the plug from the mains socket. It worked in exactly the same way as my APC ES-700 which is a dedicated UPS, except it doesn’t offer any solution for gracefully shutting down your PC like the APC unit does.

    Ecoflow do state switching is only “less than 30ms” and doesn’t support professional grade 0ms switching, but I imagine it’s good enough for most people. There are lots of uses for this, not only obvious use cases like your desktop computer or household router, but I also use my UPS for 3D printing where printers can be running for hours on end and even a short power cut can ruin a print. And it has the added bonus of providing far longer battery backup than most consumer UPS’s.

    I tested the claimed 576Wh capacity of the power station both at full 600W load with X-Boost on, and at around 85W with X-Boost off.

    Running a 1000W fan heater with X-Boost I measured 477Wh with an energy monitoring plug. These power stations will always have conversion losses but this was a little lower than I would have hoped, working out at about 83% efficiency. And surprisingly running a 100W incandescent bulb with X-Boost off I got even less – only 448Wh which works out at 78% efficiency. When I measured the Jackery Explorer 500 which has a 518Wh battery I actually got 549Wh. The 500Wh Bluetii AC50S was very close to the EcoFlow at 463Wh.

    The power station is very quiet most of the time. The fan does come on as needed, but most of the time it’s barely noticeable. At full output you’ll hear it – I measured around 47dB 1 metre away – around 10dB louder than background noise.

    The app which I’ll discuss shortly lets you monitor the temperature of the power station but the outside doesn’t get too hot, as you can see from the Flir thermal imaging camera.

    I mentioned briefly earlier that there are 4 bolts through the power station’s feet. The River Max has a removable battery which basically turns it into the more compact Ecoflow River. You halve its capacity to 288Wh, but you still impressively retain all its other capabilities including its 600W output.

    The LCD display actually shows you have this battery installed with an icon that it took me a while to identify.

    Turn the unit off, remove the four bolts with the supplied Philips screwdriver and pull off the base cover. Then pull out the additional battery and reattach the base with the four included shorter bolts. You’ll need to store the longer bolts somewhere safe for when you want to attach the extra battery again. A quick release mechanism would have been nice.

    You’ll notice the battery icon is now missing on the LCD display, and charging power will be halved also, but the unit will still charge in the same time. Otherwise everything is the same, but now the unit weighs 5.2kg and is more compact and transportable. You can go the other way and buy a EcoFlow River and then purchase this battery at a later date.

    Unfortunately the integrated battery is not user replaceable. I really like this modular system but it would be even better if you could replace both batteries. These Lithium Ion batteries only have a 500 cycle life time and when the integrated battery eventually fails the unit won’t function, even with a brand new additional battery.

    If you have multiple power stations you could connect the mains cable from one unit to the input of another unit for double the capacity. But this isn’t something I can test out.

    The App

    This is the first power station I’ve tested that can be controlled via an app and this gives it a few handy control and monitoring functions.

    Unfortunately you do need to create an account to use the app which I feel should be optional. You’ll then need to link the River Max to the app. Tap tap the icon, find the River Max and then press and hold the IOT reset button underneath the light button.

    Then follow the prompts to connect your power station to your wireless network and link it to the app. This will enable you to operate the power station remotely, even over a cellular connection which might be useful.

    If you’re outdoors you can connect to the unit directly although it took me a while to work out how. When you get the option to choose your wireless network, tap on “Use without Internet” below the Connect icon.

    I found the unit operated more reliably and faster over a direct connection, so if you don’t need the remote functionality you could use this connection indoors also. The River Max only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi so if your router is set to 5GHz only you’ll need to use this direct connection mode anyway.

    You’ll probably be prompted to update the power station’s firmware which did take a while. But it’s nice to see the app and power station can easily be updated with new features and bug fixes.

    The app shows much of the information on the unit’s own display, but you can also monitor the internal temperature and you can see more accurately how much usage time or charging time is remaining.

    You can also control the light, DC and AC outputs and probably most importantly turn off and on X-Boost. As I alluded to earlier, I’d highly recommend downloading and connecting to the app if for nothing else, to turn off X-Boost and only turn it on as needed. I would really like an X-Boost button on the unit itself.

    You can tap on the Ambient Light power button to turn this light off or click on its name to configure it. You can decide whether you want the ambient light to turn off with the screen, adjust its brightness and you can choose a lighting effect and colour.

    If you tap on the Settings cog you can configure the power station setup and check for any firmware updates. Probably most usefully you can turn the beeps off.

    But you can also turn on AC Slow Charging which is not a bad idea if you’re not in a rush. It will keep the power station a little cooler and quieter and most importantly extend battery life. It drops the charging power from up to 500W to around 110W.

    But personally I don’t find the power station noisy and the fast charging is one of the most useful features of the River Max, so I leave it on most of the time.

    There’s also an option to limit the maximum charge level. It’s not exactly clear why you would do this – perhaps again to extend battery life but the option is there. And you can limit the output from your car’s outlet and manually select between solar and car charging for the DC mode if you have any issues. There’s even a Specifications page which is useful for reminding you of the capabilities and limits of the unit.

    I did have a few issues when I first connected to the app – it took a few attempts. But since then the app has worked fine. There is a noticeable delay controlling the unit from the app. For example when you tap X-Boost – it looks like nothing has happened – you need to give it up to 10 seconds to send the command to the power station. But overall the app is well designed and a useful additional way to interact with the power station.

    Conclusions

    This is by far the most well-rounded power station I’ve reviewed so far. The build quality is good, it has a clear informative LCD display and the accompanying app makes controlling and monitoring it even easier.

    The fast charging is probably the single most impressive feature of the River Max and something I’d like to see in more power stations. And I’m pleased to finally see 100W USB power delivery, which is particularly useful for charging the latest laptops.

    The 600W output from the AC outlets is probably enough for most people and the X-Boost technology is an interesting concept although it does need to be used with caution as I’ve covered.

    I was a little disappointed in the measured capacity of the unit – 448Wh is a fair bit lower than the spec’d 576Wh. And it is heavier than the Jackery and Bluetti 500Wh units I looked at, although I do like the flexibility of the removable battery to bring down its size and weight. It’s a very practical solution when you have mains nearby to quickly top it up as needed. Perhaps a quick release would make it something you’d pop on and off more often.

    And whilst we’re on batteries EcoFlow quotes 500 cycles for this power station which is typical for Lithium Ion batteries, and for occasional use that’s probably plenty. But for heavy users, it would be nice if the integrated battery was user replaceable or EcoFlow switched to Lithium Iron Phosphate cells which support many more charge discharge cycles.

    The EcoFlow 160W solar panel makes a very good accompaniment to the River Max and its 160W output is far more than other solar panels I’ve reviewed. It also has an IP67 weather resistance rating, something the River Max is lacking. It is quite pricey though and a little fiddly to set up. And the extra power output does come with additional weight. When we have some better weather I’ll do some more testing, perhaps comparing it to the Jackery SolarSaga 100 and the Bluetti SP120.

    Based on my experiences so far, I’d have no trouble recommending the EcoFlow River Max to anyone after a portable power station. If you’re after something in EcoFlow’s range a little cheaper, also consider the EcoFlow River which has the same functionality as the Max just without the additional battery which you can still purchase later. If you don’t need the fast charging and 100W USB power delivery, the Jackery Explorer 500 and the Bluetti AC50S are worth considering. They’re both cheaper than the River Max and they both weigh less. The Jackery has more capacity than the EcoFlow but a little less output at 500W and the Bluetti has wireless charging but only 300W of output. I do have a full review comparing these two power stations if you want to take a look.

    Don’t forget to take a look at my YouTube video at the top of the page, and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I’m releasing videos every week on the latest technology and how to get the most out of it. If you tap the bell icon when you subscribe you’ll get a notification as soon as I release a video, and there’ll be a link to my site here for the written article. YouTube is also the best place to leave a comment. I read all of them and respond to as many as I can!

    My 5 must-have gadgets for off-grid adventures

    Being in the wild doesn’t mean I can’t be civilized and have an office to get stuff done. These are my must-have gadgets when traveling off-grid.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over two decades to helping users get the most from technology.- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get.

    • Mac, iOS, hardware, diagnostic, repair, battery tech, drones and cameras, videography and photography, Adobe Creative Cloud

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over two decades to helping users get the most from technology.- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get.

    • Mac, iOS, hardware, diagnostic, repair, battery tech, drones and cameras, videography and photography, Adobe Creative Cloud

    Most people go into the wilds to get away from it all. You know, leave their desk and work behind, and absorb all the goodness that Mother Nature has to offer.

    But some people.- photographers and videographers spring to mind.- go off-grid to work. I’m one of those people who takes a bunch of cameras and drones into nature to capture photos and video from the ground and air.

    I used to be happy going into the wilds with minimal kit, but as I’ve become wiser.- or older, I’m not sure which.- I’ve seen the value of having some kit to make my outdoor life a little easier.

    Summer’s in full swing here in the U.K. I’m planning a few trips for the next few months, and I’ve pulled together a few items to build an off-grid office.

    Nemo Equipment Stargaze Camping Chair

    I’ve tried a lot of camping chairs.- from the cheap bargain basement stuff to genuine military camp chairs.- and the Nemo Equipment Stargaze blows them all away.

    I really wasn’t convinced that this chair was anywhere near as good as advertised.- right up until I sat in it.

    This is the most solid, well-made, well-designed camping chair I’ve owned. It’s big and sturdy and can take up to 300lb loads, which is reassuring, because this camp chair’s party trick is that it reclines back, turning the chair into a mini hammock.

    The chair is super-comfortable. I’ve spent quite a few hours in this chair, set it up and broken it down a number of times, and even left it out in the elements for over a week.- and it’s still as comfortable and reliable as the day I first pulled it out of the packaging.

    In short, this camp chair is the best.

    EcoFlow River 2 Max Solar Generator 160W Solar Panel

    The EcoFlow RIVER 2 Max is home to 512Wh of power stored in long-life LiFePO4 batteries that should last a decade, and a 160W solar panel to recharge the unit.

    ecoflow, river, review, fast-charging

    For me, this generator is the perfect size for off-grid use where you might have to move the power station about.- big enough to power all my stuff, but small enough to not give me backache lugging it about. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the Goldilocks of power stations.

    The solar panel is also ideal.- not too big, not too small, and waterproof in case the weather turns soggy (a distinct possibility here in the U.K.).

    This is an absolutely brilliant combo and comes in at under 1,000, which might seem a lot but is not a big hit for such a decent solar generator setup.

    Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro

    This is the perfect mobile hotspot for spreading Wi-Fi, whether you’re in an office, a hotel room, or in the great outdoors.

    So, why do I use a mobile hotspot router when I have a smartphone with a hotspot with me 24/7?

    It’s because the mobile hotspot routers, such as the Nighthawk M6 Pro, are packed with cool features and are a lot more versatile.

    First off, my phone is used for a lot of different things throughout the day, and I don’t necessarily want it tied up supplying internet to devices all the time. It’s inconvenient, and it hits the battery hard.

    Also, if signal is poor, I might need to put the hotspot up a tree, or attach an external antenna to it.- stuff I don’t want to do or can’t do with my iPhone.

    Baseus Blade 20,000mAh USB-C Portable Charger

    The Baseus Blade HD makes use of silicon-carbon lithium polymer battery technology, making it 18% lighter and 20% smaller than its earlier version. The capacity remains the same at 20,000mAh, but I’m OK with this as it offers ample power to recharge devices.

    The flat, square design with rounded corners, texturized soft coating, and soft silicone feet means this is perfect for throwing into a bag and taking outdoors, as I hate things with sharp corners, which always come with a risk of puncturing an expensive tent at the worst possible time.

    Garmin inReach Messenger

    For those times when you venture out of cell coverage, but you still need to be able to stay in touch, a satellite communicator is the perfect solution.

    This puck-shaped.sized device can connect to the Iridium satellite network and it allows you to send location data, send and receive messages, and even call for help if things turn bad.

    Sure, this doesn’t give you the data bandwidth that you’re used to with a cell network. But it can be invaluable when it comes to offering peace of mind to family and friends of those who like to go on adventures that take them beyond the reach of a cellular network, and can become a lifeline in the event that something goes wrong.

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