EcoFlow RiverMax portable power station review: versatile hub for camping
The EcoFlow RiverMax portable power station isn’t just for keeping smartphones and tablets charged when off-grid. Capable of running everything from fridges to power tools it can be charged-up from empty at home in just 96 minutes and even while you’re driving to your destination.
- Charges in 96 minutes
- Extra battery is removable
- 100W USB-C power delivery for laptops
- Can cope with TV and home appliances
- Built-in LED light
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The EcoFlow River Max portable power station reviewed here is for weekends away camping when you want to take your home comforts with you. Though it’s packed with USB outputs to recharge smartphones, tablets and laptops the River Max is just as able to fuel a TV, a power tool or a hairdryer.
It’s also rather unusual in that its considerable – though easily portable – 7.7kg/17lbs weight can be slashed simply by removing one of its two 288Wh batteries for occasions when you want to prioritise portability over power.
Here’s why we think that the River Max is the best portable power station you can buy, a great travel companion for short trips to the countryside and anywhere away from mains electricity.
EcoFlow River Max portable power station review: price and release date
Originally launched in February 2021, River Max sells for UK£549/US599/AUS1,199 and is part of EcoFlow’s River Series, which comprises the EcoFlow River (288Wh), River Max (576Wh) and River Pro (720Wh). They’re all portable, entry-level products and all can power devices that require up to a whopping 1800W.
River and River Max have the same chassis and use 288Wh batteries, so River can easily be upgraded to River Max, and vice versa. In October 2021 EcoFlow announced the River Mini (210Wh), which supports AC input up to 600W.
Also available for use with the River Series are 110W and 160W solar panels, which are often bundled with the River products. (For more sun-powered solutions, check out best solar charger roundup.)
EcoFlow River Max portable power station review: features and what’s new
At first glance, the River Max is all about fast charging. While your average portable power station promising in the region of its 576Wh will take about six hours to recharge when plugged into the mains (something you’re always going to do before leaving home to go off-grid), the River Max takes a spectacularly short 96 minutes.
It’s a staggered process, so it gets to a “that’ll do” 80% in just an hour then slows down. That’s down to EcoFlow‘s X-Stream, a Smart inverter that powers its two separate 288Wh batteries that recharge simultaneously.
EcoFlow River Max portable power station: specs
Capacity: 576Wh Weight: 7.7kg/17lbs Measurements: 289x184x235mm/11.4×7.3×9.3” Solar: 200W Outputs: 1x USB-A fast-charge (18W), 2x USB-A (5V/2.4A), 1 x USB-C (100W), 1x 13.6V cigarette lighter, 2x AC (600W), 2x DC Inputs: 1x 12V, 1x AC (500W)
You can also recharge it via either a solar panel or a 12V car input (what used to be called a cigarette lighter), which takes five hours – so doable on a road trip.
Its 2,000W pure-sine wave AC inverter is pretty handy, too; you can also increase the AC output to up to 1800W if you need to power a home appliance – such as a heater, a mini-fridge or a cinema projector (why not?) – or a DIY tool. Even better, it has two AC sockets.
EcoFlow River Max portable power station review: set-up and use
Plug the River Max into the mains via a standard kettle lead and, yes, it gets charging quick-Smart. It makes a loud beep as it does, and lights up not only a strip of green LEDs on its front, but also shows a blue circle of lights whizzing around a % figure showing exactly how much of the battery is charged.
Besides that is the number of minutes until it’s going to be fully charged. It won’t be long. From being 50% charged it took under an hour to get to 100% without getting hot, though it did make an audible humming noise. We also noticed that the last few percent of the battery appeared to take over 10 minutes to fill.
Something else we noticed about the River Max’s otherwise excellent LCD display is that it gives you a figure in hours for how long it will take to recharge or how long until it’s going to be empty on current usage. That’s not incredibly helpful; a more exact figure in hours and minutes would be more useful.
What we liked about the River Max is its ease of installation. You can loosen four screws and remove the bottom half of the product to halve its battery power (and its weight). Either way it’s fairly portable, though an excellent built-in X-shaped carry handle makes it easy to transfer from car to camp.
Underneath that handle is a small recessed area that’s about the same size as a smartphone; what a shame there’s no wireless charging pad there. What it does have is an LED light, though you can’t change its angle so it’s of limited use around camp.
The app is pretty simple, letting you know exactly what’s being used and how much power River Max is sending through each output. It also lets you switch off that horrible beep.
EcoFlow River Max portable power station review: performance
We tested everything we could find with the River Max, from phones and laptops via its suite of USBs to a vacuum cleaner, a hairdryer, a heater and even a 20-inch TV (which worked for about nine hours) via its two AC inputs. It didn’t miss a beat, the only very slight downside being that it makes a humming noise when in use. It’s not loud (we clocked it at 35 decibels), but noticeable… though nothing compared to traditional generators.
Slightly more annoying is the fact that its LED green indicators pulse rather brightly during use, and that everything you press – be it buttons to switch on AC, DC and USB outputs, or the LED light – elicits a loud beep. Happily, you can disable both the beeps and the lights via the app.
We also loved its modular design. Though being able to downgrade a portable power station seems like an odd advantage, it’s genuinely helpful to be able to remove one of the River Max’s 288Wh lithium-ion NMC batteries to leave it substantially lighter. After all, if you’re only going for a couple of nights’ camping and all you’re taking is a phone there’s no need to overdo it.
EcoFlow River Max portable power station review: verdict
If you can’t decide whether you need a grab-and-go portable battery for weekends away or something more substantial then the modular EcoFlow River Max is hugely attractive. In fact, we think it’s the best portable power station you can buy. Its total of 576Wh is more than enough for most people camping or going off-grid for a few days, but the ability to remove one of its two batteries to lessen the weight is helpful. However, what we love most about the River Max is how fast it is to charge; you no longer have to prepare 24 hours in advance for trips away. Add its ability to cope with a TV and home appliances as well as multiple phones and small devices and the River Max has a catch-all appeal for short-haul off-grid trips.
EcoFlow River Max portable power station review: alternatives to consider
Almost identical to the EcoFlow River Max, though a little lighter is the Jackery Explorer 500, which has a similar set of ins and outs yet weighs 6kg and offers a similar 518Wh. However, if you want to go the other way and set-up camp off-grid for weeks on end then consider the Goal Zero Yeti 1500X, which gives 1,516Wh – enough to charge fridges and lights – though it weighs a hefty 20.7kg.
Read This Review BEFORE YOU BUY the EcoFlow River 600 Max Solar Generator
The EcoFlow River 600 Max was set to be the best small solar generator to hit the market in a very long time. Did the River 600 Max accomplish that? Is it better than the Jackery Explorer 500 solar generator? Is the EcoFlow River 600 Max safe to use? All of that will be put to rest in this full review.
The EcoFlow River 600 Max launched on IndieGoGo and looked amazing but when influencers on YouTube started getting their test units things were not adding up to be very good.
The prototype model was different from the current model of the River Max. The River 600 Max had a light gray-colored body and an aqua blue handle. However, the production model that is available right now has a dark gray body and a light gray handle. Some basic features are different between the two generations such as the ability to link many units together which you could do with the prototype. But other than that they are pretty much the same.
To be clear, there are technically two different options when purchasing the EcoFlow River. There is either the EcoFlow River 600 or the EcoFlow River 600 Max. The only one worth getting is the EcoFlow River 600 Max.
The Max edition comes with an expansion battery that brings the total battery capacity up to 572wh. The basic version only has 288wh which is not very much at all.
Also, to be clear, the EcoFlow River 600 Max is not going to be a good unit for emergency preparedness, backup power, RV power or anything like that. This is meant to be a very basic and portable unit that is good for charging on the go. It will charge laptops, drones, phones, speakers, or run equipment like lighting, fans, speakers, DC fridges, and so on.
The battery isn’t large enough to handle larger tasks like running a fridge for very long. It is capable of running a fridge because it has a 600w inverter, but the battery will only last about 5 to 6 hours before the battery will be empty.
Maybe you could run a fridge if you use an outlet timer and had 200w of solar panels connected to the River 600 Max, but it should not be used for that purpose in my opinion. It’s not built for that.
Adding the second battery to the River 600 is very easy. By simply screwing in 4 screws the extra battery slips into place under the main unit, then replace the screws and you are good to go. There’s no extra calibrating or anything that needs to be done to add the extra battery.
One very nice feature about the River 600 Max is that the battery is capable of running 600w non-stop until it hits 0%. You can see this test my in my full detailed review video here :
One of the best features of the EcoFlow River 600 Max battery is that it will hold a charge for up to 12 months on the shelf. That is a very long time when compared to other small units like the Bluetti AC50 and ACOPOWER PS500. Even many larger solar generators will not hold a charge for up to a year. Many say that they must be charged every 6 months or even every 3 months.
The Titan is the largest and best solar generator available and that will hold a charge for up to 5 years. But the Titan is really in a different class of solar generators.
The River 600 Max is UL listed and has all the expected protection levels such as overload protection, short circuit protection, and so on. But, in my video and my review of the EcoFlow River 600 Max I actually had my first unit catch on fire! Well, not a full-fledge fire but it did get fried and was smoking pretty bad.
After trying to run a load of laundry the River 600 Max would not reset and work again. I tried resetting it multiple times and eventually decided to put it on the wall charger. For some reason, when I did that, the circuit in my house’s electrical panel flipped. I flipped the breaker back and when I came back into my office where I was recharging the unit, smoke was coming out of it!
I very quickly ran outside with it and put it on a non-burnable surface and waited to see what would happen. Luckily, nothing else did, but the unit was now dead.
Click Here for the Best Price on the River 600 Max
It turns out that I had done a “heavy discharge” even though it did not run for very long or very hard. EcoFlow is very specific and says that after doing a heavy discharge that the unit should not be recharged for quite some time until cooled. My unit was not warm when I tried to recharge it. So I am not sure what they classify as a heavy discharge but keep that in mind, don’t recharge it shortly after using it very hard at all.
Luckily the customer service at EcoFlow was very good and they got me a replacement unit pretty quick. The second unit has not had that problem and it has been 100% solid. I have had zero issues with the replacement unit even when doing heavy discharges and recharging. Maybe they had a batch that was not good and my first one was from that batch. It’s been known to happen.
Either way, I now feel confident that my system is good to go since I have done a lot more testing and reviewing and have had no issues.
The EcoFlow River 600 Max is capable of pushing out 600w nonstop out of the pure sine wave inverter. It will surge all the way up to 1,200w which is plenty for this little unit.
It has more AC outlets than any other 500w sized solar generator on the market. The Jackery 500 only has one AC outlet. The Bluetti AC50 has two AC outlets. The ACOPOWER PS500 has two AC outlets. The Sungzu 500 has two AC outlets. The point is, the EcoFlow River 600 has three AC outlets which do make a big difference when trying to run a laptop, light, and fan, or whatever combination of equipment.
One of my absolute favorite features of the River 600 Max is that it has a 100w PD USB C port which means I can use a USB C cable to recharge different items up to 100w. That’s really fast! For example, my Skydio 2 Drone has a dual battery charger that draws 100w to recharge the batteries quickly. This means that I can keep flying all day long by rotating my three batteries on the River 600’s fast USB C PD port.
The River 600 also has another fast charging port rated to 28w as well as two USB A ports that are fast charging for phones, tablets and other small electronics.
It also has a 12v cigarette lighter port that is regulated to keep the proper voltage while operating and is rated to over 130w output. Included are two other DC 5521 ports that can also push about 40w through them.
The next biggest thing that I love about my EcoFlow River 600 max is how fast it can recharge. Once again it has a much faster recharge rate than any other 500w sized solar generator on the market.
The River 600 Max will allow up to 200w of solar power to go into it via the MPPT charge controller that is onboard. It is very easy to series together two 100w solar panels and get a very quick recharge time in about 3 hours. I was able to do this in my video and got incredible solar input. Truly no other 500w sized solar generator will charge off of solar as fast as the EcoFlow River 600.
The Jackery Explorer 500, Bluetti AC50, Sungzu 500, PS500, and all the other small solar generators max out at 100w solar input. But even more than that the River 600 charges faster than the Jackery 1000! My Jackery Explorer 1000 will only let in about 120w of solar power even though it’s rated to let in 200w. It doesn’t get anywhere close to that.
Also, the Sungzu 1000 is rated to let in more power but the River 600 Max allows more solar power to go into it than the Sungzu 1000.
The EcoFlow River 600 max also comes with a simple to use the car charger. It will charge at about 120w input from any cigarette lighter port in any vehicle. Since most 12v cigarette lighter ports are rated to 10amps or more the River 600 will not likely blow any fuses while charging.
But what about when I am just at home or between trips and want to charge it up at home? The wall charger is a simple power cable that doesn’t include a large box adapter on the cable so it is very portable and easy to take anywhere. That cable pushes up to 500w wall charging into the River 600 which is really fast, especially for a unit this size. Once again beating all the other smaller solar generators, the River 600 Max will charge 5x faster than the next small solar generator will at home.
It’s a very compact and lightweight unit at only 17lbs so it’s very easy to tote around and use. It also includes a 24 months warranty which I used and found that they do want to help and are ready to help in any way they can. I did find that it’s best to contact them by email though. They did not answer any of my phone calls but were very responsive to my emails and even emailed me back after office hours.
The EcoFlow River 600 Max does have a special Phone App that you can use to monitor the unit and see what’s going on with it wirelessly. I honestly have not found it to be that great. It’s a little difficult to connect and there’s not much benefit besides seeing the current state of charge. I really never use it, but it is a cool feature.
The River 600 Max is supposed to be able to chain with other units and make it a bigger system but no one seems to be doing that because EcoFlow didn’t seem to have that feature 100% worked out by the time they were shipping units. They do say it will be a feature in future models though.
I truly use and like my EcoFlow River 600 Max more than any of my other similar-sized solar generators. There are at least a dozen 500w sized solar generators and this one is my favorite so far.
But that being said, my first one did get fried and that was quite scary. I would just say that be mindful of recharging it and make sure it has cooled off for quite a while before recharging it from the wall. I haven’t had any issues doing a heavy discharge and recharging by solar. But maybe that’s just because the first one I had was a lemon, who knows.
Either way, if you’re looking for a very small, lightweight, compact, and powerful portable solar generator, I would definitely recommend the EcoFlow River 600 Max. The inverter is good, the battery is good, the charging capability is good, and has an awesome 100w USB C PD port that I love.
It’s definitely a winner for lightweight portable power.