Ecoflow River 2 Review – Power in a small package

Ecoflow River 2 Review – Power in a small package

Every now and then, a product comes along that completely redefines what a compact device can do. The Ecoflow River 2 is one product that did. For its size, it offers portability while offering strong power capacity.

The River 2 is a portable power unit designed for on-the-go use. It offers fast charging through various methods. You can use your car’s 12v connector, AC power from your mains, and solar energy using its LifePO4 cells. When connected to a wall socket, it does indeed charge to full power in one hour using 400 watts of AC input.

This is how it achieves the short charging time. For car charging, it utilises a maximum of 100 watts, which is slower but convenient for longer drives or trips. I strongly recommend you keep driving for a long time to keep your alternator running, so your car battery doesn’t die out. Solar charging consumes 110 watts, and Ecoflow provides compatible panels for this purpose. Expect charging time to increase drastically when using the car charger and Solar Panel.

Strong Power output but best when run frugally

At peak output, the River 2 can provide 300 watts of electricity. This will, however, only work on AC output, more on that later. I would not recommended you run the River 2 at maximum capacity because it will reduce the device’s uptime.

This means that high-power appliances or fryers are not suitable for the River 2 because they consume much more electricity. Your gaming PC is not something you want to power with the River 2. I found the best balance of up time and load at around 60 watts, where the River 2 ran for around 5 hours from the 288WH battery. A MacBook Air can be fully charged in around 3 hours at 50 watts, utilising about 35% of the River 2’s charge. In theory, you could charge your laptop three times on a single charge but it depends on what you are doing with the laptop when charging. When in sleep mode, you’ll see the lowest power draw from the River 2.

I feel like the River 2 is best suited for power-efficient devices like smartphones, cameras, laptops or your fibre router, which will draw minimal electricity from the River 2.

Many ways to charge

The River 2’s USB Type C port pushed out a maximum of 60 watts into a Dell laptop I tested. The USB Type A ports charged my Garmin Fenix 6S at around 12 watts. The AC plug point on the device can provide a maximum output of 300 watts which I alluded to earlier which I confirmed running a hand blender and some smaller kitchen appliances and it reduced device uptime to less than an hour. I ran my PC monitor on the River 2 which used around 75 watts, and found the life of the River 2 reduced to around 2 to 3 hours.

The River 2 shows what it is actually pushing out to your devices both on the display of the unit and through its app. This might help you figure out what to run on it and what not to. I didn’t know for example, that my Logitech speakers used around 2-3 watts and could run for around 15 hours with a full charge on my MacBook Air’s battery. For charging loads above 20 watts, I would recommend you pair the River 2 with a solar panel to keep the battery fed so you don’t run out of battery while not connected your mains.

I also found that I could run my fibre router for around 8 hours comfortably when charging the router UPS. 8 Hours of uptime on a fibre link while not having electricity can be highly beneficial if you’ve been off for a long time.

Ideal for Digital Nomads and Mobile Professionals

The ideal users for the River 2 are digital nomads or mobile professionals seeking a portable power source that can charge from various outlets. I liked that the River 2 was light, weighing in at a paltry 3.5kg, it is easy to carry around with an ergonomic hand grip, and Ecoflow offers a dedicated bag for transportation when you buy one.

Just remember that if you do buy the foldable solar panel Ecoflow offers, consider keeping it out of the way because you’re going to fork out R6000 for another if you damage it. That’s a hefty bill to pay, so be weary of where and how you store both the River 2 and solar panel. If you are going to buy one of these because of its price, you may have to stick to light gaming and applications because the River 2 is unlikely to charge anything above a laptop effectively, and once you exceed the power limit of 300 watts, it will switch off to prevent being overloaded.

An affordable power solution for low power devices

Considering the River 2’s 5-year warranty, durable LifePO4 batteries, and intended usage, it offers good value over 5 years. Ecoflow suggests you make sure the River 2 is plugged in once your power outlets are stable. I wouldn’t suggest you use it like a UPS.

The accompanying app provides useful functionality and the ability to monitor usage through the Ecoflow App. Firmware updates are available to fix bugs and introduce new features which was a first for me, considering that many portable inverters don’t offer this. You can monitor your usage on the Ecoflow App on your smart device too. If you require a less portable unit, Ecoflow’s Delta is a more compelling option to the River 2 and River Pro, assuming your needs require higher power devices to be running when the power is out. For example, the Delta 2 offers 1024Wh, which is almost four times the capacity the River 2 offers.

We’ll be getting a Delta 2 unit for review so expect a head to head comparison in the future.

Verdict: Use it for what it’s intended

All things considered I was happy with the River 2. With a long lasting battery in my MacBook Air, I could easily use my fibre, run my speakers and work while the power was out. It did charge in 1 hour, and could easily be recharged after 2 hour bouts of load shedding with the light usage I spoke about earlier.

Another tip I can offer is to keep the River 2 away from dusty environments because the fans will go on quickly when it’s charging up any devices. It’s probably not a good idea to cover the fan vents. If you’re frugal, you can run your fibre for 7-8 hours if you want to keep your router UPS fed. I feel like the River 2 is best paired with energy-efficient devices and not your heavy duty electronics. It will power your PC monitor if you need it, and provided you don’t use anything high end, it will likely last during a power outage better than a traditional UPS.

What about the price? It’s going to set you back R6000 for the River 2 and another R6000 for another Solar Panel. If your needs are more demanding, you can pick up a River Pro or Delta 2 at a higher price around Black Friday, when we’re sure to see some discounts.

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