Ecoflow River: best power station for vanlife

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What we talk about in this article

As we were converting our van for vanlife, we were looking for a decent battery solution with an integrated inverter. Neither of us is an electrician. And, to be very honest with you, all the electrical wiring diagrams just scared the s*** out of us.
We wanted to have an easy solution with no wiring and none of the hazards involved in doing an electric installation ourselves.
So, we bought an Ecoflow River power station for our vanlife adventure, ready to go. (and it turned out to be one of our favourite camper upgrades) Here’s how we like it so far!

Ecoflow River for vanlife

The Ecoflow company has a few interesting power stations that are ready to use for self built campervans. Especially people like us, who know nothing about electricity, it’s a very nice setup to begin with.
One of the most interesting things about these power stations is the fact that they have an inverter built in. So, it gets you 220V without having to build your own electrical system for your van.

There are a few different types of portable power stations available and Ecoflow keeps bringing new things on the market as well.

Ecoflow river max
Ecoflow river max
Ecoflow river max

Ecoflow solar panel

We got a solar panel in order to be off-grid as much as possible.
One 110W solar panel can charge the complete battery in 5 to 10 hours, depending on the sun.
The trick is to never let the battery level sink too low. Just charge it whenever the sun is out! 
We noticed, with decent weather, that charging the battery back up takes some time. So, there is definitely a need to slow down in vanlife, unless you want to pay for wall power!
1 hour of sunshine usually got us 10% back up, sometimes more.
That’s why we decided to get a second 110W solar panel.
At this time, EF Solar Panels are available in the 220W version, which should charge your power station even faster.
Solar panel

The company Ecoflow

I have been very impressed with how Ecoflow handles things! 
I actually had an issue with the solar panel. It just stopped charging the battery.
Just hours before, I had harnessed the sun to charge our Ecoflow River. And suddenly, it no longer did what it was designed to do. Well, these things happen. It’s electronics.
So, I contacted Ecoflow customer support.
I have never been assisted so well in my life. 
Let me just give you the short story:
I received a new cable to see if the issue was in the cable. I then sent the solar panel back to Ecoflow, free of charge. Within a week I had a brand new solar panel, which still works like a charm.
I totally recommend Ecoflow and its products. I just love our setup and I would not hesitate to get more of their products.
In fact, I already ordered some extra battery power.
Keep reading!

What we wanted: a power station for vanlife

We were looking for a decent battery pack to provide us with power for our van.
As we both work online, we needed a good solution to charge our laptops on the go. Aside from that, we also have smartphones, smartwatches, readers, and other electric stuff to charge. 
We mainly needed 220V for the laptops, as the other stuff can charge on 12V as well.
Maybe you already researched the prices for a battery setup with inverter and power plugs…
Or maybe you haven’t…
But, all the stuff you need, plus the knowledge, is quite expensive as well.
That’s why we were looking for an easy way out!

What we got

With our Ecoflow River, we actually got what we wanted.
When both working on our laptops a lot, we only got a day or 3 out of our battery.
We actually want to be off the grid for longer, also when the sun is hiding.
That’s why we decided to get the Ecoflow Delta, which will double our time off the grid!

Changes we made

At this time, we have both the Ecoflow Delta and the Ecoflow River.
The Ecoflow Delta meets our power needs better than the River, especially when there are a few days without sun.
The funny thing is that, when the sun is out and power is flowing freely, we’re not working at the computer. But when it rains, we completely drain our laptop batteries in a few hours.
So, we powered up.
We currently use the EcoFlow Delta for our computers. Since we still have the Ecoflow River, we use that as a backup for charging anything else.
I’m actually quite pleased with our setup, which keeps us going for a very long time without the need for an electric power outlet.

What we would do differently

As I already mentioned before, we didn’t know the tiniest thing about electricity and about our needs. Getting the River Max was a blind choice.
I mainly chose this battery because it was decently priced and it would keep us on the road and working for a while.
Now that I know how much I enjoy staying away from civilisation, the Ecoflow Delta is a much better choice.
The more power you can get, the better!

Disclaimer: we also hired an expert!

For us, these portable power stations are perfect for vanlife, especially because we didn’t dare to get involved in electronics.
Our Ecoflow portable power stations are used to charge electronic devices, such as laptops, e-readers, smartphones, Bluetooth speakers, etc.
We also hired an expert who installed a few other things in our build. He set us up with a leisure battery that keeps our fridge and LED lights running.
While I’m pretty sure the Ecoflow Delta would keep your fridge running for quite some time, this power usage is not calculated in this review.
As it is with everything in vanlife: it all depends on your needs and wishes.
I can only confirm that I’m super happy with our Ecoflow setup and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy their products again.

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