Portable power station: Ecoflow River Max review for vanlife

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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 a battery, ready to go. Here’s how we like it in our vanlife adventure so far!
 
Read our Ecoflow River Max review.
The Ecoflow River Max has interesting specifications. For people like us, who know nothing about electricity, it was a very nice setup to begin with.
 
One of the most interesting things about this battery is the fact that it has an inverter built in. So, it gets you 220V without having to build your own electrical system for your van.
 
The Ecoflow River Max has these specs: 
 
  • 576Wh battery capacity
  • 3x USB ports
  • 2x 220V outlets

 

Charging the Ecoflow River Max can be done through a wall outlet in less than 2 hours.
Ecoflow river max
Ecoflow river max
Ecoflow river max

Ecoflow 110w 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 solar panel.
 
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 Max. 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

We were looking for a decent battery 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 Max, 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 Max.
 
The Ecoflow Delta meets our power needs better than the River Max, 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 Max, 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!

The specs for EcoFlow River Max and Ecoflow Delta

Ecoflow River Max

Capacity: 576 Wh
Charging methods: solar, wall charging, car charging
Output methods: 2x 220v AC outputs, 3 USB A ports, 1 USB C port

Ecoflow Delta

Capacity: 1260 wH
Charging methods: solar, wall charging, car charging
Output methods: 4x 220V AC outputs, 4 USB A ports, 2 USB C ports
 

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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