Review: EcoFlow River 2 portable power station
Portable power is something we increasingly need in an era of battery-powered everything, but what do you do when that wussy little powerbank won't cut it? Well, get a bigger one!
Having reached the limits of what my little USB-C powerbank can deliver, I've been reviewing EcoFlow's River 2 portable electric generator this summer. It's been slung in the back of the car and acted as a portable power option for our camping holiday, charging everything from my camera, to smartphones, tablets, my running watch, and even our coffee grinder (yes, I'm one of those people who camps with a coffee grinder...)
So, how has it performed? In one word, brilliantly.
What is it?
You can think of the EcoFlow River 2 as a big, easy-to-use, powerbank.
The 3.5kg box has two USB-A and one USB-C ports, along with a full size AC and a DC output, and is very sturdy and well-designed - I especially liked how the carry handle is at the back which leaves the top surface of the River 2 free to place charging items on top of.
It's worth adding that that 3.5kg is a fair heft, so this isn't really the sort of thing you'd put in a hiking backpack. But for the kind of car-camping we get up to, it's a perfect option.
According to EcoFlow, the battery technology in the River 2 has been updated over its predecessor to use LFP (LiFePO4) Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, which boosts the battery’s capacity and longevity.
Whereas the original battery technology was good for 500 charges up to a capacity of 80%, using the River 2 six times a week, of 3000 full 100% cycles, will last 9.6 years until it drops to 80% - impressive.
You've got three options to charge the EcoFlow. The first is the traditional plug into the mains. This is also the fastest charging option and takes an hour or so from zero percent.
I really liked that a kettle-style power cable plugs straight into the back of the River 2, so you can use the same cable to charge the River 2 that you use to run most appliances, which is also handy if you lose the thing, or space is at a premium.
The other other option is via DC on your car's battery, likely through the car's cigarette lighter. I didn't have a cable to test this, but indications are it takes a bit longer, as much as three hours, to fully charge, and you'll want to do it when the car is running to avoid discharging your battery.
Then there's the option of solar panels. Here, the generator will take an input of up to 220W. EcoFlow also makes several solar panel options, including a 220W version, although I wasn't sent these for review so can't speak to their convenience.
Finally, the included WiFi and Bluetooth on the River 2 connect it to your phone. The EcoFlow app (available for iOS and Android) can monitor the charge level, turn outputs on and off, and keep track of the life of the battery.
To be honest, I never really felt the need to use the app as the interface on the River 2 is pretty easy-to-use and self explanatory, but the option is there if you want it.
In use, my phone charged at a decent rate of 14 Watts, and my Sony A7IV, plugged straight into the USB-C only used three Watts, while my laptop hit the maximum 60 Watts that the USB-C port on the front of the River 2 could output.
This 300 watts is the limit on the AC outputs, which means that you can't power means big fans, portable ovens, or heaters. When these are connected the River 2 will try to keep up before tripping the overload. However once you unplug the device, it will quickly reset.
Capacity-wise, the River 2 holds about 256 Watt Hours. According to EcoFlow that’s enough to charge an iPhone 14 Pro up to 15 times or a laptop about four times. In use I found it was a little lower than that, but not by much.
Regardless, by making sure it got a charge every 3-4 days it was great for those short periods where we were away from any power (such as at remote campsites) while travelling.
If i was to offer one criticism of the EcoFlow River 2 it's that there's only one USB-C port and two USB-A ports. I'm increasingly finding less need for 'traditional' USB-A ports, and having two USB-C would make more sense.
Sure it's big, and at $649, it's not exactly dirt cheap. But after only one summer of use, the EcoFlow River 2 become a must-have in our camping kit. The EcoFlow River 2 is well-built, comes with a solid warranty, has a variety of inputs and outputs, and most importantly, charges your stuff without a fuss. I highly recommend it.
You can find out more about the EcoFlow River 2 here.