Camping off the grid can be a task, especially without many of the creature comforts that we’re used to having at home. I’m part of a group that sojourns into the desert every year for an event, and this time I road tested the new EcoflowTech RIVER mobile power station.
It’s a smart little device that wowed the public in an IndieGoGo crowdfund earlier this year, and I couldn’t wait to put it through the paces.
The full kit consisted of the power station, which comes with almost every accessory you could possibly need to charge it up, or to power your devices. My pack came with a 50 watt solar panel, which was ideal for our trip, as “the sun had it’s hat on” with temperatures reaching 118ºF.
Weighing 5kg, the small doesn’t take up much room (25 x 16 x 20 cm), and easily slotted into my over packed vehicle. The solar panel is 44 x 46 cm, which I call an oversized album cover (I’m a DJ and tend to base my measurements on records).
Both pieces of kit come with pretty robust bags, which made life easier – I’d hate to scratch its smooth panelling, which I must admit is easy to clean, even after a week in the dust.
My device came with 30% power, which according to the manual is how they are supplied, it also suggested fully charging it before use, so put the solar panel on the top of our shade structure, placed the power station in the shade and let do its thing. It is worth noting that while the power station has a fan to keep it cool, I wouldn’t advise exposing it to the temperatures that we experienced in the desert. Two of the indicators on the LED give temperature readings and there’s a fan to cool things down, just in case.
It took around 18 hours to fully charge with the solar panel, but here’s one of the excitingly dynamic aspects of this system, we connected an iPhone to the USB port of the solar panel while it was charging the power station. This did cough up one little dilemma, the iPhone overheated, so I would suggest a long lightening cable and keep your phone of digital devices out of the sun.
As for uses, we charged several phones, a laptop, and even tried a small kettle, which didn’t work – there’s a limit on the power output, anything that requires more than 500 watts wont work. So, don’t expect it to help make a morning cup of coffee or power a hairdryer.
It is one of the best devices I’ve used to date. It travels well, holds enough juice to power; phone, laptop, iPad, mp3 player, TV, small fridge, and it is light enough to carry around in a shoulder bag – perfect.
The product is designed to go beyond the norm, it will power numerous devices simultaneously, while it itself can be charged by mains (outlet), solar or through the cigarette lighter in your vehicle. These options make it ideal for the Digital Nomad, weekend camping trip, day in the park or on a boat.
As a Brit, I can attest to the fact that the River mobile power station travels well – ours was carried as hand luggage onto a plane with no fuss, making it ideal for expeditions or on-location shoots – just carry an adaptor to plug into the mains (outlet) where ever you are going.
I am back home, two weeks after the event, and the River is still 99% charged courtesy of Black Rock Desert, I am assured that this will last for a whole year! I can’t wait to take it out on location this weekend, where it will power an iPad display for two days at a comic convention.
River is not currently available in Europe or the UK, but I gather an international version should be ready to ship before end of 2017.
January 3rd 2018 Update
I am having some problems with the unit. For an update, kindly check my blog for 3rd Jan 2018.