Today, we’re going to be looking at the EcoFlow River Pro Portable Power station, and the exciting thing about this power station is that it is expandable. So, an external battery doubles its power to 1440-Watt hours. In this review, I’ll look at this unit compared to a wide range of solar generators and let you know how they stack up.
Buy on Amazon: EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station
EcoFlow is a reasonably new company, and they seem to be focused on really high-quality design and bringing some innovative features. For example, the River Pro is its latest mid-size solar generator, and it has a retail price of $650. And three primary features are exciting.
First of all, the X-Boost technology claims to make this 600-Watt inverter handle up to 1200 or even 1800-Watt appliances.
The second feature is their X-Stream technology for high-speed charging. They claim this power station can charge at over 600 watts, an amazingly fast charger.
I think the most exciting thing is it has an extra battery, so the extra battery runs $400, and this doubles the capacity of the EcoFlow River Pro Portable Power station. Unlike the Goal Zero products, this is the same lithium-ion battery technology as the central unit. It does not use lead-acid.
So together, these three features set this apart, and I really wanted to dive in and find out how well they work. Does this live up to the hype?
EcoFlow River Pro Portable Power Station Features
The initial impression of the EcoFlow River Pro Portable Power station is that it is a nice-looking solar generator. It’s really stylish, and it’s pretty lightweight. It only comes in at 16.8 pounds, and it’s really compact. I would say it’s comparable to Yeti 500X. You can easily carry this one-handed with the nice handle built into the top.
Overall, the enclosure is made of plastic, but it seems to be high-quality plastic. It does seem to be a little bit of a fingerprint magnet, but I like the design of this thing. It’s definitely one of the most stylish options out there. Let’s take a look at the display first on the left-hand side:
It tells you how many hours are remaining.
The display tells you the state of charge, including the percentage, which is excellent, and details on the input and output wattage.
Several indicators at the bottom tell you whether it’s connected to Wi-Fi and whether specific ports are on or off.
So, I really like the display. It’s smartly designed, and it’s a breath of fresh air compared to the blue 80s displays lacking information. On the DC output side of things, it has an automotive output for your cigarette lighter appliances and two-barrel connectors. The car output is regulated at 13.6 volts, which is excellent, and put out up to 10 amps or 136 watts. They also include a nice barrel connector cable.
On the USB side of things, the EcoFlow River Pro Portable Power station has a 100 Watt USB-C with power delivery, which is very impressive, and three USB ports, one of them being a fast charge port capable of 15 watts of output. So, I wanted to try the USB C with my MacBook Pro 15 inch. When you plug it in, you can see that there’s an indicator on the screen that you are using the USB-C output, and this thing did a great job with my MacBook. I was able to get a solid 95 watts out of this, which is close enough to 100 watts to call it an excellent powerful USB output. So far, I’ve never tested a solar generator with such a strong USB C output. This power station will power pretty much anything you can throw at it.
Well, the MacBook Pro is plugged in. So I figured I’d go ahead and plug in my iPad Pro. This being no Bluetooth speaker and this anchor Power bank on the other USB-A outputs just to see if I could get a lot of power out of this thing, and I could easily get well over 100 watts. I think I got over 110 watts total, so yeah, this thing can handle 4 USB outputs simultaneously and output a lot of power. So if you’re looking for a portable generator that runs a laptop or a bunch of USB appliances, this would mean you want to take a hard look at it because it really rocks solid.
To the left of the display is a built-in flashlight or lantern with a low, high, and blinking mode. It seems to work pretty well as a nice clean light. Around the right-hand side of the unit, there is the AC output side of things, and there are three 120 Volt outlets on this thing. According to the specs, it’s rated at 600 watts continuous pure sine wave 1200 Watts peak. But then there is the X-Boost technology, and according to the marketing materials, it can power devices to a maximum of 1800 watts with X-Boost mode on, so it’s hard to say what precisely this power station can handle.
We will be going really deep into this technology and finding out exactly how it works. There is a fan to pull air through the enclosure, and at the bottom, there is the expansion port behind the little protective cover, which allows you to hook up the external battery if you have one, and at the top, there is a comfortable handle. This unit is super easy to carry one-handed.
All the input sides are on the other side of the enclosure, so we have our X-Stream input and the solar and car input. If we open up the protective cover, you can see the left-hand charging port, and all you get for this is a standard electrical cable. That’s right, folks, there is no wall wart for this thing. There is no external charger; it’s all built-in, fantastic. So, all you have to do is plug it into the wall and plug the other side into the AC input.
EcoFlow River Pro Portable Power Station is a 740-Watt hour unit we’re charging, and we’re slamming a lot of electrons into this unit really quickly. There will be implications for battery life, and I’ll get to that a little later on, but this thing works exactly as advertised. EcoFlow claims that you can get this to 80% in an hour and fully charge in an hour and a half. However, I could get it to 90% in an hour and fully charged in an hour and a half. So, this thing beat the specs on the website. The AC charging on this thing is impressive. The fact there’s not an extra wall charger, and it’s this fast, is a joy to use.
If things trip, I use the product with a circuit breaker; the top right screw is for grounding, and then there is the XT 60 input for both solar and car charging. They include a high-quality cable for charging with solar using the MC4 connectors. They are pretty heavy gauge wires, considering these are much better than what I would expect as a packed-in cable, and so I like this system of XT 60. They also have card charging cables, and both of these have this handy little cable management. They’ll strap on them, and it’s all concealed behind the door, which is nice. In theory, I’m a little afraid this is a little flimsy and could eventually break.
EcoFlow offers a two-year warranty on the unit, which is relatively standard for the industry. It also comes with a manual written in really well-crafted English in full color and is pretty detailed, so that’s a nice feature. Overall, I really like the design of the EcoFlow River Pro portable power station, the organization of the ports, the quality handle, and the excellent rubber feet on the bottom. It’s just a solidly designed unit. This company seems to take pride in good design, so if that’s something that you appreciate, this is the unit for you.
EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station Extra Battery
But really, we’re all here for the main event. We want to see how this extra battery works with the unit. So EcoFlow provides this for $400. You are overall in for $1050 between the two units. The external battery is the same footprint as the River Pro and is a little shorter because it doesn’t have all the additional electronics. It weighs eight-tenths of a pound less than the River Pro, at 16 pounds. The enclosure for the extra battery is made out of extruded aluminum, so the front and back insides are all one continuous piece of aluminum, like a Goal Zero Yeti with just the top and bottom being plastic. Both sides have fans for really lovely cooling.
And along the top, there’s a single power button and a multi-segment power meter. Around the backside, there is a cover over the expansion port input. So, let’s talk about connecting these. We’re connecting from the central unit to the battery unit, and in doing that, we’re going to use the included cable that comes with the extra battery. It looks like an overgrown serial cable with a male and a female side, so you have to ensure that you’re using the right end.
And so, the male end goes into the central unit. And the female side goes into the extra battery. And both ends of the cable have two thumbscrews that are used to keep the cable in place, and you need to do this because the cable is highly stiff and will pull itself out if you don’t screw these things down. So, once connected, it’s as simple as turning on the external battery and turning on the River Pro. The screen will immediately indicate that the two are linked, and the total percentage charge will be recalculated based on the state of charge of both of the batteries.
When I first started looking at the product information for these, I was curious how they were actually going to look when you hook them together because of the arrangement of where the ports are and the combination of this cable being relatively thick and stiff. I’ll tell you this, I tried pretty much any position I could think of, and they’re all awkwardly positioned. I’m not going to lie; I don’t know if the length of this cable is optimized so that you could put the River Pro on a table and put the expansion battery on the floor. But if you put them on the same surface, you end up with this long coil of wire, and well, I’m not sure what to do with it, to be honest.
They could have come up with something better, or at least something more optimized for putting the two units close. I would suggest using a coil and using a little bit of Velcro. That allows them to be at least snuggled up close together without a ton of cable popping out everywhere. If you come up with a better solution, let me know in the comments. Oh, and by the way, I tested how long it would take to charge the external battery, and the River Pro connected from zero percent.
And while there are no surprises at all, it took precisely double the amount of time that it took the single unit. 2 hours to get to 90% and three hours to get to 100%. That’s so impressive. Alright, so we’ve covered the three major features, but there’s one more that I think is impressive. In the front of the unit, there is this button that lets you pair the unit with Wi-Fi, and there’s a nice EcoFlow app you can download for free in the App Store, and it’s essentially very similar in concept to the app for the Goal Zero Yeti. It lets you see the current input and output power and the state of charge and turn it on and off.
EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station App
The AC and DC plug and the light and do several settings that aren’t available on the unit itself. As far as controlling things about the AC and other preferences, the X-Boost is controlled inside the AC section. You can turn the River Pro on and off from there. Underneath the battery section, you can adjust the state of charge to say I only want this to charge to 80% to prolong the life. Under the system, you can control the standby time, the LCD turn-off time, and temperature units, and I think the thing here that’s most interesting is the quiet charging feature. What that essentially does is turns off that high-speed charging. So instead of charging at 620 watts, you’ll be charging closer to 100 watts. And if you’re not in a hurry, I would strongly recommend doing that because you’ll get a much higher cycle count out of this unit if you don’t charge it so aggressively.
EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station Performance
So using my hand heat gun, we will test this inverter to its limits. First of all, I wanted to shut off X-Boost and see what the inverter could do by itself, and the beauty of the heat gun is it does have a dial on it, so that’s why you see a lot of people testing with these things. You can slowly ramp up the power and see where things break, so we’re going for maximum output. We begin at 400 watts, and you’ll notice that it jumps around a lot if you look at the display. So, like many other units, I feel like the AC output is not super accurate on the front of the unit. That’s why I’m using this meter, and so now we’re at 800 watts, so we’re beyond the 600 watts nominal here. It’s still going strong, and then I started creeping up to 1000 watts.
Well, I think we hit the limits here. The overload started to blink, and it pretty quickly shut down after that after just a couple of seconds, and the meter tells me that we were able to get a peak output of 1030 watts out of this thing. So, it’s a little shy of the 1200 watts peak, but I tested it a few times and ended up with pretty similar results. In my experience, this thing could very solidly run something in the 600 and even 750-Watt range pretty much indefinitely. However, it was pretty reliably going to shut down when you hit 1000 watts, so I think they say it’s 600 watts on the nominal rating. This is very comfortably 700 or 750 watts of output, which is excellent, so it overperformed its rating.
But I think on the peak side of things without X-Boost on, EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station does shut down closer to 1000 watts. I also wanted to test a few things around the house. So I have my whole setup for running my fridge from a generator, so I took that plug and flipped over my fridge to use that generator circuit, and surprisingly I was able to run my full-size fridge for hours with no problem. This could go full power for something like a mixer and have no issues whatsoever. The motor seems very happy. And the last test, which many things fail at, is the coffee machine. So, we have an espresso machine. I didn’t think this little solar generator could handle it, but surprisingly it did. I made a few coffees on this thing with zero problems. So far, this thing worked well with X-Boost off, but it did have hard limits. Anything over 1000 watts would cause it to trip.
When I started testing this with my small Vornado space heater, it would overload; it could not handle the load even on low settings. And this, I think, is precisely the reason why X-Boost exists. So essentially, it lets you use an appliance that would usually 100% trip the breakers on this thing, but in a limited capacity. As soon as I turned X -Boost on, I was able to turn the space heater on and low, and it worked fine. It pulled about 600 watts. So, I put it on high settings, and it used 580 watts or 590 watts. But I did notice that the heater didn’t work quite the same way, so on low, it seemed to work generally OK, pretty similar to normal on high. What it did is the fan speed dropped quite a bit. And it got me wondering what the heck is going on here? So, I switched to voltage mode on my meter and started turning up the heater. And as soon as I did that with X-Boost on, the voltage dropped a lot. It went from 120 volts to 78. And I repeated the test with my heat gun, and I got very similar results. And in fact, the higher I turned up the heat gun I was able to get the voltage to drop almost to 60 volts. That’s half the voltage this appliance needs to run now. It did still run, but it was running very, very slowly.
I was getting a heat, and it was working. The EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station wasn’t tripping the overload. But at what cost? You could probably damage specific sensitive equipment by changing the voltage this much. I would say use this in an emergency and only use it for things like resistive heat. I recommend just leaving X-Boost off on your EcoFlow River Pro portable power station and only turning it on if you need it. That way, you know you have clean 120 Volt power all the time.
Next, I wanted to see the capacity of the battery. How much power can you pull through AC? So, to do this, I dialed in power to about 150 watts, which means that this will discharge the 740 Watt-hour battery in about 5 hours. And when I did this test with the Goal Zero and Bluetti units, I got about 80% of the rated power through AC. With the EcoFlow River Pro, I got 541-Watt hours which is 75% of the rated output. That could be because they hold more battery in reserve, or the inverter isn’t quite as efficient. So, I would say it’s OK but not a great result.
That was for the EcoFlow River Pro by itself. Let’s see how it performs with the external battery. I charged them back to 100 percent and did the same output test. And in this case, I had the output be about 250 watts because we have a much larger battery here that we’re testing, and I’ve got 1128-Watt hours which is 78% of the rated power, so a little bit better. One thing I wanted to try, too, is how is the power drawn when you have both of these connections, and what I’ve found out is if I start with both of these at 100 and apply a load, the River Pro fully discharges before it starts dipping into the external battery. I’d assumed it would be the opposite, and it would drain the external battery first, but that’s how it works.
Solar Charging Performance for EcoFlow River Pro
Let’s look at DC charging, and we’ll start with solar. I always test this on a cloudy day because it’s always cloudy now. In this case, the EcoFlow River Pro can only handle 25 volts of solar input, so I have three 100-Watt solar panels, and I’m using the parallel connectors to connect three of them in parallel and stay at 25 volts. I was interested to see because this is technically over the limits that this is designed for because according to these specs, this thing can only handle 12 amps or 200 watts.
So, what happens when you plug 300 watts of solar panels into the unit?
Is it going to start a fire? Is it on a tripping overload? Alright, so there you go. If you put the solar panels in there, it will limit itself to 200 watts. It won’t overload and has no problems at all; it just takes what it needs, and to confirm that, I use the Bluetti B150 that can handle more solar input and verify with the same conditions. I got 220 watts, so it does limit to 200 watts, 25 volts, but it works well.
Charging Via Car Charging Cable
You can also charge your EcoFlow River Pro through the car charging cable. So, one side plugs into the unit, the other into the standard cigarette lighter, and as part of my test rig. I just have this lithium iron phosphate battery that is a proxy for my car, and I plug that in and let’s see if it works. This does not always work with different chargers. The Bluettie can’t handle this kind of scenario, and with EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station, I got even 100 watts of DC input.
That got me thinking. Could I use other solar generators as a source for this? This, again, doesn’t work that well. I’ve tried this in the past with my Goal Zero Yeti 1000. Plug the cable into the DC output, and yet again, I got around 100 watts; 91 watts in this case, probably because Goal Zero has an unregulated DC output. So if I use the cable, I get a total of 100 watts. It’s a shame you need to use it at all, but that’s Goal Zero for you. And just for fun, I thought I’d try this with some other units, so plugging this into the work is like a charm, and I got 100 watts out of that. So, then I figured I’d try the Bluettie AC 50, which is a significantly smaller unit with a slightly weaker DC output.
That also worked great. So, you probably wondering why am I even doing this? What’s the point of these kinds of tests? Long story short, charging a lithium-based solar generator can be tricky in a caring environment because of the lower internal resistance of a lithium battery. It can pull a lot of currents quickly, and what this is proving is that there are internal electronics to limit this to only 100 watts of the draw, which should be very safe for pretty much any car situation. So far, this is the best and safest charging set I’ve seen.
Comparison EcoFlow River Pro Vs. Bluettie B150
So how does the river pro stack up against some of these other solar generators that I’ve tested? Well, it’s tricky because this one sits exactly in between what I’d consider a mid-size solar generator like the Bluettie AC50 and a full-sized solar generator like the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 and the Bluetti B150. You’re in the market for a mid-size solar generator like the JACKERY 500, Bluetti AC 50, or AC 50S, and it is a perfect choice. It was very inexpensive. It usually sells below $500, and the River Pro again is $600. The exciting thing about the River Pro is that it’s roughly the same size and weight as this, but it has a 50% larger battery, and the inverter is twice as fast.
The wall charging is six times faster, and the USB C output is 100 watts versus 45. So, the only thing the Bluetti has on this thing is the price and the wireless charging. So, how does the River Pro compare to a full-size solar generator like the Bluetti EB150 in this case? I think it’s only fair to add the expansion battery to the River Pro, so together, those cost $1050; the Bluetti EB150, which I consider the best value right now on sale, is $1300.
So the EcoFlow River Pro is cheaper, and the only thing that the Bluettie has in terms of specs that are better is a very slightly larger battery at 1500 Watt-hours versus 1440. It uses higher quality LG pouch cells with a higher cycle count, but otherwise, the River Pro has this thing beat. It has a USB-C that’s twice as powerful. It has a card charger, which is impossible with the Bluettie, and the wall charger is three times faster. And let’s not forget that the display on the EcoFlow is significantly better than the Bluettie.
Comparison EcoFlow River Pro Vs. Goal Zero Yeti 1000
And lastly, compared to Goal Zero Yeti 1000, this thing has its beat in every area. Obviously, on the price, it’s significantly cheaper. It has a regulated DC output and MPT charging built-in, which the Yeti has. The wall charging is like 7 or 8 times faster than the Yeti, and it also has a much larger capacity at 1440-Watt hours versus 1000-Watt hours. The Yeti also requires a particular car charging cable that will set you back an additional $40, and it doesn’t honestly work as well as the built-in one in the River Pro. The significant advantage, of course, with the Yetis, is the inverter is probably double or even triple the capacity of the River Pro.
My Verdict on EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station
I came away quite impressed with the Ecoflow River Pro. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, and I think the real kicker here is this combines the value that you get with something like Bluettie with the higher quality design and construction that I would typically associate with Goal Zero. So, it’s the one-two punch of being an excellent value and a great design. And even though it does have an expandable battery that gives it a capacity of 1440 Watt-hours, I still think this is generally an inverter-wise, a mid-sized solar generator. If this had a much stronger inverter that maybe could handle up to 1500 watts, this thing would be the perfect package.
The only other knit I have is the expansion port, and the cable is a little awkward; it’s just a little too long and a little too stiff, and I can’t figure out the best way to arrange these units. In some ways, I wish EcoFlow stacked the expansion battery like some of the previous generations of EcoFlow products. But you know, all of these are nitpicking. The expansion battery works as advertised. The Super-fast wall charger at over 600 watts works amazingly well. The X-Boost is available, although it’s the feature I’m probably not going to use very much, and overall I like it. It’s a great value. It’s a great package, and I strongly recommend it. I’m looking forward to maybe viewing the EcoFlow Delta next. Alright, everyone, that’s it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment below.