Over the past year we’ve seen more and more portable power stations hit the local market, including the latest River 2 from EcoFlow. These power stations are truly a gateway to a bit of sanity during load shedding, with something as mundane as being able to power your TV setup while the lights are out making a massive difference to your mental state.
Made from hardened plastic, when it comes to look and feel, the EcoFlow River 2 is well designed and snazzy looking, with an appearance which doesn’t look out of place alongside the latest tech.
There’s nothing complicated about this River 2. Plug the 3.5 kg unit in, connect the device you want to power into the front facing three-point adapter, or recharge things like smartphones through the 2x regular USB ports and one USB-C port. When loadshedding hits, it immediately switches over to the reserve power, without interrupting your current Netflix binge. So far, so good, but this can be found on a lot of other power stations too. So, what sets the River 2 apart?
It’s the battery
A big benefit of the River 2 is the use of the LiFePO4 battery inside. Considered more stable than Li-ion batteries, the lifespan of these batteries is what elevates it to the next level.
South Africa’s load shedding problems can make mincemeat out of rechargeable batteries, just ask those who recently had to replace gel-batteries for their inverters after only a year or two.
EcoFlow puts the charge and discharge cycle of the LiFePO4 battery at 3000 times. In their more considered usage model, the company notes 3000 full 100% cycles will last 9.6 years if you’re using the River 2 six times a week (it drops to 80% after that). In local terms that’s roughly speaking about three years of perpetual Stage 6 load shedding.
With the higher load shedding schedules also comes the challenge of recharging batteries in time for the next slot. The River 2 goes from zero to hero in one hour through regular AC charging, but actually doing so in less than 55 minutes. Plus there’s also the option to charge via USB Type-C, a car charger (with charging cable included) or using a solar charging panel (R6 199).
Recharging is kept comfortably quiet, with no noise most of the time and bursts of roughly 45 dB (pretty much the sound inside a library). It’s similar when in use, which is a massive benefit if you’ve ever had to deal with the noise level of larger inverter trolley solutions.
How much power do you get?
The River 2 is rated at 265 Wh, which in practical terms provided in the region of 5½ hours when keeping a notebook and 24” monitor powered, and close to three hours for an entertainment setup consisting of a 40” TV, smartbox and soundbar (not quite making the four hour stretch of level 6). It was even used to power the washing machine when a cycle was interrupted by load shedding.
The amount of time left to power your setup is displayed on the small LCD screen, alongside the battery percentage left and input and output. Too lazy to get up? You can also check out the state of your River 2 on the EcoFlow app, which pretty much displays the same info at the LCD screen, with the ability to update the firmware of your unit through here too.
Load shedding relief
For R6 000, EcoFlow provides a premium looking device with the River 2, which includes a LiFePO4 battery, app connectivity and portability to match. Its quiet nature is a big benefit, but even more so is the one hour recharge time and the life cycle of the LiFePO4 battery. Perhaps the cherry on the top is the 5-year warranty that EcoFlow provides locally for the River 2.
You might require more inputs or more battery capacity, but for these types of power stations, that usually requires an upgrade to a higher priced model.
DISCLOSURE: The EcoFlow River 2 was received from the company for testing purposes and not returned.