Portable batteries are not a new concept to the tech-savvy consumer. I probably carry three or four of them with me on top of an iPhone charging case to every tech show that I go to. The reason portable power has become such a popping market is because it’s something that every single consumer needs, whether the like it or not. And that alone is enough to make the EcoFlow River Mobile Power Station an easy product to pitch.
In 2018, it’s not uncommon to see someone walking around with a smartphone in their hand, a pair of Bluetooth headphones covering their ears, a smartwatch or fitness band on their wrist, and a laptop or tablet tucked away in the backpack that they’re wearing. That right there adds up to four different pieces of technology that run on battery power—and we’re not even talking about heavy tech users. Eventually during the day those products are going to need to be plugged in to ensure continued, uninterrupted use.
For a majority of consumers, plugging those devices in at night may be enough to get them by. That’s fine, but that’s also not what EcoFlow had in mind with the River.
This product is a versatile, portable product that essentially serves as your personal generator for all of your electronics when you’d otherwise be unable to access a standard power source. Think along the lines of a weekend camping trip with friends or family, or—if you’re a photographer or with a video crew—you’re out in the field on a shoot. Those are two specific and very different circumstances, but in both, power sources may come few and far between. When camping, you might have the car outlets, but those only provide so much juice and are limited in number. A video crew can literally be anywhere and its standard operating procedure to carry a near-unlimited supply of extra batteries for cameras.
EcoFlow’s River Mobile Power Station has 114,000mAh at 3.6V. In plain English, that’s a poop-ton of power. To give you an idea of what that much power can accomplish, at 100 percent, the River is capable of charging a standard smartphone from dead to a full charge more than 30 times. It can charge a regular GoPro camera more than 80 times. River can power a minifridge for more than 10 hours. It can keep a projector running for more than 10 hours. And it can recharge a laptop somewhere between five and nine times depending on the battery capacity.
That’s a ton of power.
However, with that much power comes
great responsibility a bit of sticker shock. The EcoFlow River runs at $699.99 (it was $100 off at the time of this posting through the EcoFlow website). While that seems excessive, it needs to be put in a bit of context. When you’re out or online looking at other external battery packs, you’ll see some in the low-10s-of-thousands mAh range that run anywhere from $60-$80 easy. Now, do some quick math and figure out how much that product would cost at 114,000 mAh. You’re probably somewhere in the ballpark of what EcoFlow is charging.
And with that price tag, you’re getting a product that has more charging ports than you’re going to know what to do with (it can charge 11 products at a time) and the ability to handle a wide range of temperature conditions (-4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit). So, while it’s not a product intended for everyday use, the EcoFlow River can at least help a consumer or their family/team stay charged at all times.
One concern with the River, which is a normal concern with all Lithium-ion batteries, is that its charging capacity will degrade over time. According to EcoFlow, the user will get roughly 500 cycles at 100 percent—which they called a "conservative estimate." By 1,000 cycles, you'll be down to around 80 percent charge capacity. That's just something we're going to have to deal with with these products until a new type of battery technology becomes mainstream.