Modern life is uncomfortably dependent on electricity. Sure, if the power goes out, you might be able to live without your TV for an hour, but you’ll immediately go into panic mode when your cell phone dies. The seriousness escalates if you have sleep apnea and are unable to use your CPAP machine, or if you work at home and are dependent on your computer to pay your bills. So, is the EcoFlow RIVER mini Wireless Portable Power Station powerful enough to come to the rescue and handle your more critical needs? Or is it an over-glorified battery backup for your phone that’ll simply allow you to finish that Minecraft mega mansion before a mob comes and destroys it? (#FirstWorldProblems) Let’s find out.
I might be showing my age here… but I remember one time thinking how cool it was that we had a portable black and white (tube) tv bungee-strapped to the table in my family’s custom van. It was mind blowing. Who’d ever think it possible that we could be watching a very staticky Lou Ferrigno tear off his shirt and roar as the Incredible Hulk as my dad drove around town at 40 miles per hour? We were living on the high-tech edge. I was so proud. My dad was too. After all, he had to jerry-rig a connection between the van battery, a power inverter, and the tv. “Hey kids, someday we’ll be able to call people from a phone in the van too.” Then we all laughed. After all, where would we find a cord long enough?
Fast forward 40-some-odd years.
Not only can we now make phone calls and watch tv from our 4K 5G iPhones from the van, er, SUV, the Hulk has been redone about a hundred times. Welcome to the future.
While we’ve cut the cords on our phones, we’ve replaced them with leashes, becoming more and more dependent on all things tech. Unfortunately, Nikola Tesla’s ideas and inventions on free and unlimited energy for all mankind disappeared with him when he died. (Well, “disappeared”… that’s a subject for another article). When there’s no power, we are powerless.
That’s what brings us to today’s review of the EcoFlow RIVER mini Wireless Portable Power Station. Has EcoFlow hit the treasured sweet spot between capacity and size? Looking at the size of the unopened EcoFlow box in front of me, I would guess that it’s quite probable. Let’s open it, shall we?
Inside the gray logo-engraved box, the peripherals include an AC charging cable, a car charging cable, and a solar charging cable. Also included is a quick start guide (oddly enough, it was totally sealed in plastic. I had to get scissors to cut it open. Not complaining… I just never had to actually work to get to the manual before. Seems like they’d make access to that be the easiest thing to do since most don’t read instructions like they should. I’m going to assume it was an unusual one-off.)
On pulling the RIVER mini out (to save my lazy fingers from typing more than I have to, I’m going to refer to this as the EcoFlow or RIVER mini), I had to think to myself, “Wait. This is a battery? It looks really nice!” (And yes, I know, technically this is more than just a battery. Work with me here.)
The EcoFlow has a really nice shiny black finish that I discovered later could be one of the only very minor issues… it’s very smudge worthy. For me, I would deduct like half a point out of a hundred for that. To me, it’s no big deal at all. But I’m putting it out there for those of you out here who may have an OCD thing about this kind of thing. To me, it looks great – fingerprints, dust, and all. As long as it works; that’s all I care about. Just the fact that it looks so nice in general is a bonus.
Examining every side, my first thought is, “man, this thing has lots of places to plug stuff”. How about 8 devices, simultaneously?!! Looking at the EcoFlow site, apparently it can handle it. Sweet… Mental note: I’ll have to try that out later. I counted two AC wall outlets, one DC car outlet, three USB-A ports and a USB-C fast-charge port. Wait. That’s seven. Oh yeah… don’t forget the “Wireless” part of the name… the top surface is made to rest your Qi wireless charging compatible phone. There we go, eight devices.
On the front is an integrated display screen, which is intuitively designed, showing the remaining hours of charge, the current capacity in percentage, the input and output in watts, etc. Below that is your on/off button, which also doubles as your display on/off button as well, which later in the review I will forget to use. There’s a little teaser for ya. I noticed that there are independent on/off buttons for the outlet sets as well, preventing you from accidentally draining power from a plugged in device that you aren’t intending to use. I thought that was a nice touch and evidence that EcoFlow has really put a lot of thought into maximizing this product’s performance.
The back of this has an indentation about halfway up that acts as an integrated grab handle. It’s sufficient for the job, but as I walked with this in my hand up the stairs to my bedroom for the test you’ll read about below, I did get a little worried that I could accidentally drop it. Mind you, I had no trouble holding it, but I think that holding this for an extended walk could result in a loss of grip, so just be aware. I do believe that handling this product for such an extended amount of time is rarely going to happen, so this could be a non-issue. Personally, even though I understand why they designed it this way, I think a regular handle would be a good idea.
This EcoFlow is also TINY. Weighing in at just over 6 pounds, this is one emergency power supply that is truly portable. (It’d be even more portable with that regular handle.)
I turned this on before charging it. I was curious how much capacity it would have straight out of the box. Mind you, I actually had this product over a month unopened before this point. Upon turning it on for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the integrated display showed it to still be at 30% capacity – 12 hours of juice.
One more thing to note: EcoFlow has an app that allows people to control, monitor, and even automate the power consumption of their RIVER mini (and other EcoFlow products) remotely and on a more granular level.
As far as first impressions go, I was convinced that, if the RIVER mini worked as good as it appears that it was designed to work, this would be a very positive review.
My first test of the RIVER mini was charging my very old Apple iPhone 6 Plus, which I drained to zero. Once the EcoFlow is on, in order to charge via the USB ports, you must press a second button that is located below the USB ports. This little feature prevents you from inadvertently draining power through these ports when you don’t want to, such as when you’re perhaps charging something bigger through one of the other charging ports.
Upon plugging the phone in, the Mini calculated and displayed an estimate of five hours to fully charge the phone, I thought this seemed a little high but I figured that this estimate was probably simply inaccurate as it was indeed the first device I would be charging. Sure enough, my phone hit 100% in about two hours or so. I would imagine that, with time and use, the charging times will be more and more accurate.
Speaking of charging phones, this would be a good time to again highlight the fact that this particular model, the wireless version, has a 15W Qi wireless charging system integrated into the top. Obviously, my 6 Plus isn’t going to be able to take advantage of this feature, but hey… I think it’s enough of an excuse to finally upgrade my phone. What do you think?
Test number one was done and EcoFlow did great.
As I mention at the outset of this review, being able to charge more “critical” items is what separates the emergency phone chargers from the must have powerhouse. So, the question of the day – will this charge something like a CPAP machine?
For those of you who don’t know what a CPAP machine is, this is a medical device that enables people with sleep apnea to be able to breathe while sleeping. I happen to have a severe form that causes me to literally stop breathing many times per hour throughout the night. Without this machine, any night of sleep is a terrible (and dangerous) one. Where I live, we have to worry about hurricanes that can knock out the power. No power, no machine, no sleep.
Before this big test, I needed to charge it. Let me just say that I was blown away just how fast this charged! The RIVER mini charges from zero to 80% in an hour and 100% in an hour and a half. You can charge it also from your car in three and a half hours. 100 W of solar panels will take three to five hours to charge it, according to the EcoFlow website. The only small complaint I had on this topic was the cover for the power input used to charge the RIVER mini. The cover sealed over the plugs very tightly. It wouldn’t open with my fingers or fingernail, so I had to use a butter knife to pop it open. I’d love to see that open a little easier. Again, a minor observation, but I do hope they can make some adjustments there.
This test made me surprisingly nervous. If the EcoFlow did well, I’d be absolutely thrilled because I’ve always wanted reserve emergency power for the hurricane nights. But if it didn’t, it would surely be a disappointment. To be honest, I was a little pessimistic. After all, the RIVER mini was so small… it just didn’t look like something that could do more than power a laptop or charge a few phones. Sure, it had a couple regular plugs on it in addition to the USB ports, and even one of those cigarette lighter sockets for things that get charged through the car, but my CPAP machine does a lot of work, forcing air into me at a quite high pressure for 8 hours at a time.
Frankly, I was prepared for my machine to not even turn on, let alone keep me sleeping soundly all night. If nothing else, I was prepared to wake up gasping for air a few hours in with the machine as dead as the battery. So the question now was, how would it do?
The first good sign was the fact that it even turned on. Ok, I thought, so the worst case scenario during a hurricane and no power – hopefully I can get at least a little sleep. Good start. I noticed too that there was absolutely no noise from it at all coming from the EcoFlow. Looks like the EcoFlow is the strong, silent type. Nice.
With that, I put on the breathing mask that makes me look like Snuffleupagus (Trust me, not a good look), thought “here goes nothing”, and went to bed.
Sometime, in the middle of the night, I woke up. Wow… the machine was still working! I closed my eyes and went back to whatever weird dream I was having that night.
The next morning, I woke up with a similar level of refreshment and restoration as I do any other full-powered CPAP night. That’s the point. It wasn’t a toss and turn type of sleepless night. I didn’t even have to get up and unplug the machine from the battery and into the wall at 2 am. I realized that I had not disabled the screen and so it displayed all night (which further drains the battery). Even so, and the most amazing part, according to the screen, I still had 29% capacity left (FOUR hours if I was using the CPAP machine)! In other words, I could STILL charge my phone and my laptop for the day if I needed to. Amazing.
All I can say is that I was sincerely beyond impressed and happy with its performance. At first, I was skeptical that it could handle my sleep needs. I mean, the EcoFlow is so small. The wrong assumption was that there had to have been a compromise in capacity in order to design this to have such a convenient size. What more can I say? I just may need to get myself a second one… I’m definitely a new EcoFlow fan. I’m now a believer in the fact that big things can certainly come in little packages.
If it’s not obvious by now, I’m 110% sold on the EcoFlow. Let me sum up why:
I have some great news that I just heard direct from EcoFlow. You could always get your RIVER mini on their Official Amazon Store… but right now, they are running some awesome Valentine’s Day deals. I’m not kidding, these are really, really good deals! I’m looking at the website right now and some of the discounts are pretty crazy. The holiday deals involve the portable power stations such as the RIVER (yes, including the RIVER mini) and DELTA series, the Wave Portable Air Conditioner (hmmmm… that sounds like a PERFECT hurricane survival item to look at next), and solar panels. We’re talking some crazy savings, like up to $700! Oh, and the bundle products also come with a free camping light. Nice.
Seriously, I’m not just saying this… The EcoFlow RIVER mini Portable Power Station is AWESOME. If you’re dependent on electricity, as I’d imagine you are, then you’ll want, no, NEED to have one. Click on these two links to check out the huge savings on the Valentine’s Day Sale for both the RIVER mini and many more of their products. (You might as well enjoy the free camping light too by getting a bundle!)
I just had a crazy thought. Picture me during the next hurricane-induce power outage. My neighbors are eating dry crackers or MREs. Not me and my wife. I’ll plug my sous vide into my EcoFlow and we’ll enjoy a couple perfect medium-rare ribeye steaks. After dinner, we’ll watch a Netflix movie as our phones charge. Next, I’ll finish writing my next review on my laptop. Then, with the power still out, I’ll go to bed and get a nice peaceful night‘s sleep, you know, with that second EcoFlow I plan to now get.
Guys, I love my job reviewing consumer products… and now, I totally love EcoFlow too.
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