The compact ECOFLOW RIVER MAX electric generator is an ideal take-anywhere power source. It also includes a powerful and highly efficient 110w solar panel that helps keep it topped up.
This battery, solar panel combo is simple to set up and use and provides plenty of power options for USB and AC.
There are a few small issues with the capacity and design. 600W, whilst good for a smaller shoot, is just a little underpowered to keep lights and camera rolling all day, or at least when you’re drawing power for computer processing as well.
However, the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX does come app-enabled, which means that it’s easy to check charge and power draw and activate X-Boost.
X-Boost makes this electric generator stand out; switched on, it changes the power draw limit from 600W to 1800W, making a huge difference to the devices that can be plugged in.
Ultimately the Ecoflow Max looks incredibly well and along with the solar panel creates an ideal on site power source. However, some functionality doesn’t match the great-looking design. Still, for smaller shoots or power away from the mains, this little 600W generator isn’t at all bad.
110W solar panel
Easy to use
AC power button covered by a plug
The solar stand is not the greatest design
UK Plug orientation means that sometimes only one device can be plugged in
What is ECOFLOW River MAX?
The ECOFLOW RIVER MAX is one of a new range of solar panel electric generator combos that were originally marketed at the outdoor market. However, their use extends well beyond a bit of camping, and the power of a decent electrical generator will help keep lights and cameras rolling throughout a days shoot.
The ECOFLOW RIVER Max is one of the smaller generators out there at 600W; that’s enough for a small shoot or recharging your batteries whilst driving from one location to another.
What makes the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX stand out is the superb intelligent LCD that delivers plenty of information to gauge how much power you have left or how long it’ll take before the battery is fully topped up. Then there’s the fully featured App which gives you a good overview of the battery condition, uses and charge and finally, there’s X-Boost which is incredibly handy if you have devices that need that little bit of extra power.
The ECOFLOW RIVER MAX looks grea and provides all the features that make it worthy of consideration for any jobbing photographer or videographer, at least on smaller jobs where batteries alone are not enough.
Capacity : 576Wh
Output : 800w 1800w with X-Boost
Charging : AC, Solar, Car
App Support : ECOFLOW APP
Total power outlets : 10
Solar Charing : 200W max
Weight : 7.7kg
Dimensions : 29 x 18.5 x 25cm
WiFi : yes
Build and Handling
The ECOFLOW RIVER MAX comes in two parts, the electrical generator and the solar panel.
Starting with the solar panel and instantly as you unzip the supplied case, you can feel the high quality of the product. The fabric case is well finished and made from tough matte grey material with a sealed zip around the edge to help keep moisture away from the panel when in storage.
Unzipping fully, the bag has one soft and one hard side; this design enables the bag to be used as a stand. A carabiner at each edge connects to the panel to make it stand at 45º or thereabouts when unfolded.
The panel reflects the bag’s quality and consists of four connected sections. In contrast to the quality design of the main panels, the connecting wires are slightly DIY in appearance and connection.
These wires are mounted on the top front edge and look a little DIY; there’s also no way to pack them away neatly; they just get stuffed back into the bag when you’ve finished.
When it comes to setting up, the four carabiners attached to the bag are designed to hook into the top and bottom of the solar panel. There are eyelets placed at positions across the panel to enable you to do this. As an alternative, you could use these eyelets to rope the panel onto your 4×4, whichever takes your fancy at the time.
Connecting in the carabiners is a little fiddly and feels like a DIY process that has made it through the production process. It works, but it doesn’t feel like the neatest solution. Once set up and the wires are connected, the panel can then be connected to the generator.
The ECOFLOW RIVER MAX is a compact solution, and while relatively heavy, the large plastic top handle makes it extremely easy to transport.
What instantly strikes you about the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX is the level of product design that has gone into the unit. It looks great and has plenty of flashing lights and a big screen that lets you know exactly what is happening.
For the most part, the design works well; the power buttons, main, AC and DC are all small and discrete and a quick push of the one you want the sockets fire into life, ready for use.
The amount of sockets, two AC mains style plugs, is ideal for most small productions and through this test, I used those to power two Rotolight ANOVA lights, a camera and chargers.
The two AC plugs are mounted on the side of the pack, but annoyingly, when the front socket is plugged in, it covers the AC power button; this means that you need to power it on before you plugin. Of course, this is a small issue, but if the socket were rotated, this issue wouldn’t exist.
The biggest visual feature is the LCD on the front; this is by far the best read-out of these solar generators that I have seen to date. Like other generators, it shows the charge left, the charge going in and out, but it also gives you timings. So if you are charging, it will let you know how long it will take in the present conditions before the battery is fully topped up.
Likewise, if you have a MacBook, camera and a few other devices plugged in, you can see the power draw. For instance, a MacBook Pro i9 16-inch will draw just over 100w, which will give you four to five hours of use depending on overheating – a MacBook Pro M1 Pro will draw so small an amount of power’s hardly worth noting.
This read-out is handy when you’re on a shoot and need to know how much battery life you have for your lights and other gear.
Alongside the direct on generator buttons, you can connect to the App to monitor the charge and draw from each of the different devices. This alone is fascinating.
One option that is really worth noting is the X-Boost. This enables a power boost up to 1800W of the draw rather than the standard 600W. This means that power tools, heaters and some larger appliances can be plugged in.
On first setting yo the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX for a charge, I was slightly concerned that the single panel supplied would be underwhelming when it came to charging potential, despite its 110W rating.
However, plugged in, the numbers showing the power inflow charge quickly started to climb and reached the low 100s quickly. This is impressive, and while lower than the two-panel systems I had running by its side, there was only a 25W difference.
This showed that the ECOFLOW panel is extremely efficient and that the speed of the charge reflected efficiency. A complete charge from 6% to 100% took five hours. Considering that we’re in late March, and while it’s sunny, it’s cold, and there’s still quite a bit of cloud around, I was impressed.
Setup in the garden was easy enough, but on location, the small carabina design of the bag as a stand started to annoy me. In the end, I just popped the panel on the car window screen when the battery needed a top-up.
The LCD screen and App were a real highlight of the design, and being able to dip in and out of seeing the top-up speed and charge was a definite advantage.
Like other electrical generators, there is a limit on the amount of electrical draw that can be drained at any one time, 600w or 1800W with X-Boost, but the amount of devices through hubs and extension cables is not. I used a four-way AC plug adapter to run the camera and lights while batteries charged through the DC sockets.
X-Boost makes a big difference to the use of this small unit, and twice in colder locations, it was used to quickly power a space heater at just over 1000W. While the charge from the battery went down when on full power at a startling rate turned to quater power it was enough to heat the space for the hour duration of the shoot.
Like other generators, the large carry handle makes the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX easy to manoeuver. While this unit at 600W is smaller than other generators I have looked at, it was just about enough for smaller half-day shoots.
Filming from 9 am through to 1 pm, the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX worked with two ANOVA lights, a Sony FS7, and various other devices plugged in and removed over the duration. By the end of the shoot, there was a little trickle of charge left at 6% – but ultimately, the generator had performed well and provided the power consistently and without a glitch.
The ECOFLOW RIVER MAX is one of the best looking solar generators out there from the panel to the generator itself. It looks great with the Matte grey and black finish, lights and large informative LCD screen.
However, it does feel like the product designers have taken over from the engineers to a certain degree, with the AC power button being obscured by a device’s power cable when plugged in and the slightly makeshift and fiddly carry case, albeit very high quality.
These two small, and I mean small, aspects aside, the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX is a great power solution for smaller productions. Firstly, the size and weight make it easier to transport than some larger packs, such as the Jackery Explorer 1000W.
The smaller size does mean a sacrifice in capacity, but while that charge is smaller, the X-Boost does mean it can power much larger devices than many larger electric generators.
After a month of testing this generator out in the field my feelings towards it are slightly mixed. The position of the AC power button is annoying, and the bag / stand design is a faff.
However, these points are out weighed by the performance. The solar panel charges the battery at a relatively fast rate and the out put power is enough to power camera and video equipment for a good half day shoot.
The two big features that really won me over with the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX are the APP and X-Boost. Firstly the App just enabled me to easily see what was going on with the ECOFLOW system, how much power devices were charging and enabled me to manage what was plugged in to make the most of the power available. The MacBook Pro i9 for instance was drawing 50W when not in use and 110W or more in use, so was unplugged when not being used which saved huge amounts of power.
X-Boost was the other feature that came into play – being able to plug in and use a heater was a huge advantage and while the power didn’t last long it was ultimately worth its weight in gold for the heat that is created.
I really like the ECOFLOW RIVER MAX, it’s a great unit and has plenty going for it. If you shoot on location and only need to power lights and charge the camera and phone then this is a great solution. But, I would spend that little bit extra and go for the larger MAX PLUS Edition with its 720Wh capacity. That little bit of additional capacity will make a huge difference.
We noticed you're using an Adblocker. We're three photographers who do this because it's our passion. It's the ads that keep this site going and help us pay our bills. If you like our content, please consider turning your Adblock software off!