The EcoFlow River 600 Max was set to be the best small solar generator to hit the market in a very long time. Did the River 600 Max accomplish that? Is it better than the Jackery Explorer 500 solar generator? Is the EcoFlow River 600 Max safe to use? All of that will be put to rest in this full review.
The EcoFlow River 600 Max launched on IndieGoGo and looked amazing but when influencers on YouTube started getting their test units things were not adding up to be very good.
The prototype model was different from the current model of the River Max. The River 600 Max had a light gray-colored body and an aqua blue handle. However, the production model that is available right now has a dark gray body and a light gray handle. Some basic features are different between the two generations such as the ability to link many units together which you could do with the prototype. But other than that they are pretty much the same.
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To be clear, there are technically two different options when purchasing the EcoFlow River. There is either the EcoFlow River 600 or the EcoFlow River 600 Max. The only one worth getting is the EcoFlow River 600 Max.
The Max edition comes with an expansion battery that brings the total battery capacity up to 572wh. The basic version only has 288wh which is not very much at all.
Also, to be clear, the EcoFlow River 600 Max is not going to be a good unit for emergency preparedness, backup power, RV power or anything like that. This is meant to be a very basic and portable unit that is good for charging on the go. It will charge laptops, drones, phones, speakers, or run equipment like lighting, fans, speakers, DC fridges, and so on.
The battery isn’t large enough to handle larger tasks like running a fridge for very long. It is capable of running a fridge because it has a 600w inverter, but the battery will only last about 5 to 6 hours before the battery will be empty.
Maybe you could run a fridge if you use an outlet timer and had 200w of solar panels connected to the River 600 Max, but it should not be used for that purpose in my opinion. It’s not built for that.
Adding the second battery to the River 600 is very easy. By simply screwing in 4 screws the extra battery slips into place under the main unit, then replace the screws and you are good to go. There’s no extra calibrating or anything that needs to be done to add the extra battery.
One very nice feature about the River 600 Max is that the battery is capable of running 600w non-stop until it hits 0%. You can see this test my in my full detailed review video here:
One of the best features of the EcoFlow River 600 Max battery is that it will hold a charge for up to 12 months on the shelf. That is a very long time when compared to other small units like the Bluetti AC50 and ACOPOWER PS500. Even many larger solar generators will not hold a charge for up to a year. Many say that they must be charged every 6 months or even every 3 months.
The Titan is the largest and best solar generator available and that will hold a charge for up to 5 years. But the Titan is really in a different class of solar generators.
The River 600 Max is UL listed and has all the expected protection levels such as overload protection, short circuit protection, and so on. But, in my video and my review of the EcoFlow River 600 Max I actually had my first unit catch on fire! Well, not a full-fledge fire but it did get fried and was smoking pretty bad.
After trying to run a load of laundry the River 600 Max would not reset and work again. I tried resetting it multiple times and eventually decided to put it on the wall charger. For some reason, when I did that, the circuit in my house’s electrical panel flipped. I flipped the breaker back and when I came back into my office where I was recharging the unit, smoke was coming out of it!
I very quickly ran outside with it and put it on a non-burnable surface and waited to see what would happen. Luckily, nothing else did, but the unit was now dead.
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It turns out that I had done a “heavy discharge” even though it did not run for very long or very hard. EcoFlow is very specific and says that after doing a heavy discharge that the unit should not be recharged for quite some time until cooled. My unit was not warm when I tried to recharge it. So I am not sure what they classify as a heavy discharge but keep that in mind, don’t recharge it shortly after using it very hard at all.
Luckily the customer service at EcoFlow was very good and they got me a replacement unit pretty quick. The second unit has not had that problem and it has been 100% solid. I have had zero issues with the replacement unit even when doing heavy discharges and recharging. Maybe they had a batch that was not good and my first one was from that batch. It’s been known to happen.
Either way, I now feel confident that my system is good to go since I have done a lot more testing and reviewing and have had no issues.
The EcoFlow River 600 Max is capable of pushing out 600w nonstop out of the pure sine wave inverter. It will surge all the way up to 1,200w which is plenty for this little unit.
It has more AC outlets than any other 500w sized solar generator on the market. The Jackery 500 only has one AC outlet. The Bluetti AC50 has two AC outlets. The ACOPOWER PS500 has two AC outlets. The Sungzu 500 has two AC outlets. The point is, the EcoFlow River 600 has three AC outlets which do make a big difference when trying to run a laptop, light, and fan, or whatever combination of equipment.
One of my absolute favorite features of the River 600 Max is that it has a 100w PD USB C port which means I can use a USB C cable to recharge different items up to 100w. That’s really fast! For example, my Skydio 2 Drone has a dual battery charger that draws 100w to recharge the batteries quickly. This means that I can keep flying all day long by rotating my three batteries on the River 600’s fast USB C PD port.
The River 600 also has another fast charging port rated to 28w as well as two USB A ports that are fast charging for phones, tablets and other small electronics.
It also has a 12v cigarette lighter port that is regulated to keep the proper voltage while operating and is rated to over 130w output. Included are two other DC 5521 ports that can also push about 40w through them.
The next biggest thing that I love about my EcoFlow River 600 max is how fast it can recharge. Once again it has a much faster recharge rate than any other 500w sized solar generator on the market.
The River 600 Max will allow up to 200w of solar power to go into it via the MPPT charge controller that is onboard. It is very easy to series together two 100w solar panels and get a very quick recharge time in about 3 hours. I was able to do this in my video and got incredible solar input. Truly no other 500w sized solar generator will charge off of solar as fast as the EcoFlow River 600.
The Jackery Explorer 500, Bluetti AC50, Sungzu 500, PS500, and all the other small solar generators max out at 100w solar input. But even more than that the River 600 charges faster than the Jackery 1000! My Jackery Explorer 1000 will only let in about 120w of solar power even though it’s rated to let in 200w. It doesn’t get anywhere close to that.
Also, the Sungzu 1000 is rated to let in more power but the River 600 Max allows more solar power to go into it than the Sungzu 1000.
The EcoFlow River 600 max also comes with a simple to use the car charger. It will charge at about 120w input from any cigarette lighter port in any vehicle. Since most 12v cigarette lighter ports are rated to 10amps or more the River 600 will not likely blow any fuses while charging.
But what about when I am just at home or between trips and want to charge it up at home? The wall charger is a simple power cable that doesn’t include a large box adapter on the cable so it is very portable and easy to take anywhere. That cable pushes up to 500w wall charging into the River 600 which is really fast, especially for a unit this size. Once again beating all the other smaller solar generators, the River 600 Max will charge 5x faster than the next small solar generator will at home.
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It’s a very compact and lightweight unit at only 17lbs so it’s very easy to tote around and use. It also includes a 24 months warranty which I used and found that they do want to help and are ready to help in any way they can. I did find that it’s best to contact them by email though. They did not answer any of my phone calls but were very responsive to my emails and even emailed me back after office hours.
The EcoFlow River 600 Max does have a special Phone App that you can use to monitor the unit and see what’s going on with it wirelessly. I honestly have not found it to be that great. It’s a little difficult to connect and there’s not much benefit besides seeing the current state of charge. I really never use it, but it is a cool feature.
The River 600 Max is supposed to be able to chain with other units and make it a bigger system but no one seems to be doing that because EcoFlow didn’t seem to have that feature 100% worked out by the time they were shipping units. They do say it will be a feature in future models though.
I truly use and like my EcoFlow River 600 Max more than any of my other similar-sized solar generators. There are at least a dozen 500w sized solar generators and this one is my favorite so far.
But that being said, my first one did get fried and that was quite scary. I would just say that be mindful of recharging it and make sure it has cooled off for quite a while before recharging it from the wall. I haven’t had any issues doing a heavy discharge and recharging by solar. But maybe that’s just because the first one I had was a lemon, who knows.
Either way, if you’re looking for a very small, lightweight, compact, and powerful portable solar generator, I would definitely recommend the EcoFlow River 600 Max. The inverter is good, the battery is good, the charging capability is good, and has an awesome 100w USB C PD port that I love.
It’s definitely a winner for lightweight portable power.