This week’s Cool Tool brings us back to those nifty battery power stations that could replace a gassy, smelly generator, and I’m going to put one to the test.
Back in August, I featured a huge battery power station that offers the benefits of a generator without all of the noise or emissions. I said that I wanted to put one to the test, and now I have an EcoFlow Delta Mini to do just that with. There are a few off-road camping trips that I’m about to go on that will be the perfect test for the big battery.
(Full Disclosure: The folks of EcoFlow reached out to me and asked if I wanted to test one of their power stations. They sent me a unit, and I’ve been using it via camping trips on the horizon.)
California is setting the stage to remove small, polluting engines from the marketplace. Most people will think of lawn mowers and leaf blowers, but portable generators are likely to get pulled, too. That means that people will either have to buy a generator huge enough not to be considered a small engine or get something like this power station. So if this is the future, how well does it work?
I unboxed the 23.6 pound EcoFlow Delta Mini and was amused that getting it going is as easy as booting up a computer with a big gray button.
Its LCD display gives you a load of information. There’s a measure for how much juice is going in and how much is going out. A big charge indicator lets you know how much power you have remaining while a clock gives you an estimate for how much longer it can run at the current discharge rate. There are other useful indicators for telling you if it’s too cold, too hot, or overloaded.
This power station has an 882Wh Nickel Manganese Cobalt Lithium-Ion battery (NCM) with a 1,400 Watt AC pure sine wave output and a 2,100 Watt surge. That’s good power for lighting, computers, video game consoles, even small appliances like toasters and coffee makers. It won’t power your house or a huge RV, but it could work at the campsite, and that’s something that I intend on finding out.
The business end of the unit is in back, where there are various charging inputs and even more outputs.
It can be charged from a wall, solar panels (sadly not included), or even your car. Charge times are advertised to be 1.6 hours when charged by a wall, 9.5 hours when charged by a car’s 12V socket, or 3 to 6 hours when charged by a solar panel as large as 400 Watts. That solar charging number is a wide estimate because, remember, solar panels don’t have 100 percent efficiency.
EcoFlow says that this can also be used for an emergency power source. So if you have it plugged into a wall and some devices plugged into it, if you lose power it will begin flowing its battery power to those devices within 30 seconds.
There are a generous number of outputs on this thing, and EcoFlow’s people tell me that it can power 12 devices at the same time. You get a bunch of wall outlets, USB ports, and DC ports. You’ll notice that none of the wall outlets are grounded. EcoFlow says that the power station doesn’t offer grounded outlets, and it is recommended to use an adapter for those types of devices. Two of the outlets have holes for where the grounding prong can go.
I’ve performed some initial bench testing with the unit. It had a 50 percent charge when I first booted it up and plugged my first tool in, a heat gun. Running that heat gun at full 1,400W power sucked a pretty dramatic 33 percent charge out of the station in about 18 minutes.
Things are better when powering devices that aren’t designed to generate serious heat, like this angle grinder.
The EcoFlow Delta Mini comes in at $999. It’s more expensive than a quiet gas-powered generator that gives you more power for your buck. But for the extra money, you get ultimate peace and quiet. Plus, the lack of emissions means that you can use it indoors. For $1,399, EcoFlow’s Delta model is more competitive with 1,800 Watts of power with a 3,300 Watt surge.
I plan to use this power station like I would a gas generator, powering power tools and creature comfort during an off-road adventure. It’ll be compared to a cheap gas generator and both will be pushed to the limit. What would you like to see me do with this thing?