Ecoflow River Max VS Jackery Explorer 500 For RV/Camping

Disclaimer: Last year, Jackery sent us an Explorer 500 in exchange for a review. We have not received an Ecoflow River Max.

Ecoflow River Max VS Jackery Explorer 500 – Which One Is The Best?

Two of the most popular power stations, also known as solar generators, on the market right now are the Ecoflow River Max and the Jackery Explorer 500.

It’s easy to understand why these two models are popular. They’re not only portable and easy to travel with but are capable of powering and charging devices while on the go.

For RVing, or camping in general, a portable power station is a great accessory to bring along. The best part about them is the fact that you can use solar panels to recharge the battery, which lets you stay out camping for longer without having to find an AC outlet.

See Also: Best Power Stations For Camping

In this post, we’re going to compare the Ecoflow River Max and the Explorer 500. We’ll put them head to head, compare the features that you care about the most, and find out which one is the best option.

To make the comparison easy to follow for both beginners and more advanced users, I am going to first talk about what each of them does better than the other, then a little bit about what they have in common.

Last but not least, I’ll share some solar panel recommendations. But now, let’s get to the comparison, and the easiest way to do that is by starting with a comparison table.

Specifications Compared – Head-To-Head

EF ECOFLOW RIVER Max Portable Power Station, 576Wh Backup Lithium Battery with 3 x 600W (Peak 1200W) AC Outlets & LED Flashlight, Clean & Silent Solar Generator for Outdoor Camping RV
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, 518Wh Outdoor Solar Generator Mobile Lithium Battery Pack with 110V/500W AC Outlet (Solar Panel Optional) for Road Trip Camping, Outdoor Adventure
Watt-Hours
576Wh
518Wh
Inverter Rating (AC outlet max output)
600W (1200W Surge)
500W (1000W Surge)
AC Outlets
3
1
USB Ports
4 (1 USB C)
3
DC Outputs
3 (1 Cigarette port)
3 (1 Cigarette port)
DC Solar Input
XT60
8mm
Maximum Input
200W
82W
Charge Controller Type
MPPT
MPPT
Lithium Battery
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
USB C
Regulated 12V Port
Can Be Used While Charging
Includes MC4 Adapter
Weight
11 lbs
13.3 lbs
Size
11.3 x 7.7 x 7.3 in
11.9 x 7.6 x 9.2

EF ECOFLOW RIVER Max Portable Power Station, 576Wh Backup Lithium Battery with 3 x 600W (Peak 1200W) AC Outlets & LED Flashlight, Clean & Silent Solar Generator for Outdoor Camping RV
Product Link
Watt-Hours
576Wh
Inverter Rating (AC outlet max output)
600W (1200W Surge)
AC Outlets
3
USB Ports
4 (1 USB C)
DC Outputs
3 (1 Cigarette port)
DC Solar Input
XT60
Maximum Input
200W
Charge Controller Type
MPPT
Lithium Battery
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
USB C
Regulated 12V Port
Can Be Used While Charging
Includes MC4 Adapter
Weight
11 lbs
Size
11.3 x 7.7 x 7.3 in
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, 518Wh Outdoor Solar Generator Mobile Lithium Battery Pack with 110V/500W AC Outlet (Solar Panel Optional) for Road Trip Camping, Outdoor Adventure
Watt-Hours
518Wh
Inverter Rating (AC outlet max output)
500W (1000W Surge)
AC Outlets
1
USB Ports
3
DC Outputs
3 (1 Cigarette port)
DC Solar Input
8mm
Maximum Input
82W
Charge Controller Type
MPPT
Lithium Battery
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
USB C
Regulated 12V Port
Can Be Used While Charging
Includes MC4 Adapter
Weight
13.3 lbs
Size
11.9 x 7.6 x 9.2

Note: Scroll left/right on small screens to view all products in the table.

In-Depth Power Station Comparison

What The Ecoflow River Max Does Better

Power Output (Inverter Rating)

The inverter rating lets us know how much electricity we can draw from the AC outlets on the power station.

With a 600W continuous output, the River Max is capable of outputting 100W more than the Explorer 500.

As an example, if you had several devices that require 100W, you would be able to use six of them with the Ecoflow, and five with the Jackery.

500/600W is enough to power things like fans, laptops, CPAP machines, small kitchen appliances, chargers, TVs, etc.

While the difference is not huge, it can be useful to have the extra 100W if you’re powering several devices at the same time.

The so-called “surge” watts are not to be relied upon to power your devices.

One neat feature with the Ecoflow River Max is the X-Boost technology which lets you power certain devices up to 1800W. This does not work with all types of electronics, tools, and appliances.

According to Ecoflow, the X-Boost mode works with electric frying pans, rice cookers, coffee makers, and electric kettles, but not microwaves, fridges, heaters, and air conditioners.

Whether 500W or 600W is enough for you depends on what you plan on powering. You can read the required wattage of a device on its power brick or on the device itself.

If you can’t find it anywhere, I suggest buying a Poniie Watt Meter (click to view on Amazon) which will tell you the exact watts.

Battery Capacity (Watt-Hours)

The River Max has 576 watt-hours, versus the 518 watt-hours found in the Explorer 500. Not a massive difference, but it does mean that you can power your devices for longer.

If you’re powering a 50W device via an AC outlet, the River Max will run it for approximately one hour longer than the Explorer.

You can also keep extra batteries charged up and ready to go with the River Max, more about that down at “Expandable”.

Screen

While I like the screen on the Explorer 500, the Ecoflow is more advanced. It will tell you not only the input/output watts and battery percentage, but also time to empty/full.

You can monitor and control the Ecoflow even further with a smartphone app.

Ports

The River Max has more ports.

Two more AC outlets, one more USB A port, and one USB C port (the Explorer doesn’t have one of those).

The single AC outlet on the Explorer 500 is one of its biggest cons, and having three on the Ecoflow is not bad for a solar generator this size.

USB C

The River Max has a 100W USB C output port, the Jackery only has USB A ports.

Charging Time

The River Max can be fully charged in 1.6 hours, or to 80% in one hour.

The Explorer 500 takes about 7-8 hours to fully recharge.

Solar Input

You can connect up to 200W of solar to the River Max. It will only allow up to 12A (~144W), but that’s almost twice what the Explorer 500 can handle.

Expandable

With the modular design of the River Max, there is a removable battery that can be taken off if you would like to make the power station more portable.

You can also keep several extra batteries charged and ready to go in case you’re not going to be able to recharge the battery during a trip or a power outage.

Ecoflow makes and sells the extra batteries (click to view on Amazon), and they’re easily attached to the base station. You can only attach one battery at a time.

WiFi

Since the River Max has built-in WiFi, you can connect, control, and monitor the solar generator with an app on your phone. The app is available on both iOS and Android.

Having WiFi capabilities does not mean that it creates its own WiFi. There needs to be an existing WiFi/Hotspot that the River Max can connect to.

Includes MC4 Adapter

The MC4 to XT60 adapter included with the Ecoflow lets you connect third-party solar panels to recharge the battery.

While the Jackery is also compatible with third-party panels, there are no adapters included to use with MC4 solar panels.

I’ll share my solar panel recommendations down below.

What The Jackery Explorer 500 Does Better

More Common DC Input

The only pro I can think of with the Explorer 500 is the fact that it uses an 8mm input instead of the XT60.

It’s great that Ecoflow includes an MC4 to XT60 adapter, but the Jackery is compatible with more of the popular portable panels on the market since it uses the 8mm connector.

What They Have In Common

MPPT Charge Controller

An MPPT charge controller is better than a PWM charge controller, so it’s great to see that both companies use this type.

Includes Wall & Car Charger

Both companies include a wall and a car charger. The Ecoflow charges much faster though.

Regulated 12V Port

A regulated 12V port means that you can connect a 12V fridge/freezer or a CPAP machine safely knowing that it’s going to run until the battery is completely drained.

A non-regulated 12V port follows the voltage of the battery, which means that a low battery might not run certain devices that require a certain voltage. This is a common feature in 12V fridge/freezers.

Charge While Using

Both can be used while charging.

Pure Sine Wave Inverter

Both use a pure sine wave inverter, which is better than a modified sine wave inverter in several ways.

Conclusion

It might seem like an unfair comparison since the Ecoflow beats the Explorer so clearly, but they’re competitors on the market.

I hope that the comparison has cleared up any confusion or questions you had about either of these solar generators.

To conclude, I recommend the Ecoflow River Max. It’s the better choice overall.

Solar Panel Recommendations

Ecoflow River Max

The River Max can handle panels rated between 10-25V. When choosing a panel you need to be aware of the VOC voltage, and stay within the limits of what the charge controller can handle. It’s OK to exceed the amperage to a certain point, but you should never exceed the voltage and the Ecoflow won’t charge if it senses a 25+ voltage.

Ecoflow makes portable panels that are 110W and 160W. You can connect two of these panels together with an MC4 Y branch, which is then plugged into the MC4 to XT60 adapter included with the power station.

If you would like a more portable panel, some of the compatible ones are the iClever 60W, Rockpals 100W, and TwelSeavan 120W.

For more permanent installations on RVs, cabins, and vans, I recommend using rigid or flexible panels. Some of the panels that are safe to use with the River Max are the Renogy 50W, Renogy 100W, Renogy 160W, and Newpowa 200W. Use the included MC4 to XT60 to connect it to your power station.

To combine two solar panels in parallel, use an MC4 Y branch. Do not connect two panels in series since it will exceed the 30V limit.

To extend the wiring, I use Windynation MC4 Extension cables. Add the amperage of your panels together to make sure you get a wire that’s thick enough to handle it.

Jackery Explorer 500

The Explorer 500 can handle panels rated between 12-30V. When choosing a panel you need to be aware of the VOC voltage, and stay within the limits of what the charge controller can handle. It’s OK to exceed the amperage to a certain point, but you should never exceed the voltage and the Jackery won’t charge if it senses a 30+ voltage.

Jackery makes its own portable panels, the SolarSaga 60W, and SolarSaga 100W.

If you would like a more portable panel, some of the compatible ones are the iClever 60W, Rockpals 100W, and TwelSeavan 120W.

For more permanent installations on RVs, cabins, and vans, I recommend using rigid or flexible panels. Some of the panels that are safe to use with the Explorer 500 are the Renogy 50W, Renogy 100W, Renogy 160W, and Newpowa 200W. To connect the panel to the Explorer 500, use an MC4 to 8mm adapter with a positive MC4 female connector.

To combine two solar panels in parallel, use an MC4 Y branch. Do not connect two panels in series since it will exceed the 25V limit.

To extend the wiring, I use Windynation MC4 Extension cables. Add the amperage of your panels together to make sure you get a wire that’s thick enough to handle it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a power station be used while charging?

Most can, but not all. Both the River Max and Explorer 500 can be used while charging.

Can it run X?

Whether a certain power station can power your device(s) or not depends on how powerful the inverter is, and how many watts your device requires.

The inverter rating can be found in the specifications of a solar generator. To figure out exactly how many watts a device requires, you can use a Poniie Watt Meter (click to view on Amazon). Most of the time, you can find this information on the device itself, its power brick, or online.

If a power station is rated at 500W, and it has two AC outlets, it can’t output 500W via each outlet, but combined.

Can you plug an RV camper into a power station?

I plug my travel trailer into a Yeti 1000 power station. It has a 1500W inverter, so it can handle the initial surge. I do it with a 15A to 30A adapter.

I like being able to use the outlets in my trailer, and the Yeti keeps my RV batteries charged. I keep solar panels plugged into the Yeti to charge the battery during the day.

You’re going to be limited to the output of the inverter. Just because you plug your 30A cable in doesn’t mean you can draw 30A from the outlet it’s receiving electricity from.

A 500W might or might not be enough to handle the initial surge of an RV or travel trailer, and I suggest going with a power station that has at least a 100W inverter.

Ecoflow makes a larger power station, the Ecoflow Delta which is capable of outputting up to 1800W. It has a 1260 watt-hour lithium battery, and six AC outlets. This will not run an RV air conditioner, but it will most likely run the microwave.

While power stations are great, they don’t come close in terms of energy efficiency when compared to a gas generator. There are both benefits and limitations.

Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions or something to add.

by Jesse
Jesse has always had an interest in camping, technology, and the outdoors. Who knew that growing up in a small town in Sweden with endless forests and lakes would do that to you?

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