Hardware quick look and test setup
Over the last year, I have researched solar power options for my house and road trips. When you jump in, you discover you will need solar panels, batteries, PWM or MPPT controllers, inverters, and other components. Once you get all the parts, you get to figure out diagrams, connect everything and then hope when you flip the switch, it doesn’t spark, arc, or start a fire. I would be a wild one if I didn’t say I was pretty intimidated by the task. Luckily for me and those of you who might be a bit daunted by the job, there are a few companies out there innovating and making things much more manageable. The first system we could get our hands on and start working with is the new EcoFlow Power Kit.
The EcoFlow Power Kit is one of, if not the first, plug-n-play modular power solutions. The Power kit has four components. However, you may only need two of the four to create a successful system for your needs. You have the Power Hub, the battery or batteries, the AC/DC distribution panel, and the console. Let’s take a quick tour of each component and then get to a quick setup of the system.
Hardware Quick Look
The Power Hub contains all the components you need inside one box. Inside the Power Hub, you’ll find two MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) solar charge controllers, a DC-DC battery charger with MPPT, an inverter charger, and a DC-DC step-down converter.
The outside of the Power Hub is where you find your primary connections. On the input side of things, you have three battery terminals, 1 AC IN terminal that also doubles as an input for their EcoFlow Smart Generator (or your own generator), 3 Solar terminals with one of the three solar terminals doubling as an alternator terminal .
On the output side of things, you have 1 AC out plug (2,400w), 1 AC out distribution plug (2,000w), 1 DC out distribution plug (1600w), and a pair of RJ45 connections. The RJ45 connections are solely to connect the AC/DC Smart Distribution panel and the Console to the Power Hub to give you real-time information.
From there, we can move to the Batteries. The EcoFlow Power Kit has two battery-size options. You can get a 2kWh battery or a 5kWh battery. You cannot mix a 2kWh battery and a 5kWh battery to get to, say, 7kWh. You can add up to 3 of the same size. ie, three 5kWh batteries and get to 15kWh of power or two 2kWh batteries (recommended you move to a 5kWh instead of a 3rd 2kWh battery). If the size is a concern, but you need more power, then the latter might be better for some applications. The batteries are expandable, so you can start with 1 or 2 batteries now and add another later. You can’t add more than three unless you pick up an EcoFlow Smart Home Panel and purchase two Power Kits.
Each battery contains its own BMS (battery management system) that regulates everything, including temperature, with an internal heater. The batteries are Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery chemistry. They have an average life cycle of 3,500 full charges and discharges before they drop to 80% capacity. If you fully charged and drained it daily, you wouldn’t see a drop for 9.5 years. Each battery houses a fuse on the top, a power button, and a small LCD screen for a battery percentage read out.
Those two components are all you need to get up and running. Choose your battery needs and order it with the Power Hub, and you are off to the races. The AC plug on the front is a pure sine-wave inverter and puts out 2400w. That is a respectable amount of power that you could plug a power strip into and get a lot of use out of in a Van, camper, trailer, or even tiny home.
If you want to take the PowerKit to the next level, say for your off-grid cabin or larger RV, then EcoFlow has you covered with two additional accessories.
AC/DC Smart Distribution Panel
First is the AC/DC Smart Distribution Panel. The SDP takes the AC and DC inputs from the Power Hub and turns them into circuits much like those found in your home’s breaker box. You get six 20A breakers for AC power and 12 fused DC circuits.
Out of the 12 DC circuits, you get six that can be individually controlled remotely from the EcoFlow app or the Console (the next accessory item). Everything is clearly labeled and thoughtfully placed so you can easily connect the appropriate cables.
The Console is the final optional add-on, besides the smart generator and solar panels, which you may want to consider adding. It depends on your use and needs for the system. Essentially the Console is a 7-inch touch screen that lets you control the entire system and see all the permanent information about it like input power, output power, time remaining, battery percentage, ect. I’ll dive into that a bit more in a later post after I get some use put through the system.
I am of electricity and wiring things up, yet I was able to set this whole thing up on a temporary freestanding wall in about an hour and a half. EcoFlow includes templates for the Power Hub, so you don’t have to guess and check mounting location and measurements. The instructions give you all the mounting options, and every bag, screw, cord, and product is clearly labeled. EcoFlow has done such a fantastic job at taking out the guesswork that as long as you can read and follow basic safety, like don’t turn things on or plug it into a wall while you are working on it, then you should be just fine . I did all the wiring before connecting the batteries and quickly fired it up.
Once I had all four main components wired up, I added a 12v DC panel with a few USB ports and 12v cigarette lighter ports. I also wired up an AC power plug. Connecting those two devices took about 45 minutes. Most of that time was me screwing around trying to make the square the right size for the DC panel to be recessed.
My most significant learning curve will be with some of the power settings in the app (switching DC from 12v to 24v) and the fused DC connections. EcoFlow ships the panel with 20A fuses in all 12 slots, and they send you plenty of replacement fuses of different Amps (5A, 10A, 15A, and 30A). Not knowing what fuse to use for specific DC applications will take a little research, but it is something I should learn anyways.
My only error during installation was not paying attention to the length of the battery cables. Each battery cable is 5 feet long. When setting up your system, you will want to be sure your Power Hub and batteries are relatively close together. You can see in my video I made that mistake and ended up with a battery sitting on the shelf. I moved everything down and sorted it after the video. Had I got it all drilled out in a Van or trailer or something, I would have been pretty irritated at myself.
Power Kit Setup Timelapse Video
I didn’t burn down the house, and I haven’t shocked myself. EcoFlow has done a great job on the design and instruction so far with their Power Kits. Stay tuned as I plan to connect various devices to test the system’s power output and charging ability over the next few weeks to see how it stands up to some real-world use.
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Last Updated on September 23, 2022.
- 24, Sep, 2022
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