Portable generators UK 2023: we review portable power station EcoFlow Delta 2 - will it help in a blackout?
Fast to charge, portable, reliable and intuitive - our tester was impressed with the EcoFlow Delta 2. Here’s what you need to know about the power station
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Portable power stations have started selling like hot cakes in the UK, as the National Grid warns of potential power cuts over winter and the cost of energy continues to rise. And while our expert has looked at the best on the market and rounded them up here, this article takes a closer look at one of the most popular models on the market - the Ecoflow Delta 2.
What is good about a power station?
Much better for the environment than petrol generators, portable power stations are emission free. They can be used indoor and out, and can provide power to all sorts of household devices, from stand-mounted lights, internet hubs and routers, desktop and laptop computers to most smart TVs. The essentials, in other words.
The portable power station (or solar generator as it’s known in the States) is essentially an offshoot of the humble pocket-sized USB power bank that we all use to charge or power our phones when away from a mains power source.
However, where pocket power banks can only produce enough wattage to charge a phone or tablet, a power station has a much larger and therefore more powerful lithium-ion battery capable of providing power to a wide range of household appliances that normally run on a 240v mains supply. Aside from providing ancillary power during a mains power cut, they are also a brilliant addition to anyone’s camping, caravanning and boating paraphernalia.
The Delta 2 Portable Power Station
With a starting capcity of 1000Wh - this is, the machine can the machine can power a 1000 Watt device for an hour - you can expand the capacity of the Delta 2 with an extra battery of either 1024Wh or the Delta Max extra battery, which sits at a whopping 2016Wh, so you can increase the storage of your power generator to 2 or 3 kWh storage. The additional batteries are cheaper than the Delta 2 itself, so prove cost effective if you’re looking to increase capacity.
It’s a genuinely portable device - it weighs 12kg (27lbs) - with two carry handles, we found it easy to schlep around one-handed.
The display panel is easy to read - showing the input and the output, remaining battery, and an estimate for charge or discharge time. There’s also a Wi-Fi connectivity status.
EcoFlow Delta 2 Output Capabilities
Underneath the display you’ll find plenty of USB ports:
- Two standard 5V 2A USB-A
- Two fast-charge USB-A
- Two 100W Power Delivery USB-C ports
- At the back of the unit are the input ports and AC ports - there are four. There’s also a 12V car port, and two DC5521 ports.
You can turn the AC, DC and USB ports on and off individually, so if they are not in use you’ll never drain power unnecessarily.
The Delta 2 is great for providing continuous power to household appliances - a 1800W total output. That means you’re not going to be able to plug in more than one high-usage item at a time (for reference, a domestic electric oven has an average power of 1500 watts (W) in normal use). You’ll need to check the power rating of the appliance, but provided it is less than the 1800W you’ll be fine. Using a single oven hob to cook a stir-fry, on test, used less than 10% of the power reserve.
That’s where the time left indicator helps - it’s a reliable gauge of how much battery you have left. With a capacity of 1000 watt-hours, the machine can power a 1000 Watt device for an hour. For things like phones or low-power usage devices, that will be lower.
We found the Delta 2 ideal for our household - it could easily power our microwave, our coffee machine - even charge multiple iPhones at once. Best of all, its “X-Boost technology” will prevent the machine from over-loading if you try powering something over 1800W - it will run the appliance, but at lower speed, so in practical terms you can hit up to 2200W, without the appliance shorting out.
If you’re a power hungry household, though, you’d be advised to invest in an additional battery, to increase the watt-hour power to 3000Wh. If that’s still not enough (gosh, you’re churning through the wattage) then a Delta Pro unit has a starting rate of 3.6kWH, and that can be expanded with an extra battery, too.
Charging the Delta 2
Now, with imminent issues with the national grid, you may find a solar panel an attractive means of charging the portable battery. We found the 400W panel we tested could charge the battery in about 4 hours - in direct sunlight. In overcast conditions, it took about double that. It does, however, make the set-up less portable - this would be ideal for charging the battery at home if you were then planning on taking on a camping/fishing expedition overnight.
You can also - very easily - charge the Delta 2 using your household AC. We found this swift and easy - it took about 80 minutes. That said, it hits 80% capacity after 50 minutes. It’s the final 20% that slows the process down (something, we read, to do with how batteries charge in order to remain efficient)
If you have solar panels for your household, and you want to slowly charge the Delta, without pulling energy from your grid, you can configure the rate it charges at - making it flexible for a solar powered household.
Delta 2 Battery
The Lithium Iron Phosphate battery that the Delta 2 uses is rated to 3000 cycles - which means, after 3000 full charges and discharges, it will have only degraded to 80% of the original capacity. That’s over 8 years of use, if you use it everyday - and even then, it will still work well.
Price wise, the Delta 2 is on par with its competitors, but its long-lived battery, smart features, easy to use app and fast recharge time makes it a cut above other brands and worth the cost, if you’re planning on buying a portable power station. It would work very, very well for people wanting to take it on camping or fishing expeditions.