Quick overview of hardware and test setup

0

Over the past year I have researched solar power options for my home and road trips. When you get started, you find out that you will need solar panels, batteries, PWM or MPPT controllers, inverters, and other components. Once you get all the parts, you need to figure out the schematics, hook everything up, and then hope that when you flip the switch there won’t be any sparks, arcs, or fires. I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I was pretty intimidated by the task. Luckily for me and those of you who might be a little discouraged with the work, there are a few companies that are innovating and making things much more manageable. The first system we were able to get our hands on and start working on is the new EcoFlow Power Kit.

The EcoFlow Power Kit is one of the first, if not the first, plug-and-play modular power solutions. The power kit consists of four components. However, you may only need two of the four to create a system that suits 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, then move on to a quick system setup.

Hardware quick view

Power hub

The Power Hub contains all the components you need in one box. Inside the Power Hub you will 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 exterior of the Power Hub is where you find your main connections. On the input side you have three battery terminals, 1 AC IN terminal which doubles as an input for their EcoFlow smart generator (or your own generator), 3 solar terminals with one of the three solar terminals also serving as alternator terminal.

On the output side, you have 1 AC output socket (2400W), 1 AC output distribution socket (2000W), 1 DC output distribution socket (1600W) and a pair of RJ45 connections. The RJ45 connections are only for connecting the AC/DC Smart Distribution Panel and Console to the Power Hub to give you real-time information.

Battery

From there, we can move on to batteries. The EcoFlow Power Kit has two battery size options. You can get a 2 kWh battery or a 5 kWh battery. You can’t mix a 2 kWh battery and a 5 kWh battery to come up with, say, 7 kWh. You can add up to 3 of the same size. i.e. three 5kWh batteries and get 15kWh power or two 2kWh batteries (it is recommended to upgrade to a 5kWh battery instead of a 3rd 2kWh battery). If size is an issue, but you need more power, the latter may be better for some applications. The batteries are expandable, so you can start with 1 or 2 batteries now and add another later. You cannot add more than three, unless you take one EcoFlow Smart Home panel and buy two power kits.

Each battery contains its own BMS (battery management system) which regulates everything, including the temperature, with an internal heater. The batteries are lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. They have an average life cycle of 3,500 full charges and discharges before dropping to 80% capacity. If you charge and empty it completely daily, you won’t see any drips for 9.5 years. Each battery contains a fuse on top, a power button and a small LCD display to read the battery percentage.

These two components are all you need to get up and running. Choose your battery needs and order it with the Power Hub, and you’re off to the races. The AC outlet on the front is a pure sine wave inverter and produces 2400w. That’s a respectable amount of power that you can plug into a power strip and get plenty of use out of it in a van, RV, trailer, or even a tiny house.

If you want to take the PowerKit to the next level, for example for your off-grid cabin or larger RV, then EcoFlow offers you two additional accessories.

Smart AC/DC distribution panel

The first is the smart AC/DC distribution panel. The SDP takes the AC and DC inputs from the Power Hub and turns them into circuits similar to those found in your home’s circuit breaker. You get six 20A circuit breakers for AC power and 12 fused DC circuits.

Of the 12 DC circuits, you get six that can be individually controlled remotely from the EcoFlow app or console (the next accessory). Everything is clearly labeled and conveniently placed so you can easily connect the appropriate cables.

Console

The console is the last optional add-on, besides the smart generator and solar panels, which you might want to consider adding. It depends on your usage and system needs. Essentially, the console is a 7-inch touch screen that allows you to control the entire system and see all relevant information about it, such as input power, output power, time remaining, battery percentage, etc. I will come back to this a bit more in a later article after using the system.

Test Setup

I’m terrified of electrical and wiring, but I was able to install all of this 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 or check mounting location and measurements. The instructions give you all the mounting options, and each bag, screw, cord and product is clearly labelled. EcoFlow has done such a fantastic job of taking the guesswork out that as long as you can read and follow basic safety rules, like don’t turn things on or plug them into a wall while you’re working on them, then you should be fine. . I did all the wiring before connecting the batteries and quickly turned it on.

Once I had all four main components wired up I added a 12v DC panel with some USB ports and 12v cigarette lighter ports. I also plugged in an AC outlet. Connecting these two devices took about 45 minutes. Most of that time I tried to get the square to be the right size for the DC panel to be recessed.

My biggest learning curve will be for some of the application power settings (DC switching from 12V to 24V) and 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). Figuring out which fuse to use for specific DC applications will take a bit of research, but it’s something I should learn anyway.

My only mistake 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’ll want to make sure your Power Hub and batteries are relatively close together. You can see in my video that I made this mistake and ended up with a battery on the shelf. I moved and sorted everything after the video. If I had done everything in a van or a trailer or something, I would have been quite irritated with myself.

I didn’t burn the house down and I didn’t get electrocuted. EcoFlow has done a great job on design and instruction so far with their power kits. Stay tuned as I plan to hook up various devices to test the system’s power output and load capacity over the next few weeks to see how it holds up to real-world use.

What do you think of the EcoFlow Power Kit system? Please share your thoughts on one of the social media pages listed below. You can also comment on our Page MeWe by joining the MeWe social network. Be sure to subscribe to our TO SCOLD channel too!

Last updated September 23, 2022.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.