There’s a funny meme online I think of when talking about air conditioners. For gas-powered cars, and some EVs, turning the air conditioner off gives you just a little more power for the wheels. If you’ve got a tiny engine, the difference can be noticeable. So, when you hit that button to turn the AC compressor off, it kind of feels like you’re the captain of the Enterprise ordering engineering to divert power from life support to the impulse engines.
For people living in Canada (or, if you’re my friend Earl of Frunkpuppy, Alaska now), calling your air conditioning “life support” might seem overly dramatic, but that just shows you’ve never spent any time in Phoenix in June. When I had just graduated college, I had a low-paying job there and our cheap apartment’s air conditioning system went out, and it went out for the whole complex. We suffered for three days and three nights, and I ended up taking my whole family to work for a couple days to avoid getting heat sick.
So, yes, air conditioning really is life support in some places. Even a few hours without it can be sickening or deadly.
Having some backup air conditioning in the desert is a great idea. Even if you can only keep one room cool, it could give you a lifeboat that doesn’t require going to a “cooling center” or driving around in your car during an outage. Also, if you’re camping and things are going to be hot, having a portable battery-powered air conditioner can make a big difference in whether you’d want to camp in the low country.
So, living in the desert and liking camping, I was glad to hear that EcoFlow wanted to send me a Wave portable air conditioner to test (disclosure: and keep for long-term review).
Features & Specifications
First off, while it’s portable, it’s not light. Without the add-on battery, it’s almost 40 pounds. The add-on battery brings the weight to about 55 pounds. So, you’re obviously not going to go backpacking with it, but for car camping or emergency home use, it’s fine. It’s got two very sturdy handles that make carrying it fairly easy.
It’s a dual hose air conditioner, which means you need to run the included hoses out of the space you want to cool. One hose draws fresh ambient air in, and the other hose pushes hot air back out. You can get sealing units for windows in houses, or you can DIY a board with the right size holes for the hoses. For a tent, you’ll want to put the hoses through the door and run the zipper down as tight as you can onto the hoses. Some insulated tents, like a Shiftpod, have holes made for exactly this.
The other option is to connect the included shroud to the cold air outlet/vent, or what I call the “business end” of the AC unit. If you do that, you can leave the whole unit outside and just pipe the cold air into the tent or room with one smaller hose (included). But, keep in mind that the unit is not waterproof or dustproof, so it’s probably not a good idea to leave it outside unless you’re sure it’s not going to get wet or dusty or you’ve done something to protect it.
It’s only good for 4,000 BTUs, so don’t expect to cool a house with it, but it’s good for a smaller room, a tent, or most RVs. It’s also got WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity to control it with a smartphone, but I haven’t yet tested that.
Here are the full specs:
How You Can Power It
There are several ways you can power the unit.
First, you can power it with AC power, from a 110v home power outlet. If you’re both cooling and charging the add-on battery, it will pull about 700 watts until the battery is full. Without a battery or with the battery charged up, cooling will pull a maximum of 400 watts. That’s a pretty efficient air conditioner.
You can also power it with a car power outlet or 200 watts of solar power connected directly to the unit. I don’t have a compatible set of solar panels (you can get them from EcoFlow), but without the AC running, it can charge the add-on battery in 5 hours. I don’t think that’s a great way to power the unit if you’re wanting to use it all day, though.
For all-day running, the most efficient thing to do is power it with the EcoFlow Delta Pro and as much solar power as you can connect to that power station. It’s got a DC port that can get power from the Delta Pro without having to convert it to AC and back to DC first, which will save power. Or, you can power it with any power station that can supply 700+ watts. For me, I tested it with the Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro.
My Home Testing
Before I take the AC on a camping trip and want to depend on it for avoiding misery, I wanted to do some testing at home. I’m finding that it’s pretty decent and will work for camping.
As I mentioned earlier, it uses 700 watts while charging and putting out cold air. That would run for almost three hours on my Jackery, or indefinitely with 1200 watts of solar panels getting good sun. Once the EcoFlow Wave’s 1000 Wh add-on battery is full, it drops to only pulling about 400 watts while the room is still cooling off.
That sounds like the add-on battery is only good for 2.5 hours of run-time, but the unit seems to have a variable-speed compressor. As the room cools off, it gradually pulls less and less power. To see what happens with the thermostat, I closed the front of the unit up to make it think the room had cooled off, and the power draw dropped to around 30 watts (just the fan, it seems). So, how long you actually get out of the unit will vary depending on how well insulated the space is you’re running the AC in.
You also have the option of telling it to cycle in and out of cooling mode to make sure it runs all night without letting things get too hot while there’s no solar power to run it, so the battery could run it as long as you need if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit.
Personally, I think this would work best with EcoFlow’s Delta Pro power station, lots of solar, and an insulated tent like a Shiftpod. But, I don’t have any of that, so when I go to test it in the wild, I’m going to use a normal tent and the power stations I have for now.
So far, seeing the low power consumption and given that it will need less power at night, it seems like a good option for “glamping” adventures or emergencies at home.
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