Your guide to a better future
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
If you can’t install solar panels on your house or apartment, the PowerStream may be a great solution for adding solar to your home.
The PowerStream microinverter looks a bit like an internet router.
EcoFlow’s PowerStream combines solar panels and a storage battery with an innovative microinverter unit that allows you to feed solar power back into your home grid without needing any professional installation. Instead, it simply plugs directly into your electrical outlets. With no installation required, the system could be ideal for those living in rented apartments or who can’t install solar panels on the roof.
The PowerStream is available now in Europe, with a basic kit comprising the microinverter, four 100-watt flexible solar panels but no storage battery costing £950. Add the company’s new Delta 2 power station to the mix and that price comes to £2,049. And if you have panels and battery already, you can buy the microinverter by itself for £329. US availability has yet to be confirmed, but for reference that £950 basic kit price converts to $1,180.
I tested the PowerStream micro inverter using the EcoFlow Delta Max and Delta 2 Max.
Here’s how the PowerStream kit works: lay the solar panels on your roof, in your garden or attach them to the railings of your apartment balcony and plug them into the microinverter. That then plugs into both the power station and your home’s electrical outlet.
Once set up through the EcoFlow app (a necessary step, but it’s available on both iOS and Android), you’ll be able to control the flow of energy from the solar panels, directing it toward your home, into the battery or splitting the power between both, charging the battery more slowly while continuing to provide some solar energy to your home.
A portable power station with a solar system designed for a balcony.
The idea is that smaller apartments are able to generate solar energy throughout the day, using some of that power to supplement the power being taken from the grid, while storing excess power in the battery to continue using solar energy overnight — or to be kept as a backup in case of power outages. While solar solutions for balconies are available from various companies, EcoFlow says it is the first to offer a version that combines home grid usage and battery storage of energy.
I’m not allowed to install solar panels on my roof, so instead I have to unfold portable panels when the sun comes out.
I’ve been testing the kit for about a week from my home in Edinburgh, Scotland, and I’m impressed so far. Setting the kit up is genuinely a plug-and-play affair and using the app to monitor the input from the solar panels and divert it into the battery, into my home grid or combining the two is straightforward.
My house is historically listed, so local bylaws mean I’m not allowed to install physical solar panels on my roof. Instead, I’ve been using EcoFlow’s 400-watt portable panel, simply laying it on my roof (via my upstairs window) and feeding the cable back inside and into a power bank. Previously, I’ve then just carried that powerbank to wherever I want to use the power (usually my office), but the new microinverter means I’m able to leave the battery next to the window and feed that energy directly into my home grid.
You’ll need to use the EcoFlow app to adjust the flow of power, but it makes it easy to see how much your solar panels are drawing in.
While I’ve been testing it with EcoFlow’s new Delta 2 Max power station and older Delta Max, the PowerStream microinverter will work with any of the company’s batteries and can be used with the supplemental battery packs for the Delta series, allowing for more energy storage. While you can’t yet daisy-chain different power station models together, it’s a simple process to unplug the microinverter from one power station when full and plug it into a different one, if you have different models.
The PowerStream system is also compatible with EcoFlow’s new smart plugs that sit between your device and your home grid, allowing you, in theory, to direct your solar power specifically to whatever device you’ve plugged in. I say „in theory” as I’ve not been able to test these properly since my setup arrived, so we’ll reserve judgment on the long-term usefulness of the plugs following deeper testing.
The EcoFlow Smart Plugs aren’t required, but do allow you to direct the solar power to specific devices, rather than the whole home.
But despite a couple of teething problems typical when reviewing early-access hardware, I’m pleased with the performance from the system. And I’m extremely excited about being able to properly add solar power to my home without having to physically install panels or needing complicated switching boxes professionally installed alongside my power breaker.
If you’re living in a rented apartment without access to a roof, but with a balcony, the PowerStream might be a great option to consider. While I’m not generating enough solar power to run my whole home, those of you with more minimal power needs might be able to use it as a total off-grid power solution.
Read More: CNET’s Best Portable Power Stations for May 2023