I was born and raised in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona. As a result, I have an acute appreciation for the availability of cool air in hot climates. Growing up, I spent my summer months moving as quickly as possible between air-conditioned buildings or swimming pools.
If you had told me then that in 2022 we would have access to an honest-to-goodness portable air conditioner that operates for hours on a single battery pack and can cool small rooms in minutes, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Fast forward to 2022 and the future is here. The Ecoflow Wave is billed as the one-stop solution for anyone looking to take an air conditioner on the go.
How does the air conditioner perform? What’s the value proposition? Below are my impressions.
Editor’s Note: Ecoflow provided a review sample for purposes of this review, but did not review this content prior to publishing. The opinions in this review were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer. Home Toys may earn a commission on purchases made through the links in this article.
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At its heart, the Ecoflow Wave is a compact air conditioning unit with an inverter compressor capable of pumping 4000BTU’s of cool air, which Ecoflow claims is the most powerful compressor in its class. It should be sufficient to cool a 64 sq. ft. room from 86 to 75 degrees in only 8 minutes.
The compressor/radiator combo also recirculates any condensation created by the unit and sprays it onto the radiator to cool the otherwise hot internals (see diagram below).
Operating the air conditioner works via 4 simple buttons and a rotating dial on its digital display. This mostly works well, though I had some issues getting it to work the way I wanted, which I’ll cover below in my complaints section.
Ecoflow also advertises its mobile app for easy control of the air conditioner remotely from any iPhone or Android device. This feature was not working properly when I tested the unit.
What’s in the Box
The base Wave unit comes with the main air conditioning unit and a series of attachments that can/should be used, depending on your application. Of note is the bracket that can be installed on the rear of the air conditioner that allows for the installation of two telescoping tubes: one to divert warm air from the Wave out of your room and one to pull fresh air into the Wave for cooling.
Everything attaches the way you would expect, but for my application, these were not necessary for effective cooling of the rooms in which I tested the Wave. Ecoflow also includes a bracket that attaches to the front vent that allows you to focus the air-conditioned air to a particular area in your room.
What’s Not Included? (Optional/Mandatory Accessories)
Lets get this out of the way: the Ecoflow Wave by itself is not the exciting product that will get many people to run out and buy it. What makes the Ecoflow Wave enticing are the myriad of potential power/charging solutions that Ecoflow offers in conjunction with the base unit.
The accessory that I opted to test was the 1008Wh battery that locks into place under the main Wave unit and can power the Wave for about 2 hours of continuous cooling, or about 5-6 hours of off-and-on hybrid cooling.
There are a series of LED lights on the front of the battery that indicate the approximate charge capacity of the battery. One disappointment here is that the battery cannot be used to power anything but the Wave.
A few USB and/or electrical outlets would have been a welcome addition to this massive battery. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they aren’t there. Ecoflow doesn’t want to cannibalize their existing power station product lineup, but it’s a glaring omission in any event.
Another charging option I didn’t have a chance to try was one of the various portable solar panel arrays that are clearly intended for off-the-grid consumers and campers. It seems like a really cool accessory, although it charges at a maximum of 200 watts, which means there will be some down-time between uses.
Bottom-line: I don’t see many people purchasing the Wave without also purchasing a charging accessory like the external battery or solar panel array, unless they already own one of Ecoflow’s power stations, which can also be used to power the Wave. Keep that in mind when planning your purchase.
So, how well does it work? In a word: great. If the goal is to effectively cool and small-ish room as quickly as possible without the need for plug-ing electricity, consider the Ecoflow Wave mission accomplished.
I actually had a bit of a situation that occurred in my home during testing. My Ecobee “smart” thermostat was on the fritz, and decided that it would simply turn off my second floor A/C unit. I didn’t notice until it was time to put my 2-year old to bed at 7:30pm, when I walked upstairs and realized it was nearly 90 degrees in his bedroom. It was August in Georgia.
I wasn’t about to let my son stay up late (parents will empathize), so I quickly grabbed the Ecoflow Wave and cranked the dial down to the lowest temperature. The unit turned on immediately and started blowing cold air. Within minutes, the room dropped from almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit to a bearable 78. My evening was saved.
I also hauled the Wave to my daughters’ outdoor swim meets, where people setup tailgate-like areas to hangout between events. Our tent was especially popular as a place for people to stop by and cool off, and it drew more than a few comments from people wondering how the heck I had an air conditioner without a nearby outlet or extension cord.
My gripes with the Ecoflow Wave are relatively minor. First, the buttons on the top of the unit are not intuitive. I am a gadget nerd, which means I can handle myself around electronics and rarely need to read a manual to use anything electronic. I could not avoid the manual for the Ecoflow Wave.
The main issue is that the digital display does not provide good feedback regarding what the buttons are actually doing, so when you press a button, it may not always be clear what the Wave is doing in response.
Second, the unit puts out a distinct smell. My guess is that I’m smelling the refrigerant in the compressor, but in a small room, it’s going to dominate pretty much everything. It doesn’t smell “bad”, but it’s not pleasant either.
Third, I couldn’t get the app to work with the unit. My guess is that this was because I received a fairly early unit, and the software may not have been ready for primetime yet. Your mileage may vary.
Fourth, it is really expensive. If you purchase the base unit and the external battery (which is how I tested it), you’ll have to fork over nearly $1,500.00. So, while the unit works very well, you’ll need to decide whether this price tag justifies the value it brings to your use-case.
Complaints aside, I have been more than impressed with the Ecoflow Wave. The unit pumps out cold air without issue, and when paired with the sold-separate battery, the Wave offers a compelling portable cooling solution if you can stomach the hefty price tag. Camping and tailgates won’t be the same again.