Jinbei EN-350 Energon – Vagabond Mini Lithium Alternative

Jinbei have released an alternative the very popular PCB Vagabond Mini Lithium (VML) portable power pack for studio lights, in the Energon EN-350 inverter. And they are now available from around $298, with shipping included, which is really not that far off the price of the VML (once you add in shipping).

It’s been well over 2 years since the compact and lightweight VML Lithium power pack was first released. And with its huge popularity its a little surprising its taken this long for alternatives to start to emerge. Even now though for US customers the VML will remain very hard to beat considering the high level of service PCB offers for the very low price. The one other recent alternative available has been the Photogenic Ion, which at $399 is not quite as competitively priced.

So the big advantage of the Jinbei EN-350 will mainly be for people outside the US who simply haven’t had any comparable alternatives on offer until now.

Jinbei Energon EN-350

The EN-350 has almost identical specifications to the VML, 14,4V 8800mAh Lithium battery, and a total weight just under 2kg for the complete battery and inverter. Continuous output is 200W and Peak power 600W.

This is enough capacity for –

  • 450 flashes at full power for 1 x 600Ws flash head
  • 600 flashes at full power for 1 x 400Ws flash head
  • 800 flashes at full power for 1 x 300Ws flash head

Recycle time will be around 3 seconds for a single 600Ws flash. And 2 flashes can be also be used, though recycle would increase, and the number of pops would halve with 2 flashes.

 

Again like the VML the EN-350 has a removable battery pack pack which can be swapped over as needed, even while the lights are still plugged into the inverter.

The battery packs can be charged via a socket in the top of the inverter case, or directly via the socket in the battery pack. So one battery pack can then be charging while another is being used. Or multiple packs can be charged at once (using extra chargers). Charging time is 3 to 4 hours.

Jinbei Energon EN-350

The EN-350 has a battery level indicator, 30A fuse, and a USB socket for powering other devices. This can be extremely handy for powering a laptop or charging other batteries etc on location.

Like the VML, the EN-350 comes in two versions, a 110V version for US lights, and a 220V version for lights designed for the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia etc. The 220V version comes with the Australian/Asian V plug sockets shown below, so UK and European users may need to use an adapter plug.

Unlike the VML, the 220V version of the EN-350 will be the one most readily available, because as mentioned earlier the VML will still be very hard to compete with in the USA (where the 110V version is mostly used).

 

Jinbei EN-350

 

The EN-350 comes with charger, carry strap, stand clamp, and bag –

Jinbei EN-350 Charger Jinbei EN-350 Strap Jinbei EN-350 Stand Clamp Jinbei EN-350 Bag

 

Attention to the stand clamp has been a weak point of the VML, and the EN-350 is actually looking to have some similar issues. The clamp shown below, and in most of the images, is only meant to hold lightweight items which have a belt hook, so otherwise light enough to hang on your belt. Not really 2kg battery packs like the EN-350.  

The obvious solution there would be to add a second clamp of the same kind, mounted down lower on the pack as well. But that may not be so easy to add a bolt from the inside of the case for the second clamp.

Some images like these from Singapore retailer The Studio Outfitters, show a Global Truss clamp used instead –

Jinbei EN-350 Truss Clamp

The Truss clamp would certainly be a more solid solution. And they are very inexpensive, so it would be quite easy to swap over to a Truss clamp if needed. The only catch there is you need a clamp close to the tube diameter of the section of the stand you intent to clamp to.

There are three Global Truss clamp sizes available, but the largest is 2″ in diameter, which is likely too large for most stands. So 3/4″ and 1 1/3″ are likely the common options. I would expect its the 1 1/3″ Jr Clamp size used above.

 

The compact VML power pack is only half of the winning bang for buck combination from PCB though. The other half is the 640Ws Einstein monolight, which is also very hard to beat for the price and service offered by PCB. The Einstein features IGBT circuitry which provides very fast flash durations for freezing action, as well as very good color consistency across the power range. Not to mention compact size, and low weight at just 2kg.

So for an Einstein alternative outside of the US, the new Godox QT-600 is currently likely the one to look out for.

 

Price and Availability –

 

The Jinbei Energon EN-350 is available now from around $330 on Ebay

Jinbei – Website

 

12 Comments
  1. Pancho Skywalker 4 years ago

    That’s a perfect solution for those who we are outside US.

  2. zubpho 4 years ago

    After having used Jinbei FL II 500 with their Li-Polymer battery 12.8 v 4600mAh for 7 months, I have lost trust in Jinbei products.

    Jinbei claims on their website and in the manual that it is possible to have 350 flashes at full power with a single charge. When bought new I got only about 200 flashes! Now I get only about 100 flashes. When I contact the seller, the latter on behalf of Jinbei states that this is the normal aging of the battery and that the warranty that comes with the product does not cover the battery.

    If Jinbei claims that Jinbei EN-350 gives 600 flashes at full power for 400ws strobe I will believe it only if someone has put the battery to test.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 4 years ago

      Hi zubpho,

      Thanks for that feedback. I was a little concerned that all Lithium packs may not be created equal. But I have heard from people involved in the business that most of these batteries come from the same source. But I don’t know that for sure at this stage with the Jinbei products.

      Some reduction in capacity from new does certainly appear to be normal, there was quite a bit of discussion around this with the VML originally too. But halving the capacity in 7 months is very excessive.

      One thing that does appear to be important with Lithium packs is not to run them right down if possible before recharging. This apparently has quite an impact on retaining as much capacity in the pack over time as possible.

      You didn’t purchase from the Photogadget.com by any chance? They are usually very good with customer service.

      Hopefully this is not a common issue with Jinbei packs, but if that was the case, people trying and exposing the shortfalls like this are the only way they are going to improve them. Thanks again.

  3. k10 4 years ago

    In fairness jinbei probably don’t make the cells just assemble the battery.

    I personally don’t mind so much since I can make my own powerpacks and am used to doing this with 18650s and have a good supplier of genuine panasonic cells. It’s pretty nice price for a pure sinewave inverter with that input and case etc etc even if the battery is under capacity; it’ll do as a backup.

    I ordered one anyway and currently waiting on it, the packs can vary a little but they tend not to use the best cells for those who have right charging gear. Most get reasonably close to stated value depending what cells they use. I am assuming they are 2200mha/hr cells in 4s2p at a guess but wont be able to tell yet. I’m half thinking going 4s4p or even 8p wouldn’t be bad idea and throw in a protection circuit, shrink wrap etc and the unit is good for much longer.

  4. Ross 4 years ago

    I have just received one and my version is the 220 volt model. The instruction booklet has the following information.

    Under 220v power standard

    600 times of flashes in full power for a 1 x 600Ws flash head.
    700 times of flashes in full power for a 1 x 400Ws flash head.
    1000 times of flashes in full power for a 1 x 300Ws flash head.

    Seems you get a little more out of the battery when you are using 220v, will soon find out.

    I am quite impressed with the portable power pack so far and especially like the bag it came with. I don’t think I will use the bracket at all.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 4 years ago

      Ok great thanks Ross!

  5. paul 3 years ago

    Hi,
    I was hopping you might be able to help advise me on a portable power supply for 2 alien bees 800w heads, 110v ,which i want to use in Europe 220v, any suggestions? I would get Vagabond Mini but they wont post to UK?

    Thanks
    Paul

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 3 years ago

      Hi Paul,

      PCB will ship to Europe as far as I understand if you use a freight forwarding company.

      But you could also try contacting Collin Smith from T-One.co, as he may possibly still have some PCB gear around.

      Otherwise you could order the Photogenic Ion from B&H etc in the USA.

      I think there is a 110V version of the Jinbei EN-350, though they may be hard to come across. Thanks.

  6. paul 3 years ago

    Sorry, that should read 120V B800 flash units.

  7. nixland 2 years ago

    For continuous light test, the EN350 can power up 100w LED light (220v) for 53 minutes. Not bad 🙂

  8. Hi, but what about Jinbei MSN II-400. It has 1/10000 and power control until 1/128 and all about $500 in Europe. How it is comparable with Godox QT-600? Is it all about size and weight for mobility?

  9. Jack 1 year ago

    I just bought a Jinbei EN-350, although it’s under a different name—Roamer 600 II Lithium. It’s sold under the Strobepro name brand here in Canada. It is identical in every respect, so I know it’s the same. However, it did not come with an instruction manual, which I found strange! Any idea on where I can get a manual, either in paper form or PDF?

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