Trusted Review™ Scorecard
Average Score: 4.5 out of 5.0
Each product or service is rated on Quality, Reliability, Price/Value, and Referability. Each area has an individual score, and creates an overall Trusted Review™.
Solar Power Anywhere
With as much time as I spend outdoors, I have always wondered why there were not any portable and dependable solar devices that I could rely on to charge my cell phone. Before new technology, my cell phone and laptop were really the only devices I depended on to gather and send information to others. It always seemed that I needed just a bit more battery power to complete an assignment or make a call. I would then have to go back to my vehicle or a motel and wait out a “re-charge” before I could complete my task. Other times it would be a rush to plug in my cell phone to the car charger so I could send pictures or make those necessary calls to home or business.
Well, all of that has changed! While at a POMA writers’ conference in Utah last summer, I was approached by Goal Zero to field test one of their solar charging units. The minute I laid eyes on their outdoor display in the form of a base camp, my wheels started turning. As I looked over the different Goal Zero units I knew right then this could change the way we operate outdoors. There was a unit for every need, large and small. Upon my return to Missouri, I was very anxious to give this product a try and put it to the test. Goal Zero sent me the Sherpa 50 Power Pack, the Nomad 13.5 Solar Panel, and the Sherpa Universal Inverter.
In early fall in Missouri, we had set up a base camp for the archery and firearms deer season. The Goal Zero Nomad 13.5 and Sherpa 50 would be our source of solar energy for cell phones, laptops, game cameras, video cameras and our HD GoPro camera. I could download pictures from the cameras to my laptop by using the Sherpa Universal Inverter and my iPod, using the USB cord. Our equipment was charged daily. While in the field hunting, I left the Nomad 13.5 panel hanging from one of the tent poles to receive charge during daylight hours, even with cloudy weather! The Sherpa 50 was never drained of its power completely and it had plenty of use. It was very unique to have that renewable power at my disposal in our camp, which was completely off the grid.
My second field test was on an Ozark stream in January during cold weather. I had set up a kayak day trip and combined the Goal Zero equipment with our GoPro cameras. I strapped the Nomad 13.5 Solar Panel on to the front deck of my kayak and ran the charge cord into my iPod, which was inside my pack under the deck. The GoPro cameras use a USB cord that also connects to the Sherpa 50 Power Pack. There was plenty of water dripping on the panel from the paddling but the panel is weather resistant and the water did not affect performance.
Nomad 13.5 Solar Panel
- Charges Sherpa 50 in 6-10 hours
- Foldable and compact design, fits any backpack
- Weather and water resistant
Sherpa 50 Power Pack
- Charge many devices: USB, 12V and AC (with inverter) outputs
- Powers laptop for an additional 1-3 hours
- Powers cell phones and Goal Zero LED lights for 20+ hours
- Long-lasting rechargeable lithium battery; 5-8 year life
- Recharge from Nomad solar panels, wall (AC) or car (12V)
Sherpa Universal Inverter
- Use with Sherpa 50 for AC output
- 100 watt output
- Universal 110v and 220V AC
The Goal Zero Solar Panel is conveniently designed to fold into a small packet about the size of an iPad with a pouch for the cord. There is an overlapping velcro flap that snuggly prepares the unit for packing or storage. It is made of a water resistant material which is great when laying the unit on the snow or wet surface.
I had used it under these different conditions with no problem. The solar panel was exposed to water splash plenty of times on our kayak outing.
The Sherpa 50 Power Pack is a durable compact unit with handy handle and access points for various accessories cords. It easily fits into any pack with an extra length cord that runs to the Solar Panel. The Power Pack and Inverter are made of rugged material and the units received abuse on both my outings! I have run laptop, camera batteries, iPod, and LED lights off of the power pack.
I found all the units to be dependable and functional when I needed them. I do notice the solar panel needs be in a direct face on position to obtain a quicker maximum charge. Under any other conditions it takes a full 6 to 8 hours for a full charge. Once the power pack is fully charged, it holds the charge well until needed.
At first I thought the Goal Zero was somewhat overpriced until I put it to use. When you consider the technology and convenience and dependability, the price is certainly justified. The Nomad 13.5 MSRP is $199.99, the Sherpa 50 MSRP is $249.99 and the Sherpa Universal Inverter MSRP $79.99. If you hunt, hike, climb, explore, need emergency standby power, or float off the grid, Goal Zero is worth the investment!
I would refer Goal Zero products to any serious outdoor enthusiast or anyone needing quality dependable survival equipment. With today’s electronic technology so dependent on battery use, Goal Zero is the solution!