This month I will be reviewing the Goalzero Nomad 7m solar panels. Goalzero has made a name for themselves by making solar panels that can charge your smaller electronic devices while out enjoying the activities that don't always present a nearby wall outlet. The company also has panels that can help you power your house as well!
Goalzero “Nomad 7M solar panel capable of charging hand held electronics from only the suns energy
The Nomad 7m panel consists of two 5" x 8" panels that fold to face each other and to protect the panels. The panels are backed with strong Cordura Nylon which is what a lot of backpacks and pouches are made of, and very durable for outdoor use.
The solar panels are paired up to a built in "Guide10" which is the power inverter which converts the suns energy into usable power to charge your handheld electronics. The built in Guide10 includes a USB port that allows you to charge anything that can be charged by a computer, and today, that includes just about anything! The other side allows you to plug in Goalzero’s included adapter that accepts any cigarette outlet plug you may have such as the cellphone charger you keep in your vehicle. There is also a port that accepts Goalzero’s external battery packs to charge them for later use. One thing to keep in mind is that while the solar panels are efficient, if you plug in two devices, the power will be split between the two which will make your charging times twice as long.
According to Goalzero their optional battery packs which take approximately six hours to charge completely and should be able to charge your cell phone 1-3 times depending on your particular phone before it needs to be recharged itself. This is great to leave the solar panel at camp charging the battery pack all day while you are out. When you come back at dark, you can plug your phone into the battery pack to charge your phone for the next day. I was unable to test these battery packs out, but will at a future date.
I purchased these panels to charge my phone and two way radios while out in the desert or woods hunting and camping away from an outlet. While I love practicing bushcraft and other outdoor survival practice away from the craziness of the city, I still have to keep in touch with family, friends and work (as well as to write articles for you all!). These panels have met my expectations in doing this, and allows me use more battery eating apps freely such as mapping with GPS coverage while still checking my Facebook and listening to music. A clean forward thinking power option that allows you to get away from the grid and still charge your toys.
Goalzero has panels that will meet your needs from the smaller ones designed to charge your handheld electronics, to slightly larger ones that will charge laptops, all the way to much larger versions designed to power camp lights and larger electronics or an off the grid cabin. Visit their website at goalzero.com to see their entire product line.
In addition to Goalzero’s solar chargers they also offer another fun product that they have named the “Rock-Out.” Its a small speaker system that measures 6” X 5” X 3” and allows you to plug in anything you wish that accepts a standard 3.5mm headphone jack such as your cell phone or MP3 device. Since it is self powered (you can charge it through your computer via USB, by your solar panels with the included USB cable, or with the optional battery packs) it will not drain your devices battery as fast as if you were to use the devices external speaker alone. There is no volume control on the device, only an on and off switch and an LED to indicate on or off and charging status, so all volume control will be controlled on the device itself which will make it much easier I think than having two independent volumes like many external speakers do.
The Authors “Rock-Out” playing music from a Smartphone
Goalzero states that “the Rock-Outs wooden sound box and bass speakers deliver a full-range of high-quality sound.” and I would have to agree! The sound is clear and surprisingly loud! I set my phone on my vehicle hood and played music through the Rock-Out for three hours while practicing some archery for an upcoming hunt. The ruggedness of the speaker has become a hit with mountain climbers who have clipped it to their climbing harness for music while on the wall, as well as mountain bikers who use the shock cord sewn to the outside to attach the speaker to their handlebars. A fun toy to add to your outdoor gear to let you listen to your music while hanging around camp, or from a rope off the side of a mountain.
Author: Ken Bass