Yesterday I posted and article reviewing the SolPad7 Solaraid solar charging unit. I was impressed with it. But it was only fair that I test and review the GoalZero option (Nomad7) as well. Problem was, I didn’t own one. Yeah, minor issue right. Now, before I go with this review I am thinking that somewhere down the roday I am going to do this head-to-head chart of the Solpad7 vs. the Nomad7 but that is when I get bored sometime later this summer. For now, this is the review of the GoalZero Nomad7.
Remember, I tell you the little impressive details of a product along the way so bear with me. I love GoalZero packaging! Yeah, stupid thing I know. But whoever designs their packaging should get a raise. You can just feel how cool it is. I am talking the package so far.
I get the package open and get the unit out and I can it is typical GoalZero quality…just that, quality.
In the package you get the solar panel array, the Guide10 battery charger, 4 x AA rechargeable batteries, AAA battery adapter tray, and the 12vDC cigarette socket. FYI, the 12vDC cigarette socket is kind of the universal gizmo that you would use to try and connect anything else to this unit for charging or other uses. I don’t and won’t. Why? I am only expecting the Nomad7 to recharge my AA or AAA batteries; that’s its only mission. That being said, back to the review…
Then I dug into all the accessories that comes along with it, I wanna see the different options to hook things up to charge and recharge. The 4-battery recharging unit just looks like the standard AA battery charger, which it is. It has the adapter tray to hold AAA batteries but that is expected. The Nomad 7 comes with four AA batteries, 2300mAh rating. Not bad, not as good as my Tenergy rechargeables but fine all the same. But then I get a pleasant surprise.
The “power port” on the back of the actual folding panel is sweet! There are four connections, three with wires and connectors hanging off of it. There four connections are:
- USB port at the end of an 8” wire.
- 12vDC connector at the end of an 8” wire.
- The Guide 10 battery charger port at the end of an 8” wire.
- And a port with no wire labeled “Chain Input”
Couple things struck me:
- The wires are all thick walled and at least 12g wire.
- The wires all have the little tension, bend protection “boots” on them to protect the wire from breaking or coming out of the connector or the power port itself.
- Each port is clearly labeled in easy to read bright green on black. And you can access the power port. Oh yeah!
But what the heck was the “chain input” port for? So I decided, “What the heck, read the instructions.”
Oooppppsssss! The instructions don’t match the unit exactly. But the instructions were good enough to let me know that the “chain port” was a way to daisy chain multiple Nomad7 units together to boost the amount of wattage
charging your batteries. And that my friend, cuts the charging time to about half.
NOTE: There are a couple versions of this unit; older and newer.
Immediately I wanted to test the output of this puppy so I peeled the protective layer off the panels and set it up in the sun. FYI, I am estimating that I was getting about 75% sun that day due to some high-level cloud cover. I tested the 12vDC cigarette socket and I am showing 14.92 vDC coming out. Respectable and plenty sufficient.
Next up, I hooked up the Guide10 battery pack and tested the current flowing to each of the battery charging terminals, 2.887 vDC. Again, respectable and plenty sufficient. So the battery charger and the cigarette socket are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. No, that is not a pretty low standard. In today’s world with all the cheap crap coming out of China, the fact that something does what it is billed to do is a good standard to initially judge something by.
So then I turned my attention to the Guide10 battery charger case itself. I am not impressed. I mean it will do its job but here are the issues that I have:
- There is no readily seen and easily understood battery level or charger status lights. You have to look at a single LED and then flip the unit over and try and read the tiny black on silver “key” to what the blinking light means.
- The battery charge level is in 50% increments. Too large of a range for my liking, I prefer a minimum of 25% increments to get a better idea what is going on.
- Then there are three different colors; green, orange and red. Each of which mean something different.
- The built-in LED light is 1/4 the brightness of the Solpad7 unit.
The sad part, the front panel of the Guide10 has plenty of room to have put a couple more LEDs and made the status an easy “glance” vs. interpreting different color blinking lights and the speed at which they are blinking to understand what it going on. But GoalZero chose to use that valuable space for advertising vs. end-user functionality. Too bad.
The Guide10 charged a set of Energizer NiMh batteries I had in pretty decent time. I am estimating that four fully discharged AA batteries would take about 3 – 4 hours to fully recharge. I am going to verify that today again. That is a very respectable recharging time and well within my mission parameters.
The coolest thing of all in this little package of goodies…carabineers! Yeah, in the package were two little carabineers that are about 1-1/2” long, by about 1” wide at the widest part. Of course they are GoalZero green. Bu they are awesome and obviously good quality. They are there to hook the dual panel Nomad7 panel to your pack or whatever else you are going to hang the panel from. Bad part, I would never trust a $100 solar recharging panel/kit along with my only other set of batteries to two little carabineers. Four maybe, but never two. I will contact the company and see if I can buy more.
Technical Information & Specifications –
• Recharge by: USB, Solar Panel
• Power Output: USB, AA/AAA Batts.
• Ideal for: Phone, GPS, Headlamp
• Guide 10 battery charger and LED light
• Nomad 7
• Weight: 1.2 lbs
• Light Compatibility: Luna, Firefly
*When using Goal Zero NiMH rechargeable low self-discharge AA cells.
Nomad7 (Solar Panels) –
|Charges the following:
With the Guide 10 Plus Recharger and Nomad 7 Solar Panel you have a portable, rugged charging kit as adventurous as you are. Charge AAs from the sun or any USB port, then power your phone, MP3, GPS, or perk up your tablet in a pinch.
So let’s cut to the chase, the bottom line…the GoalZero Nomad7/Guide10 combo kit is a solid “buy”.
- Yes, it is more expensive than the Solpad7 unit. But I also firmly believe that the Nomad7 unit is better quality. And teh SOlpad7 unit is not available for sale anywhere I looked.
- Yes, there are other units/panels out there. No, I haven’t tested them all personally but I have researched them extensively. Some are larger and more powerful, some are smaller and less expensive. But for the balance of size, power, mission and efficiency the Nomad7 is the correct panel for me.
- I read a lot of reviews on the Nomad7 / Guide10 combination kit. There are number of bad reviews out there. What I found was three category of bad reviews; 1) using to charge phones & iPads, 2) getting used units sold as new, 3) the bad reviews were almost exclusively on the “older” version Nomad7.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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