Portable Solar Stories: Steve F., Nomad 13

EDITOR’S NOTE: We launched our new online specialty products store to offer portable solar products from Goal Zero® to sunshine enthusiasts everywhere. This blog series details our customers’ and employees’ experiences with the products to shed some light on how solar power works on-the-go.

Name: Steve F., Green Mountain Energy employee

Location: New York, NY

Goal Zero® Product (Category): Nomad 13 (Solar Panel)

GZ Nomad 13 imageThis past week, I had an opportunity to try out a Nomad 13 portable solar panel.  As a general fan of renewable energy and a general fan of being far away from power outlets, I was excited to give this new gear a try.  I’ve never had a solar device before (save for those solar-powered calculators everyone had as a kid), so this was a new foray into the world of solar for me.  This past week, I also spent a few days hiking the Devil’s Path in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.  The opportunity to try out my new solar panel in the deep woods was irresistible.

I took my Nomad 13 with me in my pack, where it easily fit.  Its light weight made it no bother to carry.  Usually, when I travel, I bring a couple of charger batteries with me to keep my electronics charged (I am definitely a smartphone addict).  My thoughts were that I would use the solar panel to keep my phones boosted, but ultimately use the pre-charged batteries to keep my phone going.  After a long day of hiking, I found a sunny spot on the ground and loaded my Android phone into its back pouch and connected it up to the attached wires.  It began to charge immediately.  Though the charge was slow (much slower than plugging it into a portable battery), it did charge up my entire battery for my phone to full charge before I took it off to do some more hiking. I never had to use my batteries.

While the cheaper and smaller battery pack I usually use might have served my needs fine for just a couple of days of hiking, I could see the Nomad being very useful for a longer hike. I also attempted to use the Nomad in my office in Manhattan, but found that the light I get in my (not directly lit) window was insufficient for charging my phone. This product definitely needs direct light. In the end, I would say that this product would be most useful to a serious, multi-day backpacker.

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