Goal Zero Solar Charger Review
I’ll admit it: I’m a “computer junkie”. I have a Kindle Fire, a regular Kindle, two laptops and my phone. I also have 4 regular “tower” computers. And that doesn’t include what my daughter has. All of that in a house with two people. Yeah, I’m a junkie. My girlfriend calls me a biker-geek. Love that.
I keep a lot of my Prep documents on the Kindles and the laptops, so they’re not (just) toys. Three-ring binders are nice, but I really doubt they’re going to travel well if I have to bug out. A couple of 1 pound (or less), novel-sized Kindles, on the other hand, barely take up any space or weight.
So one of my biggest fears in a SHTF situation is not having any of that available.
Enter the Goal Zero 19010 Guide 10 Plus Small Adventure Kit (you can use this link to check the current price on Amazon.com). It will help to click the link – this thing is kind of hard to describe.
This package consists of two main parts: The Nomad 7 solar panel, and the Guide 10 Plus battery pack. The solar panel is actually two interconnected panels that fold together when not in use to save space. They are
very light (probably less than a pound) and very thin (maybe an inch or so when folded together). Although they’re not very flexible, they do seem pretty rugged. If it were to drop a few feet, I wouldn’t be worried about it breaking. Probably don’t want to run it over with the truck, though.
There are two outputs on the solar panel interface device which is attached to the solar panel. One is for a 12-volt “cigarette lighter” type cord, one is a USB output used to charge your Kindle, I-pad, cell phone, laptop, MP3 player – virtually anything that can be charged from a USB port can be charged using this thing. The last output is to connect the solar panel to the Guide 10 Plus battery pack. Cords are included, but the USB/universal cord is the old type with the larger plug. You’ll have to buy one for the new, smaller universal jacks, but they’re cheap.
There is a mesh, zippered bag on the outside of the unit that can carry the cords and other small items.
The second half of the package, the Guide 10 Plus battery pack, is just a very fancy battery charger. It has 2 inputs for charging the batteries: one for plugging into the Nomad 7, and one for charging via USB port (such as from your laptop).
The Guide 10 plus charges 4 AA batteries (included) and also comes with an adapter to charge 4 AAA batteries (not included). It works with any AA or AAA rechargeable batteries. The Guide 10 Plus also has a USB output to charge devices like the ones mentioned above.
Devices can be charged in three ways: Either directly from the USB or 12-volt outputs on the Nomad 7 solar panel, or the Guide 10 Plus can be plugged into the Nomad 7 and then used as an interface to charge devices through its USB output. The second method is recommended for charging tablet computers and I-phones, as they need a steady voltage to charge, and the batteries provide that steady voltage even when they’re charging.
Devices can also be charged directly from the battery pack if there is no sun. A handy feature at night. Charging times are said to be 3 – 4 hours for most devices and for the batteries, but that is in direct sunlight.
I threw it on my dashboard while I was at work on a mostly cloudy day, and it charged 4 AAA batteries (drained) in about 6 hours. About the same with 4 AA batteries. Not bad considering the sun is very low in the sky up here at this time of year. In bright sunlight and turning it to face the sun every now and then, I can easily believe the 3-hour claim.
To charge my phone and my Kindle, I ran it through the battery pack and both charged in about 2 hours, although they weren’t completely drained when I started. Still impressive. It takes almost that long using 110-volt household voltage!
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my daughter’s I-phone or I-Pad away from her long enough to try those out. If I ever do, I’ll update in the comments section. Don’t hold your breath.
The physical dimensions are: 6.5″ x 9.5″ x 1.8″ and weigh in at about 1.7 pounds. Small, thin and lightweight. Just what a prepper needs.
So far, I am extremely happy with it. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this thing to anyone. If there is a grid- down situation, I’d have a phone, my prep files, books to read, games to play, music and also alarms, calculator, etc. on my Kindles. Add to that a 12-volt source to charge my LED trouble lights and a way to charge AA and AAA batteries for flashlights, radios, etc. All with no fuel, no noise, and a tiny footprint.
All of that would make this thing worth its weight in gold. (Note: they keep improving, updating this thing, so some of the reviews and pictures on the Amazon link are outdated. I think they’ve got it all worked out now, though 😉