GoalZero Nomad 13

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Overview

I bought two of these panels whilst over in the US on business. They seem to have mixed reviews but I've found them to be excellent. There is a slight price premium but the quality of manufacture is excellent and the included connectors are robust and well designed.

WIll it charge my iPhone 4, 4S, 5? iPad etc.

The question everyone asks... The short answer is yes, but, you'll want to use it with a battery pack in order to keep an iPhone charging and you'll almost certainly have to use a battery pack to use it to charge an iPad. The reason for this is not a criticism of the solar panel, it's just that the sun isn't terribly reliable. If the sun dips behind a cloud then the charge current will drop too low for the iPhone and it will stop charging - it doesn't always start again once power returns, so you can have an annoying situation where the phone stops and starts charging frequently, taking a long time to charge and in some cases (with some devices) it won't start charging again without being un-plugged and re-plugged.

The best bet is to use the panel to charge a battery, then charge the phone from the battery (perhaps at night whilst you sleep). This is likely to be much more convenient than having to leave your iPhone tethered static to a solar panel during the best parts of the day.

I've started to maintain a page on Solar Panels and Battery Packs here with some links to battery packs that are suitable.

Criticisms

The issue I've found with these panels is that the built-in USB port is not very efficient, the most current I've managed to see from it is around 4.9v and 0.5 amps. This isn't even up to the rated spec of 5v at 1amp (5watts).

  • To say it's not very efficient is a difficult statement to quantify, but my logic is that using the supplied cigarette lighter socket adapter in the 8.0mm port and a charger like this one, I'm able to pull much closer to the panels rated output.
  • The panel tends to rub when closed, you can see in the image where there's a dulling of the surface caused by the two faces of the panel rubbing against each other when closed. Not a massive problem but over time it may reduce the performance of the panel.
  • My last annoyance is the fact the led which is there to show you when the panel is producing power, isn't visible with the pocket closed. Not a huge thing but it does get annoying having to unzip it to see if it's generating power.
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