The beauty of a solar charging system for your outdoor gadgets is that you can recharge depleted batteries while you’re off the grid.
The downside is getting your hands on one to test during the shortest and most sun-free days of the year. Add the plethora of cloudy days of late, and there hasn’t been but a single day to try out the Elite Nomad 7M solar panel from Goal 0. And that “test” was conducted between clouds on a windowsill at work.
Guess what? When the sun disappears behind a cloud, your cell phone doesn’t get a charge. In fact, the one we were attempting to charge (while it was on) actually discharged when the sun disappeared. But the panel was in fact charging the phone as long as the panel was exposed to sunlight.
I’d like to have another shot at giving this panel a workout. It’s really an intriguing tool. You can recharge your hand-held devices directly from its USB and 12-volt DC charging ports.
You plug your 12-volt adapter into the automobile-type accessory socket or the USB cord from your device and you have 5 volts of power on the USB port or 12 volts at 7 watts on the accessory socket.
Power comes from a pair of highly efficient monocrystalline panels no larger than most paperback book covers, which fold together into their own ballistic nylon case. Integrated hanging loops help in positioning the 13-ounce charger facing the sun when in the field.
Goal 0 says it has testing charging times for various hand-held devices, and report the following charging times when the panel is placed in full sunlight: iPod, 2 hours; Garmin GPS, 2 hours; cell phone, 1 hour; GoPro camera, 4 hours; satellite phone, 2 hours.
Goal 0 has a line of solar chargers and panels.
When you purchase a Goal Zero product “you are helping to sustain the philanthropic initiatives of Tifie Humanitarian. In fact, Goal Zero originally was created to provide light in schools and orphanages across Africa. We invite you to learn more about our charity of choice by visiting Tifie’s website at www.tifie.org,” the company says.
The Elite Nomad measures 6 inches by 9 inches folded and 19 inches by 9 inches unfolded, and operates in temperatures between 32 and 86 degrees. It has a 12-month warranty and a typical five-year life span.