View Full Version : Goal Zero Nomad 7M

01-19-2012, 00:31
Has anyone used these yet? I just got one for xmas. I was going to bring it on the AT but people are saying not worth it... but are they talking about this newer model or past ones? Backpacker says this one is much more efficient.. is that so? I am more than happy to leave it if its not going to help.. but I would like to be able to charge effectively in some way.. I am going to carry a cell phone, mp3 (AAA), GoPro camera (got a spare battery).

05-27-2012, 19:23
I know this post is months old but I thought I'd post here anyway and say that the nomad 7 is good only when in perfect sunlight. Even a birds shadow will interrupt the charge and with a lot of digital electronics you need to unplug it from the device and plug it back in for the device to start charging again. The nomad 13.5 is a totally different story though, it will charge inside the house on a cloudy day as long as its close enough to the window. The trade off is it weighs 1.6 lbs and costs $200. I think solar is only worth it if you intend to use electronics a lot and/or you have a long way between resupply for batteries.

06-25-2012, 23:24
I just bought the Goal Zero Nomad 7 two weeks or so ago from Costco for $63. I had heard that the need to unplug and replug issues were only with the newer iPhones so bought it and tried it out. I didn't have to do this with any of the devices I tried (Samsung Epic 4g Touch phone, Ipod Touch 3rd G, New (but inexpensive) LG cell phone, EZOPower battery pack). I've been very pleased with it so far. Here are my experiences, take them for what they are worth.

The day I bought it, we had a clear day and I started doing some tests to see how well it charges. In direct sunlight, it seems to charge my Android Phone as fast as the wall charger. This surprised me, as I had bought a cheap solar charger on eBay that turned out to be worthless as a solar charger. With the factory battery on the Samsung Epic 4g Touch phone, it took it from 72% charge to 95% charge in under 40 minutes with the phone on and no apps running.

A couple days later we had an overcast day so I tried it again. It didn't charge at all early in the morning when the sun was low. At about 11 a.m. with the sun still hidden behind a heavy overcast sky, I tried it again and it charged the phone, albeit slower than the test in direct sunlight. It took it from 65% to 75% in about 1/2 hour, again with the phone on and no apps running.

The same day I took a drive and placed the solar panel on my dashboard to charge the phone. It continued to charge (with an annoying beep from the phone every time I passed under an overpass wide enough to block the sun and stop the charging momentarily). It continued to charge, but it only came up about 3% over 35 minutes on the freeway. But this was with an overcast sky (about 1 p.m.), and driving north in Southern California, so the sun was not coming directly into the windshield. In addition, the phone's screen came on every time I passed under an overpass due to the charging being interrupted for a second or so. This caused a power draw from the screen and slowed the charging. If I had left the phone off, it would have probably charged noticeably faster.

Finally, I took it into the mountains for the first time a week ago for an all day hike. I hung the solar panel on the outside of my daypack using the loops on the panel's nylon cover. It stayed on securely and I had no problems with it sliding around. We plugged in my son's Ipod Touch (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ipod+touch&x=0&y=0) and started hiking up a local canyon at about the 6000' level to the top of a 9000' summit. It was a clear, sunny day, and the trail had a lot of tree cover. I could hear the Ipod beeping on and off with the breaks in sunlight. There are many switchbacks on this trail as well so it was off and on as to how direct the sunlight was hitting the panel. We started with an almost empty charge of the Ipod and it was done charging when we checked it after about 3 1/2 hours.

There's no battery pack with the Nomad 7 I got so it cannot store a charge by itself. I picked up one of these to go with it:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...9SIA07Y0A71191 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA07Y0A71191)

This works very well also. The Guide 10 battery pack that comes in the Goal Zero pack uses NiMH batteries, which are heavier and not as efficient as Lithium Ion. The nice thing about the Goal Zero battery pack is that it charges AA batteries which can be used in accessories. None of mine use AA's though, so the Lithium Ion pack works better for me. This EZOPower battery pack weighs 4.4 oz and holds enough to charge my phone several times over and will tide me over during evening hours or days when the sun doesn't want to cooperate. It also has a load sensor and shuts off when the phone is done charging from it so you don't have to worry about overcharging your battery.

The Nomad 7 weighs 13.3 oz on my scale with the case and the Cigarette lighter type outlet for 12v accessories, not exactly ultralight. I've had people me ask why I'm bringing a solar charger with me on my JMT thru-hike next month, when I could stretch the power with a spare battery and careful usage of the phone. The reason is that I will be using my phone as both my still camera and video camera (and I plan on taking a lot of pictures). This will be the main power draw for me on the trail. I will also be using it as a GPS (http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=gps&_sacat=See-All-Categories) (mainly for fun and finding campsites based on coordinates in the guidebooks) and for reading material at night. I also have the Harrison trail maps scanned as a back up to the hard copies I'll be carrying, and 2 JMT trail guidebooks in ebook form. Finally, I plan on using the voice to text to create my daily journal during the hike. In addition to my phone, I will have my son's phone (the LG i mentioned at the beginning) and my other son's Fuji point & shoot camera to charge. The longest stretch will be 10 days without any outlets available for charging, and I want to make sure that I can get the shots that I want.