Friday, July 14, 2017

Power To Go - Goal Zero

Some might think that having the ability to communicate with the outside world while doing single day or multi-day kayaking trips is just wrong. The fact is, we live in a society that relies upon the rapidly changing technology and social media that has become part of our every day lives.

Even when paddling off the grid Robyn and I rely upon devices like a VHF radio to receive weather reports and hopefully not send out a distress call. We send SPOT messages daily to our loved ones telling them that we are OK and once again hopefully not send out a distress message. We record images or video of our adventures on our multiple cameras to share with our followers. We read or listen to music on our Apple devices and we're able to see around camp after the sun goes down using our headlamps. And here is the big taboo for some folks .... engage in social media, chat or answer emails on our iPhones. Guilty as charged! LOL

The one drawback about our technology is that they all require electrical power and it needs to be rationed carefully ...... unless you have the ability to recharge! For the past 5 years we have been using a couple of 6600 mAh ProLine Universal Portable Power Bank units that I first blogged about in June 2012. They have worked great but their ability to hold a charge has decreased over time and once depleted they just become extra weight to carry around.

On our recent 10-day Gulf Islands trip where we did use social media daily to post our activities and the Power Bank units were depleted well before the last day which made me think about investing in a solar charging set up when we got home. Some of my solar charging "wants" were having the ability to charge directly to a device, charge to a battery which then could charge multiple devices at night or when there is no sun, ease of use, compact and light, expandable in terms of adding on extra features and finally something that wouldn't break the bank account. Having a couple of MEC gift cards helped in my case and so I did a little research on the Goal Zero line of products that MEC carries.

For our needs I decided on the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel ($130 at MEC) that is smaller and lighter than my iPad when folded up. Some of the features listed by Goal Zero include a rugged and modular detachable kickstand providing optimum angle placement, natural shade for charging devices and a vented pocket for temperature regulation. Weatherproof layering easily sloughs rain and snow. Solar Capacity: 7W (8-9V), Power Output via USB 1.4A (7W) and weighing only 12.8 oz.

Small, light and well built the Nomad 7 Plus solar panel

4 LED's indicate solar strength and charge speed.
Another great feature is the Solar Intensity Indicator + Junction Box. This is where the brains of the Nomad 7 Plus live. The easy-to-read LED indicator displays strength of solar conditions and I receive immediate feedback on panel-to-sun placement to improve solar charging experience.

Check out a video from the guys who made it ... yup the engineers here!

I also chose the Goal Zero Venture 30 Recharger ($135.00 at MEC) which is charged by the Nomad 7 Plus. It has a battery capacity of 7800 mAh delivering 30Wh (3.6V) through (2) 4.8A USB ports, (1) Micro USB port, weighs 8.8 oz. and has an IPX6 weatherproof rating.  Being Solar Ready™ with a Built-in Charging Tip there are no extra cables to lose. During my initial charge testing it took only 4 hours from the USB on my computer and less than 9 hours of full sun for the Nomad 7 Plus to fully charge.

Goal Zero says to dunk it, spray it, use it in the rain. Power that handles whatever Mother Nature can throw at you. No rubber plugs needed. Sounds kayaker ready to me!!

Check out another video from the guys who made it ... yup the engineers here! :-)

The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus solar panel and Venture 30 charging.

I mentioned expandability as being another "want" and Goal Zero delivers this to the end user. Having the ability to charge AA or AAA NiMh cells to power our GPS's or other cell dependent devices is a big plus. In the past we have used multiple sets of alkaline cells as back ups but we will be purchasing the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus to use with our existing NiMh cells.

Now .... all we have to do is take our Goal Zero products off the grid to do some real testing. Yes ... I will be doing a follow up blog too!

No comments:

Post a Comment