With known electrical grid issues and the possibility of being in a remote area without electricity, the sun seems to be logical solution when the outlet is no longer available. Although we never like to rely on survival gear that requires electricity, it often times can prove to be very useful.
By Josh, a contributing author of SurvivalCache.com
We receive requests for portable solar panel recommendations on an almost daily basis. Today we are taking a look at one of the top competitors in the solar energy market. Goal Zero’s Guide 10 Adventure Kit, and its individual components including the Nomad 7 Solar Panel.
What’s in the box?
1 x Guide 10 Battery Pack
1 x Nomad 7 Solar Panel
1 x Ultra Charge Solar Cord
1 x 12V cigarette adapter
1 x AA rechargeable batteries (4 pack
If nothing else, Goal Zero has mastered the art of the product page which includes all of the technical facts for both the battery pack and the Nomad 7 Solar Panel (Click Here).
I took my setup out on the trail for a total of ~50 days and nights over the course of a year. I was provided the chance to test the Nomad 7 panel out in wide variety of temperatures and weather conditions. While doing the research for this article we surveyed our awesome fans over on the SurvivalCache Facebook Page (Click Here) to find out exactly what it is that they wanted to know about the Guide 10 Adventure Kit.
One of the most frequently asked questions we received was “Why do you have to have the battery pack? Can’t you just charge your phone right off of the panel?” Going through the battery pack regulates the charge for your device. Without it, you would have a variable current, depending on the intensity of the sun at that particular moment. All devices being charged need a regulated current. Some phones can be seriously damage by a fluctuating current, my iPhone actually wouldn’t recognize the panel as a power source without routing it through the battery pack. You can also charge your device straight off of the battery pack without trickle charging it through the panel. I was able to charge my iPhone from dead to 100% and then top it off again from 50% before the batteries died. Also, for us photographers, you will get a way to charge your camera batteries out of the deal too- you aren’t just limited to using a USB charger. At this time I should note that I used the included batteries interchangeably with my Rechargeable Duracell batteries to keep my camera running 24/7. No problems here.
This is the clincher. I found Goal Zero’s projected charge times to be spot on with my testing. I was able to charge the battery pack in 2-4 hours depending on the available sunlight. I was able to juice up my iPhone 4s from dead to 100% in 2-4 hours as well. This was also true for a borrowed Galaxy S, iPods, and comparable MP3 players took about 1 hour to charge. I have heard that there can be issues with charging the iPhone 5, but I was unable to verify that through my own testing.
When I say optimum sunlight, I mean that the panel is lying flat in direct sunlight with no cloud cover or shadows to reduce your potential power. If you are in a base camp situation you will likely be able to set your panel up in the perfect position and get those awesome 2 hour charge times that we were able to obtain. In the real world, however, you can not always stop what you’re doing to recharge your batteries. The panel has little loops sewn into it at convenient points so that you can easily lash it to your pack and charge on the go. Due to the fact that while hiking you will sometimes move into the shadows, or your angle to the sun may change, our charge times were increased by an hour or more while on the move.
So, to recap: You can use the panel to store up energy in the battery pack for later use (ie. Night time or in poor sunlight). You can charge your phone directly off the panel (beware of variable power, must have constant power coming from sun). You can also charge your battery bank and through that charge your phone. So, the solar panel is trickle charging the battery pack while the battery pack is charging your phone. You can also link multiple panels together for increased amperage. The Nomad 7 panel and the Guide 10 battery pack work just as advertised. The Guide 10 adventure kit is available directly from Goal Zero for $119.99, and is also available on Amazon for $99.99 with 67 “5 star” reviews at the time of this writing. The individual components can also be purchased separately so you can build the rig that best suits your needs. One more big thank you for all of the help from our readers! Two thumbs up!
All Photos by Josh from SurvivalCache.com