Goal Zero Yeti Solar Generators
We've waited a long time to write this review - several years in fact. Not for any reason other than we wanted to make sure that Goal Zero really stood the test of time and that they proved themselves to be the company we always hoped they were.
We're pleased to say they are, so we're going to do a deep dive into their portable Power Systems and explain what they do and how they might fit into your emergency preparations.
Rather than go through the entire lineup, we will only be focusing on the systems that we think are the most relevant and useful from a price to performance ratio.
That doesn't mean the other Goal Zero systems aren't any good, they certainly are, but they offer a lot of products, so we wanted to narrow it down a little.
BTW If you buy anything from the links we provide on this page we might get a small percentage of the sale. For more info click here.
Typical Price: $450
Weight: 29 lbs (13.2 kg) | Dimensions: 10.25 x 8 x 8 in (26 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm)
Battery Cell Type: AGM Lead-Acid | Peak Capacity: 396Wh (12V, 33Ah) | Lifecycles: Hundreds of cycles
Arguably the best balance between power, price, and size, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Power Station is the Goldilocks of the lineup. It is affordable, portable, and can keep you and your family powered up for a long weekend.
The Yeti 400 serves best as a backup power source for small electronics such as phones and tablets, and low-power LED lighting systems.
It will keep you out of the dark for several nights, and keep the iPads and iPhones charged up if you need them to keep the kids entertained or to communicate with the outside world.
It has enough oomph to power the motors that come in the new style inflatable mattresses out there which lots of people are camping on these days.
(OK, we've used them before too...a little too soft for our tastes but lets face it, we aren't getting any younger...)
If you use a CPAP the Yeti 400 can get you through the night since it can provide you with 8 hours of sleep time - although you will need to get it charged back up again the next day. A bigger unit like the ones we discuss later might be more appropriate, it will depend on your particular situation.
You can also recharge infusion pumps and ECG monitors if you need to with a Yeti 400.
It is a little heavy at 24lbs, but the weight is manageable for most, at least for short distances.
Charging The Yeti 400
The best (and recommended) approach is to keep the Yeti 400 plugged into a wall outlet all the time while you have grid power. This ensures the battery stays in good shape, and keeps it charged when you need it.
But if you are dealing with a long term power-down event, or will be off-grid for more than a day then you might want to look into the solar charging options Goal Zero has.
They aren't required, you can use the Yeti 400 as a stand alone power unit, but they are useful and a good backup plan.
You can always top off a Yeti 400 with a fuel powered generator too. Might not be the most efficient way to go about it but it might be the only thing available.
Remember that the bigger the panel the faster the charge. In the photo above we have a Nomad 20, which would require several days to charge up the Yeti 400. If you're starting out with a charged 400 and have the right weather you can keep it topped off but in reality the Nomad 100 (portable) or the Boulder 200 (less portable) panel systems are the way to go.
- Wall Charger (72W): 5 Hours
- Car Charger (30W): 13 Hours
- Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel: 23-58 Hours
- Boulder 50 Solar Panel: 13-32 Hours
- Boulder 100 Solar Panel: 6.5-16 Hours
- Nomad 100 Solar Panel: 6.5-16 Hours
- Boulder 200 Solar Panel: 4-8 Hours (NOTE: Connecting the Yeti 400 to the Boulder 200 Briefcase requires an Anderson to 8mm Connector cable)
Typical Price: $600
Weight: 16.3 lbs (7.4 kg) | Dimensions: 7.5 x 11.25 x 7.0 in (19.0 x 28.6 x 17.7 cm)
Battery Cell Type: Li-ion NMC | Peak Capacity: 428Wh (10.8V, 39.6Ah) | Lifecycles: 500 cycles to 80%
Goal Zero makes a Lithium battery powered version called the Yeti 400 Lithium Power Station. It is about the same size as the Yeti 400 but has more power and weighs 12 lbs less!
Typical Price: $200
Weight: 12 lbs (5.4 kg) | Dimensions: 7.75 x 5.75 x 6.75 in (19.7 x 14.6 x 17.2 cm)
Battery Cell Type: AGM Lead-Acid | Peak Capacity: 168Wh (12V, 14Ah) | Lifecycles: Hundreds of cycles
The kid brother of the Yeti 400, the Goal Zero 150 Power Station is an affordable alternative with some trade-offs.
It's half the size, half the power, and as a result, half the price of the Yeti 400.
The smaller footprint and power output makes the Yeti 150 best suited as a portable unit. It can run an off-grid campsite for a few days, up to a week if used sparingly and without recharging.
A Yeti 150 comes with us whenever we go camping or have to evacuate during a severe weather event. It's main function for us is to power our lighting system, and provide an extra top off the charge on a phone or Bluetooth speaker if needed.
We've had ours for over 4 years now, and it has always worked like a champ. We keep it plugged in next to our other emergency supplies so it is ready to go when we need to.
Check out our tutorial on upgrading / replacing the Goal Zero Yeti 150 battery and also how-to add Anderson Powerpole connectors to it as well.
Charging The Yeti 150
Our suggestion for charging the Yeti 150 is the Nomad 28. It is packable and durable. Our second choice is the Nomad 20 (an older style).
- Wall Charger (45W): 6 hours
- Car Charger (30W): 8 hours
- Nomad 14 Plus Solar Panel: 26-52 Hours
- Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel: 9-26 Hours
- Boulder 50 Solar Panel: 6-12 Hours
Typical Price: $300
Weight: 5 lbs (2.27 kg) | Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 5.1 in (20 x 13 x 13 cm)
Battery Cell Type: Li-ion NMC | Peak Capacity: 187Wh (14.4V, up to 13Ah) | Lifecycles: 500 cycles to 80%
For an extra $100 Goal Zero has the lithium powered Yeti 200x Power Station. It's less than half the weight of the Yeti 150 at 5 lbs (2.27 kg) in a slightly smaller footprint.
There is a nice bump in power to 187Wh (14.4V, up to 13Ah) from 168Wh (12V, 14Ah) on the 150. There are a bunch of other features that add output and technology that we like. If you can swing the extra $ it's an upgrade worth considering.
Smaller Power Options
If you are looking for smaller kits, ones that can fit in a Bug Out Bag or for backpacking, there are a couple of power banks that work in those situations that we like.
Goal Zero makes a whole slew of them, but there are 2 in particular that we think are the most useful, but keep in mind they have other options.
Typical Price: $200
Weight: 1.4 lbs | Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.7 x 1.0 in (19.05 x 9.4 x 2.54 cm)
Battery Cell Type: Li-ion | Peak Capacity: 94.7Wh (14.8V, 6400mAh) | Lifecycles: Hundreds of cycles
The Sherpa 100PD brings the USB charging into the modern era buy allowing you to power up USB-C laptops, phones, and tablets using the 60W USB-C Power Delivery port. Power up phones that have the wireless Qi charging feature via the integrated Qi charging pad. No wires!
A Nomad 28 Plus will fully recharge the Sherpa 100PD in about 6-14 hours.
NOTE: Sherpa 100PD can only be solar charged using the USB port on the Nomad solar panels. It can recharge from a USB source in 8 - 10 hours. Fully recharges from the wall in about 3 hours using the 45 Watt USB-C Charger (not included).
Weight: 8.8 oz (250 g) | Dimensions: 4.5 x 3.25 x 1 in (11.4 x 8.25 x 2.5 cm)
Battery Cell Type: Li-ion NMC | Peak Capacity: 29Wh (3.7V, 7800mAh) | Lifecycles: Hundreds of cycles
The Venture 30 is a 7,800mAh Recharger: Power phones, tablets, cameras, and more.
It has an IPX6 waterproofing rating to handle whatever nature throws at you, no rubber plugs required. Dual 2.4A USB Ports. Built-in Micro-USB Cable.
All of the Goal Zero Yeti power units are self contained and can be moved around, but they start to get pretty heavy once you move up the line into the big power options so we consider them to be "stationary" for all intents and purposes, since they can be used to power appliances and such by tying them directly into your homes power grid.
Weight: 40 lbs (18.1 kg) | Dimensions: 10.1 x 15.3 x 9.3 in (25.7 x 38.9 x 23.6 cm)
Battery Cell Type: Li-ion NMC | Peak Capacity: 1045Wh (10.8V, 96.8Ah) | Lifecycles: 500 Cycles to 80% capacity
For extended use at home or base-camp, then the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Lithium Power Station was designed to provide high levels of power to the most energy hungry devices.
What can you do with with a Yeti 1000? Better question probably is, what can't you do with...SERIOUS POWAAAARGH!
The key to the Yet 1000's utility is that 3000 watt surge ability. Most appliances pull a large amount of power at startup than they do once running. You need a little extra oomph available to get them going, and this is where many battery systems fall apart.
We will talk about how you can expand this system into a full home station in a minute.
Charging The Yeti 1000
You're going to need a serious amount of solar power to keep a Yeti 1000 going. Frankly at a minimum I would get at least one Boulder 200, if not 2.
- Wall Charger (5A): 18 Hours
- Boulder 50 Solar Panel: 32-80 Hours
- Boulder 100 Solar Panel: 16-40 Hours
- Boulder 200 Solar Panel: 8-20 Hours
Here is a Yeti 1000 with a Boulder 200. I would say that this setup is incorrect - look at that shade! Too many shadows on the panels. You want a nice sunny panel.
Weight: 68.6 lbs (31.1 kg) | Dimensions: 10.1 x 15.3 x 13.1 in (25.7 x 38.9 x 33.3 cm)
Battery Cell Type: Li-ion NMC | Peak Capacity: 3075Wh (10.95V, 280.8Ah) | Lifecycles: 500 Cycles to 80% capacity
If you want to go all out, and have a battery power supply that can tie into your houses electrical system, then allow me to introduce you to the Yeti 3000, a total beast of portable power-ups.
Charging The Yeti 3000
Here is where you are going to need some serious input power, because if you look at the numbers below, a single panel isn't going to cut it. You might want to tie roof-top based solar panels into a Yeti 3000 based system if you are going for a full-power backup system, especially if you start adding expansion batteries.
- Standard input max: 9 hrs
- Combined input max (standard and MPPT): 6 hrs
- Wall charger (2x 5A): 25 hrs
- Boulder 100: 41-120 Hours
- Boulder 200 Briefcase: 20-60 Hours
Expanding the Yeti's Capabilities
As we mentioned before, you can tie in the larger Yeti systems to your homes electrical panel using the Yeti Home Integration Kit (HIK).
The HIK is a Reliance Pro/Tran 2 Series 15-Amp, 4-Circuit 120V Manual Transfer Switch. Select up to 4 circuits from your breaker panel to run from your Yeti. Suggested circuits include fridge/freezer, garage door, outlets in main living areas, light switches, etc.
You can also bump up your power storage with Yeti Tank Expansion Batteries.
Each Yeti Tank lead-acid battery adds 1.2 kWh of energy storage to your system.
NOTE: In order to chain a Yeti Tank to a Yeti 1000, 1400, or 3000 Lithium, you must use a Goal Zero Yeti Link Expansion Module.