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GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel

Last updated 2016-07-31 - Send Feedback
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GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel

See solar and battery power charging wish list at B&H Photo.

The GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 Plus solar panel is a compact and lightweight 7 watt (rated) portable and rugged solar panel. The GOAL ZERO Nomad 20 is much larger and heaver and thus much less suitable for backpacking.

The larger and heavier Nomad 13 puts out more power, but still has only one USB port and is quite a lot heavier, so dual Nomad 7 panels may be a better choice for the backpacker looking to charge more than one device.

The GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel comes with a kickstand to prop it up, but for backpackers it makes sense to leave the stand behind (saves 113 grams and some thickness).It folds neatly into a compact and flat package.

  • Capacity: 8-9 V, 7 W
  • Weight as weighed: 270g with USB cable, 383g with kickstand
  • USB output: 5 V, up to 1.4 A (7 W max)
  • Folded dimensions: 6.5 x 8.75 x 0.75 in / 16.5 x 22.2 x 1.9 cm
  • In use dimensions: 13 x 8.75 x 0.5 in/ 33 x 22.2 x 1.3 cm

The Nomad 7 is most suitable for directly charging small electronics and/or small batteries, as in the GOAL ZERO Venture 30 Solar USB Recharging Kit.

While the Nomad 7 can be used for recharging larger devices like the GOAL Zero Yeti 150, this would take many days and is thus impractical—use at least a 20 watt panel for such needs.

In use

There are 4 LED indicator lights on the output plug which indicate the output power:

1 light = 2W, 2 lights = 3W, 3 lights = 4W, 4 lights = 5+ watts

I observed 3 solid lights solid plus a 4th rapid-blinking LED, indicating power output of 4-5 watts under optimal conditions*. Perhaps in a crystal-clear sky at high altitude the panel can deliver 4 solid lights for 5+ watts—unknown. But July is near the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, and later months will have lower solar output.

* Full sun in late July at noon, 500' elevation, latitude 37°N, 75°F.

Directly charging digital cameras, phones, etc

Many digital cameras offer direct charging via a USB port on the camera. The GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel can direct-charge these devices via its USB output plug (ditto for the Nomad 13 and Nomad 20)—but only one device at a time because there is only one USB port. Consider the GOAL ZERO Venture 30 Solar USB Recharging Kit for charging more than one USB device (unclear if it can charge while being charged itself).

All of the Sony camera (or nearly all) allow such an option, including the Sony A7R II. It’s a boon to anyone working off-grid (many camera brands have no option for USB charging which means first charging up something like ). Regrettably, neither Sony nor other vendors supply a DC-in solar compatible battery charger, so the camera itself has to be plugged in for charging, a hassle if one also wants to take pictures. Still, mid-day sunlight is unfriendly lighting and it is the peak time of day for solar charging.

Using a fully drained Sony A7R II NP-FW50 1020 mAh battery (orange warning not even 1% left), I attached the GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel. Charging time to 100% was about 4 hours (8:30 AM to 12:30 PM). In essence, two A7R II batteries could be charged in one day using the Nomad 7, which should suffice for most backpackers. Similarly, an Apple iPhone 6s was fully charged in a few hours.

Sony A7R II being direct-charged via USB from GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel

Conclusions

See solar and battery power charging wish list at B&H Photo.

This is a nice little panel for direct-charging devices. At about $99 the cost is palatable, but if the usage scenario is backpacking, skip the kickstand for a weight savings.

If I were backpacking with a Sony A7R II, this is the solar panel I’d take. Still, it makes sense only for trips of 3+ days, because the 270 grams of the Nomad 7 is the same weight as 7 Sony NP-FW50 1020 mAh batteries for the A7R II (at 42g each)—and those batteries are compact and ready to use. The weight of the Nomad 7 really ought to be something around 130 grams to start making short-term sense.


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