User Review: Goal Zero Nomad 7M Solar Panel
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $80
A very good product IF you have the right smartphone.
- Allows me to carry my smart phone
- Works well when the sun is out
- Heavy (1lb)
- Can cause some smartphones to drain.
This is an update to my original review, which can be seen below.
My first usage with the Nomad 7 was with an HTC Inspire smartphone. I was very pleased, getting the charge I needed every time. I was able to use my phone effectively out on the trail to stay in contact with my wife, to read an e-book, to play a sudoku in my hammock. My hiking partner had no problems charging his iPhone 4.
Problems began when I switched phones to a Motorola Razr (not the Maxx). On a sunny afternoon in Shawnee National Forest, I hooked up the phone with 45% charge remaining and continued hiking. A couple of hours later, my phone started chirping "low battery." I stopped and saw my phone had only 1% charge left. Then it abruptly shut down.
I'll get to the technical aspects in a moment. The summary is, the Nomad did not provide enough amperage to my phone to keep it charging. The phone was in a constant state of Charging-Not Charging-Charging-Not Charging. My phone's screen lights up for a couple minutes after I plug it into charge. So for two-three hours, not only was the Nomad not charging my phone, it was causing my phone to drain power because of the screen turning on and off and on and off.
Here is what GoalZero's tech support had to say on the matter:
Phones have different needs when it comes to charging. The phone checks its power source to be sure it will not by damaged by over powering and sometimes to prevent it from charging from different brands of chargers. Almost all devices are different when it comes to this. The thing is that currently ALL USB ports are 5v, but some devices want 0.5 amps and other want up to 2 amps.
When I purchased the Nomad 7, Goal Zero was recommending the use of their Guide 10 Plus Recharger. This is a rechargeable battery pack that allows the user to charge up the batteries during the day and then charge the phone from the batteries (Goal Zero claims two full smartphone charges from a fully-charged batter pack.). I have reluctantly spent the $50 to purchase the Guide 10 Plus and will post a review after it's been tested.
In summary: Using one brand of smartphone, I was pleased with the Nomad 7 (and originally gave it 4.5 stars). With a different brand of phone, I have had to spend an additional $50 and carry more weight in my pack in order to make it give me what I originally bought it for.
My desire to go "ultra light" has been hampered with the purchase of this little item. At 1lb, the Nomad 7 was one of my heavier items. However, having it with me for a week of backpacking allowed to do the following with my smart phone:
- Call and text my wife once a day (as signals allowed).
- Take photos and videos throughout my trip.
- Read a good book at night.
- Play a Sudoku (or two) before going to sleep.
With the sun setting at 7p.m., having the Nomad 7 allowed me to use my phone to stay in my normal sleeping pattern, instead of saying, "It's dark. Might as well crash."
I've seen a few reviews on other sites that mentioned a problem with the Nomad 7M & iPhones. Specifically, there was mention that any passing shadow would disrupt the charge on an iPhone. This was NOT suppose to be a problem with Android phones. Well, I had no problems on my 'droid, and my buddy's iPhone charged without incident during the trip.
Thanks to Trailspace for the $400 gift card to Backcountry.com! I won it while giving a review in January 2013. The gift card paid for this great item.