Go off the grid with Goal Zero and Renogy for under $600
Here’s a great combo that we’ve put together to collect free energy from the sun and then store it to use with a variety of electronic devices.
And, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 portable power station (note that the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium edition has also come out, that’s more expensive, but seems to also be a solid product with great reviews):
Renogy 100-Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel
The Renogy panel will collect sunlight and convert it to electricity and provide it as an input to the Yeti power station. This Renogy is classified as a 100-Watt panel and I confirm that it’s great at pulling energy out of the sun and isn’t rated at an inflated level. This is very often the case with many solar panels that get into theoretical or overly optimistic ratings.
Even if you’re not pointing perfectly at the sun, if the sky may be a bit hazy, or it’s not summertime and the sun isn’t high in the sky, we still routinely get 70+ Watts from the Renogy going into the Yeti power station.
The panel has some heft to it but is fairly thin and you can carry it around and set it up as you need. Of course, this is the exact same panel that is meant to be assembled into an overall system on the roof of a house or an RV. So, it’s plenty tough, ready for all weather conditions, and designed to last for decades.
We use the Renogy panel to keep our Yeti power station charged up and ready for any needs that we have to power our electronic devices. This could be for emergency situations or for preparedness purposes, since we do live in California and earthquakes are a constant reality. The pair are also greatly useful for car camping and similar types of trips, where you’ll be able to generate your own electricity and provide it to your devices. We’ve used this setup last year on a multi-day astronomy trip to the far northern California countryside. It could also be a great setup for the beach and anytime that you don’t have the luxury of plugging into an outlet for a day, a few days, or even weeks at a time.
Goal Zero Yeti 400
The Goal Zero power station is versatile in that it provides output via USB interfaces, AC outlets, and also 12V outputs. It’s heavy as its essentially a car battery that is enclosed into a user-friendly case and a nice screen. Goal Zero is known for creating good products that are ready for the outdoors. We could have also gone with Goal Zero for their solar panels. But, the price you pay and the energy collection that you get are not compelling. They make great products, but you pay a premium price and, especially for the solar panel, you are better off going with something like the Renogy solar panel if it suits your needs.
We’ve had the pair for over a year and half and they’ve worked beautifully. They’re both reliable, tough, and easy to use. To complete the setup, you’ll also need this Goal Zero adapter cable to connect the panel to the power station. It’s a great preparedness combination no matter where you live, to be able to collect natural free sunlight and turn that into electricity for your electronic devices.
There was a stretch of several months where we experimented and had our iPhones, iPads, electronic shaver, and toothbrushes were completely powered by the sun. It just took a tiny bit of effort, but completely doable if you live live just about anywhere that has an average amount of sunlight.
This combo is useful for preparedness, tailgating, star gazing evenings, car camping, beach trips, or any other occasion where it’d be nice to have a great source of convenient and free electricity so you can stay powered up and in touch.