How Goal Zero Solar Chargers Will Fit Your Life

Photo: Judy Berna

There are six people in our household, which translates to six cell phones. Yeah, we use a lot of chargers. And we travel a lot, so that means we’re always scrambling to find chargers on the go. My life was changed a few weekends ago when I tried out a Goal Zero solar charger.

I’d always liked the idea of using the sun to power my gear. Living in the sunny state of Colorado, I am reminded daily of the unharnessed power of the sun. But I always thought solar chargers would be expensive, bulky, and complicated.

This is a picture of my new cell phone (and ipod and tablet) charger. It’s small, lightweight, and hardy. As in, the Goal Zero rep actually dropped it on the floor in front of me and stomped on it, then picked it up and it was still in perfect condition. It’s also water resistant. I don’t have to worry about babying this thing. When I’m not using it, it folds in half to the size of a small notebook, and is easily tucked away.

Photo: Judy Berna

The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel and the Switch 8 Recharger are sold together in a kit and are the perfect introduction to using solar power in everyday life. This is how it works.

I throw my solar panels across a lawn chair on the back porch for an hour or two. That’s enough time to fully charge the Switch 8 Recharger, which is called ‘the stick’ in our house. (“I call dibs on using the stick tonight!”) Handy little blue lights on the side of the stick show me how much charge is left, but generally we get two full phone charges out of it before it’s time to recharge.

Photo: Judy Berna

I can also charge my electronics straight from the solar panels. In the back of the zippered pouch are handy plugs that accept several of the most common types of cords. While at an outdoor festival last weekend we had our phones charging as we walked around, with the solar panels hanging off the back of my son’s backpack, quietly doing their job. Our cell phones charged as quickly from the panels as they did from a wall plug at home.

Photo: Judy Berna

We played with our new solar charger for a few days before I actually pulled up their website. I knew about their super big power packs, called Yetis, because I’d seen them firsthand at the recent GoPro Mountain Games. But what I didn’t realize was their practical applications for the rest of us. If you live in an area where you have frequent power outages (New England in the winter…) there are solar options that will keep you in power when the lights go out. If you are a camping family, there are solar options that can provide power at your campsite, without draining your car battery. If you’d just like to use a bit less electricity and a bit more free solar power in your everyday life, you can choose which size power pack you’ll need to run your gear.

Goal Zero, powering the GoPro Dome at GoPro Mountain Games, Vail CO Photo: Judy Berna

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It’s the perfect time of year to try incorporating a little more solar power into your life. The sun is powered up and ready to go in most parts of the country. Goal Zero has lanternsspeakersflashlights, and hanging lights. I fell in love with this company because they made solar power an easy option for me and my family.

Hangs off any backpack.  Photo: Judy Berna

Just about any day you drive by my house you’ll see my solar panels laying out in the sun. They will either be charging one of the many electronic devices in our house, or they’ll be storing up energy for one of us to use later. I love the idea of always having a fully charged ‘stick’ in my purse, in case my cell phone battery is dying and I desperately need to check in with one of my teenagers… If I could only tear that stick away from my teens!

I was provided with a sample of the Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit but after using it for a few weeks, and then seeing all the other solar options that would work for our family, I’m just about ready to place an order. I’m impressed with their products. I’m impressed with their business philosophy. I love that their website has educational and informational pages. And I’m excited about the strides they’re making to help us all use cleaner energy for our power needs.

Our own GeekMom Patricia did a review of another solar product, made by JOOS. You can find it here.

Update: Goal Zero has just announced a partnership with AT&T to install what they are calling Street Charge stations. Solar panels that were designed by the Brooklyn design studio, PENSA, will be placed all over New York City, in high foot traffic areas. People can use the stations to charge their phones and tablets, using built in USB ports. The launch site is at Fort Green Park, and as of  June 18th it’s up and running. Many other sites will follow.

Photo: Goal Zero

 

I received a sample of the Goal Zero product for review purposes.