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Goal Zero Solar Systems: A Review

Goal Zero Solar Systems: A Review

by David Berger on February 12, 2012

Hey all, thought I’d take some time tonight to write a quick review of my GoalZero gear.

You guys know me pretty well, but for those newcomers, My name is David N. Berger. Age 24, an ASU graduate in Global Studies.

I’m a community development and health volunteer in Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically I’m located in remote Northern Zambia in the sub tropic zone near Congo. Surrounded by natural beauty – waterfalls, green, gorgeous undeveloped land, and of course my Zambian neighbours.

I’m assigned to a rural health clinic here 56 km from the nearest town. I live in an African village. A mud-brick hut, grass roof, no potable water ( I use a river some klicks away.). There is no electricity ( I have a small portable solar panel (the GoalZero Nomad 7). The local school uses a old, outdated solar system with a couple of deep cycle 12v batteries that I use to charge my biggest price of technology – a netbook. Mail (letters and packages) take about a month to get to Mansa the provincial capital. Then, it’s an 8km hike to the nearest passable road and an hour or more hitchhike in to pick it up. Plus there’s the excitement of getting back!

My RHC – Rural Health Clinic – services a roughly rectangular catchment of 56km x 11km, with a population of 9127. Its broken into eight zones and I have a monthly outreach cycle bicycling up to 112km round trip in a day in the African sun for my furthest zone. The staff is spectacular, but…, well it’s difficult. There are three of us. If we had our full assigned staff there’d be five – not great odds. Nine thousand one hundred and twenty seven to three. We’re working on outreach and education to train community health workers and neighborhood health committees for our zones, but it’s slow work.

I bet you can imagine how much time I spend out on the sand. That’s why GoalZero’s Guide10 and rock out speakers are such a great fit. The quick charge times for my Cell, backup charging of batteries for my SteriPEN, and Camera while on the go or at the clinic is indispensable. The power for my Ipod and the speakers allows me to use my gadgets to share podcasts and educational materials with an audience, play motivational sing alongs for my women’s empowerment groups, and of course dance with my local youth groups. The panels are durable, water-resistant and routinely survive strapping to the back of my pack and jostling on a 100km off-road ride.

The panel construction aside, GoalZero uses the highest quality of panels, stands behind their product, and offers excellent info on understanding solar and finding the package that’s right for you.

That in mind here’s the setup I decided on:
GoalZero Guide 10 – that’s the Nomad 7 panel, guide 10 AA/AAA battery pack/charger, DC and USB charging cords and 4 of their rechargeable batteries. I bundled that gear with their Rockout speakers – a durable, portable, self powered, rechargeable speaker box that sounds fantastic and has some great punch to it – heck, if it can run an impromptu dance party I’m the African bush that speaks to something right there doesn’t it.

I use the system to charge an IPhone 3, iPod, the speakers, my SteriPEN water purifier, my batteries for my Grundig shortwave radio, my headlamp and flashlight, and my Cannon G-10 digital camera.

Tied into my bag or hanging from my hammock my Guide 10 and Rock out speakers have kept me sane and in a great mood while stranded in some pretty wicked monsoon storms, I’m definitely a fan!

Oh man, that’s a lot of positivity isn’t it. I’d say I only have two real complaints. #1 I didn’t buy a big enough setup – and #2 the battery charger runs a bit hot, and sometimes emits a slight high pitch noise while charging a gadget (usually the phone). Other than making me nervous, as it’d e a nightmare to have the pack replaced, even though I know GoalZero would bend over backwards to get me up and running the logistics could drive a man crazy. (think a minimum of 2 months just in shipping) even so, I haven’t had a single issue in over 200 full charges and probably another 2-300 partial top ups.

What’s more GoalZero has a variety of products, from full scale base camp to a hike in your local wilderness. Give em a look, www.GoalZero.com

I’ll be here in Zambia for the next two years, It can be difficult, but every moment is worth it. I can’t begin to tell you what this experience is like. Or how wonderful and amazing the roller coaster ride is, or the impact made every moment. I’m glad I have good, reliable gear with me.

Thanks guys!

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