Year after year, we waffle between adding in a Goal Zero panel and leaving the brand out. Since Goal Zero dominates the mainstream outdoor-user market for portable solar chargers, we felt like we should add at least one of their products into the mix to make sure we weren't missing something important. We tested the Goal Zero Nomad 14+ this season and were underwhelmed by the results. This panel did not charge our battery pack quickly, struggled to re-establish a charge after being in the shade, and had what seemed like miles of superfluous cord, making it cumbersome to use. The Nomad 14 is also expensive, and we would not recommend this panel to most prospective buyers.
Goal Zero Nomad 14 Plus Review
Cons: Did not deliver charge effectively, lots of extra cordage, lacks portability, expensive
Manufacturer: Goal Zero
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Goal Zero Nomad 14+ receives low scores across the board, from overall performance to weight and portability.
Charge Interruption Recovery
We tested the Nomad 14+'s ability to re-establish a charge after shading by covering it from the sun and then removing the shade to see how well the panel performed after this interruption. The Nomad comes with an LED indicator to show how much power you're receiving from the sun. Our first red flag with this product was that it never got past one LED light in full sun, making it difficult to tell how it did in terms of interruption recovery - since it was never receiving a solid charge in the first place. That said, we found that the panel went from barely charging our device to completely disconnecting after an interruption.
Here, the Nomad also fell short. We plugged in our 10,000mAh battery pack and left it in full sun for 30 minutes. During this time, the panel showed no signs of charging the battery pack. Compared to most other models, this was a fairly disappointing performance, especially for a 14W panel. We also plugged in a Pixel 3 to this panel and left it in the sun for an hour. Our phone charged 7% during this time, which was not a remarkable amount in comparison to other panels.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
The Nomad, though it comes with what seemed like miles of extra cord (which drove us crazy), does not have the capability to charge multiple devices at once. This is probably for the best, considering the challenges this panel faced charging one small battery pack.
One thing the Nomad has going for it is durability. This panel is built to last, at least on the outside. The cells themselves are coated in a durable finish, allowing the panel to withstand rain, heat, and dirt. The stretchy mesh pocket is also very durable and protects gadgets with ease.
Weight and Portability
The Goal Zero panels we have tested in the past tend to be hefty in size and weight. The Nomad is no exception. This panel weighs 32.2 ounces, which is just over two pounds; this is significant for a panel that provides no extra features beyond a somewhat underwhelming charging ability.
Another downside to the Nomad+ is its price tag. Goal Zero panels tend to be fairly expensive, and the Nomad is no exception. We found that many panels that cost half the amount performed better than the Nomad. The panel is durable, but since it doesn't work very well in terms of charging speed, its overbuilt design seems like an extra benefit that doesn't end up helping the panel out very much.
The Goal Zero Nomad 14+ did not meet our expectations during our testing period. Perhaps we got a panel that didn't meet the standards of other Goal Zero products, but after our three-month testing period, we were unsatisfied with how the Nomad did, especially compared to models from lesser-known brands. On the plus side, the Nomad is built well and has been designed with durability in mind.
— Jane Jackson