The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Goal Zero Nomad 14 Plus Review

It struggled to deliver a consistent charge to both external batteries and cell phones.
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Price:  $150 List | $136.66 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, weather-resistant, thoughtful overall design
Cons:  Did not deliver charge effectively, lots of extra cordage, lacks portability, expensive
Manufacturer:   Goal Zero
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 11, 2019
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35
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Charging Speed - 30% 4
  • Charge Interruption Recovery - 20% 3
  • Multiple Device Charging Speed - 20% 2
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 3
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

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.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   
Price $136.66 at Amazon
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Pros Durable, weather-resistant, thoughtful overall designInexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditionsInexpensive, lightweight, portable, charges quicklyRelatively lightweight for panel type, inexpensive, charges devices efficientlyLarge storage pocket, comes in multiple colors, durable
Cons Did not deliver charge effectively, lots of extra cordage, lacks portability, expensiveBulky, heaviest weightLow output power, cannot charge multiple devices at onceIneffective if relying only on solar for power, less durable than other battery packsHeavy, bulky
Bottom Line It struggled to deliver a consistent charge to both external batteries and cell phones.We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably; its reasonable price is the cherry on top.This panel impressed us with its fast charging speeds and its lightweight, portable design.An efficient, compact battery pack with a 2W solar charger on it; a top performer.Well designed, comes in multiple colors, and is durable - but also bulky.
Rating Categories Goal Zero Nomad 14 Plus BigBlue 28W ECEEN 13W Renogy 15,000mAh PowerGreen 21W
Charging Speed (30%)
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0
4
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
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7
Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
7
Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)
10
0
2
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
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6
Weight & Portability (20%)
10
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3
10
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5
10
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9
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9
10
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7
Durability (10%)
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7
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7
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6
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7
Specs Goal Zero Nomad 14... BigBlue 28W ECEEN 13W Renogy 15,000mAh PowerGreen 21W
Panel Size (watts) 14W 28W 13W 2W 21W
Weight (measured) 32.2 oz 23.5 oz 12 oz 9.5 oz 20.3 oz
# of USB outlets 2 2 2 2 2
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 2.4 amp 2 amp 2 amp 2 amps 2 amp
Battery kit? No No No Yes No
Size folded 12.1" x 7.8" x 0.5" 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 11.4" x 6.1" x 0.6" 6.3" x 3.1" x 0.7" 11.4" x 6.8" x 1.3"
Battery? No No No Yes No
Charge tablet? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Charge laptop? No Yes No Npo No
Panel Type Mono-crystalline PET Polymer Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Size opened 12.1" x 15.8" x 0.1" 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 11.4" x 14.3 x .15" 6.3" x 3.1" 0.7" 27.6" x 11.4" x 0.2"
Battery input (Volts / Amps) n/a n/a n/a 5V 2A n/a
Charge capacity (mAh) n/a n/a n/a 15,000mAh n/a
Charge iPhone/smartphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Direct USB Plug? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? Yes No No No No
12-Volt connection No No No No No
Warranty 6 months 2 years 30 day return 1 year 1 year

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Goal Zero Nomad 14+ receives low scores across the board, from overall performance to weight and portability.

Performance Comparison


Here  the Goal Zero and the Hiluckey go head to head on the front of the VW Westfalia - solar testing HQ.
Here, the Goal Zero and the Hiluckey go head to head on the front of the VW Westfalia - solar testing HQ.

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.

This LED light indicates how much charge the panel is receiving. Here  you can see it registering one LED out of four in full sun.
This LED light indicates how much charge the panel is receiving. Here, you can see it registering one LED out of four in full sun.

Charging Speed


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.

The Nomad 14 did not impress us with its charging capabilities.
The Nomad 14 did not impress us with its charging capabilities.

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.

The mess of extra cord that comes with the Goal Zero confused us and didn't seem to help the panel in terms of charging multiple devices.
The mess of extra cord that comes with the Goal Zero confused us and didn't seem to help the panel in terms of charging multiple devices.

Durability


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.

The Goal Zero is durable; with a rugged material covering the solar cells  this panel was fine under most conditions.
The Goal Zero is durable; with a rugged material covering the solar cells, this panel was fine under most conditions.

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.

Value


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.

This panel is one of the most expensive panels we reviewed. We found that just because a product is expensive  does not mean it will function well.
This panel is one of the most expensive panels we reviewed. We found that just because a product is expensive, does not mean it will function well.

Conclusion


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