Goal Zero Nomad 50 Review
Cons: Expensive, heavy, lacks portability, can't charge multiple devices, massive size
Manufacturer: Goal Zero
Compare to Similar Products
Goal Zero Nomad 50
$249.95 at REI
$72.96 at Amazon
$64.98 at Amazon
$62.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Durable, works well in all kinds of conditions, large capacity, 12V Connection, can daisy chain together, has a built-in stand||Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, great charging speed, excels in partly cloudy conditions||Good charging speed, lots of places to clip carabiners, highly affordable||Impressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordable||Large battery capacity, LED back panel|
|Cons||Expensive, heavy, lacks portability, can't charge multiple devices, massive size||Bulky, lacks portability, and the storage pouch is only semi-secure||Hard to reach pouch makes the panel lay crooked, just a solar panel with no battery pack,||Poor interruption recovery||The small solar panel makes charging hard|
|Bottom Line||This massive panel with an expensive price tag and a large capacity performed below our expectations||This speedy solar charger handles multiple devices and offers reliability at a reasonable price||This low-priced, incredibly efficient solar panel converts the sun into charges while saving on costs||A powerful, fast charging machine, capable of charging multiple devices, complete with a reasonable price tag||Where this device lacks in its ability as a solar charger, it makes up for as an affordable battery pack|
|Rating Categories||Goal Zero Nomad 50||BigBlue 3||X-Dragon 20W||Ryno-Tuff 21W||OEUUDD 25000mAh|
|Direct Solar Charging Speed (35%)|
|Indirect Solar Charging Speed (35%)|
|Multiple Device Charging (15%)|
|Specs||Goal Zero Nomad 50||BigBlue 3||X-Dragon 20W||Ryno-Tuff 21W||OEUUDD 25000mAh|
|Panel Size (watts) Power Output?||50W||28W||20W||21W||<5W|
|# of USB outlets||1||3||2||2||3|
|Max USB Output Current (amps per port)||2.4 amp||2.4 amp||3 amp||2.1 amp||2 amp|
|Size folded||17" x 11.25" x 2.5"||11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3"||12.1" x 7.2" x .51"||5.9" x 11.8" x 0.8"||N/A|
|Size opened||17" x 53" x 1.5"||33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2"||23.3" x 12.1" x .12"||18" x 11.8" x 0.1"||7" x 3.75" x 1.25"|
|Charge capacity (mAh)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||25,000mAh|
|Panel outside material||Hard plastic||PET Polymer Fabric||PTFE||PET Polymer Fabric||PET Polymer Fabric|
|Battery input (Volts / Amps)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||5V/2A|
|Direct USB Plug?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Goal Zero Nomad 50 boasts excellent charge interruption recovery and charging speed, but is by far the heaviest in our fleet.
Direct Solar Charging Speed
The Nomad 50 performed well compared the competition. The four mono-crystalline panels received 1900 mAh in direct sunlight which was one of the better results in our tests.
Indirect Charging Speed
The Nomad 50 did well in this regard. In total coverage, it produced 795 mAh, which was the second-highest amount for all the panels. In partial coverage, it produced a mere 648 mAh. Combined, the Nomad 50 did a decent job of getting power from the sun in less than ideal conditions. However, it was far from ideal.
Overall, we were a bit underwhelmed by the panel's performance in this metric. It turns out, this panel is not much more efficient than some of the 28 or 40-watt options in this review. Throughout our 30-minute test period, the Nomad 50 charged our phone to 16% in full sun conditions. These results are a bit lackluster, seeing as panels with half the capacity managed to charge our phones more during the same amount of time. That said, we didn't use this panel in conjunction with a Goal Zero battery pack; perhaps it is more designed for that use as opposed to simple charging tasks using a USB port.
Multiple Device Charging Speed
Since we didn't use the panel alongside a battery pack, we weren't able to test its ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously, as it only has one USB port. To make this test standardized across all the panels, we only performed it when multiple USB ports were present. This panel has a single USB port alongside an AC power port, which is meant to plug into a Goal Zero power bank. This design makes the Nomad 50 highly specific. Don't expect to be able to charge multiple devices off this battery but instead consider it as a large panel system that can contact with other Goal Zero panels.
A burly 50-watt panel naturally lacks the portability of a smaller capacity model. The Nomad 50 is not a lightweight product and isn't really designed for backcountry use unless weight is not a concern. This panel weighs in at roughly 7 pounds or 110.4oz ounces. This is far and beyond any other product in this review and kind of sets the Goal Zero in a class of its own in terms of what it is designed for. Folded this panel comes in at 17" x 11.25" x 2.5." Unfolded it's 17" x 53" x 1.5." That makes this a pretty sizeable panel. Car camping and other backcountry trips where weight isn't a concern are the great uses for this large panel.
Should You Buy The Goal Zero Nomad 50?
Along with its substantial weight, the Nomad 50 also has a substantial price tag. This panel is a serious investment. Before purchasing, we would recommend you do research to ensure this is the setup that will best suit your needs and your next adventure. The fact that it is designed to work with a battery pack also means that you will want to look into the options in that realm as well — an added expense. Though it comes at a cost, this may be the best option for your next adventure.
What Other Solar Chargers Should You Consider?
The Goal Zero Nomad 50 is an expensive solar charging set-up that is designed for a specific use. It didn't blow our minds when it came to charging speed, but it certainly has a large capacity and the ability to charge devices in marginal conditions. It is also very durable and well-made. That said, its heft, both in shape and weight, made it hard to imagine using in most situations — unless weight is not a concern. For specific trips, this may be the best option, but most folks will be able to charge their devices using smaller, more affordable panels.If you're looking for a better solar charger at a fraction of the cost, check out the Big Blue 28W, which works better in indirect light, is more portable, and does better at charging multiple devices.
— James Lucas and Matt Spencer
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More