Goal Zero Nomad 50 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Durable, works well in all kinds of conditions, large capacity
Cons: Expensive, heavy, lacks portability
Manufacturer: Goal Zero
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Goal Zero Nomad 50
|Price||$249.95 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
$57.57 at Amazon
|$90 List||$50 List||$55 List|
|Pros||Durable, works well in all kinds of conditions, large capacity||Inexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditions||Efficient, powerful, great value for its size, lightweight||Quick to charge, portable size, panel actually works despite small wattage||Impressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordable|
|Cons||Expensive, heavy, lacks portability||Bulky, lacks portability||Pocket too small to hold extra cords and accessories||Heavy, slow to replenish battery via solar||Poor interruption recovery|
|Bottom Line||A massive panel with an expensive price tag and a large capacity||We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably and its reasonable price is the cherry on top||A compact, lightweight panel with exceptional efficiency and charging capabilities||This exceptionally priced battery pack quickly charges devices, and if left in the sun for hours, can replenish via solar||A powerful, fast charging machine, capable of charging multiple devices, complete with a reasonable price tag|
|Rating Categories||Goal Zero Nomad 50||BigBlue 3||Anker PowerPort 21W||Goertek 25,000mAh||Ryno-Tuff 21W|
|Charging Speed (30%)|
|Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)|
|Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)|
|Weight & Portability (20%)|
|Specs||Goal Zero Nomad 50||BigBlue 3||Anker PowerPort 21W||Goertek 25,000mAh||Ryno-Tuff 21W|
|Panel Size (watts)||50W||28W||21W||5W||21W|
|Weight (measured)||115.2 oz||23.5 oz||17.6 oz||19 oz||17 oz|
|# of USB outlets||1||3||2||3||2|
|Max USB Output Current (amps per port)||2.4 amp||2 amp||2 amp||1 amp||2.4 amp|
|Size folded||17" x 11.25" x 2.5"||11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3"||11" x 6.3" x 0.75"||7" x 3.75" x 1.25"||5.9" x 11.8" x 0.8"|
|Panel Type||Mono-crystalline||PET Polymer||Mono-crystalline||Mono-crystalline||Mono-crystalline|
|Size opened||17" x 53" x 1.5"||33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2"||26.3" x 11.1" x 0.2"||7" x 3.75" x 1.25"||18" x 11.8" x 0.1"|
|Battery input (Volts / Amps)||N/a||N/a||N/a||5V 2A||N/a|
|Charge capacity (mAh)||N/a||N/a||N/a||25,000mAh||N/a|
|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.
Charge Interruption Recovery
As you may guess, a panel of this size excels in this metric. With so much surface area, a small period of shade or the occasional passing cloud are not that big of an issue. We were pleased to see that the Nomad 50 easily maintained a charge to our devices through periods of intermittent sun. The results from our testing showed our phone charging 11% over the course of 30 minutes when subjected to periods of shade and sun.
Here, we expected lightning-speed results from the Nomad 50. Unfortunately, we were a bit underwhelmed by the panel's performance in this metric. This is our first time adding a 50W panel into this review, and we expected numbers that were far and beyond the rest of the fleet when it came to charging speed. 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.
Like most Goal Zero products, the Nomad 50 inspires confidence. Its design is burly and substantial, and it's meant to endure a beat-down from the elements, with a coated canvas upper and laminated monocrystalline solar cells. The pocket is also reinforced and canvas, providing a secure place to store cords and other sensitive electronic items.
Weight and Portability
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 7.2 pounds or 115 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. Car camping and other backcountry trips where weight isn't a concern are the great uses for this large panel.
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.
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.
— Jane Jackson
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