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Goal Zero Nomad 50 Review

This massive panel with an expensive price tag and a large capacity performed below our expectations
goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review
Credit: Goal Zero
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Price:  $250 List | $249.95 at REI
Pros:  Durable, works well in all kinds of conditions, large capacity, 12V Connection, can daisy chain together, has a built-in stand
Cons:  Expensive, heavy, lacks portability, can't charge multiple devices, massive size
Manufacturer:   Goal Zero
By James Lucas and Matt Spencer  ⋅  Nov 4, 2022
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Direct Solar Charging Speed - 35% 8.0
  • Indirect Solar Charging Speed - 35% 7.0
  • Portability - 15% 1.0
  • Multiple Device Charging - 15% 1.0

Our Verdict

The Goal Zero Nomad 50 is best used in conjunction with a Goal Zero battery pack. Otherwise, it is simply a gigantic panel with a single USB port, which makes it feel a little overkill for charging small electronics like cell phones. That said, this 50W panel is highly efficient and works well in marginal conditions. It's durable and uses excellent materials, resulting in a decent overall construction — like most Goal Zero products. With a storage pocket and attachment points, it feels like an oversized version of the mid-range panels in this review. We would recommend this product to folks planning on setting up a remote base camp, where they need to charge a large power bank for a trailer or camper van, where weight is not a concern; otherwise, the lack of portability makes the Nomad 50W feel a little obsolete.

Compare to Similar Products

 
goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review
This Product
Goal Zero Nomad 50
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $250 List
$249.95 at REI
$100 List
$72.96 at Amazon
$65 List
$64.98 at Amazon
$63 List
$62.99 at Amazon
$42 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Durable, works well in all kinds of conditions, large capacity, 12V Connection, can daisy chain together, has a built-in standInexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, great charging speed, excels in partly cloudy conditionsGood charging speed, lots of places to clip carabiners, highly affordableImpressive charging speeds, can charge multiple devices simultaneously, affordableLarge battery capacity, LED back panel
Cons Expensive, heavy, lacks portability, can't charge multiple devices, massive sizeBulky, lacks portability, and the storage pouch is only semi-secureHard to reach pouch makes the panel lay crooked, just a solar panel with no battery pack,Poor interruption recoveryThe small solar panel makes charging hard
Bottom Line This massive panel with an expensive price tag and a large capacity performed below our expectationsThis speedy solar charger handles multiple devices and offers reliability at a reasonable priceThis low-priced, incredibly efficient solar panel converts the sun into charges while saving on costsA powerful, fast charging machine, capable of charging multiple devices, complete with a reasonable price tagWhere 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%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
1
Indirect Solar Charging Speed (35%)
7.0
10.0
8.5
6.5
1.5
Portability (15%)
1
5.5
5.5
6.5
7.5
Multiple Device Charging (15%)
1
9.5
7.5
8.0
7.5
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
Weight (measured) 110.4oz 21.8oz 21.1oz 17.5oz 18.6oz
# 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"
Battery? No No No No Yes
Charge capacity (mAh) N/A N/A N/A N/A 25,000mAh
Charge tablet? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Charge laptop? Yes No No No No
Charge iPhone/Smartphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Panel outside material Hard plastic PET Polymer Fabric PTFE PET Polymer Fabric PET Polymer Fabric
Panel type Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Battery input (Volts / Amps) N/A N/A N/A N/A 5V/2A
Direct USB Plug? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? Yes No No No No
12-Volt connection Yes No No No No
DC Output Yes No No No No

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.

Performance Comparison


goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review - though it&#039;s designed as a foldable travel panel, the nomad 50 is...
Though it's designed as a foldable travel panel, the Nomad 50 is bulky and large.
Credit: Jane Jackson

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.


goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review - with so much surface area, it&#039;s no surprise that this panel excels...
With so much surface area, it's no surprise that this panel excels in this metric.
Credit: Jane Jackson

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.

goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review - the kickstand on the nomad 50 increases efficiency, but we were...
The kickstand on the Nomad 50 increases efficiency, but we were still underwhelmed by the charging speed.
Credit: Jane Jackson

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.

goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review - our testing grounds were a great place to subject these panels to...
Our testing grounds were a great place to subject these panels to daily wear and tear. With its coated cells and reinforced canvas exteroir, the Goal Zero excels in this metric.
Credit: Jane Jackson

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 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.

goal zero nomad 50 solar charger review - with a standard panel design, but in a super-sized package, the...
With a standard panel design, but in a super-sized package, the Nomad 50 is a niche item. We appreciated the materials used in its construction, like the reinforced pocket shown above. That said, it's a serious investment.
Credit: Jane Jackson

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
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