Customer Reviews: Goal Zero 12401 Nomad 13.5M Solar Panel
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on March 21, 2013
I purchased this solar panel because of the size and power output. I was happy when I received it and then upset when it didn't have all the outputs listed. NO SOLAR OUTPUT 6.5
Product was listed as having this output (compatible with goal zero guide 10 plus battery chargers I also purchased) The product technical specs listed are for the Nomad 13, not the Nomad 13.5 (an older model). I contacted Goal Zero (who sells this) and Amazon (who lists this incorrect information) and informed them of the mistake. I had to send mine back and order the Nomad 13. Still waiting on a refund for the Nomad 13.5 I thought they would change the listing for this after I informed them of the mistake, but I see they haven't. Be aware at the time of this review the technical specs are still listed incorrectly. The only outputs on this is 12v and USB .5amp.

The Nomad 13 has:

The Nomad 13.5 has:

When I say chain I mean a cable to connect more than 1 panel together for shared power.
A final thought, I wish the 13.5 had worked, the 13 is only 2 panels and a little larger, the 13.5 is smaller.
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on June 14, 2012
Some time ago i felt the urgent need to own one of these foldable solar panels. This panel was meant to be one of my "zombie apocalypse is coming 2012"-gadgets for my "BOB" or "Get Home"-Bag. Better be prepared! To be honest: Neither am i a serious backpacker, nor a real survivalist, but i do collect knives and survival gear to just own it in case of an emergency, "catastrophes" or "terrorist attacks". Funny, huh?

For the review part: For whatever i want to purchase i do A LOT of investigation in advance (Youtube videos, (amazon) reviews, forums, blogs) and always want to spend my money on the ONE best option available. This only works in theory (at least for me...), in practice i nearly always end up in ordering two or more items, because i simply can't decide between them.

The solar panel was supposed to power a Galaxy Tab 7 (battery = 3,7v * 4000mah= 14,8wh), a HTC Desire HD (3,7v * 1230mah = 4,5wh), some portable USB Speakers (<2,5wh) and my stone age sony mp3 player (<2,5wh). All these devices have a minimum runtime of one day per charge except the USB speakers.

My masterplan: To power all these devices at the same time, you do of course need some type of buffer battery (pack) with at least one 5V/2Amp USB out (necessary to charge the G-Tab) and a capacity of about 30wh. I ended up in orderimg two power packs: Anker2 (8400mah at 3,7V = 31wh) and powergorilla (120wh -> BAMM!!).

Each Powerpack has its own advantages / disadvantages (size, weight, capacity, limited outputs, adapters, charge time...), but they both get the job done WITHOUT a solar panel. Both can charge all my equipment at least once per day without seeing a wall outlet or a solar panel.

blablabla. To make it short: i thought a panel rated from 10 to 15wp should be able to do the job of charging about 30wh into either battery pack on one day (no matter if it's sunny or cloudy).

What should i buy?

Goal Zero nomad 13.5:
Technology which already has proven to perform (monocrystal, hey, that's what my neighbour got on his roof: I know it works!)
Durable and foldable
highly efficient
Darn cool looking (i say)
made in USA (i thought)

Sunlinq/Sunload 12w panel:
Rather new technology (CIGS cells - no long term experiences yet)
Durable and foldable and lightweight
12-15% efficiency compared to 18-20% of goal zero
takes up more space -> unfolded!

I took my two panels, my USB stuff and a multimeter outside on a semicloudy day (which is pretty much "standard weather" where i live).

Both panels were lying flat on the ground, with no shadows and partly cloudy sky. Both panels delivered about 18V (sunlinq 17 and goal zero higher with 18-19V) with no load. When switching the multimeter to Amp measurement was when my jaw dropped. GZ: 0.04A and Sunlinq: 0,5A (* 12V). Tilting the GZ panel towards the (non visible) sun though increased output to 0,138A. Tilting the sunlinq towards the sun is tough, because its similar to truck canvas and folds together too easy. Did not improve output by much anyhow...

To make it short: Both panels fell short in delivering the necessary power for my needs and my weather conditions. The Sunlinq did perform better on this partly cloudy day, but still i needed the whole day to charge the Anker2! It might work for me, but most likely i will upgrade to a 20+ watt panel with CIGS cells.

What i liked about the nomad:

- The formfactor when unfolded (folded it's quite a brick)
- The looks (designed in the US)
- Quality seemed alright (made in China)

What i disliked:

- too bulky when folded (in comparison to the sunload panel)
- danger of breaking (Manual says NOT to bend and NOT to walk on the panel - because of the non flexible solarcells - The sunlinq feels softer, more like a tarpaulin). That's propably why they throw it in an empty pack in the commercial video.
- I do not want to carry a multimeter all day, only to find the correct angle for this panel to perfom. That might be the reason why mono cells are installed on roofs with special calculated angles. This is where they perform best.
- weight in comparison to the sunlinq / in relation to it's performance
- 4.7mm special connector (SAE on the Sunlinq is motorcycle standard)
- Output of the USB out not clearly declared (GZ-Website says 5V and 0,5A, printing on panel says 5Watt - bad transformation? or bad translation?). Did not even get the 0,5 out though, when it was cloudy.

The Sunlinq panel is technically identical to the Brunton, Motomaster, Me2 and Sunload panels , as there is only one company which builds/"prints" these CIGS cells ("global solar" in Tucson and Berlin). Differences are only connectorwise.

In a perfect world Goal Zero would use CIGS cells for their future products

Hope this helps (pretty time consuming as i am native german and have to think twice before i write sth. in english, but i benefit a lot from american reviews and thought i'd share a "kind of" objective review).

Update 6/16/12: Got myself 2 higher rated panels for comparison: The P3 with 30wp and the sunlinq 25wp ("sunlinq 5").
First impression:
The P3 is about 2-3 times thicker than the other sunlinqs (12wp and 25wp). Apart from that, there is no big difference (in performance) at all. The only difference technically is a much higher open circuit voltage for the p3 (28V!!!), which does require a (MPPT?) charge controller as an extra investment. So all in all it depends on whether you are willing to pay nearly double the price for a ridiculous amount of extra performance, a 2yr warranty and a military tag, or not.
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on September 2, 2012
This is my third Goal Zero purchase and I was pleased and surprised to find that the output measure 20.1 watts when measured (without load) in direct September sunlight in southwest Missouri. I purchased this unit as a more powerful addition to the Nomad 7 which I use when backpacking to charge my cell phone and GPS. This unit has twice the panels of the Nomad 7, is still light weight and folds compactly for storage in my backpack. Like the Nomad 7, the Nomad 13.5M has grommets to attach it to the backpack to allow charging while on the move.

I did not see the connection to directly attach the Guide 10 or Guide 10 Plus battery packs that are the mainstay of the Nomad 7; but in addition to the standard USB port for general electronic device charging it does come with the plug to directly charge the Escape 150, a standard 12 V. auto plug connector, and a connection to chain connect other Goal Zero panels. I plan to contact Goal Zero to see what options are available to connect the Guide 10 battery packs to the Nomad 13.5M or to see if I've simply overlooked the obvious connection.

I haven't taken this panel into the woods yet but I have placed it on the dash and used it to charge my android via the USB and the 12 V car charger connection as I drive home from work. Everything I've looked at so far on this unit suggest that it charges at least twice as fast as the Nomad 7 which was my first Goal Zero purchase. I'm very pleased with all the Goal Zero products I've purchased to date.

I also have to say a good word about the customer support I received when my Escape 150 didn't perform to expectations after the first couple weeks of use. I sent an email to the support line and received a prompt response with some special instructions to reset the battery. The instructions worked great for the next charge but the problem came back a week later. A second email to the company letting them know that the problem had returned was all it took and they sent a replacement battery. No hassle, no arguments, and no waiting for the bad battery to be returned or shipping charges. Even though I was initially uneasy and concerned that I experienced a problem with the Escape 150 immediately after purchase the excellent customer support convinced me that this was a company that stands behind their products and that I could trust. As a result of this customer service I now own the Nomad 13.5 and the Goal Zero Boulder 15 solar panel in addition to my previous purchases.
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on June 7, 2012
If you are wondering whether or not to get this, go ahead and try it. This solar panel is one tough little cookie. I have this solar panel as part of the Goal Zero Sherpa 50 adventure kit. The panel folds up nicely and is easy to carry. I took it to Afghanistan with me this year, and it still works good. Sure, it has a few scratches on the panels here and there, but it hasn't affected its performance to date. This panel has fallen over due to wind onto my concrete porch floor and did not break. It even fell from my truck (4 feet) onto the driveway and survived!!

I can charge my Sherpa 50 watt battery in about 1 and 1/2 days with it.

GO ahead and buy it!!
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on August 9, 2013
Don't recommend this solar panel. The adapter for a cigarette lighter doesn't work and the USB only trickes a minamal charge. For more bang for your buck, I bought a Joos Solar Panel. It's awesome and comes with a full complement of charging tips.
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on April 22, 2013
I bought two of these panels as part of a backpacking / camping solar setup to charge my phone, iPod, GPS, laptop, etc. I also integrated these into an emergency power kit to charge a 12v Deep Cycle Marine battery to power my HAM radio.

So far, the panels have performed flawlessly; providing all the power I need to keep my mobile electronics and radio running completely free of the grid.

The panels are very compact and fold up neatly. They can be chained together and Goal-Zero makes a ton of different connectors and adaptors to ensure that you can recharge or power nearly anything you need.
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on November 29, 2013
Goal Zero strike again.... Hit it out of the ball park with this. only down side is you need to have a battery to charge then charge your Phone, etc. Bought 2 of these and they charged my Sherpa 50 in 2.5 hours.... Great for the great out doors...
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on July 11, 2013
This guy has enough power to charge a smartphone in a reasonable amount of time. I tried the Nomad 7, and it didn't provide enough juice to charge my Galaxy Note II even in direct sunlight. This ones does.
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on June 26, 2013
Great panel if you are in the sticks, but it is not waterproof so watch out if the weather changes. Also the cable pouch is minimal in size so you are carrying around another bag for the battery pack and connector wires.
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on April 13, 2016
Really amazing and worked outstandingly and completely took me by surprise at the quality this product was and how true to their word the manufacturers were. Bought this 3 years ago and still with scratches and wear n tear from constantly camping in the desert, still works like a charm!! A must buy if you are the type to be out with nature
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