Before I get started with this review, the first thing I have to tell you is that the name of this product is a little bit deceiving because Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator is not actually a generator, it is more of a power bank for your home! But it can be charged by connecting it to a wall outlet, a car charger or a compatible solar panel and it can be used to run a variety of small household appliances or digital devices when there is no other electricity available.
Now the Yeti 400 is NOT cheap, and it is kind of irritating that you only get the AC charger when you buy it (you have to buy the car charger or solar panels as extras). And although the description calls this a portable power pack, because of the size and weight I wouldn’t want to try carry it on a long distance hike unless it was ALL I was carrying! But it is the perfect size to fit in an RV, your car boot or a small trailer without too much rearranging.
The main reason I got the Yeti 400 is because we live in a kind of remote area and whenever there is a big storm our power gets knocked out, sometimes for a couple of days at a time. We also love our outdoor adventures and going off grid, but we never want to be completely out of touch in case there is an emergency. Plus, I have a MASSIVE digital library and taking my tablet on a camping trip is a WHOLE lot easier than carting all my books!
As with anything that you get, I would suggest doing a thorough test run of the Yeti 400 when you first get it. Check that any appliances or devices you want to run with it will work, and how long each will run for if it is the only thing you’re running. Then check how well the charge lasts when you charge or run ALL the devices you plan to use it for. Lastly test how well it charges, and how long it takes to get fully charged again.
This is especially important if you plan to use the car charger or the solar panels on a regular basis because what the manufacturers say is standard and what you actually experience is normally very different. Plus if you’re not an electrician or hardware savvy then it is a lot easier to actually see what something is capable of than try to figure out the complicated formulas of power capacity and power draw over an hour or more!
So far, I am quite happy with my purchase. We recently had a 2 day blackout and I kept my phone and tablet running the entire time, although I wouldn’t suggest playing games for hours! I don’t quite get the full 5 charges promised when I use the Yeti 400 for my laptop (normally about 3) but that might be because I leave the laptop on while I’m charging it. The nice thing is that you can create a daisy chain with multiple Yeti 400’s which gives you a longer run time.
Goal Zero does have a bigger power pack (Yeti 1250) and a smaller one (Yeti 150). I am actually considering buying the Yeti 150 to use when we go on short hiking trips as well as another Yeti 400 for here at home. It is best if you keep them plugged in when you’re not using them, which kind of defeats the point of an emergency generator. But you should be okay if you give them a recharge every month or so. Don’t take my word for it though – I haven’t tested the theory!
Now my next step is to find a solar generator or power pack that is powerful enough to keep my refrigerator and freezer running for at least 24 hours – and that isn’t the size of a small car! I read one review where the user said they were using 3 Yeti 400’s to run everything in their RV (charged via solar) and that they hadn’t used a power outlet in 2 weeks, so maybe I’ll just invest in a few more of these with compatible large capacity solar panels!
We’ll see how we feel about that in a few months though!