Goal Zero products get consistently high ratings and are easily available on Amazon. We started with the Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit. The panel itself is about the size of a hardback book and has a small pouch for the battery pack and the charging cords. The individual AA batteries can be removed and used for other purposes, which is a nice feature.This is what we use to charge cell phones, a GPS unit, and tablets. Because it’s solar, I can set the panel out anywhere and soon have a battery pack that is charged and ready to use. It’s a lower priced entry into the world of Goal Zero and solar products. The panel itself has its own USB outlets and could be used to charge a device on its own. The main benefit with this set is that I can carry it with me wherever I go and not have to try and find an electric outlet when my phone dies.
Another recent addition to my solar stash is a step up, Goal Zero’s Sherpa 50 Kit With Inverter. This battery capacity has 58 watt hours and can be used to charge a laptop, which is a big deal in my family, and most other USB devices. The battery pack can be charged via the solar panel, an electrical outlet, or a car’s 12V adapter.
I’m partial to Goal Zero products but have had good luck with smaller solar products like these:
- The SunJack solar charger and power bank was reviewed on this site.
- This small FKANT charger is handy to keep in a purse or backpack. It’s affordable and I’ve had good luck with it charging small electronics. This is a good charger to have as a backup. Charge it and toss it in an emergency kit or even your vehicle’s console.
- The Luci light is an example of a creative and outstanding use of solar power. It’s inexpensive (around $12), very lightweight and portable. I highly recommend adding one of these to every emergency kit. There is also a Luci EMRG light, similar in design and function, but with a red emergency light and a flashing light that signals SOS.
- Here’s something we’ve taken camping, and it’s been handy both as a solar charged tent light but also a makeshift amplifier for music from a cell phone or mp3 player. It’s the Sunbell Solar Lamp & Phone Charger, priced around $45, and from a company I’ve worked with for several years, Eartheasy.
- I read about the LuminAid solar lamp and was intrigued. Could something inflatable that stores very nearly flat really be an effective light source? Turns out, this is a great little product, affordably priced, and is just right for tent or other small space lighting. This would make a cool gift or stocking stuffer for someone who loves the outdoors or is into cool technology.
- Something small and kind of cute for kids is the Little Sun Solar Lamp. It comes on a neck cord, so kids can wear it around their neck in the dark. I’d recommend this as a fun and practical gift for kids who camp or want to have a handy night light right near their beds. Afraid to walk around the house in the dark? Put this around your neck and you can carry your light with you. My son had this in his bedroom for a few years before he decided that a teenager was too old for it!
Solar power doesn’t have to be a full-house commitment. I’ve found that having several small solar items was a great way to get used to using the sun for energy and gradually, we’ve worked our way to bigger applications. My next purchase will be a Goal Zero Yeti, and I can’t wait!