Table of Contents
- Portable Power Station Buying Guide
- Review Of The 5 Top-Rated Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations
- Final Word
Goal Zero Yeti power stations are well regarded by preppers, campers, and off-grid contractors alike. We sat down to find out why the brand is so popular and, in the process, found six that we think would make great buys.
If you have ever worked off-grid or gone camping for a few days or more, you will know that after a day or so most of your electronic gear will need juicing up. Not least of these is your phone, which you need to contact emergency services or family if you ever need to.
A portable power station will keep your phone charged up and keep enough power on standby for your other electronic gear. At home, a portable power station will keep your critical appliances and electronic devices running.
You would, of course, know better than to think that any power station will do. Some are not all that portable, while others have limited charging options or barely deliver their rated power output. That is why we are here reviewing Goal Zero Yeti portable power stations – one of the best options out there.
We will talk more about the Goal Zero brand in a moment. Before that, it’s proper that we discuss how power stations work, in case there is something about them you need to be explained.
Portable Power Station Buying Guide
How Do Portable Power Stations Work?
A portable power station is basically a rechargeable battery pack, with AC, USB, and other outlets built in so you can use it to charge and run your electronic devices and appliances.
You may be familiar with power banks that you use to charge your phone on your travels. Portable power stations will be the larger versions of those power banks, with a more rugged build and more power storage and delivery capacity. They are heavier, too, and not so portable that you can slide them into your pockets.
You can use a portable power station to charge more power-hungry devices than your phone, like your laptop. They come in different sizes and power capacities, too, with models that can power your fridge at home and your power tools on remote job sites.
Multiple ways to recharge
Power stations have an input port via which you can recharge them. The most accessible recharge option will be your AC wall outlet at home. If you’re away from home and can’t plug into the grid, some portable power stations have options for car charging. Others can be solar charged with the extra investment of a solar panel.
The Goal Zero company has several portable power stations targeted at different users, depending on power needs. Some are great for camping and overlanding, while others are powerful enough to meet your home standby power needs.
Safe for indoor use
Portable power stations only store power for later use. They have no generation capacity, unlike gas and diesel generators. This means you will need an actual power source to charge them.
Despite their incapacity to generate power, power stations have important advantages over generators. Because they don’t have a combustion engine, power stations do not emit any fumes. There is, thus, no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when used inside the house.
Besides the fan that kicks in with a barely audible hum when the load nears capacity, power stations also don’t make noise. At least nowhere near the racket diesel generators make. So you can safely use them indoors, which makes them perfect for apartment preparedness.
Green power potential
One of the most important developments in portable power stations has been the innovation of solar rechargeable units. Solar charging allows you to live and work completely off-grid as you would not need a wall outlet to recharge the power station. Used this way, a power station is literally a portable generator.
What we believe is the more important benefit of solar charging, however, is the green power it produces. Among other benefits, solar energy reduces our over-reliance on non-renewable energy sources, reduces air pollution that improves human health, and helps fight climate change. In that regard, solar charging is good for the planet.
Minimal need for maintenance
You will hardly ever have to take your portable power station to the shop for repair or service work. These gadgets literally don’t need any maintenance. Yeti Zero power stations, in particular, have a sleek yet rugged build that means they can take the occasional ding and scratch in stride.
As long as you don’t expose them to wet conditions and you handle them with relative care, they will last hundreds of charging cycles. Even when you overload them, most power stations have an in-built circuit breaker that triggers an automatic shut down before any damage is caused.
How to Choose the Right Goal Zero Yeti Power Station For You
As power supply devices, portable power stations are primarily judged on how many charges you can get and how long you can run your electronic devices and appliances before the battery completely drains out.
But there are other factors to consider, which must also shape your shopping choice. Let’s explain battery capacity first:
Battery storage capacity
Battery runtime determines how many charges you can get from a power station before the battery drains out and you have to top it. This represents its capacity and is an important consideration for getting the right power station for your needs.
If you primarily use your power station to charge your smartphone, lights and a laptop when you are working off-grid, you will want to know how many charges you can get before you have to recharge it. If it’s a critical medical device, you want to know how many hours you can run it from the power station during a power blackout.
So check the power storage capacity before you buy a portable power station. That capacity is usually expressed in watt-hours, or the total watts the device can output per hour.
We must also mention peak (surge) power as another important consideration. Peak power is the maximum power a power station can supply but which it can only sustain for a short time.
Remember, most appliances require more power to start than they need to run. So the difference between a power station’s running and peak power limits gives you the extra power you need to start appliances and tools that need a lot of power at first even when the total drain may temporarily overload the power station.
To get a power station with sufficient capacity, add the wattages of the devices and appliances you may need to run and charge at the same time and check if the power station has the capacity for such a load. For practical use, your portable power station must have a minimum power capacity of 200 watts.
To understand what power delivery is in terms of portable power stations, we turn to Goal Zero themselves for clarity. According to Goal Zero, Power Delivery (PD) specifies the ability to handle higher power. It is a USB charging standard that delivers exceptionally fast charges over a USB-C connection.
Power Delivery enables communication between the power station and the device being charged to determine how much power can be pulled from the charger. It is now standard on the new generation Goal Zero Yeti X power stations.
Power delivery is only compatible with USB-C ports. This means a power station must have a USB-C Power Delivery port, not just a USB-C. Because USB-C chargers can be used with no specific configuration and allow power to flow both ways, they are the next thing we have to a universal charging solution.
Goal Zero Yeti power stations have both USB-C and USB-C Power Delivery ports on the face. Many power stations from other brands only have USB-C and therefore do not support fast charging.
There is not much benefit in investing in a 1,000-watt portable power station with only one charging outlet. As well as an AC output, your power station must also have a couple of USB and USB-C options.
A car charging port will also extend your charging options. Goal Yeti power stations even come with the eminently convenient USB-C Power Delivery port for fast charging.
The power station itself will also eventually drain out. It helps if you have several ways to recharge it. Besides plugging into your AC wall outlet at home, you can juice up your portable Goal Zero Yeti power station using solar energy. If you are driving, you can simply plug it into your 12V car adapter.
Of the many portable power station options out there, few can truly stand the test of time and usage. Besides normal indoor use, a power station must be able to withstand the tougher outdoor conditions, with an outer casing made of scratch-resistant plastic.
If you are buying a portable power station for camping and road-tripping, it is critical that it actually be portable. While the smaller ones are manageably lightweight and can even be thrown in the backpack, the larger capacity ones are barely portable.
For a quality that buyers covet so much, manufacturers are under pressure to market their power stations as portable. The big ones are portable only in that they can be moved, not that you can comfortably carry them. The Yeti 6000X, for example, is so bulky and heavy that without the provided handle and wheels they would not be portable.
Generally, though, the bigger the power capacity of the power station the larger its size. So if you want one that you can meet your standby power needs at home, you are going to have to settle on one that isn’t as portable.
Ease of use
The best portable power stations are designed to be easy to use even for people with a limited understanding of electric devices. It should be plain to see where to plug in when you want to charge the device itself and when you want to connect a load.
There should be a backlight LED display where users can view the status of the device, including the battery level and current charging mode.
In a world where devices can be remote-controlled through the use of smartphone apps, shouldn’t it be possible to do the same with portable power stations? Matter of fact, that’s what Goal Zero’s Yeti App does. With the app, you can:
- Check battery level,
- Turn ports on and off,
- Optimize battery life,
- Track energy usage over time,
- Customize your charging profile to suit your power needs.
As the product page says, ‘all from the palm of your hand’.
The design needs to be both sleek and practical. No one wants an ugly-looking product, especially one that they have to look at every day. So the power station needs to be aesthetically pleasing.
A practical design is important, too. A key feature that users interact with a lot is the handles. How the handles are positioned matters a lot. They must make it easy to handle, carry, and stow the power station.
Jackery is one of our favorite portable power station brands, but a common flaw that users complain about is the design of the handle. While the handle is well positioned, it sticks out in a way that makes it hard to pack the power station for transportation. Goal Zero Yeti handles, on the other hand, retreat to lie flat for ease of transportation.
How to Safely Use Your Goal Zero Yeti Power Station
We have already mentioned that portable power stations don’t produce any emissions and hardly make any noise. And for that reason, they are safe to use indoors, unlike portable generators.
It is the same in terms of storage. Without a combustion engine to fuel, there is no fire risk from any accidental ignition of the fuel. Again, that makes portable power stations safe to store in your living areas.
Being electrical devices, however, portable power stations aren’t without safety risks. Yes, many of them these days have an inbuilt circuit breaker that shuts the power station down in case of an overload or short circuit. But you still don’t want to make a habit of overloading and risk overheating it.
What you definitely should never do is directly plug the power station into your home’s main power supply to restore power in the event of a power outage. It is illegal and dangerous. Again Goal Zero has a solution for this.
The Home Integration Kit is a 15-Amp, 4-Circuit 120V Manual Transfer Switch that customizes your backup power and allows you to safely connect your portable power station to your house’s breaker panel. Note, though, the home integration kit is sold separately.
What Sets Goal Zero Portable Power Stations Apart
Goal Zero doesn’t just make portable power stations. It makes other products, too – from AC power banks, USB power banks, solar panels, lights, and all manner of lighting and portable power accessories. But it has made its name from its portable power stations, which are some of the safest and most functional on the market today.
For a company whose beginnings are steeped in helping people recover from disasters and solve real-life problems, it is no surprise that Goal Zero has found so much success. The company’s first product was a solar kit (solar panel, battery, and LED light) that was first tested in DR Congo, where founder Robert Wackman had noted an acute need for economic empowerment.
The company formally launched as a business in 2009, with ‘the ethos of Zero Apathy, Zero Boundaries, Zero Regrets’. In 2010, the company would launch Extreme Ranger 350, its first portable power station. It used a lead-acid battery and had a bolt-on AC inverter.
In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, Goal Zero donated 100’s of solar panels and lighting kits to help affected families. It would do the same after the Hurricane Sandy disaster of 2012 and after Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in 2013.
As the company’s brand grew so did the recognisability of its products. In fact, the first Goal Zero Yeti portable power station that launched in 2012, would ride on this brand power.
Because the company has kept engineering and some of the manufacturing in the United States, it has been able to keep a tighter control on quality. The products themselves have been tested in different use conditions, including natural disasters in Japan, the Philippines, Haiti, Africa, and at home in the USA.
The result has been some of the most desired, durable portable power equipment and accessories, well-reviewed on Amazon and other major retail outlets.
Continuing its focus on innovation, without abandoning its sustainability and humanitarian foundations, Goal Zero now anchors its mission of empowering people with safety and connectivity on ‘delivering smart portable power solutions.
With its extensive ecosystem, your entire suite of off-grid power products, portable power accessories, and off-grid lighting systems can be Goal Zero-branded.
Review Of The 5 Top-Rated Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations
Ready to explore your options? Here are the top 5 Goal Zero Yeti portable power stations on the market today:
No matter where your adventures take you – to the picnic, on a road trip, or out camping, the Goal Zero Yeti 150 will keep your phones and tablets charged. That’s the pitch line from Goal Zero themselves. If you can’t take their word for it, maybe you will take those of almost 600 people who have bought and given the power station an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon.
Judging by its size and what we can glean from the spec sheet, you shouldn’t expect the world in terms of power. In fact, it’s revealing that Goal Zero themselves calls this a power bank, with just about enough power to judge smartphones, tablets, portable lights, POV cameras, CPAP machines, and small laptops.
The Yeti 150 uses a 14Ah (12V) lead-acid battery. And judging from the reviews, we would have preferred a lithium-ion battery. The battery recharge rates are fair but nowhere near world-beating. We picked up a few stories of battery swelling and weak charges. The overall sentiment, however, is to expect the battery to perform well the first two years and to slowly degrade from then on.
Speaking of charging, you can recharge the battery by plugging into an AC wall outlet, using
the 12V charging connection in your car, or by hooking up a solar panel that you have to buy separately.
If you are solar-charging, note that charge times depend on the size of the solar panel. Expect a full recharge in about 12 to 24 hours using a Nomad 20 solar panel, and 5 to 10 hours using a Boulder 50 panel. These are Goal Zero-made solar panels.
On the output side, there are two USB ports and one of each for AC and 12V output. The one major wrinkle here is the power quality. The Yeti 150 uses a modified sine wave inverter, which is not
recommended for sensitive electronic equipment.
The Goal Zero Yeti 3000X has power for days, literally. Goal Zero marketing materials describe it as a large capacity portable power station that can power everything from your household appliances, electric bikes, power tools, to air conditioners.
Now you can fully back up your home or workshop’s power supply and confidently take your tailgating and camping trips without ever worrying about power. To plug everything in, the power station has a nice variety of outlets.
Powered by a high-capacity lithium-ion battery, the Yeti 3000X’s beastly power can be accessed via a fast charging 60W USB-C Power Delivery port, two AC ports that feed off a powerful pine sine wave AC inverter that can handle up to 3500W of power surges. You can, therefore, comfortably run your power guzzling power tools, like your table saws and impact drills.
Still, on the output options, there are also two 2.4amp USB-A ports, an 18W USB-C port, and two 8mm 12V output ports that you can use to charge your Light-A-Life lights. On the same interface are a 12V car charging port and a 30 amp, 12V regulated ATP output.
All those output options mean the Yeti has many ways to drain that battery. So how do you charge the power station? If you prefer charging from a wall outlet, there is an 8mm input port that can accept 120V watts as well as an Anderson Powerpole with 600W input capability.
If charging from the wall is not possible, there is the ever convenient car charging option and the green option of solar charging. In fact, that’s the faster charging option, thanks to the MPPT charge controller that delivers a full charge in as little as 5 hours compared to the 14 hours you need when charging from the wall.
What else can we tell you about the Yeti 3000X? We can think of the LCD display and the wealth of information it provides, including the battery level, the watts the load is currently drawing, and how long you have until the battery totally drains out.
For better cord management, there is an input port and 12V output conveniently located at the back of the unit, in between which there is the wireless switch. That wireless switch turns on and enables remote control of the power station using the feature-rich Yeti App.
And the bad? Well, this power station is barely portable. That is something Goal Zero realizes and which they sought to address by adding wheels, a pull-style handle, and an integrated stand. So despite its weight and as long as you don’t have to lift it, the Yeti 3000X isn’t that difficult to move around.
The Yeti 500X is perfect to take on your trips and for occasional use in power outage situations at home. But the power station lacks standby capacity and can’t be relied on to keep your food from spoiling should you lose power at home. For that, the Yeti 1000X is your next best option.
As usual with Yeti X power stations, the 1000X is easy on the eye. The Yeti 1000X has a power storage capacity of 983Wh. At home, that is enough to power your fridge, phone and tablet, internet modems, and fridge during a power outage. It stores more than enough juice for tailgating, road tripping, camping, and other off-grid excursions.
Just like the Yeti 500X, the Goal Zero Yeti 1000X has a 60W USB-C Power Delivery outlet. As well as that fast charging port, it also has two USB-A, a regulated 12V, and two 120V AC ports. That’s a nice variety of charging options, whatever power situation you happen to be in.
When the Yeti 1000X eventually runs out of power, you have several ways to recharge it. You can charge it from the car, from the sun, and from the wall. Thanks to the industry-leading 600W High Power Port, you can charge from the wall in as little as two hours. With the superior MPPT charge controller, solar charging isn’t too slow either.
Clearly, there is a lot to like about the Yeti 1000X portable power station. It is fairly compact and lightweight, weighing just 31.68lbs. Goal Zero’s signature handle design also makes both transportation and storage easy.
The one sore point with this power station and Yetis generally is the rather steep price. There have also been a few complaints about the Yeti 1000X failing to charge if you are using a solar panel.
You would think there isn’t much between the Yeti 400 and the Yeti 500X except the extra 100 watts. You would be wrong. Yes, there isn’t an awful lot more in terms of power, but that X suffix in the Goal Zero Yeti 500X points to a much improved charging technology. And what a difference it makes!
Besides the standard AC, 12V, and USB ports, the Yeti 500X adds a fourth one – 60W USB-C Power Delivery outlet. That fourth port features the latest USB-C charging technology whose main benefit is significantly faster charging.
USB-C PD outlets can charge compatible laptops, cameras, and tablets in a fraction of the time it takes using the Yeti 400. With the ability to channel power both ways, the USB-C PD port can be used as an output as well as to charge the power station itself.
We are all for faster-charging speeds, but how many charges can you get from the Yeti 500X and who is this portable power station for?
The Yeti 500X power station has enough power to charge and run your standard electronic devices, including your smartphones, tablets, laptops, CPAP machines, GoPro, and even a small portable fridge.
For its capacity, the Goal Zero Yeti will work well for camping, Overlanding, and off-grid office work. It can even run your power tools, albeit for a limited time. In case of a power cut at home, it will keep your lights on and all your phones and laptops charged. It will also run a couple of speakers, your CPAP machine, and select smaller appliances long enough for grid power to be restored.
What else do you need to know about the Yeti 500X? We like that the interface is quite sleek. But it’s what’s inside that we really like, not least the lithium-ion battery.
The lead-acid batteries on the first-generation power stations were bulky and heavy, and not very long-lasting. For comparison, the Yeti 400 is over twice as heavy as the Yeti 500X. The power-dense lithium-ion battery and improved battery management system also guarantees a significantly higher 1200W peak wattage capacity.
The Yeti 500X fully charges in about 8.5 hours when charged from a wall outlet. You can also charge it on the go using a car charger. For faster and more efficient charges, the Yeti 500X has an MPPT charge controller that improves on the PWM charge controllers used on older models.
With the new MPPT charge controller, you will see 30 percent faster and more efficient solar charges. There are two 8mm charging ports on the Yet 500x, one on the front and another on the back.
What’s not to like about thisYeti? In one word – price. But all that technology, sleek exterior, and fast charging capability inevitably come at a cost. Still, this is a supremely capable portable power station that will serve you well for years to come.
Goal Zero Yeti portable power stations are designed and engineered in Utah in the USA by a company called Goal Zero. Most of the manufacturing is done in China.
Goal Zero Yeti power stations are high-quality portable power products made by a company with a strong reputation for safety and quality. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s use recommendations, the power station should give you years of reliable service.
The Goal Zero Yeti 3000X is designed to last up to 500 charging cycles at 80 percent capacity. In other words, you will recharge the battery up to 500 times before it starts to fail, which may show in a failure to hold a charge. How much time that is in terms of actual time depends on how frequently you use and have to recharge the power station.
Goal Zero Yeti portable power stations are not waterproof. You will damage them if you expose them to wet conditions. To get the maximum use out of these power stations, protect them from the rain and any wet conditions.
Goal Zero Yeti portable power stations are safe to keep plugged in, which is also convenient in that the battery stays fully charged for when the power goes out. But you don’t have to keep the power station plugged in, although it will start to leak power if left for too long without a charge.
Goal Zero power stations are impressive, well-made pieces of equipment. Made by a proud American company founded on strong humanitarian ideals and that has nurtured a reputation for quality and safety, what’s not to like about these portable power stations? Some will say the price, but others will rightly say the quality comes at a cost.
From our research, all the hype about Goal Zero portable power stations is fully deserved. They aren’t perfect, but you aren’t going to find a lot better alternatives. So if you have only admired these power stations from afar, find one that fits your budget and needs and invest in it. Our guess is you will love it.