So, you're sitting in your camp, quietly and peacefully enjoying the quiet evening sunset when all the sudden someone finds it completely neccesary to start up their generator for the sole purpose of powering some random object that you're currently finding completely unnecessary. Only if someone made a device to save those calm, peaceful sunsets and provide your lovely neighbor with all the electricity they could ever want—minus the put-put-put-put-put-put-put....put of the gas eating generator. Well finally someone did, and it's called the Goal Zero Yeti 1250.
Calling this beast the Yeti, is quite a suiting name, it stands about 16 inches tall, 11.6 inches deep, 14.5 inches wide (a little bit larger than a 30 pack of beer) and weighs in at a little over 100 pounds. I'll be honest—it's not the most fun thing to move around, and if you're putting it in your vehicle it's large and heavy enough to require some careful thinking of where you're going to place it.
I was a bit sceptical at first when the fine ladies and gentleman at Goal Zero described the Yeti 1250 to me as a Solar Generator. A unit that could legitimately replace household power in the field for a substantial amount of time, without using any gasoline, and be completely self-sufficient by having the capability to be charged 100% by solar energy. It was a pretty big claim, so clearly it needed a challenge to match it.
Luckily, we have one of Jeep's J8 military vehicles that has been outfitted for overland travel, with it's diesel power plant, heavier duty axles and frame, and complete interior system from Adventure Trailers, it's a pretty killer vehicle to drive. Unfortunately over the last few weeks, it's developed a pretty nasty battery drain which quickly demoted it to quick trips around town, and a back and forth daily driver. It was my perfect, and real chance to figure out if this Yeti 1250 really was the cat's meow. My plan was simple, and hastily put together, head out into the back country near Jerome and Sedona, Arizona and leave it up the the Yeti and a trickle charger to keep me from getting stranded. I was a bit unsure if it would work, but we would soon find out.
Heading out into the middle of no-where, in a one-off prototype, with a battery that is known to drain and prevent the vehicle from starting is stupid. Don't do it, ever, seriously, I'll admit, I did have a freshly charged Odyssey battery sitting in reserve ready to jump-start the vehicle if need be, as well as some good friends who knew where I would be, when I would be checking in, and how to get to me if all went wrong.
After a long day on the trail, I pulled into one of my favorite camp spots, and began to set up camp for the night. Based on my previous experience with the vehicle, I knew there was absolutely no way that the battery would hold a charge overnight, and waking up in the early morning and messing around with electrical wiring didn't sound too appealing. My solution was simple, plug one end of the charger into the power poles located on the rear bumper, and the other end into the Yeti, have a beer, eat a sandwich, and watch The Beatles' Help! on my Macbook Pro(while it was being charged by the AC power of the Yeti of course.) I'd find out in the morning if my crazy scheme would work and save me the distress of getting out into the cold to figure out a better plan.
There's absolutely no way you could do this with a traditional generator, as you'd die of CO poisoning while it was running inside the small cabin of the Jeep you are sleeping in. It raises an interesting, and practical point about the green factor that this device has, it doesn't produce any emissions, and if you're charging it via solar energy, it doesn't require any emissions to replenish the battery. Think of the inside of this vehicle as a micro-environment, I'm living in it, right alongside the Yeti, and we're both happy.
With everything already wired in the morning, all I had to do was press the oval shaped power button, and make sure the 110V AC button was also depressed, and go on with my warm and leisurely morning inside the J8. The sound of the charger buzzing away indicated two things to me, firstly that it was working, and secondly, the voltage gauge indicated the battery in the vehicle was seriously drained. Even though I had charged my nearly dead Macbook Pro and my iPhone (through the USB ports) all night, the battery on the Yeti still read full, I was beginning to wonder how much charging the J8's huge battery would drain it.
It's possible to watch, the input, and output of the Yeti through it's display, and the output was beginning to concern me, but after about two hours of charging, the charger indicated I was ready to go, and I had just dropped below full. It was time to see if the vehicle would start.
Crisis averted, I was on my way, and I heard of a fantastic Mexican Restaurant that I was dying to check out in Jerome, my route took me through a small bit of pavement before shooting me into some red rock trails in Sedona. Even though I didn't take advantage of the excellent stove that is in the J8, I'm pretty sure that if you look below, you'll notice the fish tacos were completely, without a doubt, worth the stop.
Unfortunately for me, once I stopped, the entire process had to be started over, as the battery continued to drain once the alternator stopped providing power to keep it fresh. Luckily, the Yeti made easy work of this, and within a half hour, I was back on the road.
Dead battery? Just bring a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 and you'll be set. Not only will you be able to enjoy all of your electronic appliances, but you'll be able to enjoy them knowing you're being green, and not annoying the guy who happens to be camped near you with the annoying put-put-put-put-put of your generator. The only downside is that the unit isn't the lightest, or the cheapest in the world at $1999.99, but that does include some serious solar panels (two Boulder 30 panels), and a nice cart to carry the unit around with. Even though it has study handles, I'd love to see some more tie down points, possibly pushed out to the sides of the unit. I noticed the unit was hard to keep in one place on rough washboard roads.
We'd love to see an official way for one to jump their vehicle using the Yeti as well.
A big shout-out to Goal Zero for continuing to push the envelope with green solar technology.
Some technical specifications:
|Charges the following:||Approx. Charge Time:|
|AC Wall Charger (80W) Included||16-20 hours|
|Goal Zero Boulder 30 x 2, included||20-24 hours|
|Car Charger (30W), not included||40+ hours|
|2 x 8mm Charge Ports||16-20V, 10A max (200W) each|
|Power Pole Charging Port||16-48V, 20A max (250W)|
|3 x AC standard US outlets 110V AC 60Hz pure-sine wave, 1200W max total continuous, 1500W max short-duration|
|Female 12V port 111-14V, 10A max (120@), unregulated|
|2 x 6mm 12V ports 11-14V, 6A max each (72W), unregulated|
|12V Power Pole port 12-14V, 30A max (360W), unregulated|
|3 x USB ports 5V, 1.5A mx (7.5W) each, regulated|
|Battery Type||Lead-acid (AGM)|
|Battery Capacity||1250Wh (12V, 100Ah)|
|Battery voltage range||11-14.8V|
|Life Span||Hundreds of cycles|
|Fuse||200A (4x50A fuses in parallel)|
|Inverter||1200W pure-sine wave inverter|
|Charge Controller||20A MPPT|
|Shelf Life||Charge every 3-4 months|
|Chainable||Yeti 1250's and other 12V AGM batteries|
|Dimensions||16 x 11.5 x 14.5 in (410 x 305 x 370 cm)|
|Operating useage Temp.||20-105 F (6-40 C)|
|Optimal storage temp.||70 F (21 C)|
|6mm Tool Included|