Goal Zero Nomad 7 vs Instapark M10 solar chargers.

by moab90245

Helpful review I found on Amazon. My only complaint is finding a 4 AA USB battery charger to hook up to the Instapark M10. (I know the Goal Zero battery pack will work. But at $37 it’s no bargain.) Does anyone know if the ones that charge cellphones from AA batteries will work in reverse? Meaning the chargers are originally built to charge a cellphone off of the 4 AA’s. If you hooked that up to the solar charger would it charge the batteries in the unit in reverse? Make sense?

Just noticed this from the review “Both panels can increase their output by working in tandem with a battery pack. The idea here is that the solar panel keeps the battery pack charged, and the battery pack charges your devices.” Perhaps it’s worth getting the Goal Zero Battery pack. As it probably not only charges the batteries from the solar panel. But the battery pack can also charge your devices at a higher speed(?). I think the Goal Zero battery pack has both an in usb port and an out usb port(?). Will have to look closer at the unit.

(This unit has also been reviewed on Gearlabs: http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Solar-Charger-Reviews/Instapark-Mercury-10 )

Here’s the review from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3TQ1N8F255XA2/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B006ZRYU9O&nodeID=172630&store=mp3

“I just spent a good long time deciding between the Instapark Mercury 10 and the Goal Zero Nomad 7 (usually sold as the Goal Zero 19010 Guide 10 Plus Small Adventure Kit). Hopefully you can benefit from my observations.

I spent about a week with my brother-in-law’s Nomad 7, and ultimately bought the Mercury 10 (actually, the Instapark 10 Watts Solar Panel Portable Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports for iPhone, iPad & all other USB Compatible Devices, 5,200 mAh Battery Pack Included). Here’s how the two compared:

FORM FACTOR:

These two units are almost identical in size. Folded, they’re both 6″ x 9″ (or about the same height as an iPad and about 1.5″ narrower). Unfolded, the Mercury 10 is a couple of inches longer because of the closure flap (which can be folded back behind the unit).

The Mercury 10 weighs more. On my scale, it comes in at 17.7 oz., about 5 oz heavier than the Nomad 7. This is because it provides three solar panels instead of two.

There’s a difference in the thickness when they’re folded. Both units have a tri-fold design. In the Nomad 7, two sections have solar panels in them and the third has the power connector and a storage pocket. With the Mercury 10, all three sections have solar panels in them. The storage pocket is on the outside and has the power connectors in it.

If you were to put the folded units side-by-side, the thickness would be about the same. But there’s a subjective difference in feel. Closing the Nomad feels like closing a folder with a deck of cards inside, since it has its power connectors and battery chargers on the inside flap. It feels lumpy and awkward. The Mercury 10, on the other hand, folds completely flat, with accessory pouch and the bulky connectors on the outside. Again, it’s purely subjective.

I will say this, though. I think Instapark came up with something brilliant when they decided to put the USB connectors on the back of the unit, inside the Mercury 10’s storage pocket. This makes it so you can put smaller devices, like cell phones, in the pocket while they charge. This keeps them off dirty surfaces and uses the shade of the solar panels to protect them from heat.

It’s also worth noting that both are housed in sturdy, black fabric with a Velcro closure, both have loops for hanging the panel, and both cover the solar panels with a thin plastic sheet for protection. Virtually identical.

POWER:

Which one you go with will probably come down to your power requirements.

The real measure of a solar panel’s potency is how much current it pumps out. More current = faster recharge times. The Mercury 10 puts out twice the juice: 2 amps vs. 1 amp from the Nomad 7. Both panels can increase their output by working in tandem with a battery pack. The idea here is that the solar panel keeps the battery pack charged, and the battery pack charges your devices.

The Mercury 10 aims squarely at the USB market, since most devices charge off of USB these days. It offers two USB ports and can supply up to two amps of charging current. That’s some significant juice for such a small unit. You’ll be able to charge even large devices like iPads straight off the panel.

The Nomad 7 goes for a broader range of power options. If you want USB, it provides one port, but at only 0.5 amps. That’s fine for phones and small devices, but isn’t enough for a tablet. To charge a tablet, you’ll have to use Goal Zero’s optional battery pack in tandem with the panels.

The upside of the Nomad 7 is that it also lets you charge AA batteries (if you get the optional AA/AAA battery pack/recharger – the Guide 10 Plus). That’s a bonus for adventurers who need to charge batteries for their flashlights, GPS units, etc.

To charge AA/AAA batteries off of the Mercury 10, you’ll have to get a separate USB battery charger. Instapark doesn’t make one (why?), but Sanyo has a fantastic one – the Eneloop USB battery charger. The Mercury 10 produces enough power to run four of these (eight batteries at a time).

The Nomad 7 also has a 12-volt option with a standard cigarette-lighter-sized plug. But at that voltage, it only produces 0.2 amps of juice, only enough for very small applications.

SUMMARY:

With the Nomad 7, you get lower weight and more power options, but at a lower output. If you get the add-on battery pack to improve the power output, you lose the weight advantage.

With the Mercury 10, you get a slightly heavier package because of the additional solar panel, but you gain twice* the output. However, you’re limited to charging USB devices.

For me, power output and charging time matter. So the Mercury 10 was a no-brainer, especially paired up with a couple of AA/AAA USB battery chargers, which I could more than afford at the Mercury 10’s lower price point.

[*How do you get twice the output from only 50% more panel area? Because the Mercury 10 keeps its operating voltage down to 5 volts. Lowering the voltage gives it a current boost. You see the same principle in reverse with the Nomad 7: it normally produces 1 amp at 6 volts. But when they double the voltage to 12 volts, the current gets cut in half.]”

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