A Review Of The Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator

The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is a remarkable generator for those that want a plug and play solar generator. One of the first things I noticed about the Yeti when pulling it out of the package was that it was a very compact unit. It weighs about 29 lbs which isn’t too bad, and there is a sturdy carry handle that is very comfortable to use and does a good job of distributing the weight when moving from place to place.

The Yeti 400 comes with a charger that allows you to plug in to a standard 110 power outlet. If you purchase the panels that are manufactured by them you can just plug them into the generator and start recharging your unit.

If you already have solar panels or don’t mind having panels that are more rigid and less transportable than you can purchase an adapter that connects to standard MC4 solar panels. There is another adapter that can handle going from Anderson Power Pole to MC4 but at 3 x the price of the regular 8mm to MC4 adapter it is an expensive adapter at $50.

This is a very easy generator to use.

When you get it, you are supposed to plug it in and charge until it reaches a 100%. Mine was charged at the 80% level when it arrived so it took an hour or two to get up to the full 100%.

The Display

Information is nice. The display on the Yeti tells you the amount of watts going in and the amount going out. Not only is this useful for tracking your total amount of power used, you can use it to see just how much a device pulls in terms of energy and use that to plan out if your device is worth it or not.

The USB ports are really convenient because you don’t have to fool with taking up one of your two 110 plug ins or your 12 volt and so may devices are USB chargable.  The display lights up for good visibility under low light conditions.  To turn on each type of outlet/plug in there is a small button above each section that you have to press. A little  light will appear when you do.

Battery Charging

You can definitely plug in your battery rechargers to this device and see exactly what you are drawing.

The 12 volt charging adapter is inexpensive to buy and oh my does it ever make this generator even more useful and easy to keep topped up! If you have a UTV like our Kawasaki Mule or similar, you can put this generator in the back and keep it charged off your UTV!

We just put it into the Mule with the panel to take it out. With the Mule I have multiple charging options. With the use of an inverter or the 12 volt car charger cable, we can charge it off the Mule battery so we have power wherever we need it!

This means power wherever you need it around your place, when camping, hunting, or just when you want to have a day out and some fun!  This device has honestly made me consider doing some things that I would not have in the past! How about taking some rope lights and other supplies and having a party in the woods that is a bit more upscale that the usual?

Maximum Input Of Solar Panel

The largest panel you can safely attach and charge your Yeti 400 from is 100 watts. If you have larger panels then you will need to purchase a separate panel for portable charging. You could also plug your Yeti into a 12 volt charger on an existing system. In our house we have 12 volt outlets that could be used for example.

Leroy Brown takes driving around for reviews very seriously. I was a bit concerned about his reaction to squirrels and rabbits but he did great!

The Goal Zero generator line makes it easier for those that want a well though out and all in one power solution, to get up and running with no hassle. Sure you could put together a similar system for less but if you don’t have the experience or want something that is put together and designed so that all parts have been tested for compatibility then you may want to spend the extra money on the Yeti.

Get the right size Yeti for your needs

There are different sizes of Goal Zero generators out there. You may even want to have a smaller one for portable applications and a larger one for back up power for your home or business.

When you start to get ihto the larger generator size ranges, they start to get heavier. For most people I would say you would not want to lift more than the 400 by yourself. Goal Zero thought about this and so they include wheels and a handle so you can move the larger units around with greater ease and less chance of strain.

The Yeti 400 can be used with devices that draw up to 2.6 amps. This means you can use some very small power tools. On the other hand if you have tools that use 12 volt rechargable batteries like cordless drills and such then you can use the Yeti to keep these batteries charged when out at a job site. That would have been very nice to have years ago when we started clearing and working on the property we have now.

Make sure you get the right cables

If you have solar panels, make sure that you are buying the right adaptor so you don’t get frustrated when you can’t use the solar option right away.

Fabulous choice for back up power for those short on space

When testing this unit, I thought about how the size of the generator would be great for those in even very small apartments. This generator is not much bigger than a bread box. You could even put a solar panel out on your balcony or patio if it is okay with whomever you are renting from. If not you can keep it charged via your car or electrical outlet.

Don’t lose your 110 Power Cord

While there is not much reason why you would lose your cord, if you have dogs or anything that occasionally chew things up then try to protect your cord. A new 110 power charger cord is $50 which is 1/9 of the cost of a new generator. They are made tough but no cord could ever withstand my dog if she was determined and the cord was available.

Goal Zero Accessories

Goal Zero has a lot of additional accessories you can purchase that work seamlessly with any of their other products. Lanterns, battery chargers, speakers, and more are all available and they are affordable enough that it is not a major budget blow if you find yourself wanting something to make your generator system more useful and versatile.

Customer Service

It goes without saying that customer service is exceptional at this company. They will respond if you take the time to reach out.

If you need to call to troubleshoot there is no insane hold times to deal with and they actually connect to someone that you can understand and doesn’t just work at a call center that works for tons of other companies. If you call Goal Zero you get someone that knows something about their product.

Replacement Batteries

Goal Zero offers their own brand of replacement batteries for the Yeti so you can refurbish you unit for a reasonable cost. $100 will get you a brand spanking new replacement for the 400 but if you have a larger 1250 unit then you are looking at $300. This amounts to about 25% of the cost of a new generator.

How long before you will need a new battery?

Well that depends a lot on how much you use your generator and how well you take care of your battery. You should never let a battery be drained more than 50%. The more you do this the more you decrease the life span of your battery. These are not batteries that you want to “deep cycle” like some that are used for a lot of solar applications.

The more you use your generator the quicker you will need a replacement battery. For the newbies out there, batteries don’t just stop charging all together at once in most cases. What happens is that you will notice that they begin to not hold a charge as long as when new.

When this loss becomes unacceptable to you then you need to replace the battery. This is a straight forward procedure that anyone can do. The biggest challenge is the weight of the battery itself.

Our Tests

This generator weighs 29 lb and the 100 watt solar panel I bought weighs just under 17 lbs. It is easy to move them around. My husband set it outside after we ran the battery charge down to 80% and withing a few hours it was fully charged. Not bad for a cheap solar panel just leaned against the house.

The is definitely waterproof. The hose was turned on it and it didn’t hurt it at all so that makes me feel better about using this outdoors when the weather may turn foul. So many products out there claim to be rugged and waterproof and don’t live up to the promise. Goal Zero knows that people are going to need to use these during emergencies so they make them tough enough to handle it.

The Woods Office

We have some woodland that we have been getting into better shape with thinning, planting grass and grazing sheep. It is a nice place to sit and think. To test the Yeti 400 we set up my laptop, a AA battery charger and charged my cell phone.

The solar panel is 100 Watts and even under these very dark conditions I was able to put more energy into the generator than I as pulling out. This means I could sit in the woods all day with my solar panel and write and then go home with a full charge to draw on in an emergency.

It is always good to have your dog with you on a work day!

I definitely plan on doing more writing work outside when the weather starts to warm up again. With this set up I can have unlimited power for my little office set up.

The Vineyard Office

When you are sitting in an organic vineyard drinking wine you made with an outdoor office it is hard to not be grateful for everything even all the work it took to get there and make you who you are.

My husband and I after years of raising pigs, cattle, and goats, started planting grapes. It started with 110 vines and quickly got out of hand. Now we have 1600 vines, sheep, and geese. Our vineyard is organic and steep slope.

We use sheep and geese to eat under the grape vines when we can and then mow and weedeat otherwise. Our vineyard may look different than what you are used to but part of that is because we don’t spray Roundup at the base to make the ground bare at the vines.

This is family land I was given by my father who is a Vietnam veteran with lots of health issues related to the “Agent  Orange” spray they used in Vietnam. We choose to have our vineyard not contribute to companies that poison people.  As a result we can graze sheep and geese in our vineyards. They keep down bugs and help fertilize as well as produce meat and wool.

It is a nice place to set and it is even nicer now that I have this solar generator for a little bit of power out there. Although we have electricity at several points on the property, it is very mountainous and steep here and the vineyard areas do not have power.  We plan on getting some rope lights and a few other fun things so we can spend more time out in this great space.

An office outside with a good view, the sheep around me, and my dogs was really nice. No more limits on how long I can stay out before my laptop battery is depleted! For that, I thank you Goal Zero! It will also make it far more comfortable when we have friends and family over and want to spend some time with them out in the vineyard without sacrificing any comforts whatsoever!

Our sheep are Shetlands and they are only about 24 inches tall. They didn’t seem that interested in the solar panel. Our ram, Harry Truman, I was a bit concerned about since the last thing I wanted was him ramming the solar panel I just bought.

He didn’t seem interested at all so that was a good thing! He is pretty good, having been raised to be a show lamb by a hight school girl for a 4-H project. He came with the name and since it was cute it stuck.

When using the Yeti 400 in the vineyard, the level of light reaching my panel was very poor due to the time of day it was and the fact that I was under a very old large Tulip Poplar tree. Even then I was still able to use my office devices without any battery depletion whatsover.

In fact, for part of the time I was putting more back into the generator than I was using. I am very impressed with what you can do with this generator without depleting the battery at all using a 100 watt panel.

The panel I use is also a very cheap panel. It was about $115 with tax.

Reducing Weight

The generator I have for review is the Lead Acid Battery Version of the Yeti 400. For a higher cost of $599.95 there is a lithium version that weighs far less and produces more amp hours.

If you are concerned about weight then you may feel that the additional investment is worth your time. Here is a break down of my higher weight set up versus what it would cost you to purchase a lighter weight version.

  • Yeti 400 Lead Acid
    • Weight: 29 lbs
    • Amp Hours Stored:
    • Cost: $460
  • Panel  100 Watt HQST Rigid Solar Panel
    • Weight: 17 lbs
    • Cost: $115
  • MC4 To 8mm Conversion Cable $15 (Only required if you are using panels that are not made by Goal Zero)
    • Total Weight: 46 lbs
    • Total Cost: $590+
  • Yeti 400 Lithium
    • Weight: 17 lbs
    • Amp Hours Stored:
    • Cost: $600

Panel

Flexible 100 Watt Solar Panel

  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Cost:  $160

MC4 To 8mm Conversion Cable $15

(Only required if you are using panels that are not made by Goal Zero. Always check panel connections before purchasing a panel or any adapters to ensure compatibility)

  • Total Cost: $775+
  • Total Weight: 23 lbs

$185 gets you a set up that is half the weight and with more amp hours. Is it worth that to you? I would say that if you are a very mobile person it might be. If this is just a back up for emergencies at home or at your vacation cabin then probably not.

Flexible solar panels do not have as long a warranty on them so that leads me to believe they do not last as long so that is another thing to consider when getting a set up. I really love the idea of lightweight panels for maximum portability but that is not always a concern with some set ups. You may want to have some of both if you utilize renewable energy a lot.

It is important to remember that even with the heavier set up, the most you have to lift at one time is 29 lbs since the panel is carried separately.

Maintenance

Goal Zero suggests keeping your generator plugged into a power source when not in use. This could mean keeping it topped off via your car or RV’s 12 volt system, a solar panel, or plugged into a standard household outlet.

If you cannot keep it plugged in then you need to make sure to plug it in to something and charge to capacity every 3 months to maintain your unit. Failing to do so could lead to a shorter battery life and it means that your generator is not ready if you need it during an event or emergency.

Although the Yet is waterproof, you should still not just leave it outside and unprotected when you are not using. Nothing lasts as long when exposed to the elements a lot. Think of it like a car. Sure it could be outside but it is going to do better in a garage.

The Bottom Line

The Yeti 400 is a great little generator that allows those out on acreage or those that are nomadic to be more comfortable. The Goal Zero Yeti is going to be a real little workhorse around our place and it is good back up power for my dad that lives right down the road.  If you want to make sure you just have something that works without any hassle.

In response to those saying “I could build something for less” I have to say while you are right, there are some people that just want something that is thought out for them. The lighter weight Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium may be a better option for older people that are living on their own and want to be able to move it around with ease.

Another option that will reduce some weight would be to get the regular Yeti and a flexible solar panel. This would reduce total weight of generator and panel down to 36 lbs and only increase the cost $60.

There are options for everyone with the Goal Zero Yeti series. Consider your long term needs and how much weight and portability matter to you and then make your purchase.

A special thanks to my husband Matthew and Leroy Brown for their help with this review!

Author Bio: Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them. 


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  1. We’ve been looking for something low cost to use at our remote cabin. Due to its location and the fact we don’t need a LOT of power this might work pretty well…we really didn’t want to get a gas generator due to noise factor so thanks for putting this review out there…will definitely be something worth considering.

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