This report initially appeared in Issue 15 of our magazine.
If you are reading this magazine, there’s a great opportunity you have thought of fortifying your meals supplies and beefing up your household safety. And if you are a really serious prepper, you have currently carried out these factors in addition to shopping for a backup generator for when the energy cuts out. Typically powered by gasoline or diesel, a transportable generator can give electrical energy exactly where a plugin is not readily available (e.g. a tailgate celebration) or if there’s a grid-down circumstance.
Having said that, there are drawbacks. Transportable generators give off poisonous carbon monoxide fumes, not to mention noise pollution that can attract undesirable focus (i.e. marauders or the desperate). Also negative there is not a silent, zero-emission generator that does not need fuel to perform. Or is there?
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Enter Target Zero, an business leader in sun-powered illumination options. The Yeti 400 is the middle of 3 tiers in the company’s lineup of solar-powered generators, and we lately got hands on with it to see how successful it’d be at offering juice from a prepper’s point of view.
Target Zero Yeti 400 Specifications
10.25 x eight x eight inches
*Editor’s Note: In the time given that this report was published, Target Zero has also released a new Lithium series of Yeti transportable energy stations. The original AGM-powered Yeti 400 is nonetheless readily available, and MSRP has been decreased from the as-tested price tag of $660 to a existing price tag of $450.
In the heart of the beast lies a 12-volt, 33-amp/hour sealed lead-acid AGM battery. Created for military aircraft exactly where weight and security are critical, an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery includes a thin fiberglass mat, sandwiched involving plates and saturated with battery acid. The mat and plates are slightly compressed, then welded in location.
AGM has really low internal resistance, is capable of delivering higher currents on demand, and provides a somewhat extended service life — even when deep cycled. AGM batteries are upkeep no cost, dependable, and lighter than the flooded lead-acid form.
Target Zero suggests that it stay connected to a energy supply when in storage and then almost drained each 3 to 4 months.
Energy In, Energy Out
The Yeti can obtain energy from 3 input sources: a 110-volt wall adapter, a 12-volt automobile charger, and the 8mm plug ported to a solar array. When totally charged (it took a small more than 5 hours to totally charge out of the box), the Yeti has a energy capacity of 400-watt hours, which means it can theoretically energy something from a four-watt device for 100 hours to a 400-watt device for 1 hour, with no taking into account energy lost to the inverter or other technique limitations. For instance, it took two watts of output 16 minutes to charge an iPhone 6S from 88 to 100 %. The Yeti is also made to be chained collectively with other 12-volt batteries. It will not enhance the wattage, but it’ll enhance the runtime.
The output ports are plentiful: 12-volt cigarette lighter-style port, two 1.five-amp USB ports, two 12-volt, 10-amp 6mm ports, and two 110-volt AC ports. Soon after plugging in a device, push the related button for that output port and the show comes to life. It’ll show you specifically how a lot of amps are getting applied. The 1-button show (backlit for nighttime) is uncomplicated to use. There’s an indicator for input, 1 for output, and a battery diagram that displays remaining energy.
In the Field
Building of the Yeti is simple, but robust. Fundamentally, it is a automobile battery with a challenging carrying case and inverters for the output. It feels and appears like it can take a beating and nonetheless function. There are no buttons to break off, even though the LED show could very easily discover a sharp rock if it tipped more than. The manage is robust and sturdy and recessed into the best, and wide rubber feet retain it from sliding on smooth surfaces. Every single corner has a slight indent for lifting the unit. Replacing the battery (which averages a 4-year life span) is effortless by way of the 4 Torx screws on the best.
The finest function is that it is so uncomplicated to use. Breeze by means of the directions, then just plug it into the wall, charge it up, and begin working with it.
When the Yeti starts to beep or when the show reads about 20 % left, plug it in once again. It’ll give you with hundreds of life cycles. As extended as you do not exceed the limits of the unit, you can plug in and energy as a lot of factors as there are ports to do so. A note of warning: Do not leave the AC button switched on if you are not working with it mainly because the inverter draws five watts when idle.
Sitting subsequent to the unit as it silently powered our gear, we realized it is a misnomer to contact it a generator mainly because it does not essentially produce energy by itself. As an alternative, it converts and retailers energy considerably extra like a fancy battery. Devoid of a supply of electrical energy to replenish what has been applied — no matter if solar or 110 volts from the wall — it would turn into beneficial as a doorstopper and not considerably else. If you are going to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere, make confident to be stuck with solar panels or a truly, truly extended extension cord. Want to energy up your laptop? You have got only about 20 hours of use (3 or 4 charges on a 50-watt/hour device).
But this is no flashlight battery. At 29 pounds, it is hefty, and you are not going to tuck it into the pocket of your pack and whip it out anytime your iPad goes dead. This sits in a closet of a cabin in the woods or in the trunk of your get-out-of-Dodge automobile.
This is a committed survival/adventure tool to give energy when you will need it. Most effective applied for camping, emergencies, disasters, and these instances when the nearby utility surprises you with rolling blackouts.
Above: The Yeti 400 generator can be juiced up working with Target Zero’s Nomad 100 solar panel and pairs up nicely with the Light-A-Life LED lights under. (Each products are sold separately.)
Sold separately is the Nomad 100, a 4-panel solar array that is a plug-and-play unit, compatible with the 8mm input port on the Yeti. The Nomad 100, which can gather 100 watts of energy on a vibrant, sunny day, will take about 12 hours to totally charge the Yeti. The supplied eight feet of cable signifies you have to retain the Yeti and the Nomad in close firm the complete time — not best in foul climate. Not to mention maintaining the Nomad appropriately aimed at the sun for optimal charging. A downside of the Nomad, regardless of its canvas cover and the loops for securing it (or hanging it), the flap does not snap closed, and there’s no carrying manage.
Also sold separately is the Light-A-Life 350 LED light, named for its 350 lumens of light. It can be converted from a spotlight to a lantern, has a constructed-in carabiner so it is effortless to hang, and has impressive attain with its retractable eight-foot cable. Most importantly, you can chain eight of these lights collectively, and they only use four.five watts each and every (on higher mode). These are vibrant and power-effective.
By itself, the Yeti 400 is only beneficial as a short-term resolution to your electronic troubles. It requirements to be renewed, and there’s no point in dragging it along if you do not also bring a supply of energy (solar panels, and so on.). There are a lot of other extra transportable solar-connected devices that can charge your smartphone or tablet if you are on the move.
This substantial energy bank is finest reserved for these products in your kit that can not very easily be powered or for when you are hunkered down with no ambition to bug out — feel blackouts or civil unrest.
Aside from bugging in, the Yeti 400 is best for adventures exactly where electrical energy may possibly be spotty or scarce, such on campgrounds, through an RV road trip, or even though cruising on your boat. Based on the gear you have and its watt/hours needs, you have got 400 watt/hours to spread about, so do it wisely. And if you lost or forgot the solar panel, effectively, you could usually use this generator as an anchor.