Goal Zero Extreme 350 Base Camp Kit Review

by M.D. Creekmore on December 3, 2012 · 10 comments

Goal Zero Extreme 350 Base Camp Kit review by MSgt

I’ve had the kit for about a year now and use it when camping and for emergency backup at home. So far it has done everything I’ve wanted it to do.

The kit comes with four 30 watt solar panels, two 33 Amp hr batteries, one 400 watt inverter (which has a 6.0mm female 12V plug and another female 12V cigarette lighter plug, a USB port, and a standard AC outlet). There are also four 3 watt LED Lite-a-Life lights.

The entire system is plug-N-play. The inverter attaches to one of the batteries. You then connect the two batteries together with the supplied cord. The lights are really good quality. You connect the first one to the 6.0mm plug on the inverter.

The rest you can daisy chain to the first and spread throughout the camp site and each light has its own hook. The four solar panels connect together and then are connected to the inverter. I have, in the past, used sticks to prop the panels towards the sun and this has seemed to work well. I did just buy a tripod but have not had a chance to use it yet.

While camping I have run between one and four of the 3 watt lights, a CPAP (without the heating unit), a 50 qt ARB frig/freezer (draws less than an amp per hr), a two speed fan that Riverrider told us all about, and recharged my phone all with no problem. Even when it was cloudy the two 350 Power Packs recharged completely.

The bad news. I am not an electrician but I don’t believe the 400 watt inverter would be large enough to run a full size refrigerator/freezer which would be the primary reason for emergency backup power. The system is too heavy and bulky to haul on foot.

When one of the batteries fail (and eventually they will) you cannot open it and replace the battery inside. You must purchase an entirely new unit. Goal Zero customer service is difficult to deal with. They are not forthcoming with information.

Such techniques as “water boarding” and the old plastic bag around the head routine came to mind during my first conversation. I was first told I could replace the battery in the 350 Power Pack only to learn later this wasn’t true. Their products are also priced too high.

Now the good news. Goal Zero has a new product called the Yeti 1250. Still too heavy. Still over priced but the inverter is rated at 1200 watts continuous which should be enough to handle emergency situations. More good news, if you shop you can easily find lower prices on their products and usually free shipping.

Now that I already have the four solar panels from the Extreme Base Camp Kit I am looking for a deal on just the Yeti. After about thirty minutes on the telephone with their Customer Service people I was told you could open the Yeti and replace the battery inside with another AGM battery.

10 comments

Nancy V. December 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

Thanks for your review. I am very interested in any info on using solar for medical devices such as a CPAP machine. Portability is a real problem for medical devices. I have a family member who has SOSA (severe obstructive sleep apnea) and relies on his CPAP at night. He does have a APC for power outages at night – this gives him more options.

The APC he uses was bought locally at Best Buy, but this is the same model on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/APC-BE550G-Back-UPS-Outlet-550VA/dp/B0019804U8/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1354545712&sr=1-1&keywords=APC

Thanks again

j.r. guerra in s. tx. December 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Pretty cool – thanks for the review.

Does anyone else remember that someone was going to about to introduce a grid independent power supply for the home around 10 years ago ? I remember Backwood’s Home did an article of it, but I never heard of it again.

SunnyD December 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Wow! $1600 for a few lights. I suggest you go to Walmart and buy 2-4 of the small spotlight style garden lights with on/off switches and the builtin photovoltaic cell to recharge the battery. I paid $5 apiece for them. I use them in my motorhome. I have small brackets set up over the door, over the table over the stove over the bed and over the couch. I can sit on the couch and read by the light for hours without using the RV batteries. I can turn on the light over the door when I leave and come back after dark to a lighted entry. I place these in any sunshine during the day sometimes that is on the table and sometimes coming in the bedroom window. With the switch off they don’t come on automatically when it gets dark draining the battery. Extremely practical.

JP in MT December 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I have seen these product more and more. Thank you for sharing your experience. I was concerned about the price too.

Sulaco December 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

The inverters are on line at ebay as well as other sites and run upwards of 1600 to 2000 watts that will easly run a refrig etc from your car battery that you can keep powered by running the gas engine for a while. They run around 2-3 hunderd apiece.

akalls001 December 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm

FYI………….

Volts X amps = watts

most electrical appliances have a tag stating what amp the motor is…..

Start up on an appliance is at least 3X the running watts….

15 amp motor X 12o volts AC = 1800 watts………..need about 5000 at start up…..I found the Goal Zero spendy…..I just paid 900-tax included…for a 9000 surge, 7250 running watt generator….yes it uses gasoline…..but at half load, running steady, the fuel will last for 5 hours….keeping the frig cold and the freezer frozen will take about two hours a day…depending on how many kids are holding the frig door open…we are empty nesters…

Lewis in MN

village idiot December 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Why do you think the products got such lousy reviews on Amazon, with 3 very negative reviews and only two positive? I’m looking for a system, but I’m thinking this ain’t it.

Kts532 December 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Build your own. Hardor Freight has solar pannels and inverters when you can buy on sale that work great. I have them on my house, on my RV and use them on my enclosed trailer. I have not ever had a problem. I have a smaller GoalO set up and had to return it also. I use there LED lights because they work good and are a good price. I have tried to find a good LED light but have not found one that is as nice as the GoalO. You save so much money on the other parts you can splurge on lights. Make sure you use deep cycle batteries.

akalls001 December 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Try HomeDepot.com Have good stuff, good deals on solar panels, etc. And those are next on my list…..250 watt panel for $400…..$200 for a 100 watt………inverters also….

Lewis in MN

michael c December 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I made my own solar panel system; mounted everything on a hand truck. I put the battery in a wood box and mounted the inverters on top. The solar panel swings out from the handle.

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