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.