Goal Zero was truly the first company to make portable solar generators a big deal. With their launch of their big Yeti 1250 many years ago they entered the market and told everyone about it. The Yeti 1250 used a lead-acid battery which is very old technology, but, Goal Zero has come a long way with their lithium line of generators. From that line up the Lithium Yeti 1400 power station is my favorite one.
The Lithium 1400 seems to have a very good balance of inverter power to battery output power as well as simple to use setup. It is readily available on a plethora of websites and is backed up by a great warranty.
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The 1400 has many key features that set it apart from the competition. It is a well-rounded system that allows for some decent customization for each person’s situation. From upgrading to an MPPT charge controller, expanding the solar input capability and being able to use the full inverter capacity until the battery is dead are just a few of the great things about it.
It’s obvious from the name that the Yeti 1400 Lithium uses a lithium battery. Specifically, it uses a lithium-nmc or “lithium-ion” as it’s more often called. The lithium-ion is leaps and bounds better than what they were using before in their Yeti 1250 since that used a lead-acid battery. The lithium-ion battery is far lighter and has many more cycles.
It’s a 12v battery and is rated to 132-amp-hours. In easy terms, it’s a 1,425-watt-hour battery which is fairly large for its size. 1,425wh is enough to power a fridge, freezer, lights, fan and CPAP machine for the whole night. Running those items would mean the battery would be completely drained by morning though so it’s important to save as much power as possible. For this reason, it is always recommended to use an outlet timer to control how often the fridge and freezer run. This will save a lot of power and allow for less charging to be needed the next day.
Battery Draw Capacity
The draw capacity of the battery is the full 1,500 watts of the inverter. This is incredible since most solar generators on the market will either not pull the full inverter capacity for very long or have small inverters. This means if I need to use something like a toaster oven, microwave or hot plate/electric cooktop I can do it with no problems. Obviously, they can’t be run simultaneously since that would be more than 1,500 watts.
Other generators like the ExpertPower Alpha and MAXOAK Bluetti are other great generators because they can run the full capacity of the inverter. Their inverters are rated to 1,000 watts though so I can’t run things such as a hot plate which I often do during power outages for cooking. Both have 1,500wh batteries.
Then you have another such as the Inergy Apex which has a 1,500-watt pure sine wave inverter just like the Lithium 1400, but the Apex can only draw 550 watts continuously for more than a few minutes. The Apex uses a 1,100wh battery. It seems like the Goal Zero Lithium 1400 is the combination of those two units since it has both the bigger inverter and the bigger battery.
The Yeti 1400 is really one of the few on the market that can actually pull its weight in regard to using the inverter to the full capacity until the battery dies.
The pure sine wave 1,500-watt continuous inverter has a peak value of 3,000 watts which is exactly what it should be. The peak wattage really should always be at least twice as much as what the running wattage is. This makes it easier to run heavy-duty items with large surges of power. Or when multiple items are running at the same time and then one of the items turns on a condenser are starts up a motor. The 3,000-watt peak allows the system to continue running without any interruptions.
Since the inverter is pure sine wave it will also have no problem running any kind of device that uses 1,500 watts of power or less.
One of the very limited number of things that is a weak point on the Goal Zero 1400 is how many lifecycles it has. Many lithium-ion based solar generators have a 2,000 lifecycle rating. This means it can be discharged and charged 2,000 times before the battery reaches about an 80% efficiency level. With the Yeti 1400 it is only 500 cycles before it reaches that point.
With that in mind, it’s important to understand how this is not that big of a deal. Too often people get caught up in the numbers and specs and don’t think of the real-world application. I use my solar generators semi-often and most of the time I never drain them below 50%. If I were to use my Yeti 1400 Lithium every single day for 500 days, I would then have a battery that is 80% efficient, or in other words, 1,200wh not 1,500wh where it first started.
Seeing as how I use mine maybe once a week it’s more like I have 500 weeks before I reach that point. 500 weeks x 7 days a week = 3,500 days (9.6 years) before my battery reaches that point. Plus, the fact that I only drain it to 50% at the most so it’s more like a 20-year battery. That is plenty of time to use the Yeti 1400 without having to worry about if the battery is still in good condition. Essentially, I don’t have to worry about it at all.
Yes, it is a weak point when comparing against other solar generators because it doesn’t have 2,000 lifecycles but it really isn’t that big of a deal since I will likely never reach that many cycles any time soon. The fastest way I could see it being reached quickly is if I were using this in my RV/camper all summer long. Even still if I use it every day for a few weeks each year while traveling in my travel trailer the battery will last years before reaching that 500 cycle point.
The charge controller inside the GZ 1400 Lithium is a PWM controller. PWM is definitely not the top of the line and I don’t know why they even put it in there in the first place. The good news is that it is inexpensive to upgrade to an MPPT charge controller.
A PWM charge controller works perfectly fine on bright sunny days to charge up the Yeti 1400. It will let in a max of 360 watts of power from the solar panels. It is limited to 22v and 25 amps which means solar panels should be connected in parallel into the Yeti 1400.
Where a PWM lacks is when there are not perfect sunny days. When there are clouds the PWM controller can’t compute how to use the panels and make more power. Whereas the MPPT charge controller is designed for making more power in non-ideal conditions. Unless it’s summer it’s more common to have non-ideal conditions, even during summer it happens.
When it’s cloudy or partly cloudy the MPPT charge controller vastly outperforms a PWM charge controller. The beauty of adding the MPPT charge controller is that it doesn’t replace the PWM. It is a small black box that fits inside the top of the lid of the Yeti 1400 Power Station and very easily attaches. By plugging in the EC8 cable and the USB cable in the top of the Yeti it will allow it to be charged with a second set of panels.
The second set of panels has the same limit as the first set of panels that are plugged into the PWM. Both are limited to 22v and 25 amps. Personally, I use three 100-watt solar panels in each solar charging port to make a max of 600 watts of power. But the limit according to Goal Zero is 720 watts combined between the two solar input ports. Sometimes I will add a 50-watt panel to each array of 300 watts in order to boost it up to 350 watts per array/700 watts total. I mostly do this on cloudier days to boost my power production a little bit.
Generally speaking, there are 5 hours a day where the maximum amount of power can be made from solar panels. This makes it pretty easy to calculate my maximum power production per day. If I have 700 watts in panels connected then I multiply that by 5 hours for a total of 3,500wh created each day. I will obviously make power outside of those 5 hours each day but the base number used is 5 hours per day.
3,500 watts per day is great. This means I could drain the entire 1,425wh battery during the night if I needed to and the next day within about 2 hours can have it fully charged again. Or even better, I can continue to run my fridge, freezer, laptop, and fans while still charging the battery. After 5 hours I will have a full battery and all of my equipment will still have been running all day long.
It’s important to note that it’s not common to get full production from solar panels each day. Between the 5 prime hours and the rest of the day though it is common to get that much power over the entire day.
The Yeti 1400 Power Station uses two types of input power connections. Primarily it uses an 8mm barrel connector that is universal throughout all the Goal Zero power stations. It also has an Anderson Powerpole connector which is one of the most common solar power connectors worldwide. It’s great the Goal Zero didn’t try to make everything 100% proprietary because that generally makes people unhappy.
It’s very easy to get an MC4 to Anderson Powerpole adapter and use that for connecting to other brands of solar panels besides Goal Zero. The Goal Zero solar panels use the 8mm connector.
The Yeti 1400 Lithium is able to charge simultaneously mostly do to the fact that it can have the second charge controller added to it. This means it can have solar panels in one charging port and the wall outlet charger in the other. This will not harm the battery or the system and will help it charge faster.
If just the wall outlet charger is being used it will take about 24 hours the charge the battery up from zero to full.
The newest Yeti 1400 generators now come with built-in Wifi. What this means is that a phone can be connected to it wirelessly and can see what the input, output, and usage levels are of the generator. This is a really exciting feature because it allows people to watch their battery levels and solar panel production levels without having to go look at the screen.
This makes it perfect especially for people out camping or using it while RVing since the Yeti can often be in a spot that’s not easy to get to. Also during power outages, it’s nice to be in the living room with the Yeti 1400 in the garage and see how much power is being made and used.
There are multiple ways to charge up the Yeti 1400. Primarily is the wall outlet charger and solar panels. It also has the ability to charge from a car DC cigarette lighter port but that car charger seems to be unavailable from anywhere.
It does have a very special car charger called the “Link.” Most car chargers pull power directly from the battery. This is perfectly fine when driving from place to place because the alternator is charging the battery. What the Link does though is it charges directly from the alternator. This allows it to charge up to a rate of 500 watts which is about 5 or 6 times more than you could get with just the normal car charger.
The big drawback to the Link is that it plugs into the exact same spot as the MPPT charge controller. So there’s no way to charge from the Link and panels connected to the MPPT charge controller at the same time. Really it simply makes it a hassle to constantly have to disconnect the Link in order to install the MPPT. I personally prefer just to charge off of solar and a wall outlet so I keep just the MPPT charge controller plugged into that spot.
The Yeti 1400 comes in at 44lbs. It’s heavy. It’s not so heavy I can’t move it around but it is a bit of a hassle to pick it up and move it around. Every time I pick it up I feel like I’m at the gym lifting a large 45lb weight. I guess it would be possible to save on the gym membership and just workout with the Yeti Lithium 1400. Most likely not recommended by Goal Zero though.
It’s important to look at it in terms of end-users. Many people are using solar generators simply because they understand that gas is hard to get during power outages, they don’t want dangerous fumes, or because it’s much easier to use than gas generators. 45lbs is above my comfort zone of 35lbs so it is considered to be a heavy solar generator.
When Goal Zero first launched their Yeti 1250 with the lead-acid batteries it had three 110/120v outlets. I think four should be the minimum that companies go for because it seems like it’s very easy to fill up two or three outlets when running a fridge, freezer, laptop, CPAP, TV or whatever else. I generally don’t like having to put power strips into solar generator outlets because it makes it much easier to overload them.
The Yeti 1400 Lithium only has two 110/120v outlets. Why Goal Zero decided to put fewer outlets on there we’ll never know but I wish it had four instead of just two. To run multiple items there’s no choice but to run extension cords and or power strips to multiple items.
It has one 12v DC cigarette port for items that use DC power. It also has two USB A ports, one USB C port and one they call USB PD. Basically the USB PD port is a stronger version of the USB C port. These ports are enough to easily charge phones, some laptops, and other personal devices.
It does not include a 30amp RV plug which is too bad. With a 1,500 watt inverter and a 1,425wh battery, this could definitely connect to small or medium-sized RVs and give good power. Plus it’s very easy to mount solar panels to the roof of an RV which makes it all the more reason why it should have an RV plug.
As usual, it is recommended to charge/use the Lithium 1400 Yeti every 3 months. This keeps the battery is a healthy state so that it lasts for a very long time. It seems like if it’s fully charged and left for one year that it is still in good condition though.
The warranty that Goal Zero provides is somewhat general yet at the same time very unique. It as a one-year manufacturer warranty on it meaning anything that’s not the user’s fault will be able to get it fixed for free if it happens I the first year. This is why it’s so important to get it out and use it so that any issues come out and can be fixed before the one-year mark hits.
What sets their warranty apart is that the warranty is both transferrable and resets when sold to a new customer. For example, if someone owns the Yeti 1400 Lithium for 9 months then decides to sell it, the new owner gets a one-year warranty from the day they bought it, not from the day the original owner purchased it. This is a great move by Goal Zero to ensure that people are satisfied with their generators.
There are a number of things that set the Goal Zero Lithium 1400 apart from the other solar generators on the market. First that it can expand it’s solar with the MPPT charge controller up to 720 watts is great.
Also that it has the Link car charger is not available on any other brand of solar generator to this date. That is a great way to charge when in the car not only because it’s fast but it also means that when the car is turned off it won’t drain the battery of the car.
It’s really too bad that the MPPT charge controller is an upgrade. It is so common for solar generators to have MPPT charge controllers as the standard now. Goal Zero should have redesigned an upgraded unit that has prebuilt MPPT charge controllers already in it.
The fact that it only has 500 cycles instead of 2,000 cycles is a weakness too but not a bad one.
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Whereas the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Power Station is not my #1 choice it is definitely a top choice. For people, those needing moderate power needs during power outages or out on the road it definitely fits the bill. It can make and store enough power to easily get by day to day with essential power needs. I would definitely recommend it to anyone needing light to moderate power.