Charger GoalZero Guide10Plus

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GoalZero has a line of product for mostly outdoor use, this includes chargers, power banks, solar panels, lights and other stuff. Here I am looking on a combined AA charger and power bank.

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I got the charger on a piece of cardboard with a box for accessories.

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The contents of the pack: The charger, 4 2300mAh GoalZero cells, an instruction sheet, a short form instruction sheet, a inlay for AAA batteries, usb cable and a cable for GoalZero solar panels.

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All connections and user interface is placed at one end of the charger, they are:
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Bottom of charger explains the led and a few other details, i.e. you got the important stuff from the manual here (Very nice).

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On the other end is a steel wire. It is possible to run a strap under it and tie the charger to the outside of a backpack.

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The charger has a lid, making it fairly easy to keep the batteries in the charger, even if it is on the outside of a backpack.

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The slots are only designed for AA batteries.

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But with the supplied inlay it can also be used for AAA batteries. I am not impressed with that solution, the inlay is a extra piece to lug around and it can easily get lost. I would be more correct to just call it a AA charger and forget about AAA cells.
There is one more reason for that, the charger is a 4 cell charger, i.e. you cannot charge one or two cells. In practical applications it is most often one or two AAA cells, but frequently four AA cells.

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The supplied solar panel cable use some very small barrel connectors. The cable is rather thick.
To test the solar input I cut this cable (To connect power to it) and was impressed with how much copper there is inside.

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AAA requires inlay!



Measurements charger


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The charger stops a bit early, it looks like it is using voltage termination.
The charger is charging with about 0.5A current, this means 4 to 5 hours charge time and not the 8 hours that the manual says.

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Simulating a weak usb power supply will increase the charger time, but it is still way below the 8 hours.
Notice the usb current is exactly the same as above, it looks like the charger drains a constant current from the usb.

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The charger current for AAA is about the same as for AA cells, because the current is only 0.5A this is fine. These smaller cells will be charged much faster.
I have no idea why the charger takes a break just before it is finished.

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The GoalZero batteries has a bit more capacity than my eneloops and takes longer to charger. Termination is the same.

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The manual says the batteries must be the same capacity, but not the same charge state, in this test I did not follow that, but used one 2500mAh cell and 3 2000mAh cells. The 3 low capacity cells got filled (mostly), but not the 2500mAh cell.
Voltage is the 2500mAh cell (powerex)
Voltage #2 is one of the 2000mAh cells (eneloop)

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The manual says that the charger must always charge 4 cell, I did not follow that here. I have one eneloop in slot #1 and a dummy in slot #3. The charger can bypass empty slots with a lower current, but it will not terminate the charge

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Lets try the part about different charge state, I have one full cell (The one I am measuring on) and 3 empty cells.
This is not very good, the full cell got nearly a complete charge again and the empty cells got slightly less charge than usual.
It does not look like the charger has any individual check of the cells.
Note: The temperature sensor is on one of the empty cells.

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With 4 full batteries there is no problem terminating in a short time.

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The manual says the solar input needs 6.5 volt and can draw 1.5A, I can easily simulate that with a power supply.
The charge current is increased, but not enough to get a 3 hours charge time, i.e. either the 3 hours are wrong or the solar panel delivers more voltage than 6.5 volt.

Temp2167

M1: 32,1C, M2: 48,9C, M3: 34,4C, M4: 39,1C, HS1: 50,4C
It looks like all the charge electronic is placed very close to the power input connectors.

Temp2168

M1: 45,9C, M2: 49,1C, HS1: 61,0C

Temp2171

M1: 34,8C, M2: 34,4C, M3: 33,7C, M4: 32,6C, M5: 49,1C, HS1: 50,2C
I charged with the lid closed, but opened it for this shot. The batteries stays very cool.

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The charger is very fast to start (Voltage is across all 4 cells).


Measurements power bank


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The output voltage start a bit high and drops slowly with load, I did not find any overload protection.

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Output voltage is very stable with 0.5A load. The build in regulation can both increase and decrease voltage, this is very nice.
Voltage is the total battery voltage.

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Increase the load to 1A will about halve the time it can supply power (As expected) and the output voltage is slightly lower.

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Using the GoalZero batteries will give slightly longer runtime, due to the higher capacity.

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The converter has some noise with 63mV rms and 550mVpp

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Increasing the output current will increase the noise to 165mV rms and 900mVpp



Conclusion

I do not like the charger as a general charger, because it are not very good at handling batteries individually. It works fine with a four battery set, i.e. if the batteries have been drained together, this charge can charge them.
As a power bank it is fairly good, but it can only deliver about 1500mAh out at 1A.
It is a nice little device, but I have some problems with seeing the usefulness of it, I want a charger that can handle one or two AA or AAA batteries and as a power bank it cannot match a LiIon based one.



Notes

Here is an explanation on how I did the above charge curves: How do I test a charger
Read more about how I test USB power supplies and chargers