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Goal Zero Yeti 400 review

Keep your gadgets charged using the power of the sun with this light and portable solar-powered generator

Goal Zero Yeti 400
(Image: © Goal Zero)

Our Verdict

The Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium is a great choice to charge small electronics like phones and laptops, but not for more powerful appliances like fridges or freezers. Its main advantage is that it’s light, clean and completely silent, plus you can recharge it using solar panels (not included). Its neat design, two 120 volt power outlets and 3 USB ports make it perfect for road tips and camping holidays.

For

  • Portable and quiet
  • Can charge with solar or mains power
  • 3 USB ports

Against

  • Solar panels not included
  • Proprietary solar panel connection
  • Not for power-hungry appliances

We've researched the latest portable generators, asked the experts, and sifted through thousands of specs, features and user reviews to find the best portable generators around. 

To check out other options too, head to the best overall portable generator in our  DeWALT DXGNR7000 review, or you can find the best portable generator for camping in our Champion Power 75531i review. 

Here's everything you need to know about the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Solar Generator.

Goal Zero Yeti 400: What you need to know

Unlike gasoline powered generators, the Yeti 400 Lithium Solar Generator is powered by a quiet, clean lithium battery offering portable power solutions without any messy fuel or noise. 

You can charge the Yeti 400 using Goal Zero solar panels or direct from the mains. With a total running output of 400 watts you can power small electronics, but nothing too power hungry and thanks to the built-in inverter it’s fine for charging sensitive electronics like laptops. 

Three USB ports and two mains power outlets are available on the unit and a handy digital display tells you how much power remains for each device you’ve got plugged in. Finally, the Yeti 400 Lithium weighs just 16 lbs, so it’s really portable. 

Goal Zero Yeti 400: Price

If you want to buy the Gaol Zero Yeti 400 Lithium so you can charge it using solar panels then you'll need to factor them into the overall cost, since you have to purchase them separately. Note that the Yeti range is only compatible with solar panels purchased from Goal Zero as well and you'll effectively double the original price if you need to buy a solar panel at the same time as the Yeti 400.

For example, Home Depot offers the Yeti 400 for $559.95, and also a bundle of the generator and solar panel together for $1174.

Goal Zero Yeti 400: Features

Goal Zero Yeti 400: Specs

Running Watts: 400 watts
Starting Wattage: 1200 watts
Number of outlets: 7
Start type: Electric switch
Battery type: Lithium
Run time: 200 hours at ½ load
Weight: 16.3 lbs
CA (CARB) Compliant: Yes
Warranty: 12 months

Unlike gasoline or propane-powered generators, the Yeti 400 Lithium is powered by a lithium battery, so everything is push button and super-quiet. The inverter can output a running wattage of 400 watts, which is enough to power several small electronics, but has a massive high 1200 watts surge protection built in, so it shouldn’t trip when devices with motors are plugged in. One thing to note is that the battery has an 18 month shelf life, which is the time it will sit idle without being used or recharged. Goal Zero recommend that you charge or use it every 3-6 months.

Plugged into the mains the battery, the Yeti 400 recharges completely in 7 hours, but the cool thing is you can plug in some Goal Zero solar panels and power the battery using the power of the sun. Solar charging time is depends upon the size and number of your solar panels, but as an example the Boulder 100 Briefcase that Goal Zero sell will recharge the battery completely in somewhere between 8 and 16 hours. 

There’s no shortage of digital readouts on the Yeti 400 showing how much power your devices are using and how much battery there is left. On the front of the unit you get a generous 3 USB ports, two 120V power outlets and a 12V car port outlet. 

Finally, you can charge from a car charging outlet but Goal Zero recommend you use its own Goal Zero 12V car charging cable, or you risk damaging the battery.

Goal Zero Yeti 400: Performance

On a full charge the Yeti 400 Lithium can charge a phone completely 30-40 times or a laptop 3-5 times. 

Goal Zero Yeti 400 review

(Image credit: The Home Depot)

The inverter inside is rated at 300 watts total across all the outlets. So, you can’t have anything running that needs more than 300 watts across both outlet ports. A surge protector will protect you from jumps up to 1200 watts though, without the generator cutting out, which leads to smooth running when plugging in appliances with motors.

Goal Zero also produce a version of the Yeti 400 with a lead acid battery, but Lithium is much longer lasting.  Goal Zero claim it’ll last 500 charging cycles before dropping below 80% power on a charge. Lithium also holds its charge well, while lead acid will drain itself in 30 days. 

Goal Zero Yeti 400: User reviews

Nerd Techy called the Yeti 400 Lithium “a much more affordable option than full size generators if you’re just looking to charge electronics.”, and generally user reviews are positive. 

Goal Zero Yeti 400 review

(Image credit: The Home Depot)

People love the build quality, size and portability of the unit and most find it lives up to the stated charging capabilities.

One customer did note that the solar panel connector for the Yeti is a proprietary Goal Zero one, so it wouldn’t work with her existing solar panels. That’s something to consider if you’ve already got panels and you’re simply hoping to add this unit to your existing setup.

Should you buy the Goal Zero Yeti 400?

The main reason for getting a solar powered generator over gasoline powered model is that it’s clean and quiet. You can bring it into the house without having to worry about having a loud, smelly that looks unsightly. Plus, with solar panels you can recharge with the free energy of the sun. However a 400-watt device is fine for when you go off road or camping, but you’re not going to be able to run power tools or a refrigerator in your home from this unit.

Goal Zero also produce versions of the Yeti with higher running wattage, so if you need something more powerful check out the Yeti 1250 or Yeti 1400 because they’re essentially the same device, just more powerful. But if you’re looking for a clean, quiet generator to power your laptop or small electronics then the Yeti 400 will suit your needs, particularly if you can take advantage of solar charging in your area.

Be careful you get the right product if you decided to buy the Yeti 400 Lithium because Goal Zero also do a lead acid battery version of the Yeti 400, which is cheaper, but much heavier, at 33 lbs. We’d go with the Lithium battery version as the performance is better.

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