Goal Zero vs Inergy Kodiak Solar Generator vs DIY Solar Setup

– Hey everybody, it's
Nate from EXPLORIST.life. Today, I'm going to teach
you how to figure out if an all in one solar
generator like a Goal Zero Yeti or Inergy Kodiak is
better for your purposes than a DIY solar setup. Now by the end of this video, I will have given you five
questions to ask yourself and the reasoning behind those questions so that you can determine, for yourself, which solar solution is going to be best for your own purpose. Before we jump right in, I have a blog post on
this particular video that will give you more insight and numbers that I think
you'll find incredibly valuable and I'm going to be referencing to that a few times throughout this video.

I'll link to that post up here, but if you want to
finish this video first, it's totally fine, as I've got an end card so that you can access the blog post there or through the video description. So, let's jump in. What is a Solar Generator? A solar generator is an all-in-one solar power package, if you will. It's a box that typically
includes a solar controller, an inverter, a battery monitor, and plugs which makes it a convenient and portable, grab-it-and-go, solution to adding solar to a camper van. Now solar guru keyboard warriors get upset with the term solar generator, but it's the marketing
term that's being used by all the companies making the product as well as the people like
you who are searching of for information on these products, so for this video, when
I say solar generators, I'm referring to those all-in-one units like a Goal Zero Yeti or Inergy Kodiak. Now, there are several other companies making products like this, but to keep the video to-the-point, we're only going to talk
about the Goal Zero Yeti and the Inergy Kodiak.

There are two Goal Zero Yeti units that we're going to be talking about today and they are their most powerful ones. The Goal Zero Yeti 3000 and
the Goal Zero Yeti 1400. They both have lithium batteries, but the main difference
between the two units is the size of that battery. The 1400 has a battery
capacity of 113 amp hours and the 3000 has a battery
capacity of 244 amp hours at 12.6 volts. Neither unit has 12 volt car
charging natively built into it as of the making of this video but a work around would be
to purchase a small 300 watt plug in inverter to charge with but we'll talk about
that in just a second.

Both units can charge from
the wall at a rate of 10 amps. The included charging cord
will charge at 5 amps DC, but the Goal Zero Yeti units can charge using dual charging cords at
a combined rate of 10 amps DC. To fully charge the battery
in the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 or Yeti 1400 units from a
110 volt plug in the wall would take 25 hours for the Yeti 3000 or 12 and a half hours for the Yeti 1400. Back to the inverter charging. Buying an additional, small
plug in style, 300 watt inverter capable of
supplying the 10 amps DC to the Goal Zero is pretty
straightforward in hardware. Since the charge rate from the alternator through the inverter is still 10 amps, the charge time would still
remain the same at 25 hours for the Yeti 3000 and 12
hours for the Yeti 1400. Goal Zero Yeti 1400s and
3000s can charge at a max of a combined 480 watts of solar panels. Recently, they released an
MPPT solar controller add on, which makes the units charge
even faster via solar. This comes pre-installed on the Yeti 3000s but it must be purchased
separately for the Yeti 1400.

For the rest of the video, all figures regarding the Yeti 1400 will be based off of the
assumption that the MPPT controller will indeed be added to the Yeti 1400. As I said, both units can
charge at a max of 480 watts, but, the solar wiring
setup is a little, funky. They have to be wired as a 360 watt group and a 120 watt group. More info about that on can
be found on the blog post.

If wired to the maximum solar capacity, the Yeti 1400 and 3000 would charge in as little as three hours for the 1400 and six hours for the Yeti 3000. The Inergy Kodiak, now,
there is only one model of Inergy Kodiak and it has a
90 amp hour lithium battery. It can charge at a rate of 19 amps from a normal household plug which would charge the
unit in about 11 hours. The unit can charge
via 12 volt car charger at a rate of 19 amps DC, which will charge a completely depleted
unit in about five hours. It can charge via solar through
it's PWM charge controller with a maximum input
of 600 watts of solar, which would charge a depleted battery in as little as 2 1/2 hours. Now, the Inergy unit is unique because additional batteries can be added. Battery capacity can be increased, but the main thing to keep in mind here, is that even though you could
double, triple, quadruple, whatever your usable battery bank size, your charging rate can't increase and an additional charge
controller cannot be added.

So if you add a 100 amp hour AGM battery to give an extra 50 amp
hours of usable battery, your charging times would
increase to 16 hours via wall outlet, 7 1/2 hours
via 12 volt car outlet, and three hours and 45 minutes
via 600 watts of solar. If you add another 100
amp hour AGM battery to add yet another 50 amp
hours of usable battery, for a total of 190 usable amp hours, your charging time would
increase to 22 hours via 110 volt wall outlet,
10 hours of driving, or five hours from 600 watts of solar. External lithium batteries are not able to be connected to this unit, so AGM will be your only good option. On the Inergy Kodiak unit,
there is a 30 amp plug for plugging in a shore
power plug from an RV. To me, though, this isn't a selling point as you can use a $10,
30 amp to 15 amp adapter with the Goal Zero unit to
achieve the exact same thing. Don't be fooled that by
plugging a 30 amp plug into either of these units though, means you can run 30 amps of power, like an RV air conditioner.

30 amps of AC power equals 3300 watts which is too much for the
integrated inverter to handle. Now, we've talked about
the individual specs and differences of each unit, but here's how the Goal Zero Yeti 1400, the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 and
the Inergy Kodiak are the same. They all have pure sine inverters with a continuous rating of 1500 watts and surge ratings of 3000 watts. This means they can run
most of your 110 volt household appliances like a
coffee maker, an Instant Pot, or even an induction cooktop given you've got adequate
battery power remaining.

They're all quality units. Although we don't personally
use one in our van, I've had plenty of hands-on with 'em to say that they're all good units in regards to construction. They are easy! Once you decide this is the
direction you're going to go, it's very simple to
just get up and running. There's only a few external connections that you need to make and you don't have to learn near as much about solar as you would in a DIY setup. Now, let's talk about the four negatives of these units in general. Number one, on the Goal Zero units, I hate that we've got
to jump through hoops to wire up the maximum 480 watts of solar.

Wiring through, I'm assuming, two internal charge controllers which forced us to have to
use a 120 watt solar panel and a 360 watt solar panel array. To make it worse, there is an
incredibly limited selection of 120 watt monocrystalline panels, or panels that wire up
to a combined 480 watts for that matter, to
actually get the 480 watts of solar is kinda of
challenging because of that, but once I find a really
good source for that, you know it'll be on the blog post. So check there for updates. Number two, I hate that the Inergy Kodiak has an PWM charge controller. It's an outdated
technology that forces you to use more solar panels
to get similar output then there might be in regards to DIY or even the Goal Zero unit.

Number three, neither the Goal
Zero or Inergy Kodiak units are eligible for wiring in series, which forces you into parallel
wiring the entire thing which causes more wiring and
fewer solar panel options, more complicated roof entry
glands, everything like that. Just kinda more complicated. Number four, the ease of
design of these units, by nature, makes them less expandable than their DIY counterpart. So if you need more expandability and more capacity down the
road, you've got fewer options. Which one should you get? The Goal Zero or Inergy Kodiak? So, now, we're actually
comparing two groups of products. The Yeti 1400 versus the Inergy Kodiak and the Yeti 3000 versus the Inergy Kodiak plus additional batteries. Comparing the Yeti 1400 and the Yeti 3000 is not a good comparison as the only difference is battery size.

You really need to do a power audit to determine how many amp hours you will use throughout the day. That number will give you a better idea regarding which unit
size is right for you. The Goal Zero 1400 and
the Inergy Kodiak unit are fairly comparable in terms
of price and performance. If I had a need for a
100ish amp hour battery unit like either of those two, I think I'd personally
overlook the less-than-ideal alternator charging ability and the long charging times via 110, and still go with the Goal Zero unit. The 600 watt capacity of
the Inergy Kodiak unit is attractive, but the
lack of MPPT charger makes the added solar
capacity a bit of a wash. Also, the Yeti 1400 has a slightly bigger integrated battery as well. Now, I still recommend
the Inergy Kodiak unit as a great unit, perhaps, it's a toss up between the two units, but if I were placed in an awkward, you must choose scenario, like, I'd probably just go
with the Goal Zero unit.

Now if I needed closer to 200 amp hours of battery capacity, I'd
be going for the Goal Zero over the Inergy Kodiak plus
additional AGM batteries. We've already done a thorough discussion on AGM vs Lithium batteries, so I don't need to go over that again. But if it were possible to
add external Lithium batteries to the Inergy Kodiak unit, maybe it'd be another
toss up between the two, but cornering me into using only AGM for added external
batteries tilts the scale towards the bigger, Goal
Zero Yeti 3000 unit. Now if I were fine with
AGM, I'd need 300 amp hours of AGM batteries to get the
additional 150 usable amp hours to make the Inergy Kodiak's
battery storage capacity on par with the Yeti 3000 battery storage.

Now three times 100 amp
hour Renogy AGM batteries would be about 600 bucks. That'd put the Inergy
Kodiak plus extra batteries at nearly the same price
as the Goal Zero Yeti 3000, so if I were okay with AGM batteries, I'd still go with the Yeti 3000. Although a very tight
race between all three, very, very good, units I still recommend the Goal Zero Yeti units in
this particular comparison. Perhaps you've notice that I'm not talking many actual numbers in regards
to price in this video. I'm doing that on purpose though, as to not sway your decision
on the price of products as those prices are constantly changing. You can check current prices
at EXPLORIST.life/shop or through the links in
the description below.

A DIY solar solution. Now in the past, I
thought a DIY solar system for your campervan was the
best, most cost effective way to do things across the board. Now, I know that's not
necessarily the case, which is why I'm doing this video. Designing a DIY camper solar setup is out of the scope of
this video in particular, but I've got many more blog posts and videos that'll help you with that, but I want to run through the main pros and cons of a DIY Camper solar setup, specifically relating
to the Goal Zero unit I highly recommended earlier. Pros of a DIY solar setup. Number one, they are
infinitely customizable. You want a 300 amp hour battery bank? Perfect! 3000? Cool! How about 800 watts of solar? No problem. Add a 2nd charge controller and ramp it up to 2000 watts of solar? Sweet, let's do it. If you want it, and you
have the budget for it, we can build it. Number two, all of the individual
components in a DIY setup are up for swapping out with components that fit your personal needs. Number three, DIY solar
setups have the capability of being more powerful.

Number four, the Goal Zero tops out at 240 amp hours of battery. There is no upper end to DIY. Number five, Goal Zero tops
out at 480 watts of solar. There is no upper end to DIY. Number six, the Goal Zero
Yeti takes 25 hours to charge it's fully depleted 240
amp hour battery bank from a wall outlet or driving, whereas a DIY solution would
only take three to four hours. Goal Zero Units have a 1 year warranty. DIY solutions obviously depend greatly on the components used, but for example, Battle
Born lithium batteries is offering a 10 year warranty. Victron, who makes charge
controllers, inverters, and such, they have a 5 year warranty. Number eight, solar knowledge. Simply by installing solar yourself, you'll have a greater understanding of how your electrical
system in your camper works and how all the parts work together.

Number nine, the ability to troubleshoot. Since you'll have access
to each component, if something breaks or malfunctions, you'll be able to pinpoint
exactly what component is causing the problem in your system Now the downsides of a DIY solar setup. Number one, DIY is less bang for your buck in a sub 200 amp hour system. Now bear with me, bear with
me, just keep watching. Number two, you're gonna have to spend more time assembling your desired parts. Number three, on a DIY solar
setup you're gonna spend more picking out parts and
figuring out wiring diagrams.

Unless it's already been provided for you like what you'll find on
EXPLORIST.life/solarwiringdiagrams Now let's compare DIY to Goal
Zero from a cost standpoint. If we were to build a DIY setup similar to the Goal Zero Yeti 1400, we would need a 50 amp charge controller, an Inverter/Charger, a 100
amp hour Lithium Battery. Time out, with just with those parts, we've already racked up a hardware bill similar to the price of
a Goal Zero Yeti 1400. Let's move on. If we were to build a DIY setup similar to the Goal Zero Yeti 3000, I'd need a 50 amp charge
controller, an Inverter/Charger, two 100 amp hour Lithium Batteries. Stop. With those parts, we are
already at the same price point as the Goal Zero Yeti 3000. What I'm trying to say is the DIY solution is not more cost effective
than the Goal Zero Yeti units for a comparable size system.

Now, that's sizing your system
according to your budget, but it's a really, really good idea to size your system according
to your actual power usage. That's why you need to do a power audit. Now stay with me, I've
got a lot of numbers coming your way really quick, but by the end of the video
it's going to make sense. If your power audit comes back saying you'll need less than
100 amp hours per day and you've got a hard budget
of the cost of the Yeti 1400 to accomplish your
camper electrical goals, the Goal Zero Yeti 1400 is going to be the best bang for your buck.

If your power audit comes
back saying you'll need less than 240 amp hours and you've got a hard
budget of the price of the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 to accomplish your camper electrical goals, the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 is
going to be the one for you. But perhaps this is a better
way to judge for yourself. Here are seven, yes or no
questions to ask yourself to determine if a solar generator or a DIY solar setup is right for you. Do you want over 500
watts of solar panels? Do you want more options on what sizes of solar
panels that you can use? Did your power audit recommend
more than 240 amp hours? Is charging quickly via the vehicle alternator
a high priority? Is getting a full charge from
a completely depleted battery overnight a high priority? Do you want your system to be modular for future system expansions? And is the budget for your
electrical system over $2500? If you answered any of the
first six questions questions as yes and the last question as yes, a DIY solution is going to
suit your needs much better.

If you said no to all of the above, I'd be pointing you in the direction of one of the Goal Zero units
we've been talking about. Either the Yeti 3000 or the Yeti 1400 depending on how your power audit looked. If you said yes to the first questions and no to that last questions, you're gonna have to make
a sacrifice somewhere. Whew, we made it. So, that's pretty much all
there is for this video. I've got a lot more solar resources that you can find in the description, or you can click this link
to head over to the blog, which'll give you a little more insight as to some of the things
we just talked about. If you're ready to start
your next solar video lesson, click over here.

Now if you've got questions leave them in the comment section and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. If this helped out, give it a thumbs up and share it with somebody
who you think it'll help. Thanks for watching and I'll
see you in the next video..

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