Today’s Goal Zero Yeti 1250 portable solar power station review is going to detail the dinosaur of the portable solar power world: the Yeti 1250 lead acid.
Like the traditional dinosaurs we all know, the Yeti 1250 is also huge, heavy and imposing – intimidating all who come across it whether newbie or experienced professional.
Taking a look at the unit today, it is hard to believe that this was once top of the line product for the Yeti brand and importantly, was the darling of the solar generator world when it was freshly released and for an impressive time after that.
However, all that is in the past now. Importantly too, the technology that powers the 1250, lead acid, is today outdated where solar generators are concerned as is the humongous weight and size and of the generator itself.
It is important though to always look at the bright side: that side that contains options that very many people fail to see simply because they are beclouded with what they sincerely believe are disadvantages and sadly, focus on that and that alone.
Today, I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to take the road less traveled and see if there still remains any good in the Yeti 1250 and if the act of buying the unit today will benefit you in any way.
Join me, let’s dig deep and find out!
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First Impression Of The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator
The first look at the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Lead Acid Solar Generator gives the impression of a large, humongous laser printer of the HP variant.
Completing the resemblance are the side handles, right up to the color choice of the unit.
Sincerely, if a newbie (who has no idea what this is) exclaims that it is a HP laser printer, I’ll simply let it pass and see reason with him or her.
However, when one comes close, doubts begin to creep in: this piece of generator is truly large and importantly, has AC ports, some ‘strange’ labeling and importantly, an array of USB ports that HP printers do not have.
A closer look also reveals the words ‘Goal Zero’ boldly written on the face of the unit and in less visible print, ‘Yeti 1250’. A sigh of relieve: the unit, even if it turns out to be a laser printer, is not of the stables of HP!
For the trained eye, the boxy shape of the unit and importantly, exposed screws tell a different story: the story of an ancient design, common during the years of yore but now completely neglected in the design of the average portable solar generator.
Here, one sees (as opposed to the newer lithium ion inspired models), a desire for functionality and service and nothing (much) else.
Like the Land Cruiser in the world of SUVs, the Yeti 1250 stands tall, intimidating and heavy – welcoming all who take a look at it (and reminding them) that it a solar generator for the super serious, has questionable portable status and was once the top of the line at Goal Zero!
What Can The Yeti 1250 Portable Solar Generator Power?
Thanks to super humongous proportions and a weight that ultimately sees to it that a gym membership isn’t necessary upon purchase, the 1250 looks and feels super able upon first look.
As a matter of fact, for many, its sheer size intimidate as well as inspires.
However, putting the dinosaur to work, I discovered, to my dismay, that though it performed above average, its ability and power were clearly over rated my me (and many others, I believe) thanks to its physical proportions.
Here’s how the ‘dinosaur beast’ performed. It powered:
- A traditional refrigerator for about 18 hours.
- A laptop for about 17 recharges.
- A tablet for about 40 recharges.
- A 32″ LCD TV for 10 plus hours &
- A smartphone for 50 plus charges.
Now, that what I personally tested. It is however worth noting that, this solar generator is capable of charging and powering everything from a cellphone to a refrigerator and importantly, everything else in-between.
Its service juice however largely depends on the actual power demand of the unit in question and its runtime during the test or use period.
MORE: Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Lithium Portable Power Station (WiFi) Review
Key Specifications And Features
Personally, this is the section of any review that truly gets me excited. As a techie and passionate lover of all things solar, this section exposes the strengths or otherwise of the solar generator in question.
For the folks who are not so tech inclined, this section also serves them in a manner that is difficult to describe: here they get to see, first hand, the features of a portable power station and importantly, get to understand what the unit has to offer them.
Getting to the root of any tech device is truly amazing 🙂
- Weight: 103 lbs (46.7 kg).
- Dimensions: 11 x 16 x 14.5 in (27.9 x 40.6 x 36.8 cm).
- Cell Type: AGM Lead Acid.
- Peak Capacity: 1200Wh (12V, 100Ah).
- Shelf-life: Keep plugged in, or charge every 2 months.
- Internal Battery Dimensions: 12.9 L x 6.8 W x 8.7 H (Group 27).
- Hybrid charging reality: solar, AC and DC.
- Standard roll cart to health with carriage.
- Basic display that summarizes what is going on with the unit.
- 3 USB and AC ports.
- A designs that sees to it that the cables of the unit are stored right within the device itself.
Weight, Noise And Runtime Analysis
As I have held previously, the weight of a solar power station could be a good or bad thing, depending on the angle one is coming from.
In the days of yore when lead acid held sway and as a matter of fact, was the only option available, the heavier a unit, the more likely it was that the device was ‘powerful’ and packed some serious punch.
Today, with the advent of lithium ion and the upping of standards in that regard, the above does not hold sway again.
Today, the lighter a unit, the smarter and more desirable it is adjudged, especially when one understands that light could also (and as a matter of fact), has persistently now meant power too.
It is in light of this that the 103 lbs of this generator is judged: it is also in light of this that I condemn and score the unit a straight 0 out of 10.
At that weight, I couldn’t comfortably lift the generator (which means that, it does not qualify for the term ‘portable’). And, to put this into perspective, I am a super fit and healthy man with impressive muscles.
Since lifting the unit was a challenge on its own, I did not even attempt transporting it from one place to another: that would have been outright suicide!
To move the unit around, I had to call for ‘backup’ or in the event of ‘no backup’, rely on the roll cart.
Now, you’ll agree with me that these two options are not just inconvenient: they also represent options that have long ceased to be on the menu!
Noise wise, the 1250 remains as quiet as can be expected. When tested outdoors, it appeared as if my small little party was powered by the grid: everywhere was silent – a reality that is clearly, starkly, opposed to traditional gasoline generators.
Indoors, the unit, working in the midst – and powering other electronics such as a fan and laptop, appeared quiet too. At least, I could not pick up any sound from the device.
As it is customary with me, I also checked at the dead of night and actually strained my ears close to the unit to see if I could catch a sound or two.
Apart from the ultra low hum of the inverter working, nothing. Needless to say, this sound is not audible unless one goes out of one’s way actually looking for it and pierces one’s ears to the unit.
At least, something to be proud of and mark in favor of the 1250.
In terms of runtime, I was a little disappointed, especially, given the humongous proportions of the unit.
While I was able to power my 32″ plasma TV for the entire day (9 – 17 hrs), I discovered that during extreme temperatures, the battery appeared to be under a ‘spell’ or some sort of ‘seizure’ ensuring that I powering efforts were frustrated.
For all the weight (and the physical proportions) of the Yeti 1250 solar generator, I had expected more from it. What it offered me was an apology of a performance.
The good news is that I had earlier tested the Yeti 1000 lithium – and believe that while it rivals the 1250 in power and service, it comes with less weight and a lot less drama.
You should check out my Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Lithium Review to see what I mean.
What You Should Understand Before Considering The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Power Station
At this point, it is only natural that you take a quick look at the Yeti 1250 at Amazon and see, firsthand, what the dinosaur looks like.
This is because, I have guessed, if you’ve read the review and my personal opinions of the solar power station up to this point, then, there must be something about the alternative power generator that thrills you.
A word of caution though: before you make that all important decision to buy (or not), here are very important things about the 1250 worth noting.
First, as I have indicated severally, the unit is humongous and is not easy to move around with at all. At over 100 lbs, it is thus not the best option for RVing, picnicking and general outdoor activities.
If using the unit outdoor is your main reason for considering it, you may as well take a look at the Yeti 1400 lithium – still from the stables of Goal Zero.
Second (and finally), the unit is powered by lead acid as against lithium ion. This means a shorter shelve life and all nasty things such as temperature mess ups.
If you’re one who values precision or one who will need to store the unit away for a very long time, this is certainly not the best option for you.
Looking at Goal Zero’s line of lithium solutions will do you good and ultimately, ensure better service.
Charging Means & Times Of The Yeti 1250
When I’m purchasing a portable solar unit, I always look for (amongst other things) the versatility of my charging options.
This means, I am always on the lookout for generators with a plethora of charging options.
In this way, I ensure that my unit(s) are always charged, fired and ready to go whenever the need arises.
This is what you should also look out for – if you decide to take a closer look at any power station.
For the 1250 Yeti in question here, I was pleased (at last), that the unit was a hybrid in this sense – it is rechargeable by:
- AC and
- The DC of a conventional car.
Usually, I’m super excited about renewable energy so I took a quick shot at the solar option first.
From the manuals, it was clear that the generator is rechargeable via solar by means of the Boulder 50, Boulder 100 and Boulder 200 solar panels each representing how fast a charge one can get.
However, the speed of solar charging isn’t without its cost as the generator, ordinarily does not come with a solar panel (unless one opts for the kit – which comes standard with a Boulder 100 panel).
For maximum output, I opted for the Boulder 200 above and got the generator to charge from a flat state to an impressive 100% in about 8 hours, full tropical sun.
However, on days when the sun did not shine properly, the unit could take up to about 20 hours to achieve the same 100% it does on sunny days in a single, simple day.
The Boulder 100 and 50 are rated to charge the unit from the state of 0 to 100% between 18 and 96 hours, depending on the panel used and importantly, the intensity of the sun.
I find these figures – and my own actual experience with the unit fair – and worthy of a pass mark.
AC wise, I found out that the included wall charger charges the unit from a flat battery to a complete 100% in about 17 hours – which is just under two days.
In my professional experience, this is way too slow and in today’s world and reality, completely unacceptable.
If you remember right or have been following my work here for sometime, it will come to memory that I have always held that AC remains the fastest charging option of the 3, often, being as quick as under 5 hours to ensure a full charge (from a completely flat battery) as exemplified by the newer Yeti lithium series and other solar power generators.
There is thus no excuse for the below average performance of this dated dinosaur.
Finally, I have always hated the DC charging option of power stations made possible by the 12V power outlets of modern cars.
The reason is not far fetched: the units, in this situation, get what is called ‘trickle charge’ and essentially, this translates to charging at a thorough bred snail pace.
It is thus no surprise that the unit takes over 2 days to achieve a simple charge that other methods wrap up in a few hours.
Since I did not have two whole days to spend just to watch the unit charge, I ‘trickle charged’ the 1250 for a few hours and wrapped up my testing. From my tests, 2 hours gave me about a 4% charge – which is basically useless for anything even remotely power demanding.
Special Feature(s) Worthy Of Note
In as much as the Yeti 1250 is one dated and old school unit unable to generally inspire anything, the fact remains that it still has some good that when considered, may just be a plus in its favor.
The principal of such good is the reality that the unit comes standard with 3 solid AC power ports!
Now, this is about the most quantity I have seen on any portable power station of late.
The implication of this is straight to the point and quite instructive: if you need to plug in 3 AC inspired gadgets at once, especially on the go, you generally do not need any extension cable: you only need to plug, power on and relax.
See, there is always a silver lining – it only takes patience and an eye for detail to see it 🙂
Pros And Cons
No matter how terrible something is, there is always some good to it. On the other hand, no matter how bad something is (again), there is always plenty of good to it too, if only one is trained and objective enough to spot these.
The good thing is that, I am both: trained and objective.
So, how does the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 perform in this regard?
- Roll cart to ease carriage.
- 3 impressive AC ports to minimize the need for extension cords.
- A design that sees to it that the AC cables are stored within the unit itself.
- Pass through power technology that ensures charge and usage at the same time.
- Lead acid (outdated) battery type.
- Super heavy at over 100 lbs.
- Relatively short shelve life (about 3 months at best).
- Long AC charging times.
- A DC charging reality that is so slow that it ultimately makes no sense!
Want To See More? Take A First Hand Look At The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 On Amazon Here
With the reality of truly heavy weight, slow AC charging, dated design and a lead acid battery with a poor shelve life, the dated, humongous Yeti 1250 has no place in today’s homes, schools, offices, camps or wherever portable solar power is needed except maybe as an example (in schools) of how technology can overthrow itself and render most hitherto awesome things obsolete.
In its place, I recommend that you take a look at the Yeti 1000 lithium (for similar power) or if you want truly monster power, the Yeti 3000 lithium (with WiFi).