CES 2012: Goal Zero Portable Power Systems

Goal Zero, which emphasized affordability last year with the $139.95 Guide 10 Adventure Kit portable solar power system – our reviewer said it was “a value at that price” – returned to Las Vegas and the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show touting two products up the price ladder, one an on-the-go charger, the other a big-time backup power source.

The Sherpa 50 Portable Charger ($244.95) was a 2012 Innovations Honoree at CES. What’s it got that makes it so special? Actually, it’s mostly what it doesn’t have: At 14 ounces, Goal Zero said, the Sherpa 50 Portable Charger is “half the load of its predecessor, yet it harnesses the same 50 watt hour power capacity.” Measuring a shade under 5 inches on each side and just an inch and a half thick, Goal Zero sees you easily slipping this unit into a bag or briefcase.

Goal Zero Sherpa 50 portable charger

image via Goal Zero

The company’s other selling point with the Sherpa 50 is a “Power Port” that enables users to charge laptops directly from the recharger. That’s right, no AC inverter or computer AC power cable necessary. “Users will be able to plug their device directly into the Sherpa 50 using one of its included connector cables,” Goal Zero said.

Sucking juice from the grid, the Sherpa 50 will fully charge in two or three hours, Goal Zero said, providing enough power to keep a smartphone going  for 10 hours or an iPod operating for 25. If you pay extra for some Goal Zero solar panels, you can charge the Sherpa 50 in five to 10 hours – a big range that’s obviously dependent on the quality of sun you’re getting. The Sherpa 50 will be available in June, Goal Zero said.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.