Tag Archive: lithium


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    By: Ben Kraushaar

    “WE GOT A FLIPPED BOAT!” Cody yelled over the roar of crashing waves and boiling rapids.

    I looked downstream. Amid the most violent and unforgiving whitewater I have ever seen, a tiny blue speck was bobbing in and out of sight. My heart sank. I was petrified. Our most experienced oarsman and his passenger (a 70-year-old woman) were in the water, fighting for their lives in one of the deadliest sections of river in the United States. We were 41 days into a 70-day river journey – deep in the bowels of Cataract Canyon more formitably known as the Graveyard of the Colorado. The river was raging at 54,000 cfs and we were undeniably at the whim of mother nature. We were riding a fine line between life and death; glory and chaos.

    We were in what everyone called, “the media boat”, part of a multidisciplinary river expedition led by the United States Geological Survey and the University of Wyoming. This year marks the 150th anniversary of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers. In recognition of Powell’s legacy, a collaboration of scientists, writers, artists and voices from the Colorado River Basin embarked on a 70-day, 1000-mile trip down the same rivers to revisit Powell’s legacy and re-envision the future. As filmmakers, it was our goal to document this journey and help tell the modern-day story of the Colorado River Basin.

    Filming on a river for tireless months was no easy feat. Safeguarding our production equipment from the elements was top priority. If we ruined gear, our production would be over. No more filming. No more story. All our hard work and years of planning would be for nothing. This can be a game of chance when running Class V water. Even the most experienced oarsmen are not immune to flips and there are situations on the river that are literally out of your control.

    We had a full production house onboard our 18-ft raft. Laptops, hard drives, gimbels, microphones, and 10 cameras, some of which were more valuable than a new car. For power, we utilized four Yeti 1000’s and four Nomad 100 panels. A gas generator wasn’t a sustainable option for this production. There was not enough room. A generator would be too noisy and we didn’t want to run the risk of spilling toxic gasoline into the water. We relied entirely on the sun to keep our cameras rolling. Our power system still contained electrical components and were vulnerable to extreme heat and water – a daunting task considering the nature of our journey.

    One of the Yeti 1000 power stations was rigged within the boat that flipped in Cataract Canyon. As we watched the capsized boat get churned in waves and bounce off rocks, we hoped that the dry boxes remained watertight. The last thing we wanted was an electrical fire on a boat floating down an unforgiving river in the middle of nowhere.

    After a multitude of near flips, two lost oars, and nearly a half hour of the most chaotic and exhausting rowing, we confirmed that our swimmers had been rescued by another boat. We eventually caught up to the flipped rig that had come to rest in an eddy packed full of driftwood, debris and swirling foam and our expedition regrouped under the blazing desert sun. After hugs, tears, and some celebratory beers, we set up a z drag (a rope and pulley system used to flip boats) to right the 2000-lb raft. This would be the moment of truth. Did our power station survive the flip and the journey in the water? What kind of mess would we find in the drybox? To our immense relief and surprise, the dry box actually stayed dry. Not one single drop of water punched through the rubber seal.

    Everyone we consulted about filming in remote and rugged conditions told us a solar system wouldn’t support our power needs. Filming everyday, for 70 days, rain or shine, people said there would be no way to pull that off without a gas generator. We proved them wrong. Our set up worked flawlessly and the Goal Zero system was a critical component of our daily routine. We successfully shot for 70 straight days, backed up footage, and kept a constant rotation of camera batteries charging. Day after day, from Wyoming to Nevada on the Green and Colorado River, Goal Zero kept powering our production.

    To learn more about our voyage and to keep tabs on the progress of the film, you can follow BenCody and Powell150 on Instagram or check out the trip website.

  2. First Look: Yeti 500X

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    First Look: Yeti 500X

    We were stoked to be able to take the new Yeti 500X with us on a recent weekend camping trip.

    The Yeti ran our 80 Litre Companion fridge throughout the three days. The fridge proved very efficient, no doubt helped by the winter temperatures, and we still had more than 10% charge left in the Yeti 500X when we started our trip back home.

    This was pretty fortunate as the sun wasn’t our friend over the weekend and we didn’t even get the solar panel out!

    We didn’t have phone coverage, so the phones stayed in the car and we didn’t need to use the Yeti USB ports for charging. My sister left her drone at home (doh!), so we didn’t even use the Yeti’s built-in 300 Watt inverter.

    We are looking forward to getting out for some more camping as the weather warms up and the Yeti 500X will be one of the first things we pack!


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    For those trips where every gram counts, Goal Zero created the Nomad 5 Solar Panel. Designed to be a lightweight, yet durable solar charging solution, this panel integrates seamlessly with a Flip power bank to keep your devices charged while hiking, backpacking, or on the move.

    To understand the “why” behind the new design and how it all works, we caught up with Product Manager Robbie Kerback.


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    Tesla’s doing it, cell phones became viable with it, and now Goal Zero’s Yeti has gone the way of the lithium battery. It’s expensive, seems to catch fire sometimes, and can you throw it away in a regular trashcan when it’s time? Well don’t do that, much like larger lead acid batteries, you need to dispose of these properly, not in your standard recycling, but taken to a certified facility.

    As a battery company, Goal Zero has investigated and produced products using multiple battery technologies. We have seen both successes and failures within the emerging market of portable power, but most importantly, we have learned a lot in doing so. Many are wondering what the main differences between lead acid and lithium technologies are, and why the whole world is currently moving in the lithium direction.

    First and foremost, we must talk price. No longer an exotic futuristic technology that costs an arm and a leg, lithium has arrived in the realm of attainable, available, and affordable. The future is now, and the price of lithium has dropped dramatically in recent years. Lithium is closing the gap in price per watt compared to Lead Acid, especially when factoring in # of cycles and depth of discharge. This allows the other benefits of lithium to exude a much greater value proposition.

    Secondly, plain and simple, smaller + lighter= better. Compared to its lead predecessor, lithium is up to 2/3 lighter, while giving the same amount of power (energy density). This allows a better user experience simply from a labor standpoint. The smaller form factor allows for a versatile use case with convenient portability to get more power to more places and more devices.

    A deeper depth of discharge enhances user experience. Lithium can be discharged further before harming the battery, essentially increasing its potential power output and overall life. Because lithium holds a steady voltage, it can deliver 99% of its stored power! Lead acid’s continuously dropping voltage sees product functionality issues as voltage gets lower, leaving a little “gas in the tank” so to speak. Also, lithium operates in a much larger temperature window. Safety goes up because of this, where we only see failure in extreme thermal conditions that simply exist less in the real world. However, when lithium exceeds its limits, it fully shuts down… or catches fire, whereas most of the time lead acid will function, just with less capacity. All in all, lithium is more reliable as a byproduct.

    As far as lifetime, lead acid and lithium don’t have a huge difference. Only LFP, lithium iron phosphate, has a reliably significant increase in the number of cycles it can handle. Oddly, most devices are not using this technology, opting for the smaller size of other lithium technologies over the larger, heavier LFPs. Otherwise, heavy use sees only a few hundred cycles in non-LFP lithium cells, which can scale up to a few thousand with much lighter cycling (depth of discharge), just like lead-acids. Either way, you will get many years of good use out of your battery before needing to consider a replacement, so its perceived value over time is present nonetheless. As a bonus, the idle shelf life of lithium is significantly better (it can sit longer unused until the battery self-depletes). This just means that a lithium battery will probably still work if it has been sitting in your garage all winter, once again increasing value and lifetime.

    The few drawbacks found in the lithium world are getting smaller. Lithium prices have dropped significantly over the past few years, but still remains more expensive than lead acid. Chaining multiple lithium batteries isn’t as easy as lead acid and is a hurdle currently being overcome, no big deal. We are also beginning to see lithium batteries becoming replaceable, so you don’t always have to throw away your device when the battery dies. Finally, the international availability of replacement batteries is still dominated by lead acid. As Goal Zero prides itself on humanitarian work around the world, this cutting edge technology remains rare in the dark corners of the planet. Now, a lead acid product can live longer around the world only because lead acid batteries are readily available. Otherwise, there aren’t many reasons not to go the way of the lithium battery.

    From a safety standpoint, the world has learned to use lithium properly… mostly. As with any learning curve, we must find out the bad in order to prevent it. The knowledge and safety protocols available within this sector are growing every day. Now we can limit most harmful issues, so besides dealing with TSA and UPS, the hassles of lithium are largely over. The impact of our obsession with lithium is changing the way we look at power. From pocket batteries to micro grid community backup, lithium is working its way into our lives on multiple fronts. We should no longer be wary of this emerging technology. Smaller, lighter, and more powerful are the way of the NOW. Enjoy the new power revolution!

    By David Rosner


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    Want to control your Yeti power station from virtually anywhere?

    Now there’s an app for that.

    Paving the way for an even more connected future, we’ve launched a new version of our Goal Zero Yeti Lithium power stations, now with WiFi connectivity. In the video and interview below, we caught up with Goal Zero Engineering Supervisor Sterling Robison and Firmware Engineer Alex Stout to find out what went into the making of our mobile app enabled Yeti Lithiums, and what exactly that means for you.

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