There are more than a few portable phone chargers to choose from out there. Goal Zero sets themselves apart by offering a complete multi-tool kit that not only charges your phone, tablet, or camera, but also includes a flashlight and fan tool. But what really sets it apart is the fact that you can recharge it with the included 7-watt solar panels to help reduce your environmental footprint. We take a look and see just how well it works in our Goal Zero Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit review.
Before we get into our review, check out Goal Zero’s overview of the Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit.
Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit features:
- 11 Wh (3.7V, 3000mAh) Li-ion battery
- USB port (output): 5V, up to 1.5A (7.5W max), regulated
- USB port (input): 5V, up to 1A (5W max)
- Weight: 4 oz (113 g)
- Dimensions: 4.5 x 1 x 1 in (11.4 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm)
The Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit is a sleek little device. It’s fairly small, lightweight, and well crafted. The kit includes the multi-tool/battery, 7-watt solar panel, micro usb charging cable, flashlight attachment, and fan attachment. One end of the battery consists of a female USB plug where you charge your phone or attach the flashlight and fan accessories. The other end contains the male USB end to connect the battery to the solar panel for charging. One end of the battery has a 4 light charge indicator, and the other has the power button for the flashlight and fan. Goal Zero also tossed in a couple of small carabiner clips which can be attached to the solar panel to hang it up for better access to direct sunlight if required. The included solar panel folds up nicely, and a pouch on the back of the solar panel stores the battery and other accessories making it easy to store and transport.
Goal Zero claims that the battery will charge in between 4-6 hours with the solar panels or in 4 hours when plugged into a wall outlet. On the charging side, it will charge a smartphone once, a small camera twice, give a 25% power boost to a 7″ tablet, run the flashlight for 4 hours, or run the fan for 5 hours.
The Switch 10 is very straightforward, the attachments fit no problem and screw in place easily to secure them in place. It was also easy to hook up the battery portion to the solar panel and by zipping it into the attached pouch it can be placed pretty much anywhere without having to worry about having to prop up the battery while it charges. Doing so also keeps the battery component shaded while it is being recharged by the solar panel. I ran a few tests from fully drained to fully charged and the best time I could get was 5 hours, with one charge taking around 8h due to it being overcast. As mentioned previously you can also charge it by plugging it into a wall and that took about 4 hours as per Goal Zero’s claims. If you purchase an additional Nomad 7 Solar Panel, you can also daisy chain them together to decrease the charging time required.
With the battery fully charged, I was able to fully charge my Nexus 5 from about 20% and the Switch 10 was still had one battery charge light lit indicating roughly 25% power left. I tested the flashlight and left it on for a couple hours and the battery was still showing 3 lights of charge, so I don’t doubt that you’d get at least 4 hours with the flashlight and 5 hours using the fan.
Goal Zero also mentions that you can keep the Switch 10 plugged in, or charge once every 3-6 months. It does seem to hold its charge well as I used it for awhile, left it with 3 charge lights on the battery indicator and a week and a half later it still had 3 charge lights.
The flashlight on the Switch 10 is incredibly bright, and is adjustable from a wide-angle to more focused beam of light. You can also adjust the brightness to extend the battery life. The fan is pretty flexible, being made of a PVC plastic, and definitely generates a nice breeze to cool you down on a hot day.
The Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit has an MSRP of $119USD on the Goal Zero website. While the charge capacity is limited to 3000 mAh and there are other chargers for cheaper that give you a much larger power bank, the fact that the Switch 10 includes and can be recharged with solar panels, as well as the addition of a flashlight and fan tool adds value.
Goal Zero definitely has a handy device with the Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit. I can see it being very useful for the camping season with the flashlight and fan attachments, and being able to recharge your phone using solar energy is a major plus as well. Not only is it well constructed, light, and easy to use but it stores in a fairly compact package making it easy to tuck away almost anywhere. If you’re an avid outdoorsperson and/or concerned about decreasing your environmental footprint, the Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit is something you should definitely consider.