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COOL STUFF: GOAL ZERO, ISLAND SOLAR PERFECTION

reporters@samoanews.com
The Goal Zero Nomad 7 and Solo 15L solar flashlight are essentials for our day to day island living. [Photo: Barry Markowitz]

Ever have a vision of perfection... like when you woke up the morning of February 12 and visualized that our Manu Samoa would win the Championship Cup at the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament?  Goal Zero hits the mark on several of their products as Samoa solar perfection. Goal Zero are the ultimate go to guys for daily life in the islands, yes my dear Coolios, an absolute Cool Stuff Hall of Fame instant classic.

As a Savaii guy I had plenty of time visualizing what could help out our family and businesses deal with power outages, cyclones, tropical storms, and government electric power failure.  As inefficient as solar panels were back in the late 80's I knew that was the way to go, but the cost, oh my... forget it.
My other issue was, like in most of our Samoan families, I had multiple places to be. Working in Savaii for four days, go to Apia shopping for a day, go to Pago and visit cousin Simi Ledoux for two nights while shopping at Ho Ching-Annesley in Fagatogo.

It was always my luck to leave one power outage in Apia for another one in Pago. So the Aussie solar panels on my Tulaele roof did me no good in Tutuila, Savaii, or en-route to Savaii when the Limu Limu Tau had one engine break down resulting in a 7-hour voyage. What is a cheeky Palagi like me to do?

Abracadabra, presto change-o, a cost effective solution is in our hands.  

At an outdoor trade show a year ago I met with Goal Zero and was absolutely floored by their offerings.  

They had foldable panels in 3.5, 7, and 13.5 watt configurations... all convenient to hang from your backpack charging your electronic gear while traveling, or folded up, to fit inside.  They had incredible lighting gear that charged via their Nomad foldable panels, or had their own built in mini panels. They had small, medium, and huge portable batteries that worked with their solar panels. They had rugged rechargeable iPod/iPhone portable speakers.

I was in solar heaven, but the Goal Zero people there at the booth didn't know what to do with me.  My CNN coverage of Super Cyclone Olaf in 2005, Samoa's & Japans (impacting Hawaii) devastating tsunami's were something they acknowledged, but listening to me, a raving lunatic about how their products were a gift from heaven... I think the phrase they borrowed from W.C. Fields which they shared with me was "Move along kid."

My domineering bosses, Rhonda and Patty, don't accept my journalistic failures.  So after the Hong Kong 7's Rugby last month, they put me on Samoa News' private jet, Air Pisupo 1, bound direct for Goal Zero's HQ in Draper, Utah. The order was, "You better get that Samoa Solar Perfection out to our People, or we will drop you, mid flight no parachute, around Swain's Island and send Fili instead."  So, landing on the 15 freeway during rush hour was a little over dramatic, but I did make an assertive statement being on time for my appointment to the inner sanctum of Goal Zero.

This time Goal Zero got it. They assigned me Mr. Newey, a young highly knowledgeable cool cat, that reviewed the existing product line as well as the future. Yup, when Rhonda and Patty are involved, all the secrets of the universe unfold (how literal in the world of Goal Zero's Nomad folding solar panels).  In a nutshell, everything Goal Zero makes is magnificent, the upcoming stuff this Fall is off the charts magnificent plus!   They put one of their Extreme 350 batteries above my head and threatened to drop it if I told you any more details about the positive changes coming.  You and I both know as soon as I jump on Hawaiian Airlines home, I think I can safely spill the beans

Take my advice... buy, buy, buy the Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit...at only $159.95 (ww.goalzero.com/shop/p/79/Guide-10-Adventure-Kit/1:1/). These are a much better option than those noisy low end gas powered electric generators. Invest wisely in Goal Zero so you and your family will always be one step ahead of the drama, in quiet comfort.  When the new product release occurs this fall, just pick up the new line, and wrap up your existing for one of your favorite family members. They will be happy even if it's slightly used because free is free, and Cool Stuff is always righteous.

The Guide 10 Adventure Kit won't run your air conditioner, but your cell phone, iPod, iPad, AA, AAA batteries will always be functioning by direct Nomad 7 Solar Panel connection or through your included Guide 10 Plus battery charger/auxiliary power unit.  

Anything that can be charged through a USB cable, 12 volt cigarette accessory plug style will work. This means you can rotate batteries into your portable radio or direct connect to the solar panel's straightforward inverter.

Radios are critical to steer your family in a safe manner after an afa.  KHJ and Radio NZ seem to be very helpful... I was there mates through the September 2009 aftershocks (Joey Cummings you are definitely the bomb, buddy). Use the Solo 15L with built in mini solar panel, or have enough re-chargeables to rotate into your flashlight, GPS, mini TV or whatevers.

I learned this past Friday that following my own advice about Goal Zero is sound advice. (Didn't Magnum P.I. always talk gibberish about listening to that little inner voice... yeah Tom Selleck was right)  

On a Thursday at 5 p.m. I bought $600 of Solar Panels, Guide 10 Plus Battery Chargers/Auxiliary Power Supply units, solar flashlights, little USB LED lights for my family, my Good Ol' Uncle Harry, and my parents.  At 6:01 a.m. in East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, Uncle Harry's home alarm started beeping that the power was out.

I whipped out my fully charged Solo 15L flashlight I let charge in the window. Immediately connected my two Guide 10 Plus charger/power packs to my iPad and my iPhone, while I turned on internet radio to see what caused the outage and if there was any more to worry about.  

At first light with iPhone and iPad fully charged, one of my Guide 10 Pluses was connected by the included special fast charge solar cable to my Nomad 7 solar panel and hung on a tree next to my solar charging Solo 15L flashlight. Yes, our featured photo is the real deal of Goal Zero in action that morning.

Was I lucky, was I smart? Or was I simply in the wonderful safe World of Goal Zero?

Hooked up with Uncle Harry's neighbor, Mark, at the nearby Hector's Mexican Restaurant. "Barry, why were you taking photos of that goofy black thing on the tree during a power outage... what is that silly thing?". So I gave him the whole Goal Zero spiel in 40 seconds in the style of the Alice's Restaurant trash dumping crime scene... ask your grandparents...  a late 60's peace, love, granola counter culture happening. And just like Alice's Restaurant's Officer Obie, he had only one little question.

In this case he asked, "If that thing is so good, would it have powered my sleep apnea CPAP breathing apparatus?" And just like Alice's protagonist, Arlo Guthrie, I could not tell a lie, "No Mark, the Goal Zero house solution for you is probably the Escape 150, a luggable rechargeable power source, which reportedly will run your CPAP breathing machine for two days of 8 hour overnights.”  

"I don't own one, never borrowed one, but did touch one at the Goal Zero HQ. So give it go, but I have no personal experience. Maybe after next year's tax returns because I shot this years personal Cool Stuff budget already."

The Escape 150 is just $159 by itself, but with a rigid mountable 15 watt solar panel in kit form it's only $287 ‘www.goalzero.com/shop/p/60/Escape-150-Adventure-Kit/6:1/’. The Escape by itself will be a nice couple day band aid for a major disaster, but the kit will keep you going for months, with the rigid panel lightweight enough to move to a safer locale if required.

Goal Zero supports an industry humanitarian effort called TIFIE (Teaching Individuals & Families Independence through Enterprise).  They are researching to see if TIFIE did something already in the Samoas... GZ thinks they have. Have or have not, the $200 per family investment I made for the Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit and accessories was truly a smart cost effective investment.

$30,000 solar panels (which is also a wise purchase) can be gone in the first 2 hours of our next cyclone... which WILL... not might happen. After the last 10 years of severe island weather I am sticking with what I can run with or throw in the car. GZ is totable, luggable, and with some GZ accessories I will be highlighting in the next few months, pocketable.
Get your Goal Zero quality gear direct online, sometimes at a Costco roadshow, or preferably from my buddy I met last month at a Honolulu trade show named Derrick or Darren or... because he will give you local personal service with an understanding of our unique island requirements. Well, maybe Patty will edit in his contact info in later in our online edition, or I will put it in a few columns from now.

Goal Zero was with me in providing your Manu Samoa coverage from the Hong Kong Sevens last month... so we will give you those details aka a part of the continuing saga of Secrets of the HK 7's Rugby coverage.

Your assignment: do your online research of the Guide 10 Plus. My assignment: try to source out a chilled Vailima in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Believe me, your assignment is much, much easier.



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