Goal Zero has released several solar generator models over the past 10+ years, but only a few of the company’s current power stations have a history tying them back to Goal Zero’s beginnings circa 2009-2010.
One of these current power stations is the Yeti 500X, which was released in 2020. This model can be traced back to three previous iterations:
- Yeti 400 Lithium (released in 2017)
- Yeti 400 (launched in 2013)
- Extreme Ranger 350 (launched in 2010)
In this post, we’ll be comparing the Yeti 500X, Yeti 400 Lithium, and Yeti 400 to each other to see what’s changed over the years in Goal Zero’s 400-500Wh portable power stations.
The best solar generator between the Yeti 500X, Yeti 400, and Yeti 400 Lithium is the Yeti 500X. It has the highest battery capacity and is the lightest at 12.9 lbs. It’s also the only model of the three with an MPPT charge controller and USB-C ports.
Read on to learn more about each generator and even skip to a section that you want to know more about in the table of contents below.
Table of contents
Yeti 500X by Goal Zero – Overview & Stats – Peak Performance
With several companies coming out with small portable power stations with impressive features, Goal Zero created a competitive model in this space with their Yeti 500X.
The Yeti 500X is the successor to the previously successful Yeti 400 Lithium and the new system has some impressive upgrades.
The Yeti 500X is a medium-sized solar-powered generator that uses solar power to charge its battery to power devices, appliances, tools, and other electronics off of the grid. It has a 505Wh battery pack, 300W pure sine wave AC inverter, and is only 12.9 lbs.
This new solar generator comes with an MPPT charge controller, whereas their previous models only had a PWM charge controller (Yeti 1000 Lithium, Yeti 1400 Lithium, and Yeti 3000 Lithium to name a few).
What does an MPPT controller mean for a solar generator? This technology improves charging times with solar panels due to efficiency improvements compared to a PWM charge controller.
Yeti 500X Key Features
This is an impressive improvement from their previous model solar generators, considering the Yeti 400 Lithium weighs over 16 lbs, and the previous model, the Yeti 400, weighs 29 lbs.
Improvements in its weight come from the Li-ion NMC battery. Their lithium batteries are significantly better than their older lead-acid batteries because they are much lighter, can be charged faster, and offer a higher discharge rate than their lead-acid counterpart.
The Yeti 500X has a 300 Watt AC inverter with pure sine wave technology, giving your fans, lights, and other appliances smooth, effective power.
Pure sine wave technology is much better than modified sine wave generators because it allows the efficiency or power of your equipment to be used to its full power capabilities.
“Designed to pack 20% more power into a 20% smaller and lighter shell than its predecessor, the 500X is perfect for longer camping trips, backyard parties, or on-the-go power in case of an emergency.”Goal Zero Yeti 500X | Tech Video
Initial Look of the Yeti 400 Lithium
|Reliable inverter (Goal Zero is known for this)||Succeeded by the Yeti 500X (no longer sold by Goal Zero)|
|Design makes it simple to use||Average battery cycle life (500 cycles to 80% capacity)|
|Much lighter than previous lead-acid model (Yeti 400)||Overpriced compared to similar competitor models|
UPDATE: The Yeti 400 Lithium is no longer available on main retailer websites. You may be able to find on on eBay but in limited quantities.
The Yeti 400 Lithium was one of Goal Zero’s first portable power stations to feature a lithium battery.
It has a large carrying handle to support its 17-pound structure and has thick, durable plastic surrounding the body of the battery.
Its simple design makes it easy to pinpoint its outlets while the LCD display points out critical information for optimal use of the solar generator.
Overview of the Yeti 400
The Yeti 400 is not available on Goal Zero’s website. However, there may be some retailers offering this system for sale.
Launched in 2013 with the Yeti 150, the Yeti 400 uses an AGM lead-acid battery as its power storage source.
Due to its battery type, the Yeti 400 weighs 29 pounds, which is twice the weight of the 400 Lithium and 500X models.
Unique Features of the Yeti 400
This model has a unique chaining feature where you can attach multiple Yeti 400s together for increased battery storage. The chaining port is on its side and uses an Anderson Powerpole connection.
Secondly, the Yeti 400 is one of the only Goal Zero power stations to have a replaceable battery.
This gives added value to the system because you don’t need to buy an entirely new power station when its battery completely depletes.
Interestingly, the Yeti 400 supplies about 396Wh. The wattage of this generator is good enough for certain home appliances and specific devices.
Also, it might interest you to know that this is why the generator is called the Yeti 400. Thanks to its battery capacity, it can power a list of devices.
For instance, the Yeti 400 can power a 32 LCD TV, a mini-fridge, and desktops. Also, the battery capacity gives it the ability to charge up devices like smartphones over 20 times.
YETI 400 LITHIUM
The Yeti 400 Lithium has 428 total watt-hours. The battery capacity of the Yeti 400 Lithium makes it capable of powering a wide range of devices. To put this into perspective, a phone charger uses about 12 watts, so you could charge your phone for about 35 total hours.
Obviously, there is no need to charge your phone this much unless multiple people are using it.
And still, even if three people were using it to charge up, it would take days to wear out the battery completely, making this battery reliable in camping situations and for backup power if the power goes out at home.
With all of this sophisticated tech, it’s important to note that the LCD display shows you how much time is left to charge and also how much battery is left, so you don’t have to worry about the exact numbers.
The Yeti 500X has quite an impressive battery capacity. Its peak capacity is 505Wh (10.8V, 46.8Ah).
The battery is lightweight and it even has an MPPT charge controller, which is a significant improvement from the Yeti 400 Lithium’s PWM charge controller.
From the above battery capacities, it is evident that the Goal Zero Yeti 500X has a slightly higher battery capacity than the other two.
Also, each generator has gotten lighter with each iteration. The Yeti 400 weighs 29 lbs, the Yeti 400 Lithium is 16 lbs, and the 500X is 12.9 lbs.
This improvement is by far due to the batteries’ weight being reduced significantly.
These iterations of Goal Zero’s small-to-mid-range solar generators show the progression the company has made since the release of the Yeti 400.
Some might see the battery capacity of the 500X as a small increase, but it adds up to be a lot when you consider that the 500X is also three pounds lighter than the 400 Lithium.
Most importantly, you should hold on to the fact that the higher the battery capacity, the longer you can use it. So, for that fact, the Goal Zero Yeti 500X wins this category.
Technology Behind The Goal Zero Yeti Battery
There are lithium-ion batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, nickel-metal hydride, and lead-acid. Popularly, solar generator manufacturers typically focus on lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.
Goal Zero, for instance, produces lithium-ion batteries primarily now, although they were once known to produce lead-acid batteries.
Due to significant improvements in the area of battery technology, lithium batteries provide several advantages over lead-acid ones.
Using lithium-powered batteries for backup systems is still very new, and Goal Zero is the cutting edge in this technology.
Advantages of Lithium Batteries (vs. Lead-acid)
Compared to the standard lead-acid batteries that were used by the past Yeti 400 model, the lithium battery lasts much longer over time (years), and will also hold a charge for a much longer duration than lead-acid batteries.
For example, if you charged a lithium battery fully and stored it away for 3-6 months, it would still hold most of the charge.
With lead acid batteries, the battery would lose its charge faster, making it necessary for you to check on it more often while it’s being stored.
The Yeti 400 solar generator is one of Goal Zero’s first solar generators, and it was the last to use lead-acid batteries.
That being said, a couple of significant disadvantages of using lead-acid batteries include that they have a low volumetric energy density (aka they’re heavy), and they have a limited depth of discharge.
Lead-acid batteries have several shortcomings compared to lithium-ion batteries in the field of solar generators, but this does not mean that they are useless.
They are still very useful in modern times. The Yeti 400 actually has one of the best lead-acid battery types, called an Absorbed Glass Mat Battery (AGM).
AGM batteries have a low self-discharge rate, meaning they can last longer when stored than other types of lead-acid batteries.
There are several great lead-acid batteries that can be used for solar generators in not only the Yeti 400 but several other models.
The main idea here is that lithium-ion batteries are lighter and more powerful than lead-acid, but lead-acid batteries are cheaper, which may be an incentive to purchase them over lithium-ion.
YETI 400 LITHIUM
The Yeti 400 Lithium is an upgrade of the Yeti 400 that was released about four years after the Yeti 400 launched in 2013.
As you can tell from the title, this solar generator makes use of a lithium-ion battery.
Thanks to this upgrade, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium lasts much longer compared to the Yeti 400.
Also, the lithium-ion battery makes the generator practically maintenance-free.
Similar to the Yeti 400 Lithium, the Yeti 500X performs very well thanks to its battery type.
This solar generator makes use of a lithium-ion battery as well, which requires limited maintenance, and lasts much longer.
So, unlike the Yeti 400 Lithium battery, they are more stable than lead-acid batteries. Moreover, Yeti 500X also has high charge retention, meaning the battery can be stored at full charge for a significant period of time (3-6 months) and yet still retains most of its battery life.*
Also, they have a high energy density, meaning it has more power stored in a smaller battery.
*This is if the battery is stored in a cool, dry environment.
Overall, the best of the generators remains the Yeti 400 Lithium and the Yeti 500X. Obviously, this is because they both have power-efficient and stable batteries.
Unlike the lead-acid battery in the Yeti 400, these two generators have a low discharge rate.
It’s imperative to be sure of how long your generator takes to charge.
Being confident in the charge time of your generator goes a long way and will prepare you for any situation when you’ll need it.
Typically, a solar generator charges in three ways. One of the methods is by using solar panels or just a wall charger.
However, charging with solar panels usually takes a much longer time compared to using a wall charger. Although, it doesn’t take too long to charge solar generators when you combine solar panels the right way.
Asides from charging via panels or wall chargers, you could also use a car charger.
Goal Zero specially manufactures solar panels for its solar generators. Examples of the Goal Zero solar panels are the Nomad 20, Nomad 50, Boulder 50, Nomad 100, Boulder 100 Briefcase, Boulder 100, and the Boulder 200 Briefcase.
Interestingly, the Yeti 400 charges relatively fast compared to other solar generators. Typically, it only takes five hours to charge this device with a wall charger.
Also, charging the Yeti 400 with a car charger only takes 13 hours.
Using the Nomad 20 solar panel takes 31-62 hours. Also, Nomad 50 takes 12-24 hours. Charging with the Boulder 50, Boulder 100, and Nomad 100 takes about 12-24 hours, 6-12 hours, and 6-12 hours respectively.
The Boulder 100 Briefcase and the Boulder 200 Briefcase only take 6-12 hours and 3-6 hours, respectively.
YETI 400 LITHIUM
If you plug the generator into a wall to charge, it will take 7 hours to get to full capacity.
With good sun and large solar panels, you can charge the Yeti 400 Lithium in as little as four hours.
However, charging times vary depending on the capabilities of your solar panel.
If you’re making use of the Nomad 20, Nomad 50, or the Boulder 50, it takes about 31-62 hours, 12-24 hours, and 12-24 hours, respectively.
However, the Boulder 100, and the Nomad 100 can charge up your generator for 6-12 hours.
Also, using the Boulder 100 Briefcase and the Boulder 200 Briefcase will charge your solar generator for 6-12 hours and 4-6 hours, respectively.
Interestingly, Goal Zero’s charging times are impressive, especially for its battery capacity. It takes about three hours to charge this generator up with a maximum input of 180W.
This is done by using the USB-C input port combined with either the car charger or solar panels (max solar input is 120W).
- Using a car charger only charges it up for 4.5 hours.
- It only takes 8.5 hours to charge this solar generator up by using a wall charger.
Solar panel charging times vary depending on which one you get, so below I have multiple options from Goal Zero.
What Solar Panels Go Well With The Yeti 500X?
Goal Zero has its own lineup of solar panels, both mountable (Boulder) and portable (Nomad).
Depending on what you prefer, both options offer similar wattage ranges.
The company just released its new line of Nomad solar panels, and a good Nomad panel for this type of generator would be the Nomad 50 because you can recharge your 500X in a day with one of these.
Plus, it’s portable.
If you’re looking for more power, check out the Nomad 100, Boulder 100, or Boulder 200 solar panel options.
I wrote an article touching on the Boulder solar panel lineup from Goal Zero, so check it out if you think these mountable solar panels are more for you.
Charge time examples with goal zero solar panels:
- Nomad 20: Charges in 29-58 hours
- Boulder 50: Charges in 12-24 hours
- Boulder 100 Briefcase: Charges in 6-12 hours
- Boulder 200 Briefcase: Charges in 3-6 hours
Solar panels tend to use about 80% of their capacity depending on the panel, the charge controller (MPPT or PWM), and the amount of sunlight that is available on any given day.
I also encourage you to seek other solar panel manufacturers. You can get a great deal on some solar panels with few setbacks if any. Just make sure that the connections are correct for the Yeti 500X.
Overall, it’s pretty amazing that the Yeti 500X has the best charge times on average.
So, if you’re going to make a choice based on charge times, go for the Yeti 500X.
In my opinion, I would go with a larger solar panel (100-200W) because this will drastically reduce charge times and allow you to use the generator more frequently.
Below, we compare the number of ports in each of the Goal Zero Yetis and see what their capabilities are specifically.
|Input/Output Ports||Yeti 400||Yeti 400 Lithium||Yeti 500X|
|USB||2x USB-A: 10.5W max (regulated)||3x USB-A: 12W max (regulated)||2x USB-A: 12W max (regulated)|
1x USB-C: 18W max (regulated)
1x USB-PD (in/out): 60W max (regulated)
|2x 6mm ports: 120W max|
1x 12V car port: 120W max
|1x 6mm port: 120W max|
1x 12V car port: 120W max
|1x 6mm port: 120W max|
1x 12V car port: 120W max (regulated)
|AC||2x AC ports: 300W continuous (600W surge)||2x AC ports: 300W continuous (1,200W surge)||2x AC ports: 300W continuous (1,200W surge)|
|Chaining||1x Powerpole chaining port (400W max)||N/A||N/A|
|Charging||1x Charging port: 14-29V, up to 10A (120W max)||1x Charging port: 14-22V, up to 10A (120W max)||2x Charging ports: 13-22V, up to 10A (150W max)|
|Source||Yeti 400 manual||Yeti 400 Lithium manual||Yeti 500X manual|
Overall, the Yeti 500X favors more essential ports. However, the Yeti 400 allows for an Anderson Powerpole chaining port.
Essentially, the power pole port allows you to chain your Yeti 400 to a second Yeti 400 if desired for more power.
Still, if you were to choose a solar generator based on its ports, the Yeti 500X would still be the best choice because it has updated USB ports.
Yeti 400 vs 400 Lithium vs 500X – What Can They Power?
|YETI 400||YETI 400 Lithium||YETI 500X|
|Smartphone: 20+ times||Smartphone: 40 times||Light-A-Life: 80 hours|
|POV Camera: 70+ times||POV Camera: 70+ times||Camera: 70 times|
|Headlamp: 70+ times||Headlamp: 70+ times||Phones: 40 times|
|Tablets: 10+ times||Tablet: 10+ times||Tablet: 10 times|
|Laptop: 3-5 times||Laptop: 3-5 times||Laptops: 8 times|
|Light-a-Life: 130 hours||Light-a-Life: 130 hours||Medical devices (CPAP): 10 hours|
|Mini Fridge: 7 hours||Mini Fridge: 7 hours||Pellet grills: 9 hours|
|32 LCD TV: 3 hours||32 LCD TV 3 hours||TV’s: 3 hours|
Overall, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 does the least amount of work here.
For instance, both the 400 Lithium and the 500X can charge your phone 40 times.
On the other hand, the Yeti 400 will only power your phone 20 times.
In conclusion, this factor alone clearly determines the difference in the battery types, and as you have seen, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 is not the best choice of the three.
But in the Yeti 400’s defense, it was the first iteration of these three models featured in this article, so there you have it.
In conclusion, the 400 Lithium and the 500X are massive upgrades to the Yeti 400.
In fact, the Yeti 400 is quite inefficient when compared to the others.
Basically, its inefficiency arises from the use of lead-acid batteries.
So, asides from the price, the Goal Zero Yeti 500X is the best choice because it has the best battery and also features the most up-to-date ports that will serve as the new standard for a lot of devices.
Extended Warranty with your Yeti Power Station
There is a little bonus that you get when you get the Yeti 500X and that is the extended warranty for a year! All you need to do is register your generator when you receive it.
This coupon is located within the product manual.
Where can you find the manual for the Yeti 500X?
- Goal Zero: Blogs/News – “Evolution of the Goal Zero Yeti“
- Goal Zero: User Guide Library
- The Inverter Store: FAQs – “What is the difference between modified, pure sine wave inverters?”
- Goal Zero: YouTube – “Goal Zero Yeti 500X | Tech Video”
- ScienceDirect: Topics – “Lead Acid Battery”
- Battery University: Article – “BU-201a: Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM)”