Manufacturer of portable solar-charging
technology brings power to the people
They call themselves experience enablers. That’s to say that now you can go farther, and stay out longer than ever before because you have battery power that’s both portable and renewable. Are you packin’ portable?
Goal Zero, a Utah-based personal solar power company, has made waves in the outdoor industry in the past six years, because it’s creating tough, innovative gear to power expeditions big and small.
Sure, many outdoor adventurers look to escape tech-laden lives by heading to the wilderness. But more and more, technology is edging its way into our lives.
“Even when we’re headed out to ‘get away,’ we take our phones to use as cameras, or we download information and maps to get around,” says Andy Earl, Goal Zero social media manager and an adventure photographer. “Having power changes what you are capable of doing.”
Imagine lighting a backcountry yurt or campsite with solar-powered lanterns, keeping your headlamp charged for weeks without extra batteries, or filming and snapping images for days without running out of juice.
Goal Zero’s product line ranges from small chargers designed to give phones a single power-up to larger generators used to power laptops, lights and electronics. By placing a solar panel in the sun with a power pack attached, you’ll, in effect, store the energy in the pack for later use. Stay on the grid longer than ever, even when you’re “off the grid.”
Their unique solar panels are built with monocrystalline technology surrounded by rugged, weather-resistant outer materials to protect them for adventures in any climate. All design and development is done by an in-house production team at Goal Zero’s headquarters that sends their designs out of the country for production. When the finished product returns, it’s tested in Utah’s diverse climate by employees and ambassadors before ever being shipped to consumers.
Though Goal Zero is quickly becoming a household brand name in Utah, the vision for the company didn’t start too long ago. In 2007, Robert Workman, Goal Zero founder, was doing humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he was leveraging solar technology to provide locals with much-needed access to light. Workman realized that his solar solutions could fill a consumer need in a much larger context, so in 2009, Goal Zero was born. It’s goal simple: to put reliable power in the hands of every human on Earth.
With growth of nearly 17,000-percent in sales in the past three years, Goal Zero was recognized as one of Forbes’ Most Promising Companies of 2014. It has also received numerous awards and accolades from industry thought leaders, such as Outside and the Outdoor Retailer Market, for its tech-forward products.
Through the rapid expansion, however, Goal Zero has remained true to its humanitarian roots by frequently donating solar kits for natural disaster relief with over $600,000 worth of product donated for Hurricane Sandy alone.
The company also sends employees to assist in natural-disaster relief and invites others to participate in humanitarian trips to Haiti, the Navajo Nation and other areas in need of solar-power capabilities.
Despite Goal Zero’s far-reaching efforts, Utah remains the company’s home. “Utah has so much to offer and has amazing access to everything we, as a company, are passionate about,” Earl says. “You can stand on the summit of a mountain and watch a sunrise during a backcountry tour or trail run before making it to the office at 9 a.m.”
In fact, many Utah-based adventurers—along with an international community of brand ambassadors—help field-test products. The ambassador team is a veritable “who’s who” of the biggest names in climbing, skiing and mountaineering with Utah locals Julian Carr, Mike Libecki, Caroline Gleich and Brody Leven making the roster, just to name a few. When these athletes head out to tackle the world’s most daring peaks and harshest environments, they pack solar technology. Important feedback and beta is brought back to help further innovate Goal Zero’s products.
In August 2014, NRG Energy—a Fortune 250 company focused on solar and renewable—acquired Goal Zero, but the company is here to stay, says Lisa Janssen, Goal Zero public relations manager. Janssen adds that a partnership provides more resources, allowing the company to innovate faster than ever.
Norm Krantz, vice-president of innovation and the company’s third employee, says the way Goal Zero innovates sets them apart in the industry. “We always think of the user experience first,” he says. “What will make this easy to use, easy to understand and easy to incorporate into adventures and life?”
Why shouldn’t getting power be easy, anyway? The only thing hard about adventure should be coming back home.