Goal Zero Yeti 3000: Are Lithium-Ion Inverters Job Site Ready?
Whether you're looking at job site, recreational, or emergency power applications, you're unlikely to find a better overall package than what Goal Zero offers with the Yeti 3000 without moving to gas generators.
As gas tools make way for battery-powered options, outdoor power equipment is seeing a significant shift. Gas generators represent one of the high-value sectors in that market. Technology continues to move forward and while the Kohler enCube left us wanting in some areas, the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 promises a better experience.
Out of the Gate
Size and Capacity
The biggest physical difference between the Kohler enCube and the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 is size. The Yeti is a much smaller package that weighs about 25 pounds lighter with more than 150% greater energy storage capacity. With 3,075 watt-hours of storage capacity in the lithium-ion cells, it blows the Kohler enCube’s 1,200 watt-hours away by miles. As products like this make the transition to lithium-ion, we can expect greater power density. That means more power and run-time for less weight.
Here’s what came in our test package:
- Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Lithium Portable Power Station with Wifi
- 2 wall chargers
- Pre-installed MPPT module
- Rolls Cart
- 200W Solar Briefcase
- High battery capacity
- Quick charging for its class
- Easy-to-use wifi-based app
- Lighter than lead-acid models
- No maintenance, no emissions, no noise
- Limited to sub-13-amp tools/products
- Cart is tough to roll on anything other than hard surfaces
The Bottom Line
The Goal Zero Yeti 3000 is a very capable lithium-ion power station given its power output and excellent capacity. It moves us closer to powering corded tools but still falls short as you close in on 13 amps. Whether you’re looking at job site, recreational, or emergency power applications, you’re unlikely to find a better overall package than what Goal Zero offers with the Yeti 3000 unless you move to gas generators.
Advantages Over Gas
- Silent Operation
- Zero Emissions
- Little to No Maintenance
- Inexpensive to Recharge or Free with Solar Panels
- Higher Surge Wattage Compared to Similar Power Class
Lithium-Ion Advantages Over Lead Acid
- Deeper Discharge
- Faster Charging
- No Need to Keep on a Constant Maintenance Charge
- Much Lower Self-Discharge Rate
- Lighter Weight
- Can Have Longer Life with Quality Cells
Disadvantages Over Gas
- Much Longer Recharge Times Compared to Refueling
- Heavier for Similar Power Outputs
- Currently limited to the sub-2000-Watt Power Class
Dual Charging Ports
2 is better than 1, right? For wall charging, the Yeti 3000 gives you two charging ports to help you recharge faster.
MPPT stands for “Maximum Power Point Tracker” and a unit comes pre-installed on the Yeti 3000. You’ll get up to 40% faster charging that a standard charging port and you’ll see your biggest efficiency gains when solar charging.
On the standard ports, I get 63 watts with 1 charger and 127 watts with both. Flipping those over the MPPT, it’s 75 and 145 watts, respectively. That’s roughly a 13.5% gain between the two.
With the Boulder 200 panels at high noon, I get 134 watts on the standard port and 165 watts with the MPPT. Not only do those numbers exceed the charging rate from a wall outlet, it’s a 23.1% efficiency gain when you switch to the MPPT.
The beauty of Goal Zero’s Yeti App is in its simplicity. For Android, the download is less than 11 megabytes, so it’s not horribly bloated like all the social media apps. The interface is simple as well. There’s just one screen to worry about. It shows you your remaining battery capacity, current watts in and out, time to empty, and port status with on/off toggles for each of them.
What you don’t see is Goal Zero’s ability to update your firmware wirelessly. With computer-controlled electronics, an update can make a big difference in the performance or efficiency of a battery-powered device. If Goal Zero finds something helpful, you’ll get the upgrade without the need to visit a service center.
- USB A port: 5V, up to 2.4A (12W max), regulated
- USB C port: 5V, up to 3.0A (15W max), regulated
- USB PD port: 5V, 12V, 20V up to 3.0A (60W max)
- 6mm port: 12V, up to 10A (120W max)
- 12V car port: 12V, up to 10A (120W max)
- 12V Power Pole port: 12V, up to 20A (240W max)
- 120V AC Inverter: 120VAC 60Hz, 12.5A (1500W, 3000W surge)
Job Site Use
Like gas generators, you want to protect the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 from unfavorable weather conditions. It’s also more sensitive to dust and mud than most job site generators, so you’ll want to keep that in consideration. Fortunately, you can bring it inside with you since you don’t need to worry about emissions.
However, the solar panel cord is only about 6′, so you may want to look into an extension if you intend to keep them connected most days.
As soon as I stepped off the pavement and onto the grass, it became obvious that the cart’s wheels the Yeti’s weight are best on hard surfaces. It’s tough to roll it across anything else. Bigger, wider wheels – maybe even pneumatic – would give it better offroad abilities.
The Yeti 3000 produces 1500 watts of continuous power and 3000 surge watts. While this is technically less than the 3600 surge watts the enCube boats, I was able to run more powerful tools. The largest is a 12.5-amp surface grinder without any kind of soft start. I peaked at 11 amps with the enCube.
Successfully Tested Job Site Tools
- 15,000-lumen LED work lights
- 17,500 CFM drum fan
- 6.5 HP shop vacuum
- 12.5-amp surface grinder
- Cordless tool battery chargers
You’re still shy of the 15 amps you need to run circular saws, table saws, and miter saws, among others. So what’s the call here?
The Yeti won’t turn all your corded tools into cordless on its own. For a residential construction site, I like this for keeping your cordless tool and device batteries charged primarily. It’s also great for running work lights – just stick with LED to keep the power draw down. You can run fans as well, though our favorites are all cordless models.
It is feasible for the Yeti to stand in as a power source for tools less than 13 amps that you might not have a cordless version of. You can also run your large drum fan. Just keep in mind that you’ll be drawing more power when you use them and will limit your overall runtime.
The capacity of the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 makes it an outstanding choice for recreational use when you’re in an area without power. It does weigh 75 pounds and the solar panels add another 42 pounds, so it’s best when you’re driving to your destination. If RVing is out of your budget range, it’s a big car camping win.
Favorite Recreational Uses
- LED lights
- Small fans
- Small refrigerators for short periods (tailgating)
- Device charging
Emergency Power Use
Whether it’s a winter storm, hurricane, or tornado that knocks power out, what you can expect from Yeti 3000 is dependent on how long the outage lasts. I plan for week-long power outages here in hurricane country. Given the limitations of how fast I can recharge with the solar panels, here are the items I plan on running along with some other common concerns.
Storm Prep Uses
- LED lights
- Batteries for cordless fans/lights
- Phones, two-way radio batteries
- Modem/wireless router if the internet comes back before the power
- Mini fridge for temperature-dependent medicines only
- CPAP or other medical devices
Notice What’s Missing
- Full-size refrigerator
- Window AC unit
When you plan to be without power for a week, some items draw too much energy and risk leaving you without power for what’s actually necessary. However, the Yeti 3000 is capable of running the items on my “missing” list for a period of time. It’s up to you to judge the difference between need and want along with balancing how long you’ll be without power.
If you’re looking to run the appliances and household items that make life comfortable, a gas generator is still the way to go.
The Realities of Solar Charging
Solar charging sounds like a great way to go on the prepper websites. To be effective, you need a large solar array. If you can swing the cost, great. If you’re looking for a gas generator replacement, the cost might be more than you’re willing to spend.
The enCube’s 60-watt panels were way too small – I was only able to recharge at a maximum of 45 watts and 30 watts was close to my average. Goal Zero has a kit option with their Boulder 200-watt briefcase. In peak sun, I’ve been able to pull 165 watts. But that’s still going to take 18.5 hours to recharge such a large battery if I can maintain peak charging conditions.
You can combine up to 600 watts of solar panels, potentially bringing your total charge time down to 6 – 7 hours if you’re willing to make the investment.
Keep in mind that you only have 6 hours of peak sunlight or so—even on a good day. You’ll also have to haul those panels around and ensure you protect them from damage.
In my conversation with Goal Zero, they recognize that this is a limitation, and they’re not trying to hide the facts. Currently, solar recharging is primarily designed to reduce the amount of wall charging time you need when you get back to a power source rather than as a primary means of keeping power flowing to the inverter.
The Goal Zero Yeti 3000 is $2999.95. 200-watt solar panels will add another $575 to the price. Obviously, that’s a large premium over what you’ll pay for gas. Compared to other options available in the battery power station market, it’s competitive.
Take the enCube for example. It’s a little over $1000 for 1200 watts of capacity and the 60-watt panels bump it up $200 if you’re shopping on Amazon. Push that forward proportionally and you would pay around $3300 to match the Yeti 3000’s specs. The trade-off is that you’re dealing with a lead-acid battery instead of lithium-ion, so you need to factor those advantages in as well.
Compared to other lithium-ion options, the Yeti 3000 doesn’t have much direct competition with such a high capacity. Considering their 1400-watt version where there are more options, the price compares favorably.
The Bottom Line
The Goal Zero Yeti 3000 is a very capable lithium-ion power station given its power output and incredible capacity. It moves us closer to powering corded tools but still falls short as you close in on 13 amps. Whether you’re looking at job site, recreational, or emergency power applications, you’re unlikely to find a better overall package than what Goal Zero offers with the Yeti 3000 unless you move to gas generators.
Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Lithium Power Station Specifications
- Model: Goal Zero Yeti 3000
- Power Source: Lithium-ion
- Charging: 120V AC or solar
- Capacity: 3075 watt hours
- Weight: 68.6 pounds (77.5 pounds with cart)
- Solar Panel Weight: 42 pounds (Boulder 200)
- Dimensions: 10.1 x 15.3 x 13.1 inches
- Operating Temperature Range: 32° – 104° F (0° – 40° C)
- Warranty: 12 months
- Price: ($3574.90 as tested with Boulder 200 solar panels)
Find more information here.