Goal Zero Nomad 100 Vs Boulder 100 Briefcase – The Comparison
Today I am going to take on the Nomad 100 Vs Boulder 100 Briefcase subject. Both are great solar panels from Goal Zero that are portable, but one even more than the other.
Goal Zero makes solar generators/power stations and solar panels and not all of their panels can be plugged into all of their power stations, as we’ll talk about in today’s comparison.
The two products we’re comparing are the Boulder 100 Briefcase and the Nomad 100 Watt. Note that there is also a Boulder 50, a Boulder 100, and a Boulder 200 briefcase.
Related Post: 10 things you should know before buying a Goal Zero Yeti
The difference between the Boulder 100 and Boulder 100 Briefcase is that the briefcase is two 50W panels put together that folds and become more portable. The Boulder 100 is a solid 100W panel. Both have a kickstand, but the briefcase is more portable since it folds and stores in a carrying case, which together with the built-in handle makes it easy to handle.
For more permanent installations, I recommend the Boulder 100 over the Boulder 100 Briefcase. The reason for this is that solid panels that don’t fold are easier to install on RVs, vans, or any roof of a home. Goal Zero even sells mounting brackets for the Boulder 100 panel that make it easy to install on roofs of vehicles or homes, but these brackets should not be used with the Boulder 100 Briefcase.
Now, let’s take a look at what makes the Nomad 100 different from the Boulder 100 and why which one you choose matters.
After the comparison, I’ll also share the best alternatives to the two.
Nomad 100 Vs Boulder 100 Briefcase – Specifications Compared
I added both the Boulder 100 models to the table to make it easier to understand the differences between them.
Nomad 100 Vs Boulder 100 Briefcase – What They Have In Common
The Nomad 100 and Boulder 100 briefcase have a lot in common. They’re both as powerful in terms of generating electricity, and they’re both compatible with the same power stations. Let’s delve a little bit more into how they’re similar.
Both panels use the 8mm connection. This makes them directly compatible not only with the Goal Zero Yeti power stations but other power stations or solar generators on the market as well that has an 8mm port on them.
The only thing to remember if you’re considering purchasing one of these solar panels to use with a different solar generator than a Goal Zero product is to make sure the charge controller input on it can handle 18-22V VOC.
Both are capable of generating the same amount of watts, 100 watts. The Boulder 100 briefcase is easier to angle towards the sun to increase the wattage efficiency, but if placed under the sun with the same circumstances, they both perform the same.
Related Post: 5 ways to charge a Goal Zero Yeti faster
As long as your power station supports the input, you can combine several solar panels to increase the generated electricity.
Since the panels have an 8mm connection, you can use the Goal Zero 8mm to Anderson combiner cable to connect several panels to a solar generator with an APP (Anderson Power Pole) input. The Yeti 1000 and larger have at least one APP input.
Nomad 100 Vs Boulder 100 – How They Differ
There are a couple of things to consider when choosing between the Nomad 100 and the Boulder 100 briefcase, let’s talk about a couple of points and features that are good to know when making your decision.
The Boulder 100 briefcase and Boulder 100 have kickstands that make it easy to set up and angle towards the sun.
Goal Zero has not put any kind of stand on the Nomad 100, probably to keep it as lightweight and portable as possible, but as you can see in the image below, you can make the panel stand up when unfolded. I wouldn’t recommend doing this though since it wouldn’t take much wind for it to fall over.
This to me is a huge disadvantage with the Nomad 100, and it makes it perfect only for the people that either have a vehicle or a tree to hang it on.
Of course, you could just place it on the ground, but during the winter months when the sun isn’t shining from straight above, you’re going to miss out on a lot of watts that would be generated if you could angle the solar panels towards the sun easier.
If you only go camping in the summer though, this won’t be a problem in most cases.
The Nomad 100 is over 15 pounds lighter than the Boulder 100 briefcase. This makes it a much better option when weight is the biggest concern.
Goal Zero has put a handle on the Boulder 100 briefcase and includes a carrying case, this is something the Nomad 100 is missing.
The Nomad 100 has a couple of loops that make it easy to hang up the solar panel both when folded and unfolded, but then you need a place to hang it on either a backpack, a vehicle, or a tree. To me, a portable product isn’t only about the weight, since the Boulder 100 briefcase is very portable as well due to its built-in handle and protective casing.
The included carrying case not only protects it but makes it easy to store the Boulder 100 briefcase when not in use. You can put lighter items on top of it and don’t have to worry about hurting the panels.
You can do the same with the Nomad 100, but since it doesn’t have a carrying case, I would be more careful since dirt, dust, and debris could get in between the panels easier and scratch it.
The portability of the Nomad 100 is its strongest selling point, but it targets a very specific customer. Again, in my opinion, the built-in handle on the Boulder 100 briefcase makes it a portable option as well even though it weighs more.
Even though the Nomad 100 it’s lightweight, it’s large and would be a big inconvenience to bring on a hike. So it’s for the traveler that has a small vehicle, like vandwellers, that have very limited space and weight limits.
This isn’t talked about by the companies, but I can tell you from experience that solid panels are more durable than flexible panels like the ones used on the Nomad 100.
Now, when it comes to solar panels and how long they’re going to last, it depends a lot on the way they’re used and taken care of. Solid panels will be more durable if left out 24/7 and beaten by the elements, but since the Nomad 100 isn’t the kind of panel you buy to leave out all the time, durability issues with flexible panels might not be a big concern to you.
The Nomad 100 is the kind of panel you bring out during the day when it’s sunny and fold down when the sun goes down. In contrast, the Boulder 100 can be left out in the rain and if you’re an RV traveler you could set it up when you get to your campsite, leave it out for a week, then fold it down when it’s time to pack up and leave.
Which the best one is depends on what kind of traveling you intend to do.
The Nomad 100 takes up more space on the ground when unfolded compared to the Boulder 100 briefcase. The Boulder 100 is slightly taller in storage.
When the Nomad 100 is folded for storage it’s several inches smaller than the Boulder 100 briefcase.
Both are portable choices in their own way, not too limited by their sizes.
Conclusion And Recommendations
To conclude in just a couple of words, the Nomad 100 is the portable lightweight option, and the Boulder 100 briefcase is the portable set-and-forget option.
If you need a portable solar panel for hiking, I wouldn’t go with either of these two but a more lightweight portable solar panel. If you’d absolutely need a 100W solar panel for hiking, a portable folding panel like the Allpowers 100W would be a better choice than either of the above.
If you’re a vandweller that need a very lightweight panel that you can hang up on the door to recharge your power station during the day, the Nomad 100 is a great choice. However, if you’re anyone else, I would go with the Boulder 100 Briefcase
The Boulder 100 briefcase is the better solar panel, in my opinion, when it comes to features. Sure, the Nomad is 15 pounds lighter, but the kickstand, built-in handle, and included carrying case is more worth it most of the time.
The features on the Boulder 100 make it easier to set up and deal with in most situations, and as somebody that has used both types, I can tell you that the user experience with the solid Boulder panel is much better. Especially when it’s windy outside or you find yourself in a place where you can’t hang up a solar panel in a tree.
Since I have used both types of panels, I also know how convenient it is to be able to angle the panel towards the sun, especially during the winter months. Angling your panels during the winter increases the charging efficiency by a lot.
Best Solar Generator/Power Station To Pair With A Nomad 100/Boulder 100 Briefcase
Since both panels have an 8mm connection cable, a lot of Goal Zero’s power stations are great compatible units.
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium – With 428Wh, the Yeti 400 lithium is a great portable choice for travelers with space and weight limits. Either 100W panels above would charge this from 0 to 100% in less than 8 hours of good sun. The Boulder 200 briefcase would charge it in less than 4 hours. It supports pass-through charging so you could be charging and using your devices during the day while the battery is charging.
Related Post: Goal Zero Yeti 400 Vs Jackery Explorer 500
Goal Zero Yeti 1000 – This is the Yeti I own and use. I have 400 watts of solar panels that I use with it. It would take about 18 hours of good sun to charge the Yeti 1000 from empty to full with either 100W panel we’ve looked at today. With the optional Goal Zero MPPT charge controller module compatible with the Yeti 1000 and larger, the charging efficiency would be increased even further.
Jackery Explorer 500 – A very popular solar generator with 518Wh battery capacity, a 500W pure sine wave inverter, and a regulated 12V cigarette output port that makes it one of few solar generators that can run a 12V fridge/freezer properly.
Another great thing with the Jackery Explorer is that it has an 8mm input port that can handle up to 30V, meaning that both panels above are compatible out of the box. Either 100W panel would charge the Jackery from 0 to 100% in about 9 hours of good sun. So with two 100W panels, you could start out empty in the morning and be at 100% in the afternoon. Since it supports pass-through charging, you could use it while it’s charging during the day.
Best Alternative To The Nomad 100
Rockpals 100W – One of the best alternatives to the Nomad 100 is the Rockpals 100W. It’s compatible with the Yeti power stations out of the box. It comes with several connectors for different devices. It weighs less than a pound more but has USB ports, one DC 12V port, and one QC 3.0 port.
Best Alternative To The Boulder 100
Renogy 100W Briefcase – I own two of these portable solar panels, so I know that they’re a great alternative to the Boulder 100. It has a kickstand, built-in handle, carrying case included, and MC4 connectors. With an adapter like the MC4 to 8mm adapter cable you can plug it straight into a Yeti power station.
Renogy sells their briefcase panels in several different configurations.
If you’re going to use the Renogy briefcase panels to charge a Goal Zero Yeti or any other solar generator that comes with a built-in solar charge controller, you need the model without the charge controller.
However, if you’re going to wire the panels straight to a 12V battery on an RV camper, you need the configuration that includes a solar charge controller.
How Long Are The Nomad/Boulder Cables? Extension Cables?
The cables coming out of the solar panels are unfortunately only a couple of feet. You can get a Goal Zero 8mm 30ft extension cable if you would like to place your solar generator inside while using the solar panel outside.
How To Wire Two Solar Panels Together Or Combine Two Or More
You can actually combine a Nomad 100 and a Boulder 100 if you would like, this would be done with a Goal Zero to Anderson combiner cable. Note that this turns 8mm into APP, so you would need a Yeti 1000 or larger to use it.
How To Connect A Goal Zero Solar Panel To a 12V Battery?
Since the Goal Zero panels don’t have a built-in solar charge controller, it’s not recommended to connect them directly to a 12V battery. Goal Zero has a solution that makes it possible though. It makes the Guardian 12V Plus charge controller that has an 8mm input and alligator clips output, making it possible to connect the panel to a 12V lead-acid deep cycle battery. Note that it does not support lithium batteries.
Another option is to get a portable panel with a built-in charge controller, like the Renogy 100 Watt briefcase. It’s available in a 200 watt configuration as well.
Renogy’s briefcase is a plug-and-play system, with solar panels wired through the solar charge controller already, making it a safe choice for 12V batteries. It even supports lithium batteries.
Related Post: Renogy Vs Battle Born lithium batteries
The Renogy briefcases come with alligator clips that you connect directly to your 12V battery
Feel free to leave questions down below in the comment section.