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Awesome Mobile Charging Solution - Yeti 400

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by herein2014, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. herein2014

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    For a long time I held off from getting a P3 or Inspire 1 due to having problems figuring out how to safely field charge their batteries without draining my car's battery due to the capacity of the flight LiPo batteries. I finally settled on the Goal Zero Yeti 400 and I can report that after a few months of use it is a great solution.

    http://www.amazon.com/Goal-Zero-230...=UTF8&qid=1439683464&sr=8-1&keywords=yeti+400

    I use it with the P3 and 6 flight batteries plus the controller and the tablet; so far I have flown almost 8hrs straight and it has kept everything charged with no problems. I have yet to even crack 30% discharged in a days flying.

    I even use it now to top off my DSLR batteries, cell phone, laptop, and anything else I can throw at it. I hardly use my car's lighter sockets these days.

    My favorite feature is that it can also be recharged by your car's charging system so what I did was wired up a relay so that it does not charge when the car is off and automatically charges when the car is running. With this setup I can easily complete up to 10 jobs a day without running out of battery juice.
     
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  2. jcknows0

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    Really like it just too pricey right now of course I don't have any jobs as I wait for regulations to be codified
     
  3. Trumple

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    Quite good but...that's so expensive!
    Why not just keep the car running while charging?
     
    #3 Trumple, Aug 15, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
  4. herein2014

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    It paid for itself within a few days, and all of my equipment is tax write offs since they are registered to my business so I don't worry too much about cost. As far as keeping the car running, that is not realistic when a single job site could require me to be onsite up to 8hrs. Also I don't just film near my car; I have a gig coming up which is pretty far out in the wilderness, we'll be lugging equipment including the Yeti into the backwoods.

    If you look at at the actual mAH of most consumer level "jump packs" you will realize why the Yeti costs what it does, not to mention it has a pure AC sine wave inverter which typically runs $200+ alone.
     
  5. Trumple

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    Or buy a leisure battery/deep cycle battery and an inverter. That thing you posted has 33Ah, yet a leisure battery that costs maybe 1/4th of the price has about 110Ah. You could buy 10x the capacity (3x 110Ah = 330Ah) and still have money left over for a pure sine wave inverter. The reason that thing is so expensive is because it has functions you don't need, and a pure sine wave generator built in.
     
  6. herein2014

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    I'm not here to argue about other solutions, to each their own. Personally I'm not going to show up to a job site lugging around a deep cycle battery and a DC inverter. I'm just reporting my experience with the Yeti; what something is worth is what someone is willing to pay for it and in my opinion this was worth every penny. Not to mention the onboard battery indicator so I don't discharge it below 60%, its charge status, etc.
     
  7. Trumple

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    Price aside, the Yeti would be great (the high capacity 100Ah one). The neat, self-contained unit is great, and of course the LCD display is handy indeed. But, it's not very cost effective, coming in at ~$200 more than the P3P itself. You could go for the cheaper 33Ah one, but as you said you still needed to top it up during the day - which IMO defeats the purpose and you might as well use your in-car charger.

    At ~$500 I think 33Ah is weak, that's all. Yes, it's a nice self-contained unit, but I'd be surprised if you could get more than 2-3 charges out of it without topping it up. If you're out in the field, that's the difference between 6 batteries and 8. Considering you could buy a P3 battery for $150, you could more effectively buy 2-3 extra batteries for the same price. Also considering that your overall average rate of charge is, at the end of the day, limited to whatever your car can pump out (typically ~150W) regardless of the 300W output the Yeti can provide, I just wouldn't recommend this system to anyone looking to really maximize their battery life in the field.

    If it works for you, great, but I'm just providing a second opinion for anyone wanting to invest in a decent charging system this summer.
     
  8. herein2014

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    I definitely agree there are cheaper solutions out there; if you compare apples to apples a 35Ah battery costs around $70.00 + a pure sine wave AC inverter $200.00 = $270.00. Basically I paid $189.00 more for a single self contained unit, front panel display, and USB charger. It's definitely not for everyone and if you are flying the P3 as a hobby and want to save money by all means I would recommend going the cheaper route.

    But as the saying goes; you get what you pay for and for me I had no problem paying a premium to get a completely integrated solution which has held up well so far in the field. Also, by my math in a pinch I should be able to recharge up to 7.5 flight batteries with the Yeti since I don't let the remaining battery capacity drop below 30% per flight. So in a pinch if I were willing to let the Yeti drop to 40% charged I could recharge 7.5 flight batteries plus the initial 8 fully charged batteries which equates to around 235 minutes of flying time; far more than I have ever needed in a single day.

    I do top it off between jobs, but not because I have to, but because I'm in the habit of keeping all batteries fully charged. Before I set up the relay system from my car's charging system I still had no problems completing a full day's work.

    So in my opinion, I still consider this to be the best thing out there if you don't want to lug around a deep cycle battery, an inverter, and a 12v USB charger.
     
  9. Trumple

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    That's true - if it works for you it works. But my main concern is the capacity: how are you getting a value of 7.5 charges? The way I see it, the Yeti 400 provides 400Wh, meaning it can supply 400W for 1 hour. That is equivalent to 100W for 4 hours. The 100W charger, conveniently, charges a battery in about an hour. Therefore the Yeti 400 can charge 4 batteries in a perfect world. In reality, you have the losses of the inverter to account for, so that 100W is probably more like 120W -> ~3 charges if fully drained to 0%. Maybe 2 if you don't want to drain it to 0%. However, this isn't what you seem to be reporting? I'm wondering if my maths is wrong somewhere :)

    Anyway, assuming I'm not incorrect for a moment, if you wanted any reasonable amount of capacity, and this is where I can no longer support the Yeti, you'd have to buy the 1250Wh version for $1,400, providing you with 1250/120= ~10 hours = 10 charges. Considering you could get an inverter (with USB output) and a 1250Wh leisure battery for ~$300, the Yeti is massively overpriced when it comes to any usable capacity.

    That said, if you can make back the cost of the Yeti 400 in a few days then perhaps the convenience of the Yeti 1250 would outweigh the cost in your situation. For me, I'm happy to carry around a little coolbox or something with my inverter and a deep cycle battery in it :)
     
  10. jryser

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    So do you have a picture of your setup and links for your gear? I like both ideas and am looking into a purchase. I spend a lot of time filming in remote areas myself!


    Sent from my PT beating heart
     
  11. Trumple

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    I don't have a picture of my setup - in my last trip I bypassed the leisure battery entirely and simply connected directly to my car's 12v socket.

    Here is a pure sine wave inverter with a USB output:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/300W-pure-p...31170&sr=8-3&keywords=pure+sine+wave+inverter

    Here is the one I used, which comes with a 12v cigarette lighter plug:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CM9AE...9731170&sr=1&keywords=pure+sine+wave+inverter

    Looks like you're from the US so here's an equivalent:
    http://www.amazon.com/MicroSolar-10...31209&sr=8-1&keywords=pure+sine+wave+inverter

    Here is a sealed 120Ah (1440Wh = 12 charges) leisure ("deep cycle") battery for £113 (~$180):
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Numax-CXV35MF-Leisure-Battery-1100MCA/dp/B008PDLT3Q

    Again, a US one 110Ah for similar price:
    http://www.batterystuff.com/batteries/rv-marine/agm/56-to-110-amp-hour/ub121000-45978.html

    You could probably find a better one for cheaper though.

    Key point: get a SEALED deep cycle battery. This type is more modern and does not vent toxic fumes, like old unsealed/"wet" deep cycle batteries.
     
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  12. tcope

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    Deep Cycle batter, $120. Pure sine inverter, $260. Better charger, $60. So you are now at $440. The Yeti is $460.
     
  13. Trumple

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    You're comparing a cat to a lion. Same category of stuff, completely different scale. Also the US links I posted were found in about 10 seconds. Look around and, as I said, you'll find better stuff for cheaper than what I posted before.

    Yeti 400 = 400Wh, ~2 charges ($440)
    Yeti 1250 = 1250Wh, ~8 charges ($1,400)

    Basing from UK prices I found with a bit more digging:
    Deep cycle battery = 1440Wh ~10 charges ($170)
    Battery charger ($60)
    Inverter ($125)
    Total: $355
    Saving: ~$1000, + ~2 extra charges

    The point is, for cheaper than the 400Wh Yeti, you can get more charge than the $1.4k Yeti. And, you can buy more capacity with a second battery and use the inverter with that, whereas with a Yeti you have to pay for the whole unit (including the built-in inverter) again. That's all I'm saying. If the self-contained unit and LCD screen are worth $1000 (and relative inflexibility) to you then that's your own judgement. As I said before, if it works for you, what does it matter to anyone else?
     
  14. herein2014

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    If the flight battery is only discharged down to around 30-35% the numbers change a bit. Typically on a single job (pictures only) I usually have 57% remaining and I throw that on the Yeti on my way to the next job. Video and long events is where I really need the capacity and so far the Yeti has been up to that challenge as well. I am thinking about also getting a generator for all day events so that I can charge 3 batteries at a time.

    I haven't done comprehensive testing from a charging time perspective. At the end of the day I have yet to run out of flight time before the sun went down so that's all that truly matters to me. I did want the larger Yeti due to the exact same reason you stated; capacity, but the price did not make sense to me and after looking at my historical data for battery needs I decided the 400 was good enough. The other problem with the Yeti 1250 is that it weighs 103lbs vs. 30lbs for the Yeti 400, at some point weight starts to become prohibitive to mobility.
     
  15. Trumple

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    I see what you're saying - not every flight uses 100% of the flight battery. If you're quick then of course you can make any amount of capacity last. Personally I prefer to be absolutely sure that I could make a number of consecutive flights if I chose to wander from the car.

    You could make some approximations I suppose. Assuming 1 flight (consuming down to 0%) uses 100Wh, then if you flew to 60% that's only 40Wh. Factoring in losses we could call it 50Wh, and your Yeti would give you maybe 7-8 charges under these circumstances. Perfect if you're only making short flights.

    I've often found I need to take and re-take shots, so I end up using 70% of the battery - you're probably a better aerial photographer than me so you don't need as many re-takes ;). For me, a deep cycle battery setup is more forgiving and gives me a little bit more freedom in terms of juice.
     
  16. herein2014

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    Yes, that's how I'm reaching 7.5 battery recharges, you will never drain the battery to 100% during a flight; that's called a crash :). I like a 30% minimum buffer in case a car pulls up, people get in the way, the wind picks up, etc.

    As far as conserving battery life, the best trick to that is do as much legwork as possible. If I'm in the air longer than 3-5 min something is wrong or the takeoff location is far away from the property. When possible, I place the P3 in the exact location it needs to be for the first shot so during takeoff all I have to do is fly up and back vs a lot of hovering around. While flying up and back I'm lining up the camera angle to keep the property in full frame. I then go full speed to the next shot and so on.

    I also don't care if I'm in the shot or not because I can just remove myself in post. You'll waste a lot of time in the air trying to stay out of the shot.
     
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  17. LUISMARTINEZ

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    This is why I never share my modifications to my P3P here. There is always someone ready to tell you how to do it better. The best response is thanks for sharing.
     
  18. Trumple

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    Yes good call, we should ban healthy discussion and posting of opposing opinions.
    A forum is built for discussion. If you don't want people chiming in on your ideas and opinions with their own ideas and opinions, then why are you posting them on a forum? What purpose would a thread serve if everyone simply replied "cool, thanks for sharing"? If that was the case, we might as well do away with text-based communication and rely solely on the "like" button.
     
  19. LUISMARTINEZ

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    EOD