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With a right sized solar generator, you can run a wide range of devices. But eventually its power is going to be depleted. If you add solar panels to the system, you’ll be able to charge as it runs. With enough panels – and sun – you could keep the system running indefinitely.
To connect a solar generator and panels, plug all the wiring to an MC4 branch connector. Join the connector to the generator MC4 branch adapter and turn on the system.
That is the basic process. The following is a detailed step by step guide that walks you through it. This should work with standard solar panels and solar power stations.= like the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer.
As long as the branch connector doesn’t go beyond the generator’s maximum power rating, this system will run fine. Always use an MC4 connector so the panels are in a proper configuration. Linking without the connector will lead generator failure.
1. Check the Generator Maximum Solar Panel Input
This is the maximum amount of solar panel power the generator can handle. Low end power stations max out at 100W. Popular brands like Goal Zero range from 120W-360W. Higher end systems can go with 600W or more. Important: the total solar panel power rating must not exceed the generator’s solar panel input.
2. Buy the Solar Panels
Buy as many solar panels as needed until the total watt output matches the generator solar panel input capacity. Some suggestions:
|Solar Generator Maximum Input||Number of Solar Panels|
|600W||6 x 100W,|
|300W||3 x 100W or|
6 x 60W
|120W||2 x 60W|
You should connect solar panels with the same wattage and volt rating for the generator. Pairing panels with different voltages could damage the solar power station.
3. Connect the Panels to the Solar Generator
Connect all the solar panels to an MC4 branch connector. Hook up the connector the MC4 branch adapter. Remember: the branch connector is necessary for a correct configuration. Most solar generators are bundled with an MC4 adapter but not always. if not you’ll have to purchase it separately.
4. MC4 Extension Cable (optional)
This is only required if the generator is some distance from the panels. If you’re installing the solar panel on an RV, you’ll need an extension cable. Make sure it is specifically for MC4, otherwise it won’t work. You have to protect the cable from the elements because it goes beyond the roof. Some of these wires have built-in weather element protection though.
How to Connect Solar Panels to a Bluetti Generator
Bluetti makes some of the most popular solar power stations, and here we’ll show how to hook up solar panels to their generators. This guide is applicable for the EB240 and EB 150 Bluetti generators. We use 4x100W 12V solar panels here. You can use less, but 4x100W is the ideal configuration for these generators.
What You’ll Need
- 100W 12V solar panels
- 10 gauge MC4 extension cable
- MC4 branch connectors
Follow These Steps
- Connect the solar panel’s positive terminal to the negative terminal of the next panel. Repeat for all the solar panels.
- Connect the MC4 branch connector to the solar panels.
- Plug the branch connector into the extension cable.
- Plug the extension cable into the Bluetti MC4 adapter.
That’s it. With the solar panels (and in ideal weather), you’ll get a fully charged Bluetti in 3 to 5 hours. As long as the generator has an MC4 input you’ll be able to use virtually any solar panel. The process will also be similar to the Bluetti. Of course you should check your generator’s manual for more specific details.
How to Use Solar Panels with Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations
Goal Zero power stations do not have MC4 inputs, so how can you use solar panels? There’s a workaround to that. Here we will connect 100W Renogy solar panels to the Yeti.
These Renogy solar panels have positive and negative MC4 terminals. To join the panels to the Goal Zero, we use the IGreely Solar Panel Connector Kit (available on Amazon). This adapter is designed for Renogy, Goal Zero and Suaoki so it’s a fit for these solar panels. Note that you have to reconfigure the Yeti 1tor for this to work.
You may also use the SolarEnz solar connector (available on Amazon) It’s the best option if your power station does not have an APP connector. and you have to use the 8mm input. Another benefit of the SolarEnz is you don’t have to change the Anderson connector. This adapter is compatible with our Renogy panels because it has negative MC4 male and positive MC4 female connectors. if the male/female setting is reversed the solar panel won’t run.
Solar panels with a negative MC4 male wire and positive MCR female wire may use the JoinWin MFG solar panel kit. This type of wiring configuration is very unusual so you probably won’t need it.
To make things simple: the red Anderson Power Pole component goes in the Yeti’s red Anderson. The solar panel’s positive connector is for the adapter’s positive wiring (red). If you mix up the connection the solar system will not run.
Which Solar Panels are Compatible with the Yeti Power Stations?
You can only use solar panels that do not exceed the Yeti’s Maximum Operating Voltage. The limit varies among Yeti power stations.
- Yeti lithium power stations: 22V
- Yeti 150: 14-29V 60W/5A
- Yeti 400: 14-29V 120W/10A
- Yeti 1250 16-48V 320W/20A
What is the Yeti Power Station Watt Capacity? it depends on the product so you have to check the manufacturer website for details. For Yeti lithium power stations with MPPT charge controllers, it’s 325W. For those with PWM charge controllers it’s 360W.
Keep in mind this is for Yeti power stations only. The settings and capacity for other solar generators might be different. You should check the specifications before to determine what cables, connectors or adapter will work best.
Rigid vs. Flexible Solar Panels For Solar Generators
By better were talking about which is more suited for solar generators. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look.
Rigid Solar Panels
- Lasts for two decades or more
- Easy to mount on RVs and roofs
- Can handle difficult weather conditions
- Each panel weighs 15 lbs. on average. Needs a strong roof.
- Mounting several large panels on the roof can be difficult.
- The heavy weight can slow your camper.
Flexible Solar Panels
- Only 4-5 lbs. per panel
- Light weight means better fuel mileage for vehicle
- Quick and easy mounting
- Can be mounted on irregular surfaces
- Lifespan is 5-10 years, half of rigid solar panels
- Vulnerable to extreme heat
- Can break if bent too much
So which is better between the two? It depends on how you intend to use the solar panel and generator:
- Rigid / glass panels are for you if: you’ll keep the solar panels outdoors 24/7 on your vehicle. They’re more durable than flexible solar panels and can handle extreme weather conditions.
- Flexible solar panels are for you if: you only use solar power once in a while or for a weekend trip.
To quickly go over it again, you need an MC4 branch connector to make solar panels work with a typical solar generator. With the Goal Yeti and generators without MC4 adapters, you can use the products mentioned above. This only goes to show that yes, it’s possible to use solar generators and panels together for maximum energy output.
I am an advocate of solar power. Through portablesolarexpert.com I want to share with all of you what I have learned and cotinue to learn about renewable energy.