What If You Already Have A Goal Zero Boulder Solar Panel And Buy A Jackery Power Station?
If you’ve followed the portable power station/solar generator market for any time, you have probably heard of both Goal Zero and Jackery.
Both of them have been in the game for a long time now, but have fallen behind a bit when it comes to innovating new features.
Related Product: The Related Product: Rockpals 100W Solar Panel (click to view on Amazon) is a portable and light panel compatible with both Jackery and Goal Zero power stations.
I have often heard that if you buy either a Goal Zero or a Jackery power station you must also get the solar panel from the same brand, but is that true?
Even though not all solar panels are created equal, with a quick look at the specifications and the connectors we should be able to tell whether you can connect let’s say a Goal Zero Boulder 100 solar panel (click to view on Amazon) to the extremely popular Jackery Explorer 500 (click to view on Amazon).
Let’s get into what matters when you’re looking to do this type of connection.
What Makes It Compatible/Not Compatible?
There are three main factors that matter the most: the connector, the voltage, and the amperage.
All solar panels have a type of connector, but not all companies use the same type. All solar panels also have a voltage and an amperage rating. They actually have more than one depending on when the voltage and amperage is read.
- If the connectors aren’t compatible, we can’t make the connection without additional adapters.
- Every power station has a limited input voltage range, this is decided by the solar charge controller inside the power station.
- The amperage is not as important as the other two, but you shouldn’t exceed the input amperage limit by too much (I stay below 150% of the max amps/watts)
If we start by taking a look at the Boulder 100 BC, here are the facts that we can find on Goal Zero’s website:
- Connector: 8mm
- Voltage: Open Circuit Voltage (Voc): 21.5V, Maximum Power Point Voltage (Vmpp): 17.2V
- Amperage: Not specified, other than being a 100W panel 12V panel which usually produces around 5-7A.
So now that we have that information, let’s move over to the Jackery Explorer 500 and read its specifications.
- Input: 8mm DC
- Voltage: 12-30V (accepts voltages between 12 and 30 volts)
- Amperage: 100W Max
Based on this, is the Boulder 100 compatible with the Explorer 500? Yes.
Where It Can Get Tricky
The Boulder 100 is compatible with the Explorer 500, but what about the Boulder 200 (click to view on Amazon)? It’s not that different, right?
Well, it actually uses a different connector. Goal Zero calls it the High Power Port connector, but the rest of us call it the Anderson Power Pole connector.
Because of that, we would need a Goal Zero High Power Port to 8mm adapter (click to view on Amazon).
As soon as you start adding adapters and different connectors to make a setup compatible, you must make sure that each adapter and cable can handle the amperage. Exceeding the rated amperage of a cable is dangerous.
You might also wonder if the rated 200W is too much for the input on the Jackery since Jackery says max 100W. And yes, based on what Jackery recommends it is too much and it might void the warranty to connect a 200W panel to the Explorer 500.
That said, I have had 200W solar panels connected to my Explorer 500 for years now and haven’t had any problems. That is just my experience though, and you should talk to Jackery before doing something similar to not risk voiding the warranty.
What About Jackery Panels With Goal Zero Power Stations?
I haven’t tested it personally, but I have been told that the Jackery SolarSaga 100 (click to view on Amazon) which uses an 8mm connectors works with the 8mm input on the Goal Zero Yeti power stations.
The problem with using 8mm cables and connectors from different companies is the shroud around the connector.
While the connector itself might work and send power through to the other side, the shrouds don’t always fit perfect and snug. Meaning that it won’t snap in place and stay securely connected.
When I have had this problem I have just been more careful with making sure I don’t pull the cable when moving the panels around.
If you have any experience with this, please let me know if you have something to add. If you’ve found some adapters and/or cables that secures the connection better, thank you.
Can I connect solar panels that use MC4 connectors?
The short answer is, yes and I have done this myself for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you combine two or more panels?
Goal Zero makes and sells two different combiners. One is for combining its panels that use the 8mm connector (click to view on Amazon), and one is for combining its larger panels that use the High Power Port connector (click to view on Amazon).
Both of these have a High Power Port (Anderson Power Pole) on the other end, which means that it’s supposed to be connected to the High Power Port on the Yeti power stations.
The larger Jackery Explorer 1000 also has an Anderson Power Pole input, but its orientation is slightly different which makes it incompatible with the combiner adapter above.
Again, as soon as you start adding adapters and different connectors to make a setup compatible, you must make sure that each adapter and cable can handle the amperage. Exceeding the rated amperage of a cable is dangerous.
I have an Explorer 1500 or 2000 and my Boulder panel won’t charge it?
On its latest Explorer power stations, Jackery has started using a proprietary 8mm connector that is slightly different than the regular 8mm.
Therefore, you must use the parallel adapter included with the Jackery power station to connect other type of 8mm connectors.
If you did not receive an adapter like that, you can buy an iGreely DC 7909 to DC 8020 adapter (click to view on Amazon).
Are there extension cables?
Goal Zero makes 8mm extension cables like this one that is 30 feet long (click to view on Amazon). Due to the gauge used with these you shouldn’t connect more than 200W of solar through them.
There are some third party 8mm extension cables on the market with a lower gauge (thicker wire) but I can’t say exactly which one will fit perfect with the Goal Zero connectors.
Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions.