I live fulltime in an RV and travel the country. My nights are usually spent out in the boondocks, nowhere close to the power grid. I need electricity though since I work online and love binge watching shows on the TV in my camper, no matter where I am. We had to decide if we wanted a loud generator or solar panels. We chose solar.
When my wife and I wanted to get into solar, we decided to purchase a Goal Zero Yeti 1000 for our RV. We’ve only had it for a couple of months, but so far it’s doing a great job and is how we get power in our travel trailer to charge our 12V RV batteries, watch TV, charge our laptops, cameras, phones, and other devices. We plug the power station directly into our travel trailer.
But it can’t do it all on its own. Since it’s a so-called “solar generator” that can’t generate power on its own in any way, we also had to buy some solar panels to go with it and were looking for high-quality, efficient alternatives to the Boulder panels. After seeing a deal online, we purchased the Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase. We have two of them, so 200W solar panels in total.
When looking for solar panels for the Goal Zero Yeti Lithium power stations, it’s easy to get confused about which solar panels are compatible and why, so that’s what we’re clearing up today.
Let’s take a look at some great solar panels that are compatible with the Goal Zero Yeti Lithium power stations, and then we’ll talk about what makes them compatible and which ones are the best for what scenario.
If you’re thinking about buying solar panels from Renogy, you can use my link to save 10% on your purchase*. Disclaimer: I earn a percentage on the sale, but it doesn’t cost extra for you. (*Excludes GEL/AGM batteries and sale items.)
Best Solar Panels to Charge Goal Zero Yeti Lithium
Note: Scroll left/right on tablets and phones
What Makes a Solar Panel Compatible with Goal Zero Yeti Lithium
On the Yeti Lithium stations, there is a sticker that says not to go over 22V input. Well, what voltage is that talking about? There has been some confusion online as to what the 22V limit means and what number in the spec sheet of a solar panel that is relevant. I have even seen mixed answers by Goal Zero themselves on their website and manual. To clear up the confusion, I went ahead and contacted them on Facebook. Here is what they said:
Voc stands for Voltage at Open Circuit and can often be found in the specs on a solar panel product page. This is how many volts a solar panel outputs without any load, creating no current. Since this is what the official Goal Zero page told me, that’s what we are going off of today when we take a look at compatible panels to go with the Yeti power stations.
Vmp stands for Voltage at Maximum Power and is when the power output is at its highest. When you’re connected to a charge controller, this is the actual voltage you want to see.
Imp stands for Maximum Power Current and is the amps the solar panel can output at most. Amps is probably the most used word when testing how much power a solar panel can output.
The solar panels on the table above are all great choices for a Goal Zero Yeti Lithium. However, I recommend a monocrystalline, non-flexible panel like the HQST and first Renogy model.
While flexible panels are very lightweight, easy to install without drilling any holes, and will generate power, they will also get hotter since air can’t circulate beneath them. I have seen flexible panels with holes in them because they’ve gotten so hot and burned through the plastic.
If you plan on putting your panels on an RV, van, or bus roof, the HQST and Renogy are great choices. However, if you want to be able to park in the shade and move your panels around, get a portable suitcase style panel with a kickstand. Having portable panels quickly becomes a daily chore, but it lets you park in the shade in the summer and keep your camper cooler.
Goal Zero Yeti Non-lithium
If you have a non-lithium Yeti station, the max input voltage rating is different and depends on what model you own or purchase.
Goal Zero Yeti 150 – Has one 8mm port that supports 14-29V, up to 5A (60W max).
Goal Zero Yeti 400 – Has one 8mm port, supporting 14-29V up to 10A (120W max)
Goal Zero Yeti 1250 – Has one power pole charging port, supporting 16-48V, up to 20A (320W max), and one 8mm, supporting 16-48V, up to 10A (160W max)
Connecting Two or More Panels
When connecting two or more solar panels to a Goal Zero Yeti, the Voc rating is as vital as with just one panel. The most important thing to do is wiring your panels in parallel and NOT series. Parallel adds the amperage together, with the voltage remaining the same. So if you have three 100W panels that are rated at 21.6 Voc, 5.5A, connecting them in parallel will output 16A (5.5*3) at 21.6V in good conditions, which the Yeti power stations can handle fine.
A connector like this (click here) will let you connect two panels in parallel. Plug each positive wire into the same connector. Then you take both negative wires, plug those into the negative (black) male on the adapter that you’ll plug into the Goal Zero.
If you want to connect three panels, this is the adapter you’ll need.
If you want to connect four panels, this is the adapter you’ll need.
All Yeti power stations come with a PWM charge controller, and the bigger ones come with an MPPT charge controller. You can also purchase the MPPT charge controller module to your Yeti if it doesn’t have one already.
The built-in PWM charge controller can handle up to 360 watts, and the MPPT can handle up to 325 watts.
The 8mm charging port on both the PWM and MPPT only likes up to 10A (150 watts) which is why I recommend using the Anderson Power Pole instead.
How to Connect Third-Party Solar Panels to Goal Zero Yeti?
Frequently Asked Questions
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline?
Monocrystalline cost more but are more efficient, both in terms of power output and space. Polycrystalline are cheaper to make but have lower heat tolerance which makes them less efficient in high temperatures. They also take up more space.
Monocrystalline panels are often 18-22% efficient, while polycrystalline panels are usually 14-16% efficient.
Can I Use a Solar Panel with a Built-In Charge Controller with the Goal Zero Yeti?
No, since the Goal Zero Yeti power stations have at least one charge controller built-in, you shouldn’t go through another charge controller before the power reaches the Yeti. You want panels to go straight into the Yeti.
How Fast Will a Solar Panel Charge Goal Zero Yeti?
There are different Yeti sizes, from 400 to 3000 watt-hours. I have the Yeti 1000. With both of my panels (200W total) plugged into it on a sunny day, I see around 160W an hour. 1000/160=6.25, so it would take about 6 hours and 15 minutes to charge my Yeti from 0 t0 100% in perfect sunny conditions.
So how fast your panels can charge your Yeti depends on how big the Yeti is, how many panels you have, and how the weather is.
How to Charge My Goal Zero Yeti Faster?
There are a couple of things you can do to charge your Yeti faster with solar panels. One of them is to purchase the MPPT charge controller that increases the charging efficiency.
Another is to angle your panels, so they’re directly facing the sun. This has shown to improve the power output of the panels, especially in the winter when the sun sits lower on the horizon.
Let me know in the comments below if you have anything to add or any questions that haven’t been answered.