Solar Panels For Goal Zero Power Stations/Solar Generators
I live full-time 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.
See Also: Goal Zero Yeti 1500X Vs 3000X
When my wife and I wanted to get into solar, we decided to purchase a Goal Zero Yeti 1000 for our RV. We’ve had it for over a year now, and 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 travel trailer directly into the Yeti with a 15A to 30A adapter.
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 we looked for high-quality, efficient alternatives to the Boulder panels. After seeing a deal online, we purchased two Renogy 100W foldable suitcases (click to view on Amazon) and two Renogy 100W that we’ve installed on top of our RV.
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.
Please be aware that while I am using 3rd party solar panels with my Yeti, you should consult with Goal Zero before you connect anything to make sure that it’s compatible. I don’t work for Goal Zero, and am not responsible for any damage.
Best Solar Panels to Charge Goal Zero Yeti Lithium
My RV Roof Choice
My Portable Choice
Note: Scroll left/right on tablets and phones
The Additional Adapter You Need
To use the solar panels above that has a checkmark by the “Requires Additional Adapter”, you need to use this adapter (click to view on Amazon) if you want to use the Anderson Power Pole input, or this adapter (click to view on Amazon) if you want to use the 8mm input.
Since the 8mm input max out at 10A (120W) input, you should use the Anderson input if your Yeti has one.
Note that the only Yeti power stations with the Anderson input are Yeti 1000, 1000X, 1250, 1400, 1500X, 3000, 3000X, and 6000X. All models have at least one 8mm input.
Although the latest Yeti 1000X, 1500X, 3000X, and 6000X have a total of three input ports, only one can be used at once. The port receiving the highest voltage will be the one that’s activated. Therefore, you can not use the wall charger and solar panels at the same time.
What Makes a Solar Panel Compatible with Goal Zero Yeti Lithium
On the older Yeti Lithium (400, 1000, 1400, 3000) and the newer smaller Yeti X (200X, 500X) there is a sticker that says not to go over 22V input. On the newer larger Yetis (1000X, 1500X, 3000X, 6000X) the sticker says to keep it below 50V.
Well, what voltage is that talking about? There has been some confusion online as to what the 22V/50V limit means and what number in the spec sheet of a solar panel is relevant. I have even seen mixed answers by Goal Zero themselves on their website and manual.
The latest information I have is that this 22V/50V limit is talking about the VMP of a solar panel.
Vmp is the maximum operating voltage, and can often be found in the specs on a solar panel product page. It’s the voltage when the power output is at its highest.
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 (240W max), and two 8mm, supporting 16-48V, up to 10A each. Supports a total of 240W solar input.
Connecting Two or More Panels
When connecting two or more solar panels to a Goal Zero Yeti, the Vmp rating is as important as with just one panel.
If your Yeti can only handle 22V, you need to wire your panels in parallel. If you have one of the newer models that can take up to 50V, you can wire panels in series but you need to do the math to know that the total voltage will stay below 50V.
It’s also important that you understand that the more panels, the more amperage or voltage depending on how you wire them, so you need to use wire that’s thick enough for the amperage.
I recommend using this calculator (click on Solar Cable Gauge Calculator) Renogy has made where you can enter the Vmp and Imp your setup is rated at and how long of a cable you need. Below the calculator, you can also find NEC’s ratings for the maximum current for different wire sizes.
A parallel connection
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.
A series connection
Unlike a parallel connection, a series connection does add the voltages together, but the amps stay the same. So if the 100W 12V panel has a VMP rating of 17.9V and outputs 5.5A, two panels wired in series will output 35.8V (17.9*2), but still 5.5A.
Because the charge controllers are sensitive to voltage, you need to add the voltages together to make sure the total is below 50V if you’ve made a series connection.
How to Connect Third-Party Solar Panels to Goal Zero Yeti?
Frequently Asked Questions
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline?
Monocrystalline costs more but is 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 168w to 6000 watt-hours.
I have the Yeti 1000. With all of my panels (400W total) plugged into it on a sunny day, I see around 280Wh an hour. 1045/280=3.73, so it should take about 4 hours to charge my Yeti from 0 to 100% in perfect sunny conditions. Take these numbers with a grain of salt though as several factors play into actual charging times. I’d say it’s closer to five hours usually.
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 (click to view on Amazon) that increases the charging efficiency. This charge controller is compatible with the Yeti 1000, 1000X, 1400, 1500X, 3000X, and 6000W.
The MPPT charge controller will also increase the amount of solar you can connect in total to the Yeti, by 360W.
If your Yeti has a USB C PD input/output, you could also charge it faster with a USB C PD charger.
Is There A Solar Panel That Will Recharge Both My 12V RV Batteries And Power Station?
I have written a post over on the Solar Addict about a panel that does this, click here to view it.
Let me know in the comments below if you have anything to add or any questions that haven’t been answered.