Charging Goal Zero Power Stations With Third-Party Panels
After purchasing a refurbished Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Lithium, we started looking for solar panels to go with it. Goal Zero makes their own and sells them in briefcase-style products, but we were hoping to find a cheaper option.
Suddenly one evening, a deal showed up and we decided to buy two Renogy Foldable Solar Suitcase Kit 100W. Of course, we could have done a DIY setup for even less but we thought the deal was so great with the included carrying bag and stand that we went for it. We bought one with a solar charge controller, and one without. By bypassing the solar charge controller (click here to read my post about that), we can charge our Yeti 1000 with both suitcases. This way we can also connect both suitcases to directly charge our RV battery.
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.)
How To Connect Third-Party Solar Panels To Goal Zero Yeti
Renogy’s panels have a positive male MC4 connector, and a negative female MC4 connector coming from the panel. This means that we need an MC4 to Anderson Power Pole Adapter where the female is positive, and the male is negative. The cable below has exactly that.
Similar product also available on Ebay (click here).
As you can see, the female on the cable above is a positive wire (red), and the male is a negative (black), making it a match for my Renogy solar panels.
If you have a solar panel where the MC4 positive wire is a female, and the MC4 negative wire is a male, you’re going to need the cable below.
Note that the positive from your panel should always go into the positive red wire on the adapter, or you have the wrong cable. The red piece of the Anderson Power Pole should then always go into the bottom red part on the Yeti.
Now, if you would rather use the 8mm input, or want to use both with additional panels, we need the same thing but an 8mm on the end instead of the Anderson Power Pole. If your panel has a positive male (red) and a negative female (black), we’ll need the cable below.
If your panel has a positive female (red) MC4, and a negative male (black) MC4 wire coming out of it, you’ll need the adapter below.
What Makes A Solar Panel Compatible With Goal Zero Power Stations
Let’s talk about what makes a third-party solar panel compatible with the Goal Zero Yeti Lithium power stations. We’re limited to the solar charge controller that is built into the Yeti which is a PWM charge controller. Goal Zero does sell an MPPT charge controller as well that we’ve purchased. The MPPT solar charge controller is more efficient when charging both through the wall and with solar panels.
One thing that both the PWM and MPPT have in common is the max 22-volt rating on Yeti lithium stations. What this means is that the solar panel we buy can’t be rated at more than 22V Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc). Note that this is the case with Goal Zero’s solar charge controllers on the Yeti Lithium at least, and if you have a different power station with a Max voltage it might be talking about a different rating.
I have gone more in-depth about this in my post about solar panels compatible with Yeti stations.
If you have a Yeti non-lithium power station, the max voltage is different and depends on which model you own.
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)
To figure out what a panel is rated for, the best way is to visit the manufacturer’s website. Renogy makes the solar panel we bought and the specific model can be found here on their website. If we click on Specifications, it tells us that the Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc) is 21.6V, which is under 22V, making it a compatible panel for our Yeti Lithium. Note that you want a panel without a built-in charge controller though, as the Goal Zero Yeti power stations have them built-in already.
The panel comes with two cables sticking out of it, one MC4 male and one MC4 female. The inputs available on the charge controllers on the Yeti Lithium, however, are 8mm and Anderson Power Pole. So what we need is an adapter to connect to either one of those. I decided to use the Anderson Power Pole input since it can handle more amps than 8mm.
Can You Just Tell Me What Panel Works With What Adapter?
If it’s still confusing, a Renogy solar panel with the correct adapter would be:
Solar Panel – Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel
How To Connect Two Or More Panels?
When connecting more than one panel, we have to be careful with how we wire them. Two panels wired in series will exceed the maximum 22 volts quick, so we must wire the panels in parallel. What wiring in parallel means, is that the positive wires meet each other separate from the negative. This will add the amperage together, but not the volts, as series wiring does. This is done with a connector like this (click here).
Plug each positive wire into the same connector, and then plug the connector into the positive (red) female on the adapter we looked at before.
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.
Make sure you don’t exceed the max watts the Goal Zero can handle, see below for those numbers.
How Many Watts Can The Goal Zero Lithium Power Stations Handle?
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.
Best Extension Cable Solution For Goal Zero Yeti?
I use MC4 connectors to extend my cables. I made my own but WindyNation sells different lengths with both 10 and 12 gauge cable. 10 gauge is recommended for up to 40A, and 12 gauge for up to 30A. If you find a different cable I recommend buying one that has an obvious red and black wire, so you won’t accidentally connect the wrong one into the Goal Zero.
Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment.