Charging Goal Zero Power Stations With Third-Party Panels
After purchasing a Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Lithium, we started looking for solar panels to go with it.
Goal Zero makes its own solar panels, but we wanted to mount two panels on top of our RV roof and have a couple of portable ones that we could angle and move around with ease on the ground. We decided to buy two Renogy 100W Suitcases (click to view on Amazon) and two Renogy 100W.
These panels come with MC4 connectors, and the Yeti 1000 (or any Yeti for that matter) doesn’t have an MC4 input. After talking to Goal Zero, we figured out what kind of adapter we need and what you need to think about when connecting third-party solar panels to a Yeti power station, and today I am going to share what we learned.
How To Connect Third-Party Solar Panels To Goal Zero Yeti
All the solar panels I link to in this post, and in my post about the best solar panels compatible with Yeti power stations, are wired the same way as the Renogy panels.
Renogy panels have a positive male MC4 connector and a negative female MC4 connector coming from the panel. So to connect it to the Yeti, we need an adapter like this (click to view on Amazon).
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.
You’re going to have to rearrange the Anderson connector for it to fit the Yeti, but that is very easy to do.
If you want to use the 8mm input (since not every Yeti has an APP input), this is adapter you need (click to view on Amazon). This adapter doesn’t require any rearranging.
Again, the adapter above has a positive MC4 female connector, and a negative MC4 male connector, which makes it a match with Renogy panels. This is important! Some adapters are wired the opposite way and won’t work.
See Also: Goal Zero Solar Panels Compared
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 this is uncommon.
Or the 8mm version.
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 red Anderson part on the Yeti.
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 Maximum Operating Voltage (Vmp). 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 or read the product specifications. 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 the 8mm port.
Can You Just Tell Me What Panel Works With What Adapter?
If it’s still confusing, these solar panels are compatible with both the Anderson and the 8mm adapter below. Clicking on any of the links will take you to the product page on Amazon.com.
If you don’t have a Yeti 1000, 1250, 1400, or 3000, you must use the 8mm adapter.
Adapter (APP) – MC4 to Anderson Power Pole Adapter
or if you want to use the 8mm input
Adapter (8mm) – MC4 to 8mm Adapter Cable
If you can’t find the 8mm adapter in stock, an alternative workaround is to pair this MC4 adapter with 8mm adapter. Note that the polarity is wrong on the MC4 adapter, but you can use the included reverse-polarity adapter to still make a correct connection. Just make sure the positive (red) wire from your solar panel is on the correct side of the 8mm adapter, follow the wire all the way. If it’s not, use the included little reverse-polarity adapter.
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 to view on Amazon).
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 (120 watts) which is why I recommend using the Anderson Power Pole instead when possible.
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.
For an 8mm extension cable, I recommend the Graybull 20ft 8mm extension cable.
Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment. Also, I have written more posts related to Goal Zero products over on the Solar Addict blog, click here to get there.