Connect A Renogy Solar Panel To Your EcoFlow Power Station/Solar Generator
EcoFlow is a solar generator/power station and solar panel manufacturer.
I’ve reviewed several of its products before and the latest one is the portable air conditioner that can be charged with solar panels, click here to read that review.
EcoFlow sells portable and waterproof solar panels in different sizes, from 60W all the way up to 400W.
These connect to EcoFlow’s portable power stations with the MC4 to XT60 adapter included with most of its batteries.
But can you use this adapter to connect Renogy panels?
What You Need To Know When Connecting Renogy Panels To EcoFlow
Yes, you can connect a Renogy solar panel to an EcoFlow power station, but there are a couple of things you should know before doing so.
First things first, if you didn’t get an MC4 to XT60 adapter with your specific battery you can buy one from EcoFlow on Amazon here (click to view on Amazon).
The adapter has MC4 connectors on one side and an XT60 on the other, the XT60 plugs into the input on the power station.
One of the MC4 connectors, the female on the end of the red cable is the positive, and the second with the male on the black cable is negative.
EcoFlow’s solar panels are wired with a positive male MC4 and a negative female MC4 connector, which makes it compatible with the adapter above.
A Renogy solar panel
Most of Renogy’s solar panels do also use MC4 connectors.
These are wired the same way as the ones EcoFlow makes, so theoretically they’re compatible with each other right out of the box.
However, there is more to a solar panel than just the connector.
Is the panel safe to use with an EcoFlow power station?
Solar panels produce electricity, this electricity is wasted unless we connect it to something.
To safely charge a battery with a solar panel, the electricity needs to be regulated by a solar charge controller.
Without a solar charge controller, the solar panel might overcharge the battery and damage it permanently.
Fortunately, EcoFlow power stations have solar charge controller built-in, so you should not buy another charge controller or get a Renogy panel that includes one.
The solar charger specifications
Every solar charge controller has limitations.
These limitations decide what panels we can use, which is why it’s important to understand them before buying panels.
If we take a look at the EcoFlow River for example (click to view on Amazon). The manual tells us that the “Solar Charge Input” limits are 10-25V, 10A, max 200W.
The most important number of them all is the voltage range the charge controller can handle. If a panel isn’t outputting at least 10 but not more than 25 volts, the charge controller will not pass on any electricity to the battery.
I’ll explain how to find the voltage of a panel down below.
Check the manual of your specific power station (downloadable on EcoFlow’s website if you haven’t bought it yet), to find out which panels it supports.
The solar panel specifications
Now that we know what the limitations are, let’s start looking for a panel.
I have used the Renogy 100W solar panel (click to view on Amazon) and believe it’s a great panel to connect to almost any power station.
In the product listing on Amazon you can find the specifications if you scroll down a bit.
This is where we need to look for the VOC rating, the Open-Circuit Voltage. This is the voltage that the panel will output when it’s not connected to anything.
The VMP, or Optimum Operating Voltage, is what the panel will output under load.
Both of these numbers are within the 10-25V range, which makes it compatible with the EcoFlow River.
If you can’t find the specifications of a panel on Amazon, check Renogy’s website or the manual for the panel.
But it says it’s a 12V panel?
If a company advertise that it’s a 12V panel, it usually means that it’s a panel made for 12V systems.
A 100W 12V panel will not output 12V when it’s producing electricity, but around 18-24V.
Similarly, you might find a 24V panel. Those output around 35-42V under load, which means that they’re not compatible with the EcoFlow River, even though it’s called a 24V panel.
Can I combine two solar panels?
Yes, you can connect two panels together in either parallel or series.
In a parallel connection, the amps are combined but the volts stays the same.
In a series connection, the volts are combined but the amps stay the same as if only one panel was connected.
Since the EcoFlow River can only handle panels that output between 10 to 25V, we must do a parallel connection.
This is done with an MC4 Y branch like this (click to view on Amazon).
With this, you’ll connect the positive MC4 connectors, one from each panel, to combine the positive wires.
Then you’ll do the same with the second branch, but with the negatives.
From there, you’ll connect the Y branch to either the MC4 To XT60 adapter or some extension cables.
How long is it going to take to charge my power station?
It depends on a lot of things.
Which power station do you have, what is its total battery capacity?
Do you live in a place that gets a lot of sunshine?
Are you using long extension cables that will decrease the input?
A 100W 12V solar panel will produce around 5-6A, or 70-80W on a good sunny day.
If we use the same River power station I used in my examples earlier, we can tell by looking at its listing on Amazon) that it has a 288Wh battery capacity.
If we divide 288/80, we get 3.6 hours. If we consider how solar charge controllers work, where they slow down when the battery is about to get full, we can expect a single 100W panel to recharge the River in about 4-5 hours.
Connecting a smaller panel will increase that charging time, just like connecting a second panel will decrease the charging time.
Which extension cables do you recommend?
I like these because they’re 10 gauge and have a protecting sheath that keeps the cables together.
They come in different lengths and are waterproof.
Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions. Feel free to ask whether a specific solar panel is compatible with a specific power station.