How To Connect Two Renogy Solar Panels Together

Note: You need to make sure that all of the cables and adapters you use can handle the total voltage and amperage when you connect two or more solar panels together. Not doing so might result in a fire.

Can You Connect Two Renogy Solar Panels Together?

Most solar panels are used to produce electricity to charge batteries, and they’re becoming more and more popular.

One company that manufactures solar panels is Renogy, and its solar panels come in a lot of different sizes and forms.

I have two Renogy panels permanently installed on the top of my RV, and they keep my portable power stations like the Jackery Explorer 1000 (click to view on Amazon) charged.

If you’ve never heard of portable power station/solar generator, it’s basically an all-in-one box with a battery, charge controller, and usually an inverter that powers AC outlets and other type of ports.

So how did I connect two Renogy panels together? That’s what I want to cover in this article where I go over the basics of how and what you need to know.

Of course, this can be done with solar panels from other brands as well. I am just using as an example in this post.

As always, feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.

Things you should know before connecting two solar panels together

Connecting two panels together is easy to do, but it’s important that you understand the different ways to do it and why it matters.

Let’s start by taking a look at a Renogy solar panel.

Different panels with different ratings

There are more differences between the Renogy panels on the market than just the watts.

Some are sold with solar charge controllers, some are not. Some come with bare wires, while most use MC4 connectors.

A solar charge controller should be used when connecting the solar panel directly to a 12V battery, like an RV or car battery.

You shouldn’t use a solar charge controller if you’re connecting the panel to a portable power station, also known as solar generator, because most of them have a charge controller built-in (check yours to be sure).

The smallest Renogy panels, known as the maintainer panels, have neither a charge controller or MC4 connectors. These are meant to be connected directly to a 12V battery to trickle-charge it and keep it from draining completely.

So which panel do you need?

I have collected some of the different models and put them on a table, to make the differences clearer.

Notice the difference in watts, volts, charge controllers, and extra features.

Renogy 10W 12V Portable Solar Panel Battery Maintainer Trickle Charger with Lighter Plug, Alligator Clips, and Battery Cables
Renogy 50 Watt 12V Solar Panel 10A 12/24V PWM LCD Charge Controller, Adaptor kit, Tray Cables, 50W, 5V USB Ports, for RVs,Boats,Trailers,Sheds,Cabins and Any Off Grid System
Renogy 12 Volt Solar Panel 100 Watt High-Efficiency Monocrystalline Module PV Charger for RV Battery Boat Caravan and Other Off-Grid Applications, Single, RNG-100D-SS
Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 175 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Semi-Flexible Bendable Mono Off-Grid Charger for Marine RV Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 100W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
Renogy 2pcs Solar Panel Kit 320W 24V Monocrystalline Off Grid for RV Boat Shed Farm Home House Rooftop Residential Commercial House, 2 Pieces
Watts
10W
50W
100W
175W
200W
320W
Optimum Operating Voltage (VMP)
18V
18.6V
20.4V
19.5V
18.5V
32.7V
Optimum Operating Current (IMP)
0.56A
2.69A
4.91A
8.94A
10.5A
9.79A
Connectors
SAE
MC4
MC4
MC4
MC4
MC4
Includes solar charge controller
Extra features
Includes adapters for battery clamps, battery ring terminals, 12V plug
Includes mounting brackets, battery ring terminal cables
-
-
Includes battery clamps adapter, carrying case
-
Renogy 10W 12V Portable Solar Panel Battery Maintainer Trickle Charger with Lighter Plug, Alligator Clips, and Battery Cables
Watts
10W
Optimum Operating Voltage (VMP)
18V
Optimum Operating Current (IMP)
0.56A
Connectors
SAE
Includes solar charge controller
Extra features
Includes adapters for battery clamps, battery ring terminals, 12V plug
Renogy 50 Watt 12V Solar Panel 10A 12/24V PWM LCD Charge Controller, Adaptor kit, Tray Cables, 50W, 5V USB Ports, for RVs,Boats,Trailers,Sheds,Cabins and Any Off Grid System
Watts
50W
Optimum Operating Voltage (VMP)
18.6V
Optimum Operating Current (IMP)
2.69A
Connectors
MC4
Includes solar charge controller
Extra features
Includes mounting brackets, battery ring terminal cables
Renogy 12 Volt Solar Panel 100 Watt High-Efficiency Monocrystalline Module PV Charger for RV Battery Boat Caravan and Other Off-Grid Applications, Single, RNG-100D-SS
Watts
100W
Optimum Operating Voltage (VMP)
20.4V
Optimum Operating Current (IMP)
4.91A
Connectors
MC4
Includes solar charge controller
Extra features
-
Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 175 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Semi-Flexible Bendable Mono Off-Grid Charger for Marine RV Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces
Watts
175W
Optimum Operating Voltage (VMP)
19.5V
Optimum Operating Current (IMP)
8.94A
Connectors
MC4
Includes solar charge controller
Extra features
-
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 100W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
Watts
200W
Optimum Operating Voltage (VMP)
18.5V
Optimum Operating Current (IMP)
10.5A
Connectors
MC4
Includes solar charge controller
Extra features
Includes battery clamps adapter, carrying case
Renogy 2pcs Solar Panel Kit 320W 24V Monocrystalline Off Grid for RV Boat Shed Farm Home House Rooftop Residential Commercial House, 2 Pieces
Watts
320W
Optimum Operating Voltage (VMP)
32.7V
Optimum Operating Current (IMP)
9.79A
Connectors
MC4
Includes solar charge controller
Extra features
-

The connectors

Most Renogy panels larger than 50W use what are called MC4 connectors. There are two MC4 connectors on each panel, a positive MC4 male and a negative MC4 female.

These are MC4 connectors (not on a Renogy solar panel)

Note: The picture above shows MC4 connectors that are wired the opposite way of a Renogy panel.

MC4 connectors are easy to connect and disconnect, it’s as simple as plugging one into the other.

The charge controller

If the solar charge controller regulates the electricity produced by the panel to charge the battery, you should always connect one to protect the battery, right?

Yes, but depending on what you connect the panels to you might not need to add one.

That’s why Renogy sells different configurations and kits, for different uses.

For portable power stations

Portable power stations, like the Explorer 1000 I mentioned earlier, has a built-in charge controller.

Jackery has put one in its power station so you don’t have to go out and get a charge controller as well as a solar panel, it’s enough to just get a panel.

It’s important that you don’t get a panel with a charge controller if your power station has one built-in.

For 12V batteries like in a car, RV, van

If the plan is to connect the panel directly to an RV battery with battery clamps, a charge controller is needed.

Unless it’s a very small solar panel, like the 5W or 10W which are not powerful enough to do any damage to the batteries, at least that’s what Renogy says.

Why the specifications of a solar charge controller matter

A solar charge controller regulates the produced electricity, but only if you connect solar panels it can handle.

Therefore, it’s important to know what the charge controller can handle.

If it’s a power station, you’ll find this information in the manual or by the input port on the power station.

It might say “Don’t exceed 30V”. What that means is that we should get a solar panel that has a VMP below 30V, or the charge controller won’t do anything.

In the manual, it might also say “max 10A”. This is an amperage limit.

It’s not recommended by manufacturers to exceed the amperage limit, especially not with external solar charge controllers.

I have put together this table to demonstrate how different power stations and solar charge controllers have different input ratings.

Renogy Wanderer Li 30A 12V PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Regulator w/ Temp Sensor Function Fit for Lithium, Sealed, Gel, and Flooded Batteries, Wanderer Li 30A
Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 20 amp 12-24-48 Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station River Mini, 210Wh Backup Lithium Battery, Fast Charging, 110V/300W AC Outlets, DC and USB Ports, Solar Generator for Outdoor Camping Travel Hunting Emergency
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, 518Wh Outdoor Solar Generator Mobile Lithium Battery Pack with 110V/500W AC Outlet (Solar Panel Optional) for Road Trip Camping, Outdoor Adventure
BLUETTI Portable Power Station EB70S, 716Wh LiFePO4 Battery Backup w/ 4 800W AC Outlets (1,400W Peak), 100W Type-C, Solar Generator for Road Trip, Off-grid, Power Outage (Solar Panel Optional)
Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core Portable Power Station, 1,000 W, Solar-Powered Generator (Solar Panel Not Included), USB-A/USB-C Ports and AC Outlets, Power for Camping and Tailgating, Emergency Power
Type
Solar charge Controller (PWM)
Solar charge controller (MPPT)
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Max Input Voltage
25V
100V
11-39V
12-30V
12-28V
14-50V
Max Input Amperage
30A
20A
8A
5.5A
8A
25A (HPP), 10A (8mm)
Input Port
Bare wires
Bare wires
XT60
8mm
8mm
HPP & 8mm
Renogy Wanderer Li 30A 12V PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Regulator w/ Temp Sensor Function Fit for Lithium, Sealed, Gel, and Flooded Batteries, Wanderer Li 30A
Type
Solar charge Controller (PWM)
Max Input Voltage
25V
Max Input Amperage
30A
Input Port
Bare wires
Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 20 amp 12-24-48 Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
Type
Solar charge controller (MPPT)
Max Input Voltage
100V
Max Input Amperage
20A
Input Port
Bare wires
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station River Mini, 210Wh Backup Lithium Battery, Fast Charging, 110V/300W AC Outlets, DC and USB Ports, Solar Generator for Outdoor Camping Travel Hunting Emergency
Product Link
Type
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Max Input Voltage
11-39V
Max Input Amperage
8A
Input Port
XT60
Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, 518Wh Outdoor Solar Generator Mobile Lithium Battery Pack with 110V/500W AC Outlet (Solar Panel Optional) for Road Trip Camping, Outdoor Adventure
Type
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Max Input Voltage
12-30V
Max Input Amperage
5.5A
Input Port
8mm
BLUETTI Portable Power Station EB70S, 716Wh LiFePO4 Battery Backup w/ 4 800W AC Outlets (1,400W Peak), 100W Type-C, Solar Generator for Road Trip, Off-grid, Power Outage (Solar Panel Optional)
Product Link
Type
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Max Input Voltage
12-28V
Max Input Amperage
8A
Input Port
8mm
Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core Portable Power Station, 1,000 W, Solar-Powered Generator (Solar Panel Not Included), USB-A/USB-C Ports and AC Outlets, Power for Camping and Tailgating, Emergency Power
Type
Power station w/ built-in charge controller (MPPT)
Max Input Voltage
14-50V
Max Input Amperage
25A (HPP), 10A (8mm)
Input Port
HPP & 8mm

There are also different type of charge controllers. The most popular ones are PWM and MPPT.

MPPT is better overall because it’s more efficient and works better than PWM in bad conditions when the sun isn’t very strong.

Alright, so how do I connect two panels together?

Everything I have told you so far might seem like unnecessary information, but now you’ll see why it all matters.

There are two main ways to connect two solar panels together, either in parallel or in series.

A parallel connection will add the current (amps) together but keep the voltage the same.

For example, two of the Renogy 100W Renogy panels connected in parallel would output 20.4V and almost 10A.

A series connection will do the opposite and add the voltages together but keep the total current the same as if you’ve only connected one panel.

The same two Renogy 100W panels used in the example above connected in series would output 40.8V and almost 5A.

As we saw in the table above where I list a couple of charge controllers and power stations, they don’t share input limitations.

Some of them can handle two 100W 12V panels wired in series, while some can’t.

This is why it’s important that you understand the difference between parallel and series when you connect two or more solar panels together.

Also, no matter whether you do a series or a parallel connection, you need to make sure that all of the adapters and cables you use can handle the total voltage and amperage.

Parallel

In a parallel connection, you connect all the positive wires separate from the negative.

Then you do the same with the negative wires, separate from the positives.

This is done with an MC4 Y branch like this one by BougeRV (click to view on Amazon).

BougeRV Solar Connectors Y Branch Parallel Adapter Cable Wire Plug Tool Kit for Solar Panel

Check Price at Amazon

The BougeRV Y branch I link to is made to connect two panels together, but you can find other configurations on the same listing for connecting three or four panels.

If you plan on connecting three or more panels, make sure the adapter and cables used can handle the total amperage.

What this will do is add the amperages together, while keeping the voltage the same.

If you have a power station that can’t handle voltages over 30V and you want to connect two Renogy 100W 12V panels to it, you must do it in parallel since two of them connected in series would exceed the 30V (20.4 times two equals 40.8).

The 20.4V number comes from the table above where I compare different Renogy panels.

Series

In a series connection, the amperage stays the same as if you would’ve only connected one panel, but the voltages are combined.

If we use the same example as above but do a series connection, the voltage would end up being 40.8V.

A series connection does not require any extra adapters. All it takes is that you connect the MC4 male connector from one of the panels to the MC4 female connector on the second panel.

The more advanced way to go – A series-parallel circuit

A series-parallel connection will combine the two ways, which is necessary with some power stations to utilize all of the power generated.

I am not going to dive into that in this post, but you can find more information about that if you google series-parallel circuit.

What if my panel came with a solar charge controller?

If you’ve bought a solar panel already that included a solar charge controller, you might be able to add a second panel before connecting them to the charge controller.

But it’s going to depend on the charge controller.

What you’ll have to do is check the limitations of the charge controller, then consider how adding a second panel would change the total current or voltage and if the charge controller can handle it.

Can you use two different solar panels?

You can connect two different solar panels in either parallel or series, but it’s not recommended.

The reason it’s not recommended is that it will most likely waste some electricity, unless the panels have the same voltage or current ratings.

If you do a parallel connection, you should make sure they have the same, or very similar, voltages. Otherwise, the panel with the higher voltage will be slowed down to the voltage of the panel with the lower voltage.

If it’s a series connection, you want them to have the same current. Otherwise, the panel with the higher current will be slowed down to the current of the panel with the lower current.

It’s fine to do, but be aware of the downsides.

Parallel Vs Series? Which should I use?

If you check the input limitations of your solar charge controller or input on the power station, you should be able to tell whether to do a parallel or a series connection.

If you’ve done this and figured out that you’re good on the voltage but will exceed the amperage, you should read the manual or ask the manufacturer of your charge controller or power station whether it’s safe to exceed the max input amperage or not.

I have exceeded the amperage on the input on my Jackery Explorer 500, but I wouldn’t do it with a charge controller like the Victron since it has a fuse that will blow if I exceed it.

If you can use either parallel or series with a charge controller, which is best depends on how your panels are used.

Parallel will be better if one of your panels is partially shaded throughout the day, because then the second panel will still be able to provide the same power.

In a series connection, the second panel would drag down the first panel with it.

Series will, however, be more efficient during the hours of the day that the sun isn’t the strongest, as in morning and evening. Also when it’s cloudy.

Conclusion

This ended up being an article that is a little bit all over the place, but I hope I haven’t confused you too much.

I hope that you’ll be able to look at a solar charge controller or power station and be able to figure out whether two panels are compatible, and which way to connect them.

Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions, or something to correct/add. Thanks.

2 thoughts on “How To Connect Two Renogy Solar Panels Together”

  1. I have 200w of Renogy panels in the roof of my van. I purchased a folding suitcase panel from Harbor Freight with an SAE connector. How should intergrate this into my system? I have thought of just unconnecting the rooftop panels and connecting the ground standing suitcase panels to the Renogy Rover controller when I am parked in the shade. But surely there is a better solution? Is there a way to install an sae outlet and connect it to some sort of junction box with a switch that will choose which solar panels to use? Thanks!

    Reply

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