Why You Should Combine Two Or More EcoFlow Solar Panels
EcoFlow is known for its powerful and popular portable power stations, also known as solar generator, but they also make and sell great solar panels.
The biggest reason to combine two or more panels is pretty obvious, to increase the charging speed and generate as much electricity as possible while the sun is shining.
In this article, I want to talk about why and how to combine two or more EcoFlow solar panels to increase the charging speed of a power station.
Related Product: My favorite portable power station right now is the EcoFlow Delta Max (click to view on Amazon)
All of EcoFlow’s power stations can handle more than one panel, so if you’re looking to decrease the time it takes for your power station to charge, adding an extra panel is a great way to go.
Before we dive into how to combine panels, let’s take a look at the different panels sold by EcoFlow today.
The EcoFlow Solar Panels
Things You Need To Know
The most important thing you need to know when combining solar panels is: what is the maximum voltage the solar charge controller in my power station can handle?
You can usually find this information in the manual or specifications of the product. What you’re looking for is the input information. It often reads similar to: 12-50V, 10A.
When you connect two panels together, you are going to either increase the voltage or the amperage. The way you connect them decides what happens.
If you connect them together without any extra adapters, by connecting the positive to the negative on the second panel, you are creating a series connection.
A series connection will add the voltages of the panels together, but keep the amperage the same.
If you instead use an MC4 Y Branch (click to view on Amazon) to connect the two panels, you are creating a parallel connection.
A parallel connection will add the amperages together, while keeping the voltage the same.
The parallel connection is not wired the same way as a series connection, since the MC4 Y branch combines the positives together separate from the negatives, instead of connecting a positive to a negative.
If we use the power station example above that requires panels to be within the 12-50V range, and up to 10A, it means that our panel(s) can not exceed 50V.
It is, however, fine to exceed the amperage to a point. It’s hard to say exactly by how much, but a rule of thumb is to stay below 150% of what the input port can handle in amps.
How To Combine Two Or More Panels
Hopefully, you have figured out whether a series or parallel connection is the best for your specific power station.
If you haven’t, please leave a comment and let me know the exact model you have and I’ll help you.
Connect Panels In Series
Some of the power stations that prefer a series connection are ones made by EcoFlow and Bluetti.
For example, my EcoFlow Delta Max (click to view on Amazon).
According to the EcoFlow website, the solar port on the Delta Max is rated at “800W, 11-100V DC, 10A max”.
Since one 12V 100W panel outputs about 18V at 6A, I would lose out on two amps during peak sun hours if I wired my panels in parallel (6 times 2 equal 12) because it maxes out at 10A.
It would still be safe to do a parallel connection, but I want to get as much electricity out of my panels as possible and will therefore do a series connection.
To get started, I grab the positive MC4 connector from the first panel and connect it to the negative MC4 connector on the second panel. This will only connect one way.
I end up with a negative MC4 connector from the first panel, and a positive MC4 connector from the second panel.
Now I grab the MC4 to XT60 adapter included with my Delta Max, and connect the two solar panel wires to it.
Before connecting it to my power station, I add the voltages of the panels together to make sure I am within the 11-100V range. Two 100W 12V panels, rated at 18V each will output around 36V together (18 times 2).
Not all power stations include an MC4 to DC adapter though, and if you don’t know which one you need please tell me which power station you have in a comment down below.
Can I combine three panels in series?
Sure, as long as you know that the total voltage of your panels combined will be within the range of what the power station input can handle. For example, three 100W 12V panels would likely output around 54-60V (18-20 times three).
Most companies go by the open circuit voltage (VOC) rating, and you can often find this information on the panel itself or in its manual.
Knowing this, you can add the voltages together and combine even more than three panels if you would like.
Connect Panels In Parallel
If you have a power station that can’t handle 36V, for example a Jackery product that has a range of 12-30V, you need to do a parallel connection.
To get started, you need to get an MC4 Y branch that will combine the positives and negatives separately.
A Y branch connector for two panels looks like this:
The red adapter will connect to the positive MC4 male connector from each panel. The black adapter will connect the negative wires together, one from each panel.
Then you connect the Y branch to the MC4 to DC adapter required for your specific power station. Again, if you don’t know exactly which one you need, please leave a comment and tell me which power station you have.
A parallel connection will add the amperages together while the voltage stays the same. So two 100W 12V panels will output around 12A at 18V.
Can I combine three panels in parallel?
Yes, there are MC4 Y branches with more branches that make it possible to combine.
One thing to note is that even though it is generally fine to exceed the amperage, you should not exceed it by too much. If the solar input has a 10A limit, I wouldn’t go over 15A.
Most power stations can handle going over more, but you don’t want to end up destroying the solar charge controller and/or void the warranty.
I have reached the maximum voltage or amperage, can I take it any further?
If your power station allows it, you can do a series-parallel connection which combines the two different connections. This is more advanced, so if you are looking to do this and want help please leave a comment and let me know what kind of setup you have/are planning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I combine different sized panels?
Theoretically, you can. However, it’s not recommended if the two panels have very different voltage ratings. What ends up happening then is that the panel with the higher voltage will be crippled by the second panel.
What MC4 to DC adapter do I need for my power station?
It depends on the brand. It’s important that the adapter you get has a positive MC4 female adapter and a negative MC4 male adapter.
Here are what some of the most popular brands use and the adapter required:
Jackery: Uses mostly 8mm. Here is an MC4 to 8mm adapter. Note that the latest Explorer 1500 includes a parallel adapter that you need to plug the MC4 to 8mm adapter into.
Some companies, like EcoFlow and Bluetti, include an MC4 to DC adapter with pretty much all of their power station models.
If you have a different brand, please leave a comment letting me know which exact model (a link helps) and I will help you find the right adapter.
I need extension cables!
I use MC4 extension cables, and recommend these by Windynation (click to view on Amazon).
They come in different gauges which will decide the maximum amperage it can handle safely, so if you’re wiring panels in parallel make sure the cable can handle the total amperage.
Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions.