Using Third-Party Solar Panels With a Goal Zero Yeti Power Station
Today I would like to help you connect third-party solar panels/aftermarket/non Goal Zero solar panels, whatever you would like to call it, to a Goal Zero Yeti power station.
There are a lot of great solar panel brands out there, like Renogy, Richsolar, HQST, and Newpowa that make very competitive solar panels you can use with Yeti power stations.
How To Use Third-Party Solar Panels With Goal Zero Yeti
The adapter you need to connect most third-party solar panels to a Yeti power station is either this Anderson adapter or this 8mm adapter. Which one depends on if you want to use the APP or the 8mm input. Some Yetis only have the 8mm input.
Note that you might have to change the orientation of the Anderson connectors to fit the Goal Zero Yeti. It’s very easy to do by sliding the connectors off of each other and turning them. You don’t have to change anything with the 8mm adapter, but if you’re connecting solar panels that output more than 10A you should use the Anderson input.
The biggest mistake you can do when connecting third party panels to your Yeti isn’t using the wrong adapter, but connecting a non-compatible panel, which means that it’s a panel rated above 22 VOC. The latest Yeti 1000X, 1500X, 3000X, and 6000X can handle up to 50V though.
This rating can be found on a sticker on the panel itself, but also usually on the specific product page online.
I will talk more about this and what to think about when connecting one or several panels to the Yeti, at the bottom of this post.
All the panels I recommend below are safe to use with the Yeti power stations, as long as you’re not connecting several panels in series, but in parallel.
What Experience Do I Have Connecting Third-Party Solar Panels To A Goal Zero Yeti?
The suitcase panels are great because I can move them around as needed during the day, and maximize the solar input both in the morning and in the evening.
My other 200 watt solar panels are mounted to the roof of my travel trailer and are installed with a tilt kit, so I can tilt them to maximize the input during the winter months.
How Do I Know Which Adapter To Buy?
Since you need to know which cable is positive and negative before buying the adapter, it can be hard to know which one to choose.
Note that a foldable solar panel like the Rockpals 100W comes with an MC4 to 8mm adapter included, making it compatible with the Yeti power stations out of the box.
If your panel happens to have a positive female MC4 connector coming out of it (none of the panels above do), you’ll need the JoinWin MC4 to APP connector.
What About The Max 22 Voltage Rating On The Yeti Power Stations?
There is a maximum voltage that the Yeti stations can handle. Goal Zero advertises this not only before you buy the Yeti, but with a sticker on the Yeti itself.
On the latest Yeti 1000X, 1500X, 3000X, and 6000X, this sticker says up to 50V. But the older Yeti lithium models and the smaller Yeti X models can still only accept up to 22V.
What this input warning is about is the Vmp rating on a panel. Panels larger than 100W will sometimes have a higher Vmp rating than 22V, this means that it’s not safe to use with the older Yeti charge controllers.
Sure, it might be fine and work great, until it doesn’t. That’s why I don’t recommend exceeding this rating, to not void warranty, and risking ruining the solar charge controller in the Yeti.
So how do you know the Vmp rating of a panel? Well, a solar panel from a serious company has a sticker on the back which will tell you everything you need to know.
As you can see on the sticker on my Renogy suitcase panel, the Vmp rating is 18V, which makes it safe to use with my Yeti.
How Do I Chain Several Solar Panels Together To A Goal Zero Yeti?
Now, what happens if you want to combine several panels like I am doing? If you connect the panels in parallel, you’re OK.
If you want to wire two panels in series, it’s a little bit more complicated. Since it’s not compatible with most Yeti models, and the newer ones (1000X, 1500X, 3000X, 6000X) that can handle some solar setups in series can only handle up to 50V VMP, so you still need to be aware of the voltages of your panel and stay below the limit. Just because it’s a 12V solar panel doesn’t mean it outputs 12V.
Parallel means combining all the positives, separate from the negative wires. Series means plugging a positive into a negative on the second panel, etc.
Connecting several panels is done with an MC4 Y Branch, and I use the like this one by PowMr.
When you combine several panels, you need to take the wire gauge into consideration to make sure that every connector and wire along the way to the Yeti can handle the higher amperage.
To connect three panels together, you need this adapter.
To connect four panels together, you need this adapter.
So to conclude, to connect the panels in parallel: Take both positives from each panel, and connect it to the MC4 Y Branch adapter with the two female parts. Then take the negative wire from each panel and connect them to the MC4 Y Branch with the two male parts.
Now your panels should be connected to each other, and have a positive and a negative coming from the MC4 Y Branch adapter, now connect them to the MC4 Adapter or the mc4 to 8mm adapter depending on which input you intend to use.
If your Yeti can handle up to 50V, you could technically connect two panels in series as long as they each have a VMP voltage of 25V or below.
To do a series connection, you take the positive MC4 connector from the first panel and connect it to the negative MC4 connector from the second panel. What you end up with is one wire from each panel. This adds the voltages together but the amperage stays the same.
For extension cables, I use these 10 Gauge MC4 extension cables (click to view on Amazon).
You should figure out which wire gauge you need before purchasing adapters and cables. I recommend this wire size calculator where you can put in the total amperage of your panels and the distance.
You can also use 8mm extension cables like these by Graybull.
Let me know if you have any questions about a specific adapter, solar panel, or anything related to this subject.