Finding the perfect solar panel for your setup can prove challenging. Here at Earthtech Products we do our best to put together user friendly Solar Kits that already include panels and cables.
What if I purchased my generator to use as a battery backup, and now I want to add Solar power? What if I want to utilize an off-brand solar panel with my system? These types of questions are rather common, which is why today we will explain how to determine if a panel is compatible with your solar system.
Solar Panel Voltage
The first specification you should review when searching for a compatible solar panel is the Input Voltage Allowance. This will vary based on your system type. The two types of off-grid systems you will most frequently encounter is DIY Component Independent Systems and All-in-one Power Stations.
Most all-in-one system power stations like the Goal Zero Yeti, Natures Generator and EcoFlow Delta will have integrated internal charge controllers. Simply navigate to the specifications section in your product manual and search for the Solar Input Voltage Range.
On DIY Setups, this specification can be found in the data pertaining to your charge controller. Take note of your Input voltage range and ensure the panel you select has a voltage that falls within that range.
Solar Panel Wattage
The second bit of data to take note of is System Input Wattage. This information, like input voltage, is based upon which Solar Charge Controller is being used. Simply review the specifications that include wattage input and add that to the list alongside your input voltage range.
The wattage allowance tells us the maximum number of solar panels that can be used based on the abilities of your charge controller. The higher the wattage allowance, the faster your system can recharge.
Solar Panel Connectors
The last factor to consider is connection type. Unfortunately, there is no universal solar input connector that all systems use across the board. Therefore, you need to make sure that the proper cables or adapters are incorporated to ensure your panels can properly feed into your charge controller/power stations.
Most DIY configurations will simply utilize bare end connections into the charge controller. This is typically the easiest to work with, as you can (in most cases) simply remove the cable end adapters (if needed) and screw directly into the charge controller terminals according to polarity (+ and -).
When working with All-in-One power stations, a special type of adapter may be required. This type of connector will vary based on the manufacturer. The most common types of connections are Anderson Power Pole, 8mm, XT60, MC4, SAE or CLA. If you are unsure as to which connection your generator requires, this information can typically be found in the specification data for your power station. Alternately, you can always call a solar expert here at Earthtech Products for assistance (877-548-3387).
Parallel or Series?
Another common question we receive is how to connect those panels to each other and to the system. This information, like the voltage and wattage allowances is based on your Solar Charge Controller. We highly recommend consulting the manufacturer or an authorized reseller of the components used, for direction based on your configuration. Normally a specific set up will be pre-designed based on the cables that are included with both the panels and the system.
Having the ability to pick and choose solar panels based on your application is a valuable feature. This can allow the user to incorporate panels that are more suited for a specific task, such as lightweight, foldable panels for portable applications or low-profile panels for RV roof installation.
Hopefully this information proved educational and assisted in helping our readers to find a suitable solar panel option. As always, we are just a phone call away (877-548-3387) and are happy to offer our expertise on all of your Solar Generator needs!