Connecting a solar panel to a solar generator is usually a simple matter of connecting the cables coming from the solar panel to the cable that plugs into the solar generator.
Depending on your setup and the solar generator you are using, however, you may also need special adapters and connectors to complete the connection.
In this guide, we discuss how to connect solar panels to any solar generator.
Can You Connect Any Solar Panel To A Solar Generator?
Generally speaking, yes - you can use any solar panel to recharge a solar generator as long as you don't exceed the maximum power, voltage, and current the solar generator can accept.
Most solar panels and solar generators use MC4 connectors, so connector compatibility is usually not an issue.
And even if you happen to have incompatible connectors, you’ll likely be able to find a suitable adapter.
When choosing a solar panel to charge your solar generator, check three things.
Once you verify that the solar panel is within the required specs, check the connectors next.
As long as the solar panel has MC4 connectors and the solar generator charging cable also has MC4 connectors, you should be able to connect the two.If your solar generator doesn't come with a solar charging cable, it’s easy to find one online. Look for an MC4 to 8mm cable like this one from iGreely. Check the solar generator user manual to see what cable gauge the manufacturer recommends.
How to Connect One Solar Panel To A Solar Generator
Most solar generators use an 8mm solar input port. They also come with a solar charging cable with two MC4 connectors on one end and an 8mm jack on the other.
Solar panels have two cables running from the junction box at the rear: one positive and one negative. At the end of these cables are male and female MC4 connectors.
To connect the solar panel to the solar generator, you connect the male MC4 connector on the solar panel cable to the female MC4 connector on the solar generator cable. Do the same with the other male and female connectors.
And that’s it. If the solar panel is receiving sunlight, you should have power flowing into the solar generator. Check the display on the solar generator, if there’s one, to verify the amount of power and current coming in.
Note: Some solar generators like Jackery also have an Anderson Power Pole (APP). You can also use this for solar input. Just make sure you get an MC4 to APP cable, if one is not included with the power station.
In some situations, you may need to place the solar generator far away from the solar panel. For instance, if you want to put the solar panel under a shade or inside the house, RV or tent.
In that case, the cables that come with the solar panels and solar generator may not be long enough.
You’ll need an 8mm extension cable like this one from iGreely. Goal Zero also sells an extension cable with options for 15 and 30 feet.If you have a Jackery power station, the company also sells their own extension cable.
How To Connect Multiple Solar Panels To A Solar Generator
If you have a high-capacity solar generator, you probably need multiple solar panels to generate enough power to charge it.
How you connect multiple solar panels to a solar power station depends on how you’ve set up your solar array and the input ports available on the solar generator.
How to Connect Series Solar Panels To A Solar Generator
One of the advantages of connecting solar panels in series is that you don't need any extra accessories to finish your setup.
Simply connect the female lead of one panel to the male lead of the next panel. Then connect the male and female leads of the end panels to the solar generator charging cable the same way you would with a single solar panel.
One thing to note with series connections is that you risk exceeding the voltage input of the solar generator. That’s because a series connection adds up voltages of individual solar panels.
Even a large solar generator like the Yeti 3000X has a max voltage input of 50V. Connecting three 12V solar panels in series will likely produce a voltage beyond 50V.
That’s because 12V solar panels can reach voltages of up to 22V. 12V is just the nominal voltage, not the actual voltage.Unless you have a solar generator that accepts high voltages like the Bluetti AC200MAX (10-145V), always connect multiple solar panels in parallel.
How to Connect Parallel Solar Panels To A Solar Generator
Connecting solar panels in parallel increases power output without increasing voltage. It’s a great option if you don't want to exceed the max input voltage of a solar generator.
But be careful not to exceed max power and amps input.
Unlike series-connected solar panels, you cannot connect parallel solar panels directly to the solar generator charging cable. You’ll need a branch Y connector like this one from BougeRV.
If you have two solar panels connected in series, get a 2-to-1 Y connector. If you have 3 solar panels, get a 3-to-1 connector, and so on.
The kit should have two sets of Y connectors. One for the male leads of the solar panels and another for the female leads.
Connect all the male leads of the solar panels to one of the connectors and female leads to the other Y connector.
Then connect each Y branch connector to the two MC4 connectors of the solar generator’s charging cable.
Check the solar generator’s display to verify that there’s power coming in.
Other Connection Options
How to Connect Roof Mounted Solar Panels To A Solar Generator
Mounting solar panels on the roof can provide better exposure to the sun, but it increases the distance between solar panels and the solar generator.
You cannot rely only on the cables that came with your solar generator and solar panels.
You’ll need an extension cable to charge your solar generator. Any sufficiently long MC4 to 8mm cable should work fine.
You can also get an 8mm to 8mm extension cable with a female input on one end and a male jack on the other.
Connect the regular solar generator charging cable into the MC4 connectors from the solar panels, then connect the cable to extension cable.
The male end of the extension cable plugs into the solar generator.
Because of the long distance, make sure you get a low gauge (thicker) cable to prevent overheating and energy losses. The exact AWG size depends on how much current the solar panels generate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a charge controller when connecting solar panels to a solar generator?
No, you don't need a charge controller when connecting solar panels to a solar generator. That’s because the solar generator already has a built-in charge controller.
In fact, if you have one of those solar panels with an integrated charge controller at the back, you have to find a way to bypass it and connect the junction box directly to the solar generator.
Can You connect a solar generator to solar panels and a wall outlet at the same time?
It depends on the solar generator model. Some solar generators allow dual charging input from a wall outlet and solar panels.
Check the user manual to see if this is possible with your particular brand and model.
Can you use a solar generator while it’s connected to solar panels?
Most solar generators allow you to keep using the power station while it’s still charging from solar panels.
This is called pass-through charging. Check your solar generator user manual to see if this is possible with your particular brand and model.
Can you charge a solar generator with any solar panel?
Any solar panel will charge a solar generator as long as you have compatible connectors and you are within the solar generator specifications.
If the solar panel uses MC4 connectors and your solar generator charging cable also has MC4 connectors, they are compatible.
Also make sure the solar panel output voltage, amps and power are within the recommended solar generator input range.
What kind of solar connectors are used in solar generators?
Most solar generators come with a solar charging cable that has two MC4 connectors on one end and an 8mm jack on the other end.
The 8mm jack plugs into an 8mm port on the solar generator while the MC4 connectors connect to the solar panel cable, which also has its own pair of MC4 connectors.
Some solar generators also have an Anderson powerpole input port that you can connect solar panels to. You’ll need an MC4 to Anderson adapter cable.
Which extension cable do I use to connect a solar generator to solar panels?
If you don't have enough cable to connect solar panels to a solar generator, there are two kinds of extension cables you can use.
You can get an 8mm female/8mm male extension cable or an MC4/8mm extension cable.