Which solar panel is right for your connected generator? There is no universal standard. So, unfortunately, it is not easy to answer this question. In this article, nextpit explains which solar panels are right for your power station, with or without adapters. We also tell you what to look out for so you don’t damage your solar generator!
There are many good reasons to use a generator with solar panels: to deal with rising electricity prices, to have a solar generator for emergencies, or to get mobile energy without relying on the grid. However, not all solar panels are compatible with all generators.
You need to pay attention to two things. First off, can you hook up your solar panels to your solar generator? Or do you need an adapter?
Second, are the performance figures for the solar panels compatible with your generator? It is very important not to overload the equipment, especially with regard to voltage.
Solar Panels and Power Stations: Are the Connections Compatible?
Charging stations offer many different types of connectors. In the table below you will find the different types of connectors and what they look like.
There are other standards, such as Bluetti’s own aviation connector, and different variants of the DC connector present on the Alpha ESS Blackbee 1000, such as DC5525.
If you come across terms like APP or Anderson, they stand for HPP, High Power Port. It’s the exact same thing, but with a new name.
The MC4 connector is currently the most common connector for solar panels / © wichientep / AdobeStock
You also have to make sure your solar panels have the correct connectors for the generator. If you buy both devices from the same manufacturer, there is no problem. However, if you’re a hybrid manufacturer, you’ll need to make sure your devices are compatible either directly or via an adapter.
For solar panels, it is usually safe to use the MC4 output. This common standard for photovoltaic modules applies to large roof modules. This waterproof connector is reverse polarity protected. Another plus: You can easily connect multiple panels in series and in parallel.
But make sure your solar generator provides MC4 input either directly or through an adapter. We are not aware of any generators that provide direct MC4 input on the chassis.
In general, an XT60 socket is used (or more rarely HPP or DC9020 or DC7909) and the delivery usually includes an adapter for the MC4, like the Bluetti.
If your solar array manufacturer uses a proprietary port and doesn’t provide a standard adapter, there’s only one thing you need to do: You must buy your PV panels from the same manufacturer.
Solar Panels and Power Stations: Are Voltages and Currents Compatible?
When looking for the right solar panels for your solar generator, you not only need to make sure that the connections are correct, but that the power is adequate as well.
In particular, solar panels that provide excessive voltage can cause irreparable damage to your generator. You can find the corresponding data on the product data sheet.
In the example below we have selected two Bluetti products. On the left is the data sheet for the Bluetti PV200 solar panel (test) and on the right is the data sheet for the Bluetti AC180 power station.
On the left (solar panel) and right (power station) you can see the highlighted values to be considered on the data sheet. / © Xiakeng
In the example above you can see that the Bluetti AC180 (tested) supports 12 to 60 V for the solar input. The solar panel provides 20 V at its maximum power, so it’s in the middle of the supported range.
You should always be careful to stay within the allowed voltage range, especially voltage. A few volts too high may cause property damage. Better to leave upward wiggle room for tension.
You can also find the maximum current that can be applied to the input on the datasheet. In the example above, the power station draws 10 A and the solar panels draw 9.7 A under optimal conditions.
When the current is a little too high, the power station simply draws the current indicated on the datasheet from the panel. However, it is best to avoid significantly exceeding the indicated maximum current.
The datasheet also tells you if you can combine multiple solar panels together. Basically there are two possibilities:
Series: add voltage
Here you connect the solar panels like a chain, with the positive terminal of one panel connected to the negative terminal of the next panel. Then connect the positive and negative poles of the panel chain to the power station.
The voltages are summed so three panels with a maximum voltage of 20 V provide a total of 60 V. This is exactly as indicated in the datasheet. However, we recommend that you leave a little margin.
Parallel: add current
You connect all the positive terminals of the panel to the positive input of the power station and do the same for the negative terminals. Here, the voltage remains constant. However, currents add up.
Continuing with the example above, with three 10A PV panels, you would get a total of 30A maximum, which is significantly higher than what is indicated in the datasheet.
Your power station may fail to shut down due to overload, but only up to 10 A can be used. You lose excess energy.
What do you think of our guide? Do you have more questions about connecting solar panels to power stations? If you already have such a combination in your home, please feel free to let us know.
On the same topic, see our test of the Ugreen PowerRoam 1200, an ultra-efficient networked generator. Also read our review of the Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro.