Set it out, kick it up, and let your Goal Zero solar panel soak up the sun. That's all there is to setup, right? Well, almost. While it might seem like an easy task, not all of us know how to situate our panels straight out of the box. Let's start with the basics so you can feel confident in the performance of your solar panels.
Types of Solar Panels
Adventurers who are always on the go, energy savers, and weekend warriors alike benefit from our solar panels. The tricky part is picking and choosing the right setup for you. Portable and mountable solar panels provide different advantages, so let's walk through both options.
Portable panels are for those who capitalize on a flexible lifestyle and never know if they will be camping off the grid or sleeping in a grocery store parking lot. These panels make it easy to fold them up, stow them away when they're not needed, and pull them out again for setup. The Nomad, Boulder briefcase, and Ranger panels are excellent portable options that offer effortless transport and reliability.
The Nomad series is lightweight and portable with a built-in kickstand. They're easy to lug around with you when you're out and about due to their foldable canvas and laminate design. Our Boulder panels are made with aluminum and tempered glass, making them more rugged and durable. We have a 2-panel briefcase-style of the Boulder with a hinged design, foldable construction, and built-in kickstand. For a nice balance between the Nomad and Boulder, we suggest the Ranger 300 panel. It's our largest portable panel and comes with a built-in kick stand and protective canvas carrying case.
Our Boulder series solar panels are mountable using Boulder mounting brackets. These panels are ideal for those living in a van or folks who want to prepare for a power outage. They're rugged and reliable, and they harness the sun's energy to offer you a boost wherever you are. The mounting brackets are designed to last and offer constant sun exposure, whether they're installed on a building, vehicle, or boat.
How to Orient Your Solar Panels
Solar panels can charge our power banks, lights, and portable power stations by converting sunlight into electrical energy. Light hits the panel and generates a current to harness energy and power our devices. Despite what you may think, light, not heat, cultivates the energy provided. So, even if it's a breezy, cool day, the light collected will create the energy needed. Even reflected light will be enough for the panel to create energy, though it won't be as quick as a direct ray.
Despite the changing of seasons, in the northern hemisphere you should always face your solar panels south to enhance efficiency and harness the maximum amount of power. Facing panels south makes them more productive, especially when the weather features a bright, sunny day. However, if you're in the southern hemisphere, you should face your solar panels toward the north because the sun travels through the northern portion of the sky.
Clear, average temperature days offer the best conditions for charging. Solar panels reach maximum efficiency when the sun is at its highest point at midday. But, this doesn't mean that they won't be operational when the sun hides out behind the clouds.
If your solar panels come equipped with a kickstand, you can anglet it to allow maximum sun exposure, speeding up the recharging process for your power banks and power stations.
On a sunny day, a south-facing solar panel produces about five times worth the energy than the number of watts indicated in the name. The Nomad series ranges in size from 5 Watts to 200 Watts, the Boulder series features 50 to 100 Watts, the Boulder briefcase is available in 100 or 200 Watts, and the Ranger 300 panel utilizes 300 Watts (hint: It's in the name!). The size of the solar panel you should go with depends mostly on the capacity of your Yeti. Smaller stations charge with smaller panels, and larger stations charge with larger panels or a combination.
Wattage correlates to the amount of surface area, and the higher the rated watts, the more electricity the solar panel will generate in time. Higher wattage means faster charging. So, a 100-Watt panel will output more energy than a 50-Watt, and so on. You can connect multiple panels together to allow for faster recharges by using our four to one combiner cables. Still, it's important to double-check the maximum input of your power station since any power above the maximum input will be ineffective.
Combining and Connecting
Say you want to get our Yeti 6000X. It can power everything from home circuits to RVs, trailers, worksites, and all the rest. You're going to want a large enough solar array with enough Watts to charge it efficiently, and you may even want to combine solar panels to speed up the charging process. We have the cables to make it happen for you.
Our HPP (High Power Port) connector cable comes with any solar panel larger than 100 Watts. So, our Boulder 200, Nomad 200, and Ranger 300 all come with the HPP connection. Anything that's smaller than 100 Watts will include our 8-millimeter (8mm) connection cable, including panels like the Nomad 20, Nomad 50, and Boulder 50. Our smallest solar chargers, the Nomad 5 and Nomad 10 use a USB connection. Our solar panels are designed to charge power stations with a higher power output, and our solar chargers feature a USB output made to charge mobile devices.
Combining panels means you're going to need an HPP connector. We produce an option that brings four 8-millimeter cables into one HPP so you can run four 100-Watt panels into a single input. How many panels you can combine depends on the input of your Yeti and the size of your solar panel, but these combiners allow you to chain up to four panels of your choosing.
If you're like us and based in Utah, you're getting excellent sun exposure constantly, which means you can reach maximum input with fewer panels. But, for our friends in the Pacific Northwest, you might want to add more panels to get you further.