In this posting, I hope to shed some light on the task of making solar connections to the Goal Zero Yeti series of portable power packs. Since Goal Zero products are constantly evolving, I will try my best to keep this page up to date with the latest information.
The Yeti Landscape…
Goal Zero first released their Yeti line of battery packs back in 2012, replacing their popular Escape & Extreme power packs. In 2017, they released the Yeti Lithium line, and in 2020, we have the Yeti-X lithium models. Here is a link to a brief history from Goal Zero. We’ve been a Goal Zero dealer here in Canada since 2008, so we’ve seen it all.
The Basics… what input connection ports does the Yeti have?
8mm Charging Port
14-22V, up to 10A (160W max)
This is the round socket on the left side of the Yeti face in the “Input” section.
The 8mm connector is somewhat proprietary – although the connector itself is not proprietary, putting it on the end of a solar panel’s output cable is uniquely Goal Zero.
Use this port when connecting a single Goal Zero solar panel from the following list that all have this 8mm connector at the end of their output cables…
Two things to note regarding this input port are that it has a maximum input of 160 Watts. This means only one of the Boulder 100’s, or 3 of the Boulder 50’s, or a combination of one Boulder 100 & one Boulder 50, etc.
Can you exceed the 160W? Yes… after all, we are in Canada, and the shoulder seasons are long, so a 100W solar panel is only able to be that for a few weeks each year. But keep the overshoot to less than 20% (ie 200W) in order to not stress the electronics too much.
How do you combine 8mm Goal Zero Solar panels?…
Method 1 : Chaining
Connect the cable from one module into the junction box on the back of the next module, then connect that module’s cable to the Yeti. You can also insert a 6′ Extension or 30′ Extension cable if needed.
Method 2 : Muti-Port 8mm Combiner Cable
Connect each Goal Zero solar panel’s 8mm cable into the special 4x 8mm Combiner Cable. This is a better balanced solution than chaining, as all cable lengths to the battery are the same, instead of having each panel in the chain getting progressively further away form the battery. Why care? The longer the cable run, the more voltage drop will occur in the cables, resulting is less overall power actually reaching the Yeti. Note again that you can only combine up to 160 Watts of solar panels.
Anderson Power Pole Charging Port (input)
14-22V, up to 30A (360W max)
This is the Red & Black terminal located just below the 8mm port in the ‘Input’ section of the Yeti’s front panel. The Anderson port can handle more electrical current than the 8mm connector, and therefore you will note that the specs state that it can handle up to 360 Watts of solar power.
This is great news, since most Yetis have quite a bit of energy storage capacity, and you’ll need more solar power if you expect to charge it in a reasonable amount of time.
However, now you must adapt the 8mm Goal Zero solar panel connector to mate with the Anderson’s 2-pole port. To do this, there are only a couple of options available…
Goal Zero 98060 4x8mm to Anderson Cable.
Goal Zero 98059 Female 8mm to Anderson Cable.
The larger Goal Zero solar panels feature the Anderson connectors instead of the 8mm. This includes the Boulder 200.
How do I charge my Yeti from non-Goal Zero solar panels?
Here’s where it gets interesting. We spend a lot of time helping people out with this challenge. Either they want to use a proper residential module which offers the best $/Watt value, or they would like to use Go Power’s Semi-Flex panels for their boat or van conversion, or perhaps they need the light sensitivity of Powerfilm or P3 thin film modules. In some cases, they purchased solar panels from the mass-marketer-Amazon-brand ‘Renogy’, or they found a perceived deal on Coleman or Noma modules at Canadian Tire. No problem, it can all be made to work together!
Here is a summary of the connector conundrum…
MC4 : The standard for rooftop modules (weatherproof)
SAE : The simple automotive 2-pin connector (not weatherproof)
Weatherpack : Automotive standard weatherproof (Powerfilm option)
APP : Anderson Power Pole (excellent, but not weatherproof)
SB : Anderson SB connector (various sizes, not weatherproof, but can be helped)
O-Rings : For terminal connections
DC Barrels : Typically 4.7mm or 5.5mm. Not weatherproof
Bare Wires : Excellent, we can add what we want!
We like to see MC4 connectors used on all solar panels that will be permanently mounted outside. They are weatherproof, and rated to 1000V and up to 30Amps. For portable and temporary solar applications, we like to see the Anderson APP or SB connectors. They connect reliably and can be sized for the cable & amperage you need.
To connect to your Yeti, you will need to adapt these options to either the 8mm, or Anderson Power Pole (APP) formats.
Here are a few ready-made options…
98060 4x8mm to Anderson Cable
98059 Female 8mm to Anderson Cable
98054 : Anderson APP to 8mm male
98015 : MC4 to 8mm male (discontinued)
98015 : Generic MC4 to 8mm male
98014 : MC4 to Anderson APP
98014 : Generic MC4 to Anderson APP
Anderson APP to SAE
98063 : 8mm female to SAE
Rather than get into too much detail, if you need to convert from one connector type to another, let us know, and we can make a short adaptor cable for you. If you want to replace what you have with a little cable surgery, we have all of the connector parts available.
Expanding Your Yeti Empire
So you have a Yeti, and would like to get the most out of it. Or you want to integrate your Yeti into a fantastic residential back-up or mobile system. Great! But, as you might have guessed, with all the Yeti models, and all the Yeti ports, and all the Yeti accessories, and all the solar panels available on the market, you have a mind-numbing system design task ahead of you.
Not to worry.
We’ve started a new blog article that outlines each Yeti model, and some innovative ways to work with it to achieve your off-grid goals.
Click to enter the Yeti labyrinth with Modern Outpost as your guide.
(sorry… Blog article in progress… the link is coming soon!)