This is another one of those instances where I didn’t discover it, didn’t design it, didn’t find the solution but am simply providing simple, easy to follow directions so that anyone can EASILY figure out how to do this. For some reason there is a bit of discussion on how to do this with almost no documentation or photographs on how to do it.
I’ve seen lots of videos, read lots of reviews and basically they say “make sure the polarity is correct”. On cables and adapters on Amazon if you read the reviews FOR THE SAME PRODUCT some reviews will say “Works Great, 5 Stars” and the next review will say “The polarity is reversed, they never fixed the polarity wiring”. But nobody has ever shown simple directions that show what to order, and how to hook it up with crystal clear instructions and pictures.
So as Popeye always says “I’ve had all I can take, I can’t takes no more”.
Jackery sells their own line of solar panel chargers for their power stations but I don’t believe any of them can be exposed to water or rain and they are fairly expensive. A decent 100 watt solar panel will set you back less than $100 and can be exposed to the pouring rain so I can totally understand why people would want to go that route. But you should watch some of the videos where people buy panels and then splice wires together to make it work. Some of those people are DANGEROUS.
So lets do this as intelligently as possible with good solid connections and no splicing.
What you need:
- Jackery Portable Power Station – I’m using the Jackery 160 in this demo
- 3rd party solar panel such as this one
- Adapter – 8mm to MC4
Connecting the MC4 connections together from the panel to the adapter cable is EASY. Now lets look at why there is confusion about these adapter cables.
It’s simple. The Cable connectors on the back of the Renogy are marked with + and – to depict positive and negative, respectfully. The cable connectors on the adapter cable are marked EXACTLY BACKWARDS HOWEVER THE WIRE COLOR AND POLARITY IS CORRECT. IGNORE THE PLUS AND MINUS ON THE ADAPTER CABLE. ONLY WORRY ABOUT THE CABLE COLOR.
MC4 to 8mm Solar Panel to Jackery Polarity (click to enlarge pics)
I’m not sure why the company that supplies these can’t get the correctly marked cable ends but just make sure the connector marking on the solar panel matches THE COLOR CODING OF THE ADAPTER CABLE. If it is backwards you’re going to have to call the company.
Here’s a video that explains things as well.
Anyway it works. On the Jackery 160 I’m showing about 33-35 watts of input charging. The max input wattage on the Jackery 160 is 42 watts so that’s not too bad.
As I stated in the video the main advantage to doing this is COST and EXPOSURE TO THE WEATHER. The Jackery Panels are way more expensive and they state they should not get wet.
I’m in no way knocking the Jackery panels and in fact I just bought the SolarSaga 100 for $300. It’s AWESOME.
But let’s be realistic too. When I go camping I want to go hiking. If I walk away from charging operations I have no clue if it is going to rain, snow, or sleet while I’m gone. This allows me to not worry about the weather and if I’m going to ruin my equipment.
However, the Jackery SolarSaga 100 panel is lightweight, way easier to move around, has charging ports for USB and USB-C and is pretty AWESOME. The dumbest man on the planet could figure out how to hook this up to a Jackery power station as well. If you’re in the bush or the backyard and you KNOW it’s going to be a sunny day……….this is your Huckleberry (if you can afford it).
But in the end you can pick up a super cheap 50 watt or 100 watt panel somewhere and an adapter cable and save money and throw your concerns about the weather to the proverbial wind.