How To Connect A Portable Solar Panel To Your 12 Volt Battery

You might be thinking of buying a portable solar panel, but you might also want to know how you can use that solar panel to charge your 12 volt DC battery.

There are two common ways to connect your portable solar panel to your 12 volt DC battery, which we have listed and outlined below.

We’ve also included examples of panels which connect using both of the methods mentioned, and have put together some tips to consider when connecting your battery and setting it up.

Let’s get to it…

 

How To Connect A Portable Solar Panel To Your 12 Volt Battery

 

Connection Method #1 – Connect the panel directly to the battery

The first one is relatively straight forward, and that is to connect the panel directly to the panel via a charge controller and tray cables with loops and battery plugs.

An example of this is the Renogy 100 Watt 12 volt Rigid/Solid portable solar panel.

The actual connection in the setup goes:

Solar Panel > MC4 Connectors > Solar Controller > Tray Cables with loops > 12 volt Battery

Apart from the battery itself, all of these accessories are included in the starter kit with the panel.

 

There is also another slightly differ method of direct connection to the battery, which is to use alligator clips instead of looped tray cables.

An example of a portable solar panel that connects in this way is the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase.

 

Connection Method #2 – Connect via a direct connector

The second method is to connect via a direct connector like a 7 pin plug on a camper trailer or RV for example.

To do this, the solar panel usually comes with anderson connectors that plug directly into a 7 pin plug connector – which plugs into your trailer or RV.

The anderson connectors are universal though in that they can plug into other connectors or attachments that take them as well.

 

An example of this is the Go Power! 80 or 120 Watt Folding solar panel.

The actual connection in the setup goes:

Solar Panel > Built in solar controller > Extension cables and anderson connectors > pin plug connector plugs into trailer or camper with batteries.

 

3) Tips To Be Aware Of When Connecting Your Portable Solar Panel To A 12 Volt Battery

  • Solar controllers come in PWM and MPPT models – some are external and some are built into the panel
  • With some panels like the large folding panels – it’s wise to buy an expansion cable to allow you to position the panel further away from the charging connection in the sun
  • Make sure you have a suitable solar controller that is rated for power you have coming through your solar system. Also, check whether it is weatherproof or not
  • If you have a bank of batteries that are connected together, and you are charging them as a bank, you will need to have the right Watts, voltage and controller to deal with this bank compared to charging a battery as a single
  • Always check that you have a powerful enough panel, or enough panels with higher voltage and sufficient watts to fully charge the battery
  • Note that panel and charging accessory warranties are usually separate and different – check these before you buy

*Important note – always get professional and qualified advice installing panels and power connections – to protect your goods and the people using them.

 

4) What Are Some Portable Solar Panels That Are Good For Connecting To A 12 Volt Battery

Go Power! 80 and 120 Watt Panels can connect to a battery both ways.

With their kits, you get:

  • Anderson connectors which connect to any attachment with anderson plug and play connectors
  • And, battery plugs/leads to connect up to the battery directly

Renogy also have a different panel kits that can each connect in different ways – but most are direct connection with tray cables

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