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Not only are Bluetti power stations great for the planet, they also have solar-charging capabilities, meaning we can siphon off some free power from the sun and save ourselves some serious walking around money — woohoo!
But before we can cash in on the big yellow ball in the sky, we first need to equip ourselves with a solar panel array, and then, learn how they all connect with each other and our Bluetti generator.
This solar setup process can be daunting for first-time users, as, let’s face it, this kind of technology is way beyond the average person’s knowledge base. Not to worry, though, friend! I’ve composed this brief yet informative guide that walks you through the connection protocol step by step.
Acquiring Your Solar Panel Array: What Are Your Options
You don’t absolutely have to stay in the Bluetti ecosystem when it comes to purchasing your solar panels. You can even link a sizable roof panel array to your Bluetti solar generator as long as you incorporate a PV voltage step down module.
But having said all that, if you don’t already own a solar panel kit, for ease and optimization of use, I would recommend sticking with Bluetti panels, in which case, your options are three-fold.
The PV series of panels from Bluetti come pre-connected, saving you some time and hassle during setup, and they feature built-in kickstands for easy positioning.
But, in my humble opinion, the best aspect of these panels is that they fold up into a super portable solar briefcase, making storing, packing, and transporting them a total breeze.
The older Bluetti SP series of solar panels is still available online, but as they’re wired in series rather than parallel, they’re not quite as efficient, so my advice is to stick with the new tech, especially as the price difference is fairly negligible.
And while we’re on the topic of alternative solar panels, I’d just like to mention that it’s not advised to combine different makes or models of solar panel during a charging session. That's not to say you can’t double, triple, or quadruple up on, say, the PV120, but combining it with the SP120, for instance, can be problematic.
Positioning Your Solar Panels
Thanks to the integrated kickstands, setting up Bluetti PV-series solar panels couldn’t be easier. There are three kickstands in total, each with a fabric latch and three poppers.
The middle popper sets the panel up at a 45° angle, but, if need be, the top and bottom popper can add or subtract 5 degrees.
The reason Bluetti affords you some adjustability on this front is that, as the seasons change, the sun runs a different path in the sky.
For example, during the summer, the sun has a high trajectory, so a lower angle is best, but in spring, it sets a much lower course, so a steeper angle is required to optimize energy absorption.
Preparing Your Bluetti Power Station for Solar Charging
One of my favorite things about some of the newer Bluetti power stations is how many options you have for charging, but this flexibility comes at a small price: you have to do some menu diving to pick out which method you wish to activate before initiating the charge.
On your Bluetti LCD, press the cog symbol on the left-hand side of the home screen to open the settings menu. Then press the “PV” tile, next to the section labeled “DC Input Source”, and voilà, you’re ready to soak up some sun!
Side-Note — This only applies to Bluetti power stations with tons of charging options, such as the AC200MAX and AC200P. For models with less advanced LCDs and fewer customizable parameters, you can start charging your power station without any prior tinkering.
Connecting Your Bluetti Solar Panels to Your Bluetti Generator
You’ll find a little waterproof pouch on the back of one of the end panels of your PV array. This contains the MC4 cables you need to link them to your Bluetti power station.
You may wonder why there are two MC4 cables rather than just one. This is because all solar panels connect using positive and negative poles. The positive head is female, meaning it has the apparatus to receive a male head, and the negative is male, meaning it will plug into a female head.
To get the ball rolling on your very first solar charge (exciting!!!), plug the single-headed end of the solar cable that came with your Bluetti generator into the appropriate DC port, then connect the MC4 cable heads at the other end to the corresponding MC4 cable heads of the solar panels.
You should now see a charge reading appear on the LCD of your power station, signaling that everything has gone to plan and your generator is soaking up some sun.
Side-Note — It’s advised that you keep your Bluetti power station in the shade, so you may need to invest in an MC4 solar extension cable.
What If You’re Using an Individual or Sequence of Panels?
Should you be trying to charge your Bluetti generator with a single solar panel from another brand, all you have to do is link the MC4 cables on the back of the panel to the ones on the end of the Bluetti solar charging cable, and you’re good to go.
To use multiple discrete panels of the same make and model, or perhaps multiple Bluetti PV arrays, you’ll need to link them together with one female and one male MC4 head from each unit.
Then, simply use a pair of MC4 extension cables to run the signal into your solar charging cable, and, finally, your Bluetti generator.
Solar charging technology can be pretty intimidating, but the folks over at Bluetti have done an amazing job of simplifying the process and making it as intuitive as possible. Really, all you have to do is connect four MC4 heads, then plug the other end of the solar charging cable into your Bluetti — easy!
Now, if we can just get the weatherman to forecast some sun!