Build Your Own Solar Power Generator for under $150.

main-solar-generator

Build Your Own PORTABLE Solar Generator

Want to build your own portable solar power generator to take with you on camping trips or for use in an emergency? I’ll show you how below, it’s easier than you think. Goal Zero’s version of this cost over $400 and doesn’t include any solar panels! Depending on what you include yours will cost under $150 by buying inexpensive parts from Amazon.com.

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How portable do you want your solar generator to be?

Think about how heavy and large it should be? Are you going to use a hand truck to carry around a huge toolbox filled with batteries and a large solar panel or do you want a tiny one that will fit in your glove box? The wiring and concept will be the same for either size so the choice is yours. I wanted something in between that I could carry but still had some decent capacity to do some work.

Video showing components:

The Container

First I bought a case that would be a good jumping off point that I could fit a 10 watt solar panel on and in. Your case doesn’t have to fit your panel in but I thought it was convenient for me.


panel-off

Here you can see the 10 watt solar panel is removable and attached with velcro on metal strips. The velcro holds the solar panel very securely and it all fits inside the case to protect in during travel. I zip tied aluminum pieces to increase the surface area of the velcro but judging from how secure the industrial velcro is, they may not be necessary.

side-shot

Closeup on the main power switch. This switch totally disconnects the battery and all charging. Notice Marine 12 volt cigarette lighter in the lower corner of the box.

Solar Generator Diagram

Notice round switches to the right of the inverter and volt meter.

Solar Generator parts

 Wiring Diagram

 

 

portable solar generator wiring diagram

portable solar generator wiring diagram

Below I show you what I used and suggest for building your own DIY portable solar generator.

Parts List

 

Pistol Case
10 watt mono crystalline Solar Panel
20 watt panel
Switches for the Project (5 and 10 packs are cheap)
Triple Combo cig lighter/voltmeter/USB
Double Combo Unit
LED Light Strips

 

Choose Your Charge Controller

Basic controller
Controller with voltmeter built-in

Get This Battery (high power AGM)

18 Amp Hour Battery
18 Amp Hour Battery (recommended)
Don’t scrimp here, the battery is the foundation
of your whole system. This battery
easily fits into the Plano 4 pistol case. In fact it could hold 2.

 

Choose Your Inverter (size to your battery/needs)

400 watt
300 watt
200 watt

 

Choose a Volt Meter (optional but fun)

Battery
level indicator
Full feature volt meter:
measures solar input and outputs
in amps & watts

Extra Parts, Wires and Supplies You May Need

Velcro for panel
Bus Bar
Fuse holder

 


227 Responses

  1. John says:

    Can this system be used to power a 110V submersible water pump?

  2. dmkanter says:

    Very cool article, thanks!

  3. PaulEmler says:

    Are you selling that one to make a smaller one?

  4. DU says:

    http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFgxNjAw/z/-XEAAOSwjVVVtW6G/$_57.JPG
    here is the one i made and now dont need anymore making one smaller.

  5. Alex says:

    Does the inverter used matter? I have used a standard car inverter before, but I am fairly positive it caused issues with my macbook when charging via the inverter. Thanks!

  6. Viktor says:

    very well written and useful article. Thank you!

  7. Zerita Phillips says:

    This is so cool. Can this be used to power a box fan? Are you able to build it with more than 1 inverter (3 perhaps)? Can you use it on multiple items at the same time?

  8. thomas says:

    I am a little confused with your video and the diagram. In your video it looks like you only have one wire coming to each terminal on the battery. The diagram shows you will need one coming in from the controller and one going out from the terminals to supply the loads. How do you only have one wire attached to each terminal while still charging the battery and sending out to the inverter?

  9. Thomas says:

    Thank you for you post and comments. I am in the process of building my own. I set it all up according the wiring diagram. As soon as I connected it my fuse tripped. I have a 10g wire and holder with 15 amp fuse. Blew twice immediately once turning on the main battery switch.

    Also, In your video it looks like there is just one negative and one positive wire directly connected to the battery terminals. In the diagram it shows at least one negative and positive coming in and one negative and positive going out. So i connected it that way and have two 12 gauge wire on each terminal and a third negative wire in I want to install the AC charger.

    Any recommendations for what I might be doing wrong? Thank you!

    • Without seeing a photo it’s pretty hard to tell exactly BUT i can tell you hooked it up backwards and if you didn’t have a fuse there you would have fried some components or had a fire… or at least melted a wire which is a precurser to fire. Here’s what you do. There are several ways to wire this, some more elegant than others. Connect one system at a time. Connect your charge controller to the battery correctly. Then connect your inverter. My inverter needed a seperate switch but yours may be built in. Make sure your positive connections to the battery still go through the fuse to protect your components. Once you get a few systems working, add more. Then you’ll learn how it works and now how to wire it better in the future.

  10. Juliano says:

    Is it okay if I connect 2 batteries of different ah? One is 10ah the other 18ah

  11. Juliano says:

    Hi awesome idea, just wondering what kind of fuse and wire u used? And how the inverter is connected? I got the 200w one should I connect in the lighter socket? And what type of wires are you using?? Thanks for the video

  12. How can I use it and how much power will it give?
    Thanks for sharing such a informative and helpful post.

  13. medico321 says:

    Is the Goliath 20W panel you list actually 3” thick as in it’s online description? Is there a similar panel that’s not as thick you would recommend? Wanting to try and stay with a 20W for my needs.

  14. robert says:

    how do i use the switch to kill all the power and set it up

    • just put the switch between your battery and everything else. You can see the kill switch on my diagram.

    • My switch is on the front of the box so you can’t see it on the back of the wood. Run positive from the battery to the switch then another positive wire w/ fuse the the bus or “splitter” to give positive power to everything else.

  15. Nua Nicaj says:

    Got the two batteries they are on the large size. So if you want to make the same size as Burrito get the smaller sized battery. I needed heavy duty batteries to run a pitching machine so this will be fine for me.

  16. Would these items all work together fine?(Plus whatever wiring I would need) I’m not sure if I want to use one battery or two though. That also explains the two cases, I was thinking of getting the bigger one if I do go with two batteries. Thoughts? http://amzn.com/w/LAYCYVAQDCB8

  17. Nua Nicaj says:

    The better option would be these batteries I believe

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/271247408753?_trksid=p2055359.m2763.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    The case should be able to hold 2 of these,

  18. annebeck58 says:

    Nice! I was just wondering about how much it would cost to get all of the parts. Glad I came across your video in yt. Thanks for adding link to your site, too..
    This is something I’d love to do!

  19. Ed says:

    Thanks for the writeup! Is it possible to charge and draw load from the battery at the same time? I want to setup this solar generator where it’s powering my outdoor water pump and be out in the sun charging at the same time. The water pump is set on a timer to charge at 30 mins intervals at certain times of the day. Thanks in advance!

    • Yes Ed, in fact that’s the best way to use this. Put the panel in the sun and draw at the same time. The timer will help you maximize your battery for sure. Keep the panel in the sunniest spot through out the day.

  20. Linda says:

    Really good idea! Thanks! How did you make the small inverter that’s in the box? Did you disassemble the red inverter you show in the video? How is that done? Can you do the same with 400 w inverter?

    Also, is there a way to charge the battery using AC? How do I set that up?

    And last question, on this video you have red/black connectors near the handle, what are they and what is that used for?

    • I did disassemble the one I used. If I were to do it again, I would use one similar to the red 400w one. Use a automotive trickle charger for your ac charger. That’s what the red/black connectors are for.

  21. if i give you a list of the things that i want on it could you build it for me, and ship it to me if i payed for shipping and parts plus extra for your time. Please respond my email

  22. Mike McGurn says:

    Hi: great video and info. I noticed you have two positive and two negative wires exiting the solar controller, i would expect one each. Is this something important to know? I really enjoyed this project. Mike

  23. I really like this recent spate of posts about alternative energy!!! good one!!

  24. Anthony says:

    What’s the approx time it takes to recharge ? I want to put a kit together with 2 12volt 18ah batterys with a 20w panel.

  25. Michael says:

    Does your charge controller discharge the battery when your generator is not being used and out of the sun? Also, why don’t you have a fuse between the battery and charge controller?

  26. nick says:

    Can I hook all my power load to the load on the solar charger I have 2 12v 18 ah batteries are do I hook it up to the batteries

  27. Trevor says:

    Great Tutorial, Nice Diagram. Would you be able (and/or willing) to create a complete detailed step – by – step Assembly Tutorial/Manual from ground up on how to make this. From what hole you drilled where and using what size drill bits, to what is used to connect what to what, to what wire is going from start to finish and why each one goes from stated start point to stated finish point, etc?

    Thanks!

  28. Michael says:

    Thank you for sharing your project. It inspired me to begin my own. However, based on all my research on sizing solar panels and batteries, it appears as though the panel is undersized for the battery or the battery is oversized for the panel.

    To what depth of discharge (DOD) do you typically drain the battery, and how long does it take your panel to bring the battery back to full charge (I.e. float mode on the charge controller)?

    What is your reasoning for using 12 gauge wire? This seems like overkill. You’ll never be pulling enough amps on this thing to come even close to the rating for that wire size.

    Where on your wiring diagram would the voltmeter go?

    Thanks. I’m not criticizing your build, just trying to understand why you made some of the decisions you did.

    • The 10w panel is more than adequate to recharge a 18ah battery in less than a afternoon. Testing has proved this. 12 gauge wire is the wiring I recommend on the DC size because DC wiring must be sized much larger than AC wiring and not it’s not overkill at all for the main wires at all. If you use a 400 watt inverter, you should not lengthen the wires that come with it, should be even larger (10 gauge).

      Volt meter could go anywhere really you have 12 volts DC.

  29. Scott Hays says:

    This looks great. I was wondering if you are going to make kits available for sale. My son and I would buy them.

  30. nick says:

    What size solar panel would I need to charge 2 12v 12ah batteries

  31. Ian says:

    hey,I liked the page particularly the way you’ve shown the components and where they can be purchased keep doing your thing

  32. David says:

    Shoprider U1 Battery for Scooters – 2 Pack

    http://www.amazon.com/Shoprider-U1-Battery-Scooters-Pack/dp/B007Q2CS46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423266620&sr=8-1&keywords=mobility+scooter+battery

    I’m considering a pair of these for my portable solar power pack. I know they are heavy but I’m not planning taking it backpacking, more car camping or with a 4 wheeler.

    Thoughts or opinions?

  33. Bruce L. Rutledge says:

    I don’t see a URL link on the bus bars you are using. Want to make sure i get the right ones.

  34. Shawn says:

    This is awesome! I’m totally building one. Is it possible to charge/top up the unit in my campervan as I drive to my destination by plugging a 12v supply from a cig lighter into the input to the charge controller? SO instead of the solar panel charging the battery, the power from cig lighter is. And, would it shut off to protect from overcharge?

    • YES that will work. If you get or make a male to male cig outlet wire your camper will charge the unit while you drive. It will work because DC flows like water from a fuller vessel (your van charging at 14v while running) into the unit ( not charging resting near 12.8v) Over charging maybe a concern, I’d only do it until your unit is full. You may be able to run it through the charge controller but I haven’t tried this personally.

  35. lenard barton says:

    it’s more of a question, i use a c-pap at night how would i go about making a solar gen. to last the night or longer??

    • Tom says:

      I can get a couple nights off my Goal Zero Yeti 400. A friend can get one night off hit Yeti 150. The specs for the Yeti’s can help with your sizing. If your CPAP has an optional 12 volt power supply, get it. 12 volt to 12 volt is much more efficient that 12 volt to 120 volt back down to about 12 volts for the machine.

  36. Igor says:

    Which AC Charger do you suggest? I want to have an option to charge the battery from an AC power source.

  37. shawn says:

    hi there can you say that generator setup design is close to the goal zero yeti 150

    • The design may not be as pretty but the battery is bigger and if you put a bigger inverter on like you should, you can power more devices AND your getting a solar panel for free. Goal Zero charges a lot more for panels. Oh and you’ll know how it all works.

  38. andy u says:

    Curious on your thoughts on this. I have a jump starter for jump starting cars called a jump n carry 1700 amp unit. It has a cigarette lighter output. It takes a standard cord to charge the unit. I was wondering how I could. CHarge this using solar power. Is this possible? I actually have 2 of these units and was wondering if there was a way to use them for this use.

  39. Kenneth says:

    No it will not work on a CPAP, speaking form experience. The CPAP draws too much electricity. You will need a bigger bartery and a bigger solar panel to keep up. Otherwise everything in the kit can be used as is.

  40. Paul Emler says:

    I want to make one for camping with my CPAP machine. Suggested Amp hour is 35-40. Would all the other parts you suggest work with a larger amp hour battery or would I need to go bigger on the other items?

    • Yes the parts would work but your right you’d need 2 18 amp hour batterys shown or one larger batter. They sell 35 amp hour batts on amazon. Also make sure you have an inverter for the proper ammount of watts it draws. watts = volts x amps in case it doesn’t say on our unit. Figure 110 volts if you’re running off AC power.

  41. andy u says:

    Im intrigued by this build too. I want to build something with more capacity as well but I also want to keep it portable as much as possible. I was thinking a dual battery setup. I also was wondering if you know much about the battery tender products? They make a new battery that weighs nearly nothing. It is pretty expensive but weighs about 1/4 what other batteries weigh. They also sell a great tender to maintain the battery as well as a controller that goes from 5 to 45 amps. I would want to try and keep this light as possible for camping.

  42. Tom says:

    Is it possible to make a bigger capacity generator? I’m a total noob at this kind of stuff. I was wondering if it’s fine to make a 2000 watt or something or would it be too dangerous?

    My reason for this is because ever since Hurricane Sandy, I want to be more prepared. Was not fun living without electricity for 3 weeks. Also, I live in an apartment and 110% sure that a gas generator is not allowed and a factory made solar generator costs way too much.

    • Matthew says:

      Tom, all you have to do is build the generator bigger. So just get some form of cart, dolly or scrollable bin to hold the batteries. Then you would want bigger batteries as in car size and probably 3-4 for safe measures. Then you need all the same parts as he has, plus the wiring diagram to make sure your hooking everything up right. Lastly get your 2k inverter. My only suggestion is to get all the parts first then pick up your case/box/dolly last so you know what size to get.

      He actually has a blog/posting about building a bigger one. Just read through those Q&A’s to find most of the information you will need. Hope this helps.

  43. Carl says:

    Hello – thank you so much for posting this!! I am in the process of putting one together but I had a question about the primary kill switch. I plan to have the kill switched wired to the charge controller but I’m going to have a secondary trickle charger/maintainer for when the box is just sitting. Since the AC charger has it’s own way to shut-off/maintain the battery I wouldn’t need a kill switch on that side – correct? So in my head I have the quick disconnect for the battery tender and the wire from solar panel (via kill switch) both hooked to the battery at the same time. do you see any issues with this? Thanks!

    • Carl use separate wires for the solar panel and the AC trickle charger. So don’t run the AC trickle charge through the charge controller. I don’t think it should hurt anything but I’m not sure. I’d plan on connecting the Trickle directly to the battery or at least test the setup before you wire it.

      Hope that makes sense, you maybe over thinking it.

      • Carl says:

        That’s what I was thinking. Thanks for getting back to me. I’m waiting on the solar controller and I’ll have it completed.

  44. Rob says:

    Can you show how you got the A/C outlet through the wood panel? did you have to disassemble the converter or did you just find a clever way to mount it from underneath?

  45. Guy says:

    Great design, but would it be bettered to have more voltage, 24v over 12v or having more ah?

    • Almost all accessories run off 12v not 24 so 12v is much more useable. Have more Amp hours though is always better. Many people connect 2 batteries to get double the storage / Amp Hours but keep 12 volts. Connect red to red black to black to connect 2 batteries in paralel.

      • Bill Gaetz says:

        Hey Solar B., I have been meaning to ask you: According to your video (and probably like most of us), your remote power needs are for devices like USB/Laptop/Cordless power tools, yet these are all DC devices which get charged from a DC source via an inverter. Have you thought about adding a straight plugin on your case for (as an example) the hand-held tool battery (18v) to charge from your 12v supply? Wouldn’t that be more efficient that charging the 18v battery via an inverter?

  46. Matthew says:

    I just ran a test on my system and I ran into an issue that you might be able to help me with. I’m running a 400w whistler inverter, and it will only run until my battery gets to 10 volts then it will shut off. Is there a way around this or no?

    • Lester House says:

      Inverters have a safety feature that shuts them down when the voltage gets too low. 10 volts is way to low for a 10 volt battery. You really should not let a 12 volt battery get below 12.2 volts. Go online and download a voltage vs state of charge for a 12 volt battery. It is a handy to have.

      • Matthew says:

        I was at about 12.6 when I started my test. For some reason my battery will only charge to 12.78 max. Then when I turn my inverter on it will drop to around 12.6. That means I can only run 50w items continuously for around 1hr before I meet the 12.2 cap. So what would I need to do in order to run a 50w item for roughly 6-8 hrs?

        • Lester House says:

          What is the amp-hour rating for your battery. Only about half of the rated amp-hours is usable. Use the following equation to help calculate the size battery that you need.

          Watts = Amps X Volts

          Your inverter is converting 12 volt DC to 110 volt AC

        • Lester House says:

          12.8 Volts is very close to 100% charged for a 12 volt battery. An 18 AH 12 volt battery has 108 Watt-Hours available (18AH x 12 Volts x 50%).

          A 50-watt load would need 400 watt-hours available or a rated capacity of 800 watt-hours. Divide 800 watt-hours by 12 volts and you get a 67 AH battery or two 35AH batteries wired in parallel. I have one 35AH battery with the following dimensions. 5-inches wide by 8-inches long and 7-inches tall.

    • rich says:

      I am gathering all the parts so I can make one. Where did you get your cigarette plug? I like that style the best

    • richard says:

      Thank you for the great idea! I started and semi finished with mine. works good so far. I’m stumped at 2 parts. The first one you said to use a bus bar. I ended up using the terminal strips and could not get it working so I connected the inverter straight to the battery. Also I’m not sure how to wire the main kill switch. How did you hook up the main kill switch to turn off the power to the battery so the charge controller will not drain the battery or does the charge controller turn off automatically?

  47. Would anyone be interested in buying a prepackaged kit to make one of these? It would come with everything you need all in one box. Case, solar panel, inverter, battery, wires and misc supplies.

    Reply to this comment, if you would be interested so I can gauge the interest. If I get enough interest I’ll make it available for sale on my site.

    Thanks
    – Solar Burrito

    • depending on cost i would buy a couple of them

      • Cool, thanks for the comment. I’d probably make a basic bare bones kit and then a kit with all the bells and whistles.

        I got some good use out of mine this summer boat in camping on Ross Lake. We had it in our canoe and had plenty of power all week for a group of 6.

        • PamWS says:

          I’d buy a kit. And I’m pretty sure a friend of mine would also.

        • shabona76 says:

          A basics of all the supplies (minus the battery and maybe the solar panel) would be awesome. I just need to be able to charge small things… like cell phones, ipods and small tables. I think the most is a 10v charger… will this setup work for that? Can you only plug one item in at a time?

    • Phil says:

      I would buy one sans battery to reduce shipping to Portland Or ?

    • Matthew says:

      It would depend on the price. Since, I built a replica myself I would have to see if it’s worth me building another or paying you. I’m leaning more to you building it since the quality of products you produce is a lot better then mine.

    • Troy says:

      Thanks for your plans. I was not too sure if I could create one but I did it. BTW what would you charge for a premade kit without the battery?

    • Guy says:

      Hi, I will build mine but one thing I would like to add is the possibility to charge from my house. So was thinking of adding a 2 or 3 position switch and a cigarette lighter port that can be used to charge from ac. Be handy to ne able to charge your battery from your home plug.

    • gestur says:

      Ya i would buy one even without the battery i can always find one closer to home but the rest would be REALLY Great right about now been looking for parts to source for a while now

    • Dave says:

      I would be interested!! Could we customize it though? I want to be able to run a power tool from it.

    • Ester says:

      If the cost is resonable enough I would be interested in a couple.

  48. Ed says:

    So I’m having trouble with wiring everything. I have the buttons and they have 3 pieces in back not sure how to make a fuse to turn on/off the battery. Also my 10 watt panel has white and red wires but there short how do I make them longer.

  49. Uche says:

    Hey I love this blog and its inspired me to build my own personal power pack. I have started with a pelican im2200 storm case which right know seems perfect. Inside I would like to incorporate 2x18ah batteries with a 500 watt inverter. I want it to feature a couple usb charge ports, quick disconnect attachment for jumper cables , 2 wall plugs outlet and 12v lighter ports,possibly a fan for cooling the unit inside and emergency lights . On the side of the case I would like to add a wall charger port and solar input charger port for the battery. Will I need a different charge controller for this? Mainly all the parts I am using are the ones you suggested below, except for the extras suggested. Would you have any suggestions for the jumper cable attachment and possibly emergency lighting attachments. I would love too update everyone with my progress with pictures also, I just don’t know how too? Please help this has turned into an obsession! Lol

    • Sounds like a great project! Everything sounds in order. What size solar panel will you use? Ideally would be at least 20 watts. You could use any charge controller you want as long as it can handle the amps your panels are putting out. The cheapos I spec and have used are 10amps I think and they can handle up to 150watts of solar power!. I want to see a photo!

  50. uche says:

    Will I have to use a diffrent charge controller if I want to charge with solar , and regular electricity at any given time?

  51. Rob says:

    This is the first time on your blog and I have to say Wow! great information here! Thank you!

  52. Sean says:

    Hi, I am in the process of building a solar generator. I am going after portability. So my design I am attempting is to have 2 20Ah batteries in a box with the inverter and charge controller and all the wiring. I also want to have the ability to connect another box that would just house 2 more 20Ah batteries. What would be the best way to connect the second box of batteries to the main unit? Thank You in advance.

  53. How come it costs much more than $150 on amazon? What on your list are absolutely essentials and what is optional?

    • Solar panel, (price varies for those), case, inverter, cigarette lighter are the essentials. Should be under a $100 for those. I guess your price Depends if you have to buy wires, switches, stuff like that and how many do dads you add to customize it.

  54. northstar7385 says:

    hi, i am currentlybuilding one of theseand i was wondering if this system will jumpstart a vehicle. and what do i need to do so? also, if you have the time could you make an owners opporating manual on how to use this system? i think that would help out alot of us that are new to this. thanks alot.

  55. Bill Gaetz says:

    Hi all; I have a working system (2 x 18Ah) with 2 10 watt solar panels. All is working well (Thanks again Solar B!). It is clear that drawing power off the batteries should not exceed a certain level (or you compromise battery life). The question is, what is the best way to determine the current state of charge of a battery? Is a voltage chart the best way to know when the battery is (for example) at 75% charged (12.4 V)? See link for a chart I found on the web. Thanks!

    http://www.mmbalmainauto.com.au/PDF/State_of_charge_12_volt_batteries.pdf

  56. RedHotz says:

    Can i get 2 12ah 12 v battery…

  57. Hi there…is there a formula or rule to determine what size charger (solar panel) that you need for the size of battery you’re charging? And how can you determine what size battery that you need for the load?

    • Ideally charging current should be 10% of the Ah rating of battery.
      So charging current for 120Ah Battery = 120 / 10 = 12 Amperes. This is a great general rule of thumb for an ideal situation but for the sake for portability a 10 watt panel only puts out .55 amps. It charges an 18ah battery just fine but slower.

      Are you thinking of scaling up your system? Another thing that works well is to hinge to panels together to double your power but have them fold up into the space of one.

  58. RedHotz says:

    I am using 350 watt inverter, 12v 10 amp charge controller.., 20 watt polycrystalline solar panel,, 5 amp fuse….10 awg wire………is everything good…..and not bought battery yet…..can I buy 2 12v 7.5ah sealed lead acid batteries……….will that be enough.. Plzzz.help replyyyy…

    • Hi RedHotz, I don’t think you’ll be happy with the performance of 2 7.5ah batteries. That’s 15ah of storage and the minimum I recommend with a smaller inverter is 18ah. Don’t skimp on the battery, it’s the heart of your system.

    • Kris Popli says:

      I would be interested in buying one of your prepackaged kits from you. I am doing a project using UV light to disinfect drinking water in rural villages in third world countries where there is no electricity or running water. An inexpensive, portable solar power source like yours is ideal! How much will you charge? I do not have the time (or expertise) to construct a kit. If the project is successful, we may need many more! Please e-mail me at: drpopli@aol.com

  59. kayakh2o says:

    Would there be any way to hook this up so that you could charge it via a wall outlet? (similar to goal zero)

    • Lester House says:

      Yes if you wire it up so you can use a trickle charger. I have a Battery Tender Jr. to charge it with an outlet.

  60. RedHotz says:

    I am using a single 12 volt battery a 350 watt inverter..5 amp fuse 20 watt solar panel..12 amp change controller…..so I should connect them in series or parallel…Plzzzz answer it would be a great help……..

  61. RedHotz says:

    What is bus in circuit diagram and what type of fuse I should use and I should connect everything in parallel or series…

    • Bus is a fancy name for a splitter. It allows you to distribute power from one source to many. Basically a connector that keeps wiring tidy. Search on Amazon many will come up. I can’t answer your series or parallel question unless you give me more info on what you want to do but if you want to keep 2 12volt batteries at 12 volts, wire in parallel.

  62. Eric says:

    I can’t find any information on the fuse type to use. What size fuse do you recommend? Also I’m not sure if it’s just me, but none of the links seem to work in the “Below I show you what I use” section.

  63. RedHotz says:

    Dude……you are smart……but can u tell me what length and awg of wire I should use to connect each and every…stuff..I need help as I mentioned only 15”.’.’.”

  64. madam1620 says:

    I use a C-PAP machine when I sleep. It is 24v 3.75A. Could you tell me what to do to build a solar charger to power this machine. Thanks for any help

  65. Edwin says:

    I’m not really clear on batteries but I want to use more watts n I am not sure what volt battery to get?what kind of inverter would I need? I want to get maybe 1000 watts or more. I’m not sure if it’s possible.

  66. glen biddle says:

    i want to make my charger with 2 deep cycle marine napa batteries i have. what size inverter and solar panel will i need? i want to charge electronics and have ac capability to run a fridge etc…. i want to be comparable to a goal zero 1250 generator. also would need a wiring diagram i guess i have to daisy chain the batteries.

    • Use the same wire diagram but scale everything up. Connect your batteries in parallel for a bigger yet still 12volt battery. Red to red, black to black, easy. I’m going to build a bigger one and document it since that’s what everyone wants now! It’s going to be heavy!

      I’d get as big of panel (physical size) as you’re willing to carry? 75-100 watts?

  67. Robert says:

    Is this sort of setup, with more batteries, pure wave inverter, more panels, etc, capable of powering several appliances for several hours? I am getting into event photography and I need a power source that is 100% stable to run a laptop, printer, possibly a monitor and down the road even a few high wattage lights for a greenscreen. Size isn’t too big of a concern, I was thinking something along the lines of a large ice chest… but is the basic set up possible without damaging my equipment?

    • Yes it’s totally possible. You’re right you need a puresine wave inverter. You probably need a large deep cycle battery. Group 31 size. Pure sinewave 1000-1500w inverter. If you knew your wattage requirements that would be helpful. Computers don’t use much these days.

      • vic or joe says:

        I need to no what or how big duz my hello paddle have to be to power a 2000 or 3000 and inverter I need to no may be u and my can do face mask I need to buy something u can u call me or gmail me asasp

  68. Brice says:

    The solar panel recommended on your site doesn’t match up to the solar panel used on your video, what size is it? Looking forward to making a solar generator!

    • Hi Brice, they are all 10 watt panels. They are from slightly different manufacturers but don’t worry they will all work. Just make sure it says Poly Crystaline or Mono Crystaline, NOT ANOMORPHOS. The batches available on Amazon seem to come and go so depending on when you buys different styles are available.

  69. Heidi says:

    Thank you so much. I am new to all this and have just started experimenting with hacking cheap Harbor Freight parts for a miniature waterfall. This inspires me to continue exploring solar. Thanks, again.

  70. Marsha says:

    I am venturing into unknown territory. I have basic DIY skills and I even successfully replaced the motor in my dishwasher all by myself. Granted, it took several goes at it and I had to walk away a few times before I exploded, but I did get it done! Is this really as straight forward as it seems? I bought a very expensive generator, had a hitch receiver welded to my RV , and then purchased a cage for it. This is so much cleaner and quieter.I would be perfect when I just needed to recharge my phone or ipod. What do you think? (BTW, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience so freely. I appreciate it. I am out here learning as much as possible from handy guys like you!)

    • Lester House says:

      It is pretty straight forward. The videos he made are good, and the wiring diagram is easy to follow.

    • Hi Marsha, the best way to learn is by doing in my humble opinion. The connections are very simple. It seems complicated but when you take it one connection at a time it’s more simple than you think. The hardest part I think is the container, making it look good and be practical. For charging your phone, ipod and stuff like that it’s perfect.

  71. quicksilverx says:

    can some one clear this up for me please. When using a solar charge controller and a “sealed” Marine leisure battery, should I use the sealed mode or the flooded mode on the charge controller?

  72. Joe says:

    I’m looking to power 5 16W LED 120v bulbs for approx 6-8 hours a day would something like this be what i’m looking for or would i have to upgrade a few items?

    • Think about this Joe, you will save power if you don’t convert DC to AC to run your LED’s. Can you find DC LED bulbs? If so you could run them directly off a battery and save 10-30% conversion losses. That aside, Those sound like really high power LED’s are they really 16watts each? I’d look for some lower power ones. But if that is what you’ve got you’ll need to upgrade the battery to a deep cycle 60 amp hour and also consider a larger solar panel if you need to do it day after day. Think about a 50 watt solar panel. Amazon has a great price on larger panels right now! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DCDQKII/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00DCDQKII&linkCode=as2&tag=solburblo-20&linkId=53EUGBAFR6RJGBCE

      • Joe says:

        The bulbs are from home improvement stores like lowes, equivalent to 100W. Im new to all this, I’m looking for bulbs that are comparable to 100w bulbs. Its usually only 2 days in a row about once every 2 weeks

      • Bil Gaetz says:

        Hey Solar; thanks for all this great information. Like Joe, I am also trying to figure out how much solar watts and battery capacity I will need to run some landscaping LEDs (~5 lights x 10w; 12v). Is there an equation you can recommend to figure this out? Also, how do the lights wire to the 12 DC battery (in series?; resistors needed?)?

  73. Ryan D says:

    Would it be possible to adapt this to something smaller say a 5 watt solar panel and a smaller lighter battery? would the charge controller and ability to add a voltmeter and at least usb hub’s and or inverter be the same? Love the design just thinking that I only need enough power to charge a phone and possibly a camera battery, and would like to have it small enough and light enough to carry backpacking.

    Some links to some batteries and panels that could work would be awesome.

    Cheers

  74. Josh L says:

    I am so glad I came across this post of yours! I just ordered up all my parts with a couple minor tweaks in my design. I can’t wait to get my stuff, build it out, and put it to use. I’m hoping I can fit two batteries in the case so I can run them in parallel (fingers crossed). Thanks for sharing your knowledge and ideas.

  75. Kevin Dove says:

    This is such a great find. Thank you for posting this concised steps on how to build your own solar power generator. I already have a cheap solar panels guaranteed to provide me the energy that I only needed.

  76. Lester House says:

    Thanks again for a great idea. I wanted it for a backup at home to power the modem, router, and a couple of laptops during power outages. I used a larger case, a 35 AH battery, two 10 watt solar panels, a Battery Tender Jr (AC charge option), and a cigarette lighter volt meter. I tried a hard wired cheap volt meter, but the wires were to delicate for the spot I installed it. The cigarette lighter volt meter is working fine.

    Thanks for the idea.

  77. hank says:

    Can’t see the suggested components (view source links to “Amazon adsystem” but images don’t appear). Can you list them as names and URLs for the actual items

  78. Lester House says:

    Great idea. I am in the process of building one. I am using a bigger case that can hold a 35 Amp-Hour battery. I am adding the AC charger as you suggested. I am planning on putting in two cigarette lighter outlets and plug an inverter into one of them as needed. The inverter has USB outlets. Now my question. I have ordered one 10 watt solar panel. The case could hold a second panel. Do you think it would be a good idea to add the second panel in parallel beings my battery has almost twice the capacity?

  79. Mike says:

    I love the project.
    Why use a voltage meter and not a watt meter? Im just curious…

  80. saideep says:

    The thought was very nice and innovative

  81. Bill Gaetz says:

    Cool video – thanks for sharing!!! It looks like there is enough room in the case for 2 of those batteries. Do you think you could double the recipe (2 batteries, 2 panels, 24v) but use the same case, controller and inverter? Maybe that way you keep portability but get more capacity for bigger jobs or a longer number of days without power?

    • Lester House says:

      You would want to wire everything in parallel, That would double the amp-hours instead of doubling the volts. You still would need two panels. I am in the process of building one with a larger case, a 35 amp-hour battery, and two 10 watt solar panels. I wanted something with more reserve also.

  82. Nice job on your solar generator. Tell me, if you are using a 10 watt solar panel that gives you 0.5 amps with a 18 amp hour battery, how long will it take to charge the battery back to 100% if the batter is drain 50%? Will the 10 watt solar panel keep up with the demand, or I need a bigger watt solar panel for quicker recovery?

    • Hi Jeff, like most things, the easy answer would be “It depends”. How sunny it is, what is the drain, angle of panel etc. I”ll spare you and tell you my observations while using my for almost 2 years.

      Assuming you drained the battery to 50% (like you drew 1 amp for 9 hours) It would take all day to charge up to 100% on a sunny day. I mainly use mine in the summer. Annecdotally I can charge 2-3 tool batteries 30-45 mins each at 10-75 watts of drain/load while I have the panel in the sun and still have above 60% charge. Then I usually still have time in the day to recharge.

      My main other use it to charge the groups cell phones and run small stereo all day and into the night. Plenty of how to write a personal essay power for that.

      • Adam says:

        This is a neat video. I am in the process of building one similar to yours. The battery that I am going to use is a 20AH new gel cell agm Harley Davidson bike battery. Same size as the battery you show in your video. I ordered a 15 watt mono solar panel from amazon. I have a 800 peak dual plug with usb inverter that I want to use. Would this be good enough with the rest of the parts to run a small 12 inch face desk fan, it pulls less then an amp. I want it to run the fan, and an asthma machine incas we lose power from a hurricane.

        I am new to this, any information would be greatly appreciated.

  83. aaliya says:

    Hi! U made it gud! I wanna make it too! I wanna know what is BUS and 12 V Amcc in this! Thanks!

    • Chaz Rollins says:

      12v ACC is the 12 volt dc accessory plug, aka cigarette plug. On the very first picture it’s in the lower right of the black case.

      The BUS is a piece of metal where you connect the same types of wire. It’s in another picture. It’s a straight piece of metal with holes in it.

  84. fiston says:

    hi solar Burrito, please how can I get in touch with you for a solar project in africa. please contact me by my email so we can explain you the full project. thanks to comes back to me.

    fiston

  85. Daniel says:

    Hey Solar Burrito can you tell me if a poly-Crystalline Solar Panel is good for this project, here is the link- http://www.ebay.com/itm/10w-WATT-poly-crystalline-solar-panel-10W-PV-solar-module-for-battery-charger-/281251899506?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item417beb6872

  86. Love this and your blog! Thanks for putting it all out there for those of us that are just figuring it all out. One question, would it be possible to just skip the inverter if I wanted to build this kind of system to charge 12v power tools? It seems silly to convert 12v DC charge to 110v inverter and then plug in a battery charger that charges my 12v tools. I was thinking I could just try stripping off the plug and seeing if I could wire it directly into a 12v battery, but I have a feeling this won’t work. Any experience with this? thanks again!

    • Yes and No. Yes your right it’s inefficient to go DC to AC back to DC. Yes you could charge the batteries part way 12volts to 12 volts but I don’t think you could charge them fully. The batteries will reach equilibrium and current will stop flowing before your tool batteries are full. Picture a large bucket of water flowing into a smaller bucket of water via a tube half way up. As soon as the water level in the smaller bucket reaches the height in the larger bucket all flow will stop. That’s why 12 volt chargers charge at 14 volts to have “pressure” to push current into the 12 volt battery. Does that make sense?

      BUT——— If you had your solar panels in full sun, you would be generating more voltage and you could in thereby charge your tool batteries directly. Try it out and monitor the voltage, if it’s above 14 volts you’re charging!

  87. Jake says:

    Could you provide a link to the solar panel, or all of the parts you’ve used?

  88. Brd workshop says:

    What kind of charger do you recon?

  89. Tullyworkernick says:

    What do you use to recharge the battery besides the solar panels

  90. do you have the wiring diagram to post??

  91. James lozano says:

    Ok I think I got it. Will build it when I get home in April. Currently in the Middle East. Just want t have all the parts ready before I arrived.
    Thanks again for all your help. If this works out good I will try to make one that can run off of 220v
    Thanks

  92. James says:

    Really liked your video. Im going to build one just like your next month. Just purchased the item from Amazon. the only difference is that I will be using a 400w inverter in my set up as you said you were going to do in your video. The question I have is what gauge wire are you using? You think I will ok using 10awg wire? what are you doing for ground?
    Thanks

    • Use the same gauge as the wires your inverter will come with. I’m sure 10awg will be fine though especially at these short lengths. I’ve done some experiments with adding a switch to the fan in the inverter to save power. It works but I haven’t done much testing. Get one that only runs the fan under load and keep in mind the 18ah battery won’t last long at 400 watts. Less than an hour I’d say but for short big loads in the sun, it could be useful.

      • James lozano says:

        Thanks for the info. I purchased basically everything you did exemp for the inverter. What my plans for this project is to have enought power to charge up a couple of phones and a laptop. Not on the same time. Or maybe a couple of temporary lights or a speaker for my phone to play music. You think I should be better off purchasing a smaller inverter? I found some brass bus bars at work that I will be using as we’ll. I can always use the 400watt inverter on a big scale solar project. Thanks

        • If you got the 18ah battery check out this 200 watt inverter. It has several high power USBs. It would be perfect for your needs. ( I just added above) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EY6RJKA/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00EY6RJKA&linkCode=as2&tag=solarstereos-20

          • James lozano says:

            Thanks for your recommendation. I just bought it. So quick question and first I want to apologize to you for asking so many question. I know people are busy and this is helping me out a lot. So how can I connect the inverter to the battery? Do I connect the inverter to another lighter socket outlet and connect it to the battery? And on the 110v house receptacle, can I get a small pigtail and cut the female end and connect the power, ground and neutral to the receptacle? Do you have a wiring diagram for this set up I was trying to figure it out by myself but want to double check before I blow something up.
            Thanks again

          • Hi James, No problem. I’d cut off the cigarette plugs on this inverter then wire one side to your main power bus then the other side to a switch. Then you could shut off the inverter individually and it would be shut off when you shut off all power. Possibly overkill but that’s how I did it. If the inverter has it’s own switch then leave it on when you add another switch.

            Your right about the AC pig tail, easy peasy just plug it in. Don’t worry nothing will blow up but make sure you have the polarity right before you power up inverter. It will blow a fuse otherwise and sometimes the fuses are internal on those.

            No diagram yet. Haven’t had a chance.

          • Jess says:

            Ok so you say you cut off the cigarette plugs then one wire to the switch and the other to the main power bus, would it matter which wire went to the switch and the power bus from the inverter you know like positive and negative? Also any special technique to cutting off the cigarette lighter, cuz I really don’t want to mess that up. Thanks so much for your video I’m excited to build this just want to make sure I don’t fry anything.

  93. Tullyworkernick says:

    Amazon all of a sudden stopped selling these 10w panels. I wanted to build a cheap solar generator but now I have to spend $50+ dollars on a panel. Do you suggest any other panels?

  94. Gene says:

    Nice job, I am going to build one, thanks…

  95. Ann – Why would you want to power an electric heater with any battery powered system? Electric heat is a huge energy drain compared to how much heat you get. In a emergency I’d recommend propane or even better wood heat since it’s free, renewable, and you can find wood nearly everywhere. Off grid homes don’t have electric heat.

    How much this unit can power is really irrelevant since this is totally scalable all the way up to a system that fills a shed with batteries and is no longer portable. Portability is the key here. Good luck with your system, if you’re willing to pay for lithium batteries then you probably could power a heater!

    • Ann Straus says:

      I would want to be able to draw 120 watts to run an electric blanket throw for two days. I have gas heat backup and one small propane. Will add another propane this year. Still, what will the system put out and for how long? I have the inverter 400 watt, and the charge controller. Also one small solar panel that I think is a 60 watt, but not sure on that. The portability is fine, but what does it run for how long is the important question combo.

  96. Kenneth says:

    Where did you get your Xantrex 120 watt inverter? I cannot seem to find anything that small anywhere.

  97. Hi, I actually got mine as a give years ago. Any particular reason you want a Xantrex 120 watt inverter? I wouldn’t recommend the style I used because I had to basically destroy it to get it into the case. The ones I reccomend below are easier to deal with.

  98. Kenneth says:

    Yes, none of the ones you suggest fit in the box with out destroying them either. I was hoping the Xantrex would fit but I guess that it doesn’t either.

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