Carrying a solar generator on your camping trip can double the fun without you having to burn fuel or disturb your neighbors. You can easily charge your smartphones and electronic devices without making any noise. They come in various shapes and sizes and fit inside your vehicle. There are cost-efficient as well as high-quality options with a wide range of features.
Solar energy is cheap, eco-friendly, and extremely convenient. By making a solar generator, you will have your own mini-power plant that can cater to all your electrical needs, whether at home or on a field trip.
Why not just buy it?
Most Solar generators available on the market actually deliver much less power than you’d expect and also recharge very slowly. You can always make one at home. A ready-made unit would cost about 30-40% higher than it would if you purchased and assembled the components on your own. Let’s see some ways in which you can make a Solar Generator all by yourself!
1. Under $200 Run and Charge solar power station
If you want your solar generator for camping, chances are, you don’t need to power it much with it. For this cheap and portable solar generator, you’ll need a 12V deep cycle Battery, 400W inverter, a rolling toolbox, bridge rectifiers, and some connecting tools. The model uses 5W solar panels, and the wheels on the toolbox make it very easy to move around.
You can use this solar battery pack to charge your gadgets on the move. What’s great about this model is that the whole setup, including your solar panels, will cost you only $198.
2. Inexpensive $650 Solar Generator
This plan gives you 3.5kWh of energy and involves making your own battery. You can get a $25 heavy-duty Craftsman toolbox as a case for your battery. To construct your battery, you can use a bunch of Pegatron battery packs that contain 2600mAh cells.
Opening all these cells might be a little time-taking though. Using the honeycomb pattern, you can fit up to 5 kWh worth of cells in the toolkit, but that might be heavier.
Use 2P Nickel Strips to connect the cells in parallel. You might want to take the help of a professional to weld it, in case you’re not familiar with the process. With a couple of pieces of 12 gauge silicon wires, standard XT60 connectors, and 14S 48V BMS wiring, your battery should be good to go. Cover it with a Pack-Sized Heat Shrink to ensure safety.
The heart of the build is a Reliable Electric Pure Sine Wave Inverter of 1500W or 2000W.
The system uses 12A Recessed Outlets, a Day green buck converter, and a Drok energy meter(0-300V) for the user interface. You will also need 12 V cigarette lighter outlets and a temperature fan controller to ventilate the toolbox. For your change controller, consider the Generic MPT-7210A since it takes input smaller than your battery voltage and is very portable.
Once the battery is all set and ready in the toolbox, place the inverter and charge controller above it, insulated by a sheet of plastic. Now, head outside and set up a 270W Renogy Solar Panel of max voltage 30.2 and plug it into your battery!
3. Recycled Solar Generator
Imagine being able to make your own solar generator using parts mostly taken from the trash. Sounds great, right? That’s exactly what this solar plan is generally about. It’s perfect for a small solar generator that can power up your mobile phones and radio.
It uses a few old solar garden lights, a photo frame, plywood, and some paint. You can solder five panels in a row onto the picture frame. This model fits 4 such rows in one frame. You will also need some diodes from Radio Shack, which you will solder on the positive terminal of each row of panels, while the negative ends are spliced into a single exit wire.
An old sewing box can serve as your battery holder, and the batteries can be taken from a broken electric toy such as a kids scooter. You can also use a UPS from an old computer for the battery.
4. $820 Solar Generator
This model attempts to replicate the Inergy Kodiak Solar generator using Lipo pouches and actually achieves a much higher efficiency at half the price.
For this one, you can get a case on Amazon for $140, 42 8Ah pouches of lipo cells for $156 and stack them on top of each other. Since they have aluminum tabs, you may have to punch holes in them and use brass eyelets to solder these packs together.
Then, you can use xt60 connectors to connect six of them together and tape them up. Make six such sets, put them in your case, and place a $290 PureSine inverter on top of it.
The rest of the components, like a $20 charger, power sockets, et cetera, can be drilled into the top of the case. Additional costs would include about $100 for plugs and connectors and a little something for your cables and relays. This solar generator would be able to give you an energy of 1200Wh.
5. Tiny House solar generator
Are you building a tiny house away from the busy city life? A solar generator is the best way to power your new home! Once you have decided what will and will not go into your tiny house, you can calculate the power required to run it and custom-build a solar generator.
Next, get some solar panels that fit your wattage necessity and pick a long-life battery, such as the Universal Power Group 12V one. Buy a power inverter (preferably pure sine wave) and a 10A Solar Panel Charge Controller. You will need a container to store your battery, along with a large styrofoam cooler.
Once you make the connections, set up the panels in a direction where they get the most sunlight, and voila! You’re all set.
6. Pop-up Generator
Say you need to power a lot of things, but also want to transport your solar generator easily. A pop-up solar generator is the best option for you!
You will need some Black Euro-boxes, four 35W solar panel modules, an inverter, a charge controller, a couple of batteries, and some connecting utilities. First, you have to prepare aluminum profiles, build boxes for the inverter and battery, and then build a foldable structure for the solar panels. Finally, set up the wiring, ventilate the system using copper water pipes and seal it with silicon.
With the help of this foldable solar generator, you can produce lots of electricity while still having a portable system.
7. Noiseless solar generator
This one needs you to get a couple of deep cycle car batteries, a solar controller, 275W solar panels (preferably recycled), and a 2000W pure sine wave inverter. Including the plywood to hold the setup, it will cost you about $1500.
You can easily use this solar generator to charge your computer, mobile phone, glow your LED bulbs, run your refrigerator and listen to the radio. Most generators are usually loud and disturbing, but a quiet solar generator saves you and your neighbors from having to endure the noise.
8. Under $300 Generator
For this one, you can purchase a small solar panel (12-16V) for about a hundred dollars. Buy a $60 deep cycle 12V battery of lead/acid or gel and a $10 case for it.
You can find a $25 DC meter 12V from Radio Shack, and the triple inlet DC input would cost you another 10 dollars. If you want to run any AC appliances, you can consider getting a 50-dollar Inverter. Count the number of watts you’d need, considering all the appliances that need power, and get one accordingly. The model in the link uses a 115V, 140W inverter.
Once you’ve got these components and a few connecting tools, you can set your portable DIY solar generator up in just one afternoon. The cost approximation, in this case, too, includes the price of the solar panels.
Solar generators are the best asset you can add to your home, your travel minivan, or your little treehouse in the woods. They are cost-efficient and can adapt to your needs as necessary.
Whether you want to power just your smartphone or an entire house, solar generators can serve your purpose. Even on cloudy and winter days, solar panels have been observed to give sufficient output for our basic necessities.
In order to make the best use of your resources and save some money, you can make your own Solar generator instead of buying it. Using items available at your disposal will not only prove to be a cheaper option but also an environment-friendly way to make your solar generator.
You can refer to any of the DIY Solar Generator plans discussed in this article to cut down on your electricity bill and enjoy your camping trips without carrying multiple power banks or asking help from locals in the area. Go Solar!