How to Build a Solar Generator (DIY)
Solar generators provide a way to supply numerous devices and equipment electricity without having to rely on a grid, standard batteries, or other external power sources. This can be useful in various scenarios, such as power outages in your area.
Although there are currently countless solar generators on the market, it’s not very difficult to make your DIY solar generator. With just a handful of tools and a few items of equipment, you’re well on your way to finding an inexpensive way to power a range of electrical appliances and items.
Solar energy works on a very simple concept known as the photovoltaic effect. The sun’s rays provide photon energy. When photon energy is in orbit with electrons, it pushes those electrons out of their orbit and generates electricity. This electricity can be sent to either an electrical device or a battery for storage or use.
Solar panels contain silicon solar cells that make this effect possible. Set up a solar panel simply towards the sun, and the photovoltaic effect occurs in the panel when it’s not covered.
Solar generators are a system of parts that work together to store, process, and deliver the electricity e from this process. These generators vary in size and movability, but all use the same general concept.
It’s fully renewable; therefore, making solar power is an excellent energy source and has little to no carbon footprint in most applications. Power grids can fail and batteries can run out, but solar energy will always be there for you.
Let’s look at the nitty-gritty of this post on how to build a solar generator.
Good Application Possibilities for a Solar Generator
Be aware that do-it-yourself solar generators can’t power an average house. (Although they’re great for small houses.)
But they’re good reserve energy for those with frequent outages. If you live in an area with a frequent power outage, a DIY solar generator can be the ticket to leave the lights on.
Do-it-yourself solar generators are also useful when camping or for operating a single device that consumes a lot of energy, such as a CPAP or electric grill. People who live in motorhomes can operate their mobile homes with a combination of wind and sun. They can combine a generator with more commercial versions of solar panels for camping.
Some people even use self-made solar generators to power-play stations and telephones on long bike rides.
A Word of Caution When Building a Solar Generator
Knowledge of applied electricity is required when building your home improvement solar generator. If your experience in dealing with electrical appliances is limited to connecting and replacing light bulbs, this is not a suitable project for you.
You may want to hire a certified and well-verified electrician to work with you even if you understand how positive and negative charges work, on your DIY solar generator.
Tools You Need
Very few tools are needed to make a DIY generator because most of the devices have to be connected. However, you will need a few things: A pair of wire cutters, some Velcro straps, and a power drill with different drill bits.
Now for the really important part. A solar generator is a combination of a few devices that work together to use, convert, store, and provide the electrical energy to your devices.
Your solar panels are what you’ll use to capture solar energy in the first place. Solar panels can usually be used in conjunction with each other, so don’t hesitate to get more than one if it can be chained to another.
Note that solar panels are available in different wattages. The higher the wattage, the faster you can store energy. Make sure you get along the power cord if one is not automatically supplied with the panels.
You’ll need a cable long enough to protect the battery array from rain or sun while charging the system.
Long Life Battery
Next, you will need a high voltage deep cycle battery. This battery holds the sun’s rays until you need it to run your refrigerator, for example. The best choice is a battery that is designed to absorb solar energy while supporting a wind-powered motorhome. Check out the Universal Power Group 12V battery or the 12 Volt AGM Deep Cycle Battery.
Carefully select your solar battery. It must be able to maintain the cycle of daily energy intake and output. Many batteries are only suitable for a few electricity depots.
You’ll want a solar battery with a good discharge depth. In layman’s terms, this means that the battery can cope with a discharge of ninety percent of its energy without crapping.
Check the warranty for the battery. It should have a guarantee of at least ten years. It’s a good idea if the warranty also indicates how many cycles the battery is good for.
Get an Inverter
The sun provides what we call “direct current” energy. So you need an inverter to convert this energy into alternating current. Alternating current is safer than direct current. That’s why electrical systems are designed to run on alternating currents.
The inverter you have selected requires several output connections. A pure sine wave inverter is best suited for this purpose. These are some of the best inverters that can be considered for solar installations. Look for an inverter with several ports, such as USB, 12v, and AC outlets.
Another safety element on your DIY solar generator is the charge controller. This device standardizes the level of charge that goes in and out of your battery. The charge controller works together with the inverter to prevent your system from exploding. Without a charge controller, there’s the risk that your battery will overcharge or give off a harmful charge to your inverter.
A few companies manufacture charge controllers for special use with DIY solar generators.
You also need a bunch of positive and negative wires and plugs. The cables connect the solar panels to your battery and the battery to the inverter and the charge controller.
Voltmeters can be used to measure the incoming and outgoing voltage and the remaining battery charge. Not necessary, but certainly helpful.
You need a container to hold the battery, inverter, cables, and controller. This container must be large enough to accommodate all the parts, but not so big that the units roll around.
Make sure that your container has a completely removable upper part since you will need to run cables through the upper part to connect the battery to the inverter.
It’s best to obtain a container that provides some protection against moisture. This way, your do-it-yourself solar generator will last longer. A large polystyrene cooler can work.
Depending on the size of your yard, you may be able to use a small cargo container. The advantage is that you can hang the panels on the walls of the container.
Some enterprising eco-entrepreneur have even designed solar-powered mini-offices from cargo containers.
You can also build a container individually from wood. In this way, you have exactly the right size. Many people with self-built solar generators recommend that your container has wheels so that it’s easy to transport.
Now that you have all of your equipment and tools, it’s time to learn how to make a solar generator.
You’ll want to find out where you want to place the DC meter and power outlets. There are a few things you should be aware of with this part.
First of all, you’ll want to think about how the battery box should sit when it is used. Place your DC meter in an easily readable location so that you can access it at any time for quick reading.
When installing your sockets, consider how your chargers, plugs, and other device accessories are arranged side by side. For example, if a frequently used appliance has a larger plug, it may be advantageous to separate it from other nearby outlets.
Second, you need to consider how everything is assembled in your box. If the sockets have a large back wall, make sure that they fit when you get your inverter and battery into the box.
Once you have determined all of the above and made sure everything will work without interfering with each other, you can start to carefully drill and install your outlets and DC meter.
Layout all of your components. Find a place on your cooler you want to place your inverter easily accessible. Once you’ve chosen your spot, drill a hole at the top of your container. This is where the inverter will be located. Insert a wire into the container and then place a piece of Velcro over the hole.
This will secure the inverter so that it will not wobble around. If you have a voltmeter, make room for it and do the same, preferably next to the inverter.
When working outside the container, connect the battery to the inverter. Use a cable to connect the negative pole of the battery to the inverter. Then connect the positive pole to the inverter.
Place a piece of Velcro tape in a corner at the bottom of the container to cushion the battery, then place the battery on top of it in the same corner.
Drill another hole in the top of your container at least 2inches away from your other components and attach a Velcro strip for your charge controller. Pass the outgoing wires through the hole and connect them to the battery as described above.
There are two ways to do this – permanent or temporary.
For a temporary connection, you can use quick-connect plugs to easily connect your solar panel to the front or back of the battery box.
For a more permanent solution, you can connect the solar panel directly to the battery as you did with the other components.
Drill a hole on the side of the controller to pass the solar panel cable into the generator.
Find a place to set up your solar panel. Position the panel towards the sun, and connect the cable to the charge controller inside your “device.” Let the battery charge at least 50%. You are now ready to use the generator for power supply via the inverter.
If your array is mobile, you may be able to experiment with orienting the panels in different directions at different times of the day to maximize your power savings.
Now that you have fully charged your generator, you can start using it to power your electrical devices.
Here the quick connectors for the solar panel come in handy.
You can have your solar panel mounted where you need it and quickly remove the box to take it with you wherever you go.
Take the device you want to charge or turn on and plug it into the correct outlet.
Your device should turn on or start charging. Monitor how long the charging process takes and how much power you have left once the charging is completed.
If you do this with different components, you will get a short guide on how long you can charge certain things.
It will also be an advantage to keep an eye on the charging time of the battery in the sun.
Solar energy is easy to obtain since most regions of the world have sufficient sunlight all year round. Solar panels are used to absorb energy emitted by the sun, and you can convert this energy into usable electricity for your home and appliances with a suitable generator.
In the event of a power outage, solar generators can be a good way to keep important devices such as radios, cell phones, and other needed devices up and running.
While you can go ahead and buy the best solar generator you need, many homeowners choose to build their solar generators. This lets you build it to your specifications and must provide you with an easy-to-use generator that delivers exactly the amount of power that you need.
It’s very easy to build your solar generator since all you need is a solar panel, an inverter, and a battery. Considering all the points above, we hope you’ve now learnt how to build a solar generator.