Have you always wanted to build a DIY solar generator? Now may be the perfect time to do so. To build a DIY solar generator, start by understanding the parts it requires. Although you don’t want to actually DIY a solar generator, you can learn more about solar generators from this article.
Why would anyone want to build their own solar generator when you can buy one? In addition to getting more out of building your own system, you know everything you need to do to fix and extend your own homebrew system.
What is a solar generator?
Solar generators are an emerging portable energy technology that allows you to generate and store the right amount of electricity without connecting to the utility grid, burning fuel, or making noise. They generate energy from the sun to charge batteries, and a built-in inverter converts direct current battery power (DC) into alternating current (AC) form that can be used in plug-in appliances. Solar generators require no fuel and continue to work without oil changes or adjustments. Think of them as small, portable, self-contained versions of the kind of off-grid PV systems one might put in their homes. It’s a good idea if you want to get into solar power, but there’s a catch.
Parts and Components to Build a DIY Solar Generator
Solar generators are simple machines that only require 6 main components to function properly.
Portable Solar Panel
Solar panels are an essential part of your DIY solar generator kit. It converts sunlight into direct current. Choose from portable or foldable solar panels. They have a special, compact, and robust design suitable for the outdoors.
Solar Charge Controller
To get the most out of your solar panels, you need an MPPT solar charge controller. It is best at variable power following the sun and will provide a reliable and clean output current to charge your battery.
To enjoy the power of your DIY solar generator anytime, you need a battery. It will store your solar energy and release electricity on demand. There are two battery technologies available: lead-acid and lithium-ion.
Lead-acid batteries have the following names: GEL and AGM. They are inexpensive and maintenance-free. Having said that, we strongly recommend that you buy lithium batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries, called LiFePO4, are far superior to GEL or AGM batteries in storing solar energy. They have a higher upfront cost, but their longevity, reliability, and energy density (lightweight) are superior to lead-acid technology. You will not regret your choice.
Your portable solar panels and battery storage systems provide only DC power. However, our home appliances use AC power (alternating current). So the inverter will convert DC to AC (110V/220V, 60Hz). We recommend pure sine wave inverters for efficient power conversion and clean power supply.
Protecting your DIY solar generator from dust and moisture is important to ensure the longevity of your system. Plus, it packs all the components into one easy-to-carry case for all your travels. We have selected 3 quality cases, from the smallest size for camping trips to the larger size for home backup systems.
The battery and inverter are the heaviest components. On average, your DIY solar generator will weigh less than 14 kg (30.8 lbs) in total, RVs less than 20 kg (44 lbs), and home backup systems less than 30 kg (66 lbs).
Circuit breakers and wires
Wires and circuit breakers are important components to connect the different components and keep your DIY solar generator kit highly secure.
Assemble your DIY solar generator step by step
Follow 5 easy steps to build your solar generator kit.
Tools needed for a DIY solar generator:
- A drilling machine with a hole saw
- Utility knife
- Wire cutters
- Electrical tape
- Glue gun
- Silicone sealant
- Prepare your case
Solar generators are plug-and-play, so all sockets should work without opening the case.
Use a hole saw to cut through the casing and carefully insert the socket plug. Apply silicone around the perimeter to seal it.
A second hole is required for the solar panel to connect to the solar charger. We recommend using waterproof electrical connectors that are sealed with silicon.
Repeat the same process for other external components such as the inverter remote control panel, LED lights, and the main switch
- Install the battery
The battery is the largest part of your DIY solar generator kit, which means it should be installed in your case first. LiFePo 4 batteries will work in all positions, but we recommend placing them in the corner of the case. They should be fastened to the wall of the case with battery straps.
- Install a solar charge controller
The solar charge controller must be glued inside the case. Make sure there is enough space for connecting the battery and solar panel.
- Install the inverter
The inverter is the second largest component and can be placed on the wall near the outlet. We recommend using straps so you can easily remove them for maintenance.
Be sure to leave enough space around the inverter to ensure adequate airflow.
- Wiring and Fuse Installation
Now that all your components are securely installed in your enclosure, it’s time to wire your system.
Connect the socket plug to the inverter. Use a 12 gauge wire (12 AWG) to connect the inverter to the battery and the battery to the solar charge controller.
Plug the solar panel extension cord into the solar charger (12 AWG).
You will need 3 fuses: between the solar panel and the charge controller; between the charge controller and the battery; and between the battery and the inverter.
You are now ready to produce green energy anywhere, without noise or smoke. Your portable homemade power station is compact, easy to operate, safe, maintenance-free, and will last for years.
To get the most out of your DIY solar generator, we recommend fully exposing the solar panels to sunlight and adding a small fan inside the enclosure for cooling.