It's a dark and stormy night–too dark. Your home has lost power. Fortunately, you've got a fully charged power plant, built from an inexpensive solar panel and a rechargeable battery. Eight hours of sun will produce enough juice to watch An Inconvenient Truthtwice–on a portable DVD player. You can even find inverters that will turn the station into an AC outlet. Add additional panels and batteries, and you could power the margarita machine and the flat-panel too.
Build a Solar Power Station
Easy | | | | |
- A. Bamboo scraps ($7; local flooring store)
- B. Sunforce five-watt, 12-volt solar panel ($48; amazon.com
- C. Quarter-inch plastic mono plug
(50; allelectronics.com; #SPH)
- D. Solar DC charger controller for solar panel ($28; allelectronics.com; #SCN-2)
- E. 12-volt 12AH rechargeable battery
($36; allelectronics.com; #GC-1214)
- F. Four feet of 18-gauge wire
($5.65; allelectronics.com; #WRB-18)
- G. Two female terminal disconnects
(23; jameco.com; #109112)
- H. 15-amp DC panel meter
($12; allelectronics.com; #PMD-15A)
- I. Reese "Towpower" connector
($9; local auto-parts shop)
- J. Cigarette-lighter "Y" adapter
($3.65; allelectronics.com; #CLP-Y)
- Build the case
To make a cheap, eco-friendly case, we glued up bamboo flooring scraps (bamboo is fast-growing and renewable). Cut holes in the box for airflow and easy carrying, and build frames to hold the DC charger controller and the battery.
Add the panel
Attach the solar panel at an angle roughly equal to your latitude for optimum charging (go to census.gov/cgi-bin/gazetteer to find yours). Add a tilt bracket for additional adjustability. Leave space underneath both the panel and the controller for airflow.
Wire it up
Snip off the cigarette-lighter plug and solder the quarter-inch mono plug onto the "Y" adapter. Insert the mono plug into the 12-volt output outlet on the controller. Connect all four power leads from the battery and the solar panel to the controller's input terminals. Hook up the meter to the controller's input terminal for the solar panel. For more power, attach additional solar panels, and add extra batteries-but don't exceed the 12-volt rating of the controller.
- Connect the battery
Test all connections with a volt-
meter before attaching the battery.
Connect the red wire with a female-
terminal disconnect to the battery's
positive (+) terminal, and connect the black wire to the negative (â€) terminal. Place the station in the sun, and plug something in.
Where does this piece (The Reese "Towpower" connector) fit into this whole project?
I made my own using this as a guide. Great project for fun and to learn about photovoltaics. Check how I made mine here: http://go.to/solarproject
Why does this plan include a 15-amp DC panel meter if the amps if is suppose to generate at 12volt and 5 watts is less than 5 amps? Do I have incorrect calculations?
I also feel the author should be more detail into his plan. It is a good plan to start out with but I feel Dave Prochnow should revise it for the benefit of his readers. If you are looking for a nice online plan than click on charliton's link.
Wow, that's freaking cool! Is this something that I could use along with my own solar panel that I've built? I've been trying out those guides online that have you build a solar panel yourself. They're great!
- Brett @ www.efficientsolarpanels.com/
Can you use an inverter with this setup to run... lets say a radio for example? What modifications would have to be made? Thanks
good idea,poorly explained.you can learn how to build your own solar panels from scratch for a few bucks and save a fortune on bills this site is actually well thought out.
I'm building a renewable energy guide at www.diyenergyathome.com Inspirational to see this guide! Thanks. J
Great Product very easy to install. Produces a good amount of electricity enough to cut a huge amount off your electric bill every month. Also perfect for emergency usage.
Looking for a circuit to build a 12V 10A Solar controller for a project to protect my battery. I have the 15W panel and 7Ah battery. Thanks