What happens when life takes you somewhere that lacks Internet access or electricity, but you need to use your computer? Whether you’re faking out your boss while on a long fishing trip, or suffering through an extended power outage, there are times when laptop batteries won’t cut it. That’s when this portable solar office setup comes in handy. With a few off-the-shelf parts, you’ll have continuous juice and Wi-Fi anywhere there’s sun and a cellphone signal.
I opted for parts that would run my laptop in the sun for around five hours without tapping reserve battery power. Together they weigh about 70 pounds and fit in Pelican’s 1550 Case. A Sun Xtender PVX-560T battery gives backup power for two sunless days, and an inverter supplies 120 volts of AC power. The rig also has a router, weatherproof connectors, and a solar panel and charge controller to keep the computer running without using reserve power. It works great no matter where I am. I’m only in my backyard right now, but I used it to write this article.
Create a Solar Office
- Choose a secure case. I used a Pelican case and a fabricated aluminum frame to mount the internal components.
2. Securely mount the battery close to the middle of the case.
3. Mount the inverter and the router in the remaining space.
4. Prepare the control panel with holes for the mounted components and vents near the location of the inverter.
5. Mount the charge controller, voltmeter gauge, battery-disconnect switch, connectors, toggle switch and USB bulkhead connector.
6. Wire the components, and put rubber boots or heat-shrink tubing over the exposed terminals on the disconnect switch and the battery.
7. Install the control panel onto the panel frame in the Pelican case.