Introduction: All in One Portable Solar Power Unit: 220V + 12V + 5V + Automatic Battery Charge! ;)

My starting point was to see if we can make portable solar power unit:

  • lightweight
  • reliable
  • robust
  • different voltage outputs (including 220V AC)
  • capable of storing energy
  • capable to charge lead acid battery

Answer: Yes we can! ;)

If we well balance size and capacity of the unit, it will be much more useful.

When I search on web, found aluminum "suitcases" which can provide 220V AC output. They are usually very heavy due to lead acid batteries inside and not suitable to carry easily.

Another option was foldable panels fitted to fabric bases. Some of them has voltage regulators for DC output but only 2-3 different DC voltage levels...

Step 1: Main Parts Required

When I found "Seifert Magnus Midi 63" toolcase in local Bauhaus, very delighted:) Eureka!
it was perfectly matching size and specifications in my mind... Made of uv stable polypropylene and black in color. Dimensions 40.0x30.0x6.5cm and around 670 grams. Size well suited for two 10 Watts solar panels, has "ribs" on edges to protect switches and other equipments perfectly. Has handle and locks.

If I design a case for only this purpose, it would be very similar to this :)

Also we need 12V DC to 220V AC inverter. Found this 100 Watts unit on the web.

Sanyo 4S lithium ion batteries with over / under voltage protecting and over temperature protecting circuits.

Two 10W solar panels.

7A Lead acid battery charge controller

Digital voltmeter from Dealextreme

Aluminum composite panels to hold solar panels

Diodes to reduce li-ion battery voltage to start inverter (later you can disable them to save power)

Switches, power outlets, screws etc.

Step 2: Preparing Parts 1

Started to remove aluminum frames around solar panels. You should be very careful to not to break tempered glass on it.

Also removed big connector terminals and make them smaller.

Then fix them to aluminum composite frames by Sika WT40 PU adhesive and test them how to fit inside of the box.

When closed, panels perfectly protected during transportation and storage...

Added two parallel set of three diodes (in series) to reduce top voltage of li-ion pack when required. As they gets hot, prepared cooling fins by aluminum "U" profile. These parts located on left side of the box, well protected ;)

Also bend a small aluminum sheet to hold voltmeter.

Step 3: Preparing Parts 2

Also prepared paper labels for more professional look ;).

I'm printing them to photo paper by laser printer, then cut to required size and use transparent tape for surface protecting.

Back side, using double sided tape and 0.4mm grey pet film for digital screen.

I opened battery pack temporarily to show battery protection circuit here.

Then removed all "outer shell" of inverter to make it smaller...

Step 4: Installation

Here you can find schematics of solar power unit. It is Turkish, but added english explanations on it.

Edit:

Also added schematic as pfd download and gif format, in English :)

Detailed mounting photos with explanations added. Please note that space for additional batteries if required. Charging leads also stored here...

You can direct power to li-ion batteries or 12V external lead acid battery charging port.

Measure both batteries status whenever you want.

All connections completed based on this schematic and looks like spagetti :)

Actually you do need to open inside in normal operation, so it prepared as little bit tight. Also we have enough space for more li-ion battery packs (for more capacity) and cables etc. inside...

Step 5: Finished! :)

Here you can see control panel of unit.

Also a photo of open position added...

Everything on same (protected) surface and easily accessible.

Working perfectly...

Here are main specifications:

  • Very compact and lightweight, 300x400x65mm outer dimensions, 3.74kg
  • Solar power, 20 Watts, max. charge power 1.1A
  • Internal Li-ion capacity 40Wh (Sanyo batteries, over voltage, power, charge, temperature and discharge protected)
  • Nominal charging time 3-4 hours
  • Outputs: 220V AC, 12.6V DC, 5V DC (by using mobile cigarette lighter adapter)
  • 220V output power is 100 Watts
  • External fully automatic car battery charging port
  • All outputs also available by external car battery
  • All batteries are fused
  • Digital voltmeter and charge status table
  • All controls and outputs are on same side and protected...

I' m planning to add led surface lights on empty surface for an improvement.

Cost is around 220 USD (including some mistakes) but value of the success is priceless :))

Comments

author
balas68 made it!(author)2017-04-04

hi, i can't understand how many watts did you get. its 100 watt

author
serdaro made it!(author)2017-06-04

Sorry for delay...

Nominal power of inverter is around 100 Watts, you can get it around half an hour, or 50 Watts for an hour...

author
KarimM37 made it!(author)2016-09-30

Great work! :)
I found this page while searching for portable 220v socket.
I'm actually looking for portable garden tools, like the hedge trimmer.
Would this pack be able to power such equipment?

author
serdaro made it!(author)2016-09-30

It depends on the power of inverter and discharging capacity of batteries...
This one was around 80 watts if I remember it correctly...

author
claudiopolis made it!(author)2016-06-10

I thought about doing myself one like that. I even sort of did, if you take a look in my instructables. But what I didn't liked about the all-in-one case solution is the fact that you have to keep it all in the sun. A lot.

Have you tested it? I mean, sure, as a proof of concept it's great, but leave that case out for a full day in a hot sun. You won't be able to touch the solar panels. The case beneath them has no vents and it holds li-ion batteries. Take a look at the chart below. Beyond 40 degrees Celsius, accelerated battery aging sets in. Above 80 degrees you'll get a fire. Even with vents, it will still be too hot. BMS WILL cut down the charging rate, trying to compensate for the high temperature detected. So you'll get undercharged, hot batteries.

Also, the black plastic case under the intense UV treatment will get brittle and crack. That's from experience. Things aren't better with aluminium boxes, either. As I said, until batteries evolve to cope with high temperatures, their place is nowhere near the solar panels. I can see something like that working in slightly negative temperature environments where the cold would keep things in normal ranges - but the UV argument remains even stronger.

Thermal%20battery%20hazards.png
author
serdaro made it!(author)2016-06-10

I'm still using it; about two years, but yes, using li ion batteries in hot environment reduces their lifetime. So, charge capacity is lower than two years before.

But it never reaches 80 degree celcius which is higher than "vicat softening point" of plastic case.

BTW, case has uv protected formulation and made in Germany...


You may put a small fan and extra holes but of course it will also use some of panel's power; or you may put batteries out of the box (under of it as shade) while charging...

author
PatrickN39 made it!(author)2016-05-09

also what are the specs for the batteries and the BMS? Are they 3.7V? How many mah per battery? And finally, you seem to have a switch for either charging an external lead-acid battery with your charge controller.., but for the Li-ion battery, you feed the BMS directly from the solar panels?

author
serdaro made it!(author)2016-05-09

Batteries are 18650 li-ion type and 2200mAh and yes I'm feeding BMS directly from the solar panels.

author
PatrickN39 made it!(author)2016-05-09

Hi, I'm not getting the purpose of the 3S2P diodes configuration.. Why you need them in order to start the inverter with the Li-ion battery? Why would you need to "reduce" the voltage and amp for the inverter?

author
serdaro made it!(author)2016-05-09

Hi,

we need to reduce voltage to bypass overvoltage protection of DC-AC inverter.

As it is designed for 12V automotive battery, four serial li-ion battery voltage is too high for it...

author
rravisha made it!(author)2015-12-29

what are the specification for Voltage Protection diodes

author
serdaro made it!(author)2015-12-30

They are reducing voltage around 0.6V each and should resist 3 amps. As we 3S2P configuration, reducing 1.8V @6Amps to start inverter with full li-ion batteries.

You can use anything similar...

author
bilden made it!(author)2015-12-22

..but I will skip the 220v part and emphazize on 5v usb connectivity.

author
bilden made it!(author)2015-12-22

this is exactly what I am walking around planning to build. Yes!

author
tberry7348 made it!(author)2014-06-23

I love it looks awesome and professional i would like to see links on all the parts lists to pages giving full details of the parts used for example i googled "Sanyo 4S lithium ion batteries with over / under voltage protecting and over temperature protecting circuits" and nothing useful came up so i went to the sanyo website and it's pretty much useless. however the sanyo website does have some cool looking rack mountable batteries but no links as to where to buy or pricing or exact stats.... I really love what ya came up with here i prefer a 120v, 12v, 5v(usb) output so i'd modify it a bit but that would be much easier with links to the items used :P thanks for the awesome post

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-06-23

Hi,

actually I did not buy all parts from internet, but for batteries you cand find here for example:

http://www.dx.com/p/genuine-sanyo-18650-2600mah-re...

My battery pack is not ready made, 4S means four battery connected serial and protection circuit added later on. Batteries glued to each other by cyronacrylate type glue...

You can find battery pack inside photo in my instructables

author
terrefirmax2 made it!(author)2014-08-02

Hello- I admire and respect your work ethic and intelligence and am wondering where you went to school, and also whether your interest in technology and alternative power was encouraged/nurtured by your parents, teachers, or anyone else. I'm trying to identify the missing part in our U.S. educational system that is missing this crucial point. To support curiosity and thinking differently, to enable new ideas to come to light. Instructibles is a good model of how a community can support and encourage while still critiqing in a helpful way.

author
Max1guy made it!(author)2015-10-13

I teach solar at a community college in the US. We have a solar club which takes on projects and the students learn as they work, especially from projects such as this.

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-08-02

Hi,

thanks very much for your comments, I embarassed so much :)

Probably this is not related to education system but personality.

I'm a mechanical engineer worked as R&D manager formerly and like camping so much.

Yes, Instructables is best site I have ever seen to support thinking differently and distibute ideas all around the world.

I'm proud to be a part of it...

author
terrefirmax2 made it!(author)2014-08-02

Thank you for responding- you are probably somewhat correct. I suppose that anyone with a desire for tinkering will manage to find a screwdriver and something to take apart. I just wish there was more DOING in school, to reach all types of learners. But keep up the good work and passion!

author
tberry7348 made it!(author)2014-06-28

ty, for your quick responce! could i get the brand/part#'s/name of all the parts you used? may not be able to find all parts on the net but if i had more info on the parts i could at least get an idea how much money it would take....

author
xyndaen made it!(author)2015-09-08

ağa büyüksün :)

author
serdaro made it!(author)2015-09-10

Teşekkürler :))

author
Sean+Mcandrew made it!(author)2015-06-19

About how much do you think this costed?

author
serdaro made it!(author)2015-06-20

Material cost is around 220usd...

Labor cost is free :)

author
FvZCgLyN made it!(author)2015-02-28

Ellerine sağlık süper olmuş.

author
serdaro made it!(author)2015-03-01

Teşekkürler! :)

author
FvZCgLyN made it!(author)2015-02-28

Ellerine sağlık süper olmuş.

author
Jonathanrjpereira made it!(author)2014-11-24

Awesome Instructable. Congrats on the Win!

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-11-25

Thanks very much! :)

author
Earthlove made it!(author)2014-06-17

Wow!!! So many functions! Did you have to sodder any of the connections together? This would charge a laptop, right? Or would it need a USB port as well? Attempting to make this would be my first electric project and I definetly need to learn more about voltages. Thanks for the help!

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-06-17

Yes, you should solder many connections inside. Also should use shrink tubes to isolate them.

I'm charging and using my laptop with this power unit nicely. But it also depends on what is power of (wattage) your laptop adapter. My laptop adapter is just 35 watts (Vaio VGP AC10V5)

Good luck! :)

author
Earthlove made it!(author)2014-11-20

Ok ! Thanks, I will keep that in mind. :)

author
Earthlove made it!(author)2014-06-19

Ok, I guess I need to learn how to solder! Hmmm.... and wattage too. I actually just learned how to use shrink tubes while reconnecting the wires from the car to a trailer my family got. Thanks for your answers! :)

author
tech+savvy made it!(author)2014-06-17

Hi Earthlove IF I may ,

the answer to your question is yes ,

you should have more then enough power to run / charge your laptop ,

and you can use your household adapter ,

as far for learning your voltage as you say ,

its more about the amperage and the wattage ,

you can have high voltage but it will not do you any good if the amperage is to low ,

Hope this helps , regards Techsavvy

author
Earthlove made it!(author)2014-06-19

Yes! I welcome all input. I should look at your instructables, I bet I'll understand even more. Thank you! :)

author
Supernatural made it!(author)2014-10-07

Amazing!. I have made some suitcases before, but none has this style and finish.

Congratulations.

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-10-08

Thanks very much!

Actually, I started project after finding that "stylish" box :)

author
kota95 made it!(author)2014-09-29

question... could i run straight dc current from solar panel to battery and run from battery pack to converter and car outlet?

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-09-30

I do not understand clearly what you mean, but I think my unit already works similar like that.
Power flows over diodes to battery pack.
Battery pack has over voltage and thermal protection to cut off excess power...

You may check schematic to understand it clearly.

author
michaelgc made it!(author)2014-09-17

Really great work, congrats on the win...

author
emilygraceking made it!(author)2014-09-09

Congratulations on your well-deserved "Great Outdoors" contest win!

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-09-09

I'm feeling great! Thanks very much :)

author
TrollFaceTheMan made it!(author)2014-08-30

Nice Job :D

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-08-30

Thank you :)

author
WildOne1985 made it!(author)2014-08-03

Li-ion batteries will degrade faster if exposed to high temperatures. The box itself is of a dark colour and it will be placed in the sun (obviously). I would recommend that you do a temperature check to see how got it gets inside the box during charging to prevent having to replace the batteries too soon.

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-08-05

Thanks very much for information.

Yes, it gets warm under the sun. May be it is better to add a small fan inside of it powered by panels...

author
WildOne1985 made it!(author)2014-08-09

*hot

Solutions to the problem:
1) Brighter colour on the box.
2) Very small fan that vents hot air out of the box. A dust filter is needed of course.

Just having a fan blow air inside the box won't help much compared to actually removing it.

author
serdaro made it!(author)2014-08-09

As surface of solar panels also dark and we have to expose them to sun, I'm afraid that brighter color box can not help so much.

Small fan to upper side with dust cover will be added :)

author
jamiep made it!(author)2014-07-21

Would love to see a couple of usb port chargers on this for phones and such.

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