Instructables

Build a Qwik-Solar Step by Step

Picture of Build a Qwik-Solar Step by Step
The idea with the Qwik-Solar is to start small. This solar power generator is designed to be practical and affordable.  With the Qwik-Solar, you can learn to build and use renewable energy on a small scale. 

You learned to crawl before you walked. And you learned to walk before you started to run. The same thing applies here. Each step builds on and leads to the next step.

It’s my hope you’ll expand your skills and knowledge to build even more solar generators.

A Qwik-Solar video has been posted on Instructables here.

A free pdf plan for the Qwik-Solar can be downloaded here.  

Solar Power Kits are now available - Look in the Market Place.   
 
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
Almost everything you need can be purchased from Harbor Freight.   

Safety First!  Gather all materials together first. Remember to always wear your safety
equipment when using any tools.

Supply List: *prices are current as of 2010

Safety
Impact resistant safety glasses @ $2.00
Reusable corded ear plugs @ $1.00
Industrial vinyl gloves @ $3.00

Components
15 watt solar panel @ $80.00
5 in 1 portable power pack @ $100.00
7 amp solar charge controller @ $26.00
Electric tape @ $1.00

Tools
Drill Master 18 volt cordless 4 tool combo pack @ $40.00
Note: A hacksaw can be used in place of a power saw.

Frame
Items for your mounting frame can be purchased from a home improvement center.

One 10 foot lengths of schedule 40, 1.25” PVC pipe @ $4.00 
PVC primer, glue, and connectors @ about $20.00
Self tapping (#8 or #10) ¾ inch screws @ $4.00/box

All together, your first Qwik-Solar will be between $275.00 and $300.00
   
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Conserver (author) 1 year ago
Please join me in providing Solar to Sandy - It's our IndieGoGo campaign to send emergency solar generators to families in New Jersey.  Thank you. 


iPower Station.jpg
astral_mage6 months ago

i wouldnt call H.F. the best tool company. they dont buy from iso2000 company s at all. their product tend to be grade A - grade F. they just buy en-bulk an let their end store stores deal with any problems when they arise.

astral_mage10 months ago
just give a mix link page not yr website at all! please fix .
astral_mage10 months ago
if u use the charging inlet plug uill have a better set-up to charge the on board battery.
werving11 months ago
I have been web-surfing for weeks looking on how to do this. So glad I found you !!
We sold our trailer and kept our two, 50 watt Kyocera solar panels that are wired together for 100 watts. We also have a Die Hard Portable Power 950, that we want to solar charge for camping.
1) Should we separate the solar into one 50 watt ( mainly for ease of transport )
2) We used Morningstar controller that sold w/ trailer. Trusting that product, what "amp"
controller do you recommend on 50 and or 100 watt panel ?
3) Do the "controllers" have different plug-ins in back or do you have to wire in correct one that comes with Power Pack ? Is there a "multiple" plug-in to use ?
3) Power Pack has wall plug-in and small round end that goes into back to recharge. Can you recharge via front 12 volt ?
4) Also have a 410 watt power converter, can this be used somehow via panels ?
Thank you- thank you for being out there in web land !!!!
Grace
0writer1 year ago
Hi Conserver,

A great article and easy step by step guides. The power pack is also readily available in the UK too.

One question that I have is I am looking for a power solution for wild camping where an electric hookup isn't available at it appears this setup won't allow me to use a 12V refridgerator which is rated at 85w. Do you have any other examples of a setup that would do the job?
Conserver (author) 1 year ago
Just added a New Perk in Solar for Sandy.  Preview Here.  Thank you and have a great weekend! 
Conserver (author) 2 years ago
To clarify Qwik-Solar charge times:

1.  Battery is 18 amps and shouldn't be discharged more than 50%
2.  The 15 watt thin film panel puts out about 1 amp per hour
3.  9 amps / 1 amp hour = 9 hours to solar charge
4.  Charging the power pack from a wall outlet will take 24 to 48 hours - iow - solar charging is much faster

NOTICE:  We do not recommend trying to solar charge a battery without a charge controller.  Solar charging a battery without a controller can result in the battery acid boiling off and/or causing the battery to explode.  Be Safe and Use a Controller.

If  you need more solar power with faster charging, then we recommend our iPower Station 85:

http://www.solarmak.com/resources/85Watt%20Spec.pdf
seekertat2 years ago
This is GREAT! I think even I can do this. My only problem is buying the parts, which I will have to do as I go. Thanks for the great instructions not only on how to build it, but where to get all the necessary parts.

Thank you.
Conserver (author)  seekertat2 years ago
Your welcome!
Just updated my profile - linked to Solar Mak with out iPower Stations - so one doesn't have to search everywhere for parts. :)
You know, I wish this had been around a few years back when I first started to mess with solar power. Brilliant work!!
Yeah I know that I posted once already, but this is a very cool idea :o)
Conserver (author)  Windy Miller2 years ago
Thank you very much, Wendy Miller!
Just realized I had the old web site listed in my profile. It now links to the new web site (Solar Mak) with our updated iPower Stations. There's also a 'Solar Pedia' - let me know what you think! :)
davearrrrr2 years ago
Hello. With the charge controller in place, could you effectively leave your kit in place 24/7? Would it work like a float charger if you weren't using any power?

Thank you for your time

-Dave
Conserver (author)  davearrrrr2 years ago
Hi Dave,

Yes. The charge controller prevents back feeding to a panel at night, so one can leave it in place 24/7. If a power pack/battery is plugged into the solar charger it will keep it topped off ('float charge').

We are wrapping up a new portable solar power kit in the next few weeks that blows this one out of the water for price to performance - I'll be posting here as they become available.

If I can help in any other way - just post a question here!
Fantastic! Also, thank you for your quick reply. I am very excited to see your newest design!

I'm hopeful to have something I can leave outdoors (rain or shine) in the future, charging a battery bank for either emergency or general use.

Thanks again
Dave
Conserver (author)  davearrrrr2 years ago
Thank you, Dave!

I'm wrapping up the new website now - should be ready with the online store by next week. I'll post a link here when it's ready.

We'll also be offering a home solar kit (permanent install) which might work better for you.

I'll post an update next week!
What a brilliant idea! I'm going to do this for camping as we have one of these. I never thought it could be that easy to do, I feel like kicking myself lol

Many thanks!!

Windy
Conserver (author)  Windy Miller2 years ago
Your welcome, Windy. It's becoming one of the easiest to use power solutions for camping. The little mutli-purpose power pack got me even more hooked on solar energy to power all kinds of things.
ddavis6623 years ago
Well, you sold me on your idea.
I was at 1st going to hook up my 12 watt panel via a 7 amp regulator to the 12 volt system of my camper.
But the more i thought about it, the more I like the mobility of your portable power pack.
The main reason I was thinking about hooking the solar panel up to the campers 12 volt system was to keep the deep cycle battery charged.
I can't think of a reason why I couldn't charge the camper battery back up by temporarily hooking the power pack up directly using the jumper cables.
Conserver (author)  ddavis6623 years ago
There are a lot of ways to solar charge and expand power with Qwik-Solar.
We've used the jumper cables on the portable pack to expand power. Some pics:

http://www.qwik-solar.com/expand.php

For your campers deep cycle batteries - you could add a 12 volt receptacle - making it easy to directly plug in the Qwik-Solar for charging.

Depending on the amp rating on your campers deep cycle batteries, you'll more than likely need a solar panel much bigger than 15 watts to ensure a faster charge time.

If you post the amp rating (20 hr rate) of the batteries, I can figure the solar panel size that would probably work best.
Thanks for the info! I was wondering about a double ended cigarette lighter plug lead.
All I'm wanting to do is keep the battery charged when the camper is not being used.
At the present time, I just periodically plug the 30 amp AC cord to the house and let the 12 volt system charge the battery.
here is my completed project.
power pack
check out the charge my 15 watt panel is putting out.
07-27-11_1400.jpg
I can not believe how much I use the compressor.
Between mtn bike tires, basket balls, camper tires and a slow leak in one of truck tires it get used almost every day. Then I charge my cell phone every night too!
IMG_1645.JPG
Conserver (author)  ddavis6622 years ago
They are amazingly versatile power packs. I like the fact I can attach a battery with the jumper cable to expand power - and then (both DC and AC) power lasts longer. Great picture!
Thanks and didn't realize you could use the jumper cables just to expand power. For some reason I thought it built up some kind of "surge" when the knob is turned to "jump start".

I take it with me when I'm going around to do odd jobs, be it at my parents or out working on mtn bike trails.
Never know when one of it's many functions might come in handy!
Conserver (author)  ddavis6623 years ago
That is Awesome!

Sorry I didn't reply sooner - solar has been keeping me busy on the North Coast.
A double ended plug will work fine for an outlet to outlet connection.

How many watts is the panel? Generally, solar charging a power pack is much faster than charging it from an AC wall outlet (no power conversion losses from AC to DC).

And the multi-purpose power pack - it's amazing how many different ways we keep discovering for using it.

Awesome!

yea, it took almost 36 hours to charge the power pack using the AC charger.
The solar panel is a 12 watt.
I put a cigarette lighter plug adapter on the "battery" lead from the controller.
So I can charge the camper battery or charge the power pack.
Checked on the camper this morning, under cloudy conditions it was putting out 13 volts and the battery was charged up to two thirds
Conserver (author)  ddavis6623 years ago
The 12 watt panel generally puts out 1 amp.

12 watt / 12 volt = 1 amp

Power pack has an 18 amp battery - it will take about 9 hours to charge from 50%. (standard discharge depth).

I highly recommend a bigger panel for faster charge time. With 60 watts, the power pack can be charged in a matter of a few hours.

Warning - you'll end up going power pack crazy like I did - charging 2 or 3 packs a day (lol)!
Yea, this can get addictive!
I'm looking at either getting 1 or 2 more 12/15 watt panels or a 60 watt panel.
I've got my mom wanting me to add this to their small solar set up that I have installed at their house.
Conserver (author)  ddavis6623 years ago
Go for the 60 watt - the thin film panels are nice but can lose up to 25% of their rated power after the first year (only 5 year power warranty) - whereas the crystalline panels have have a limited 25 year power warranty (will maintain their output for many, many years) -

Best of all - since it's being added to the house - recoup 30% of cost with the Federal Solar Tax Credit.

Post more pictures - would love to see it when complete!
I can't remember what size solar panel this is.
I bought the complete set up, with the battery included for $99. Wish I had bought 2 of these units.
I can't remember if it was purchases from Harbor Freight or Northern Tools.

It powers 2 very bright LED lights on my parents front porch.
I added 2 more dry cell 12 volt batteries and relocated the solar panel to catch more sun.
I also extended the 12 volt plug. I think I'll get them an inverter and see what house hold items they could power.
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Conserver (author)  ddavis6622 years ago
Looks like the HB unit. We started with the HB panels last year - leading to the Qwik-Solar and this 'structable. Very nice set up - good placement to keep the electronics out of the rain.
Awsome Job!!!
Conserver (author)  Electronics Man2 years ago
Thank you! More to come soon with some other solar projects we've been working on.
bkalb3 years ago
Can this be done without a charge controller? How about adding a direct connection after the bridge Rectifier and using the units own battery charger circuitry? Cheaper?
bkalb bkalb3 years ago
I found a inexpensive battery booster at Walmart with an onboard charger. I carefully found the Bridge circuit at the input from the transformer and soldered two wires to it and installed a M sized plug in the case. The trans former was rated at 600 ma, so a 5 att solar panel was well within specs.

The unit only has a 7.5AH battery in it, but has a light, Usb port and 12v accessory plug in it. The unit works well with with the internal charge controller. At less than $100 with the Solar panel that is available at any automotive or hardware store.

Instructable to follow
Conserver (author)  bkalb3 years ago
Send me a link! Looking forward to your Instructable.
Conserver (author)  bkalb3 years ago
Technically, Yes - the 15 watt thin film panel can charge a battery without a charge controller. For safety, it's best to use a charge controller.

I followed the NEC as much as possible - a charge controller ensures that a battery isn't overcharged - so the electrolyte doesn't boil away.

Overcharge a flooded cell creates hydrogen - and - boom!
Overcharge a sealed battery and it destroys the battery. (It could go boom too.)

On the power pack, there is no charge circuitry on the DC 12 volt side. The charge circuitry is built into the AC cord if one charges from a wall outlet.

Solar charging is almost always much, much faster than charging from a wall outlet - no conversion losses.

Best practice is to use a charge controller - regardless of the size of the panel.
Overall, it's cheaper, faster, and safer to use the charge controller.
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