This is my second version of solar power.  The first version can be seen in my other instructable             


I did not take pictures as I was building this unit, because I had to make several changes as I was building.  If I had this instructable would have 100 pages, so I am showing you my almost finished product. 

On this first page you are seeing the closed tote.  This tote is a Contico 50 gallon tote with locking lid.  You can find these at most local home improvement stores.  I did a lot of looking before picking this tote.  It was the only tote that would give me the space inside and the strength to hold the weight of the components inside.

There are 5 meters in the front, this gives me the ability to know what is going on in an instance.  Starting on the left, the first meter is the amp reading of the solar power that is coming from my solar panels. The second meter is the voltage from the solar panels. The third meter, under the lock, is a battery meter just like a golf cart would have showing the battery percentage in 10% steps. Meter 4 is the amperage being drawn from the battery bank.  The last meter on the right is the battery voltage level.  At a glance I can see the power in from the solar, power out from the battery bank, and how much power is in the battery bank.  I got these meters on eBay, so there not the best but they work for what I am using them for.  The amp meters are a little off.  You can see that the 4th meter, amps from the battery bank, says 0.0.  This is not correct, there is really an amp draw of about 0.5 because of the meters are on all the time. The meters wouldn't have to be on all the time, but I wanted them to be on all the time.

Step 1:

This is the left hand side.  These 2 terminals have a T handle that screws off so that connections to the battery bank can be accessed from the outside of the tote.  These connections are not metered through the battery amp meter on the front. I put these connections on for those “what if” moments.
What if I had more batteries?
What if I need high amperage DC, like jump starting a car?
What if the batteries are dead and there’s not enough solar to charge the battery bank and i need to connect a charger?
What if……?
These connections can be used to put power in, or take it out.  Just as if connecting directly to the terminals on a battery. It would be best to use a ring terminal held on with the T handle, but if I needed to use jumper cables I have a set of lugs that screw onto the bolts that look like battery terminals.  This way I don’t damage the bolts.
<p>Nice setup.... Got any step by step how to build it?</p>
Very nice 'ible. Are you still using it for Christmas lights? You must be running them far away from your home. How many amps can your UPS supply, and how long could it run with the two batteries at that level? I have a rolling box that's very similar to what you used, and I'm thinking of supplying high current to something like halogen work lights and an electric chain saw for my needs. I'll have to dig out the rest of the parts that I have packed away and run my own numbers. Thanks for the inspiration!
yesterday i got all my lights put up and they are running on my box. last year i bought all LED lights. as a rough estimate i should be able to get more then 15 hours, but i need to take some readings to get that number a little closer. these lights are on the house like normal, i just don't want to pay extra to the utility for Christmas lights if i don't have to. i think my UPS is rated for 20A. <br> <br>i was also thinking about being able to run my little electric chain saw, but not with my set up now. i need a much bigger inverter, and power wire feeding it from the batteries. someday i will get it to that point.
i wouldnt mind seeing the 100 pages,actually.
i intended to take pics as i was building it, but i would get busy and forget the camera. then i would decide to make a change, because of necessity or opinion, and then i would feel obligated to post all the changes. so i decided to make a finished instructable. <br> <br>there are lots of things i want to add or change, its a matter of time and finding what i want on sale! all changes i will update this page from now on when i make a change.

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Bio: I have been an industrial electrician for almost 10 years. This is why many of my projects are electrical related. I am working on a ... More »
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