Introduction: No Power? No Problem!

Picture of No Power? No Problem!

This simple and extremely helpful device will help you get connected with low power consumption devices after a natural disaster, blackout, or if you want to go somewhere off the grid, such as camping. You can even add a small solar panel to trickle charge the battery.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

The materials you need for this awesome build are :

- Deep Cycle Battery (measured in amp hours)

- Inverter (in my case, it's a pure sine wave(the kind of power the grid provides))

- Charge Controller

- Wire

- AC Recipticle and Cover Plate

- DC Power Jack

- A few Switches

- End Cut Off of Extension Cord

Optional:

- Outdoor Outlet Cover (needs the metal box to the right of it)

- Volt Meter (not needed and mine broke during the build)

- Momentary Switch for Volt Meter (you don't want that thing to drain your battery)

- 12v USB Adapter (if your inverter doesn't have one)

Step 2: Fit the Battery in the Box

Picture of Fit the Battery in the Box

The battery size and capacity is up to you but just make sure you can fit the battery in the box you buy. (Make sure you take measurements into the store, I ended up having to return one that would not fit my battery.) Even better still, you can design and create your own box out of wood, or if you're feeling extremely ambicious, you can 3D print one!

Step 3: Ports and Switches and Meters, Oh My!

Picture of Ports and Switches and Meters, Oh My!

The next step is to figure out where all of those pesky connections and switches will fit to your liking. Here I have them laid out in the design I want to create. I have drawn, in pencil, where I want to drill holes. I finally drilled the holes and fitted the components. Also, sorry I forgot to take a picture of me cutting the hole for the outlet but a Dremel "buzzed" through that task easily.

Step 4: It's Electric! Boogie, Woogie.

Picture of It's Electric! Boogie, Woogie.

This part can get a little tricky, but if you have any experience in electronic circuits, this will be a breeze. Turn your multimeter on continunity mode (the setting that makes your device beep when the two leads are touched together). put one lead on one side of the extension cord and match that up with the correct hole on the plug connector. Remember which one was which and then screw the wire onto the AC receptacle. Follow the same step for the other connection. Make ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that you have the correct wires in the correct place or you may risk damaging our electronics. I have included a schematic of all of the connections for your convenience.

Step 5: Test It Out!

Picture of Test It Out!

With any luck, you should have power! If you don't, make sure everything is connected correctly and the switch on the inverter itself is on. I had a ton of fun making this project and I hope you guys make it as well. Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to put them in the comments.

Comments

tobywinks (author)2015-01-25

Pretty neat! Check out my diy for a wiring time saver. I bet it would help you, and feel free to vote?

john.west.96343 (author)2014-11-24

Also liked the Volt Meter idea. Nice not to have to grab your DVM every time you want to know what's in the "Tank". Those LCD's are cheap on ebay too . Also on ebay et al and my favorite are the LED 7 segment displays for about $2-3 ea. Have only 2 wires...the voltage source powers them . My favorite is the 3 -30 v display wired in series with a momentary pushbutton. Just push read and release. Love these but never put one on my own emergency power box.

john.west.96343 (author)2014-11-24

I built 2 of these about 20 years ago inside a 12 X 12 X 6" electrical box. Still have 1 today. Purpose for designing it was mainly Texas storms and I have access to 17Ah Batteries. Used cheap 50 W Inverter. Mounted Swivel Socket on top (so it could be layed down flat) , Handle and pushbutton switch on top. Only use CF Lights. Bet it would do even better on todays LED Lamps. My lamps drew 200mA and would run for a long time. On my first unit was socket for a Wall Wart Power Supply ,,through a dropping resistor and diode kept the battery topped off. My second unit just kept it charged with a float charger from Harbor Freight. Makes a pretty decent work light too. Thought about a Patient long time ago but I can't tell you how many categories it fit into. See someone had a concern of running the Battery down completely. Any Inverter I used had a built in low voltage (around 10.4 v) cutoff. Don't stop building...jw

KROKKENOSTER (author)2014-11-18

Handy circuit but do not expect too much from that little battery.

emc2mm (author)2014-11-16

They have hydrogen gas converters for boats. This device changes the Hydrogen to H@O or water(then put a pad in bottom to increase the surface area for evaporation)

Digital Wizard (author)2014-11-16

My concern would be gas buildup inside the box when you are charging. I can easily see this setup exploding. Hydrogen and oxygen are given off while the battery is charging.

cfuse (author)Digital Wizard2014-11-16

Drill a few holes in the box?

Digital Wizard (author)cfuse2014-11-16

ANY hydrogen/oxygen buildup is dangerous, outside the box is best.

orlov127 (author)Digital Wizard2014-11-16

The best bet would be to wire a 12v computer fan in parallel with the inverter so that fan ins't constantly running and any fumes that build up would be blown out immediately.

Digital Wizard (author)orlov1272014-11-16

Best bet would be charging the battery outside the case completely, in the open, preferrably outdoors.

PhilKE3FL (author)2014-11-16

I keep my deep cycle batteries charged with a trickle charger, an old UPS works fine. I use Anderson Power Poles as connections to everything 12 DC now (I'm an amateur radio operator - ham radio - and work with emergency services & these connectors are the standard) so the batteries are always ready to go.

Also, the batteries should be the type that you can add water to - always use distilled water, check the level once a year & keep it topped off. BE CAREFUL while it looks like water and you are adding water the fluid inside the battery is an ACID and it will very easily eat through your clothing if any acid splashes onto it.

I keep the top of the case off so it can out gas while it charges and the batteries should be kept in a well ventilated room. you do NOT want hydrogen gas buildup in your room. Remember the Hindenburg! see wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster

maoriboy (author)2014-11-16

I think its a great idea wirh good intention.Maybe some tweaking here and there to suit each persons needs.

I would though just use my 1900 amp jumpstart power pack which has a built in LED,twin 12volt charger sockets,trickle feed port option,air pump and of course jumpstart leads.

Versitile, pick up and go anywhere and more than 1 recharge option including car 12volt,wall socket and solar via trickle panel...

LED light goes for days when fully charged.

Great idea though and you should be congradulated for the effort.!

DewM (author)2014-11-16

I have a similar concept for my radio go kit, except I have a 3 box stacked tool box from Lowe's.The bottom box is the power box, next is radio box with a YEASU FT-817, and an Anytone 3318 (my HT carry radio) charging cradle and 2 extra batteries. Top box is for basics, jacket, gloves, flashlight, common C and AA batteries etc etc.
I use 3 emergency light battery boxes (similar to what you you see in hotel hallways), each has 2, 12v 7 Ah battery's and would run 3, 20w flood lights for 2 hours. Instead of an installed power inverter with a outlet, I use 4 12v automobile power ports (cigarette lighters) mounted on the side similar to your household outlet. My dc to ac inverter is attached to the tray of the bottom (battery box) with a separate power port and only used if needed.
I chose this concept because the emergency light boxes have their own power meter, over charge protection, and cooling/vent fans. Also begin independent battry boxes, if power is needed someplace else each can be taken separately .
Each battery box is independently connected to the power box with Anderson power poles, the 120 charging is done with a 4 strip common power supply and an old Solar electric fence charger is attached if needed.
At the ARES field day (2 day) training exercise in October I went a day and a half charging my HT and talking on the Yeasu (2m/400 - no HF) and was able to fully charge the batteries in one box with the solar fence charger in 12 hours.
Further plans are a small 12 v lamp (probably out of the glove box) and attached Anderson female plugs, a fishing real to raise a small J pole Antenna, and a better power meter system (the ones on the emergency light boxes were difficult to see). I would also like to get a small fold down desk attached to the handle (maybe an airplane tray table) and I need to put kick stands or door stops on because I did have a balance issue.

beau28713 (author)2014-11-13

Why are you using an inverter to change DC voltage to AC voltage and then sending it to a usb (universal serial bus) jack? According to your schematic that is what your doing. Usb ports are DC voltage. Also why are you using a DC voltage input jack off of your power charger? Do you mean to use a DC ouput port off of the power charger and an AC output outlet off of the inverter. Because an inverter or (converter) if you will changes DC voltage to an ac voltage. And a rectifier changes ac voltage to DC voltage.

ed.alexander (author)beau287132014-11-16

I think the diagram is wrong. He has a 12V car USB adapter in his parts lists and pictures

orlov127 (author)ed.alexander2014-11-16

My inverter has a USB port on it, I am just extending the usb to the outside of the toolbox where the switches are.

melissa_b04 (author)2014-11-16

Awesome. I can't wait to see your 2.0

BillR2 (author)2014-11-13

First thing first, I applaud your creativity- that said,

The real problem is this, When the power goes out and this unit has been sitting for a while 3 things come to the front..

1. how is this useful if its been sitting and there hasn't been a charge on the battery for a long period of time, this will draw it down and temperature also plays a factor when its stored.

2. How would you charge it there is no charging circuit? if your off the grid, how are you going to maintain electricity when you have no way of cycling the charge on the battery that feeds power through the inverter for 110V /AC?

3. The most important item here is the length of time associated to the unit.. If you used a deep cycle marine battery you would get the best performance as you wont kill the battery as its designed to go dead and then recharge completely, the use of a standard car battery is designed to just use the top of the charge for maximum effect and recharge.. killing a regular battery to the point its lost a charge completely shortens the half-life of the battery. The biggest drawback is that this can't be used for a off the grid approach. however in short bursts of electrical outages it is good as long as you have a way to charge it. the power consumed by even a 400W inverter will draw the battery dead quickly even with a CFL bulb. you would not be able to power large devices and maintain power for extended outages.. cell phone charging, periodical light use, laptop recharge (low amp draw devices) will benefit from it most.

All in all a very good idea but please don't market this idea as an off the grid device to keep you in the power as this will not support your claims.

It is an emergency use item providing you have this unit on a trickle charger prior to its need.

My .02 cents but I do admire the creativity. I just would not want people thinking this is a never ending electrical device that will allow them to survive for long periods of time off the grid. (etc natural disaster, Acts of god!) you get the idea.

BillR2 (author)BillR22014-11-13

Sorry Edit *** Did not see how you included the charging circuit.. but like I said the rest appears to be accurate.. I do like the other post idea of adding a small solar panel to the top of the box. this included with a charging circuit will keep the box charged in the same fashion as a trickle charger but the length of charge time will vary based on battery used. your length of time of use will also vary on how fast your inverter draw power and which devices draw from that.

End result low power devices, good strong batter, and including a solar panel and I think you have something very usable.. it will work long term with its own ability to recharge itself.

orlov127 (author)BillR22014-11-13

I appreciate the criticism, I changed my intro to make it more accurate to the features of the device, and I do agree that this isn't a do all end all device for unlimited energy. My main intention for this was to power the most needed devices, like cell phones, laptops, GPS units, laptops, and even CFLs or LEDs in the most dire of situations.

beau28713 (author)2014-11-13

If you need to charge a battery powered device you can do so from the battery and a voltage regulator. No need to convert to ac power. ac adaptors that plug into an ac power source and used to charge a DC device have a rectifier built into the ac wall wart device. So the inverter you are using to convert from DC to ac can be used for other things. May be im miss understanding you.

I do like your device you built its a great idea. Great thinking!!!!!!!!!!

dhaneshg (author)2014-11-13

in the market u get better on cheap price

MohamedA10 (author)2014-11-12

Nice idea but when charge the battery take it out of the box
because these is danger of leak
that's happen with me
A big battery explode on my face
Be careful

Kafukai (author)2014-11-12

Looks great!

You can add solar panel for the summer or camping. Also build a small turbine( you can use pre-owend car alternator for the generator) for the winter blackouts. Goodluck :-)

orlov127 (author)Kafukai2014-11-12

Thank you! I was thinking about that and it would be totally awesome to have a completely off the grid solution for power when the electric companies fail!

seamster (author)2014-11-04

This little portable power box looks incredibly useful. I think everyone needs one of these!

orlov127 (author)seamster2014-11-12

I think it'd be awesome to have one of these when the power goes out so you can brag to your friends that you have electricty!

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