In this Instructable I will show you how I set up my solar electric garage lighting. I'm using a Fenix International ReadySet Solar Kit to power my lights. During sunny weather the 15 watt solar panel generates electricity and stores it in the battery pack. With a day's charge I can run the DC electric lights in my garage for several hours without having to use grid electricity. I also use the battery pack to charge my iPod through the built in USB port.        

I say "Off Grid" in quotation marks because the garage itself is very much on the grid. The only thing that is capable of operating independent of grid power are a few lights in the ceiling of the garage. Even so, the battery pack comes with a wall adapter charger that I have used from time to time to keep it charged up.

One of the great things about this installation is that it is hard wired and fully integrated with the garage. The lights look just like conventional ones that would be installed in your home. All of the wiring is concealed behind the interior sheathing with the exception of the battery pack and a little bit of PVC conduit. If this installation was done as new construction instead of a retrofit I could have easily done without the conduit.                                                                                                           

Step 1: A Little About The ReadySet Solar Kit

Instructables was kind enough to send me this neat little solar kit as a prize for being runner up in last year's "Off the Grid Contest".

The kit comes with a solar panel, an intelligent battery pack, a universal USB cell phone battery charger,  a wall adapter charger and a 12 volt LED light bulb with power cord.

The battery pack can be charged from either the solar panel or the wall charger from a set of terminals in the back. It has a built in charge controller as well as an alarm that will notify you of an error. On the front of the unit are two 12 volt "cigarette lighter" outlets and two 5 volt USB ports that you can use to draw power. On the front there is also a battery level indicator as well as a charge status indicator.

In these photos you can see the solar panel on a little wooden frame that I built for it. When I first got it I planned on using it for camping trips and emergencies so I made up this portable stand. Now I will make up an aluminum mount and mount it on the roof of my garage with the power cable routed through the roof deck, attic and over to the battery pack. For now I put the panel on the ground beside the shed whenever it's sunny.

The light bulb that came with the kit was particularly interesting. Even though its a 12VDC bulb it has an E26 screw base similar to the ones found on your conventional household 120VAC bulbs. The cord that was included had a bulb screw socket on one end and a "cigarette lighter" style plug on the other end to plug into the battery pack. As strange as the light bulb was it meant that I could install it in a conventional household light fixture as long as it was wired up for 12VDC and not 120VAC. I found more of the same bulbs on eBay and then gathered up some electrical boxes, 18/2 Romex wire, tools and got going.
<p>Has any one done a pay back analysis on the system? How much does that &quot;free electricity really cost? </p>
<p>Hi, just hoping you might guide me in the right direction. Im tied into the grid with my solar system mounted on my roof. How can I connect directly into my home and be off grid, in the event of a black out? </p>
<p>This is nice for your garage.</p>
By they way.... I love your lighting set up... I will be asking you for more details ok ... Great job
<p>You can ask me any questions you like. Forgive me if it takes a while for me to respond since I have some other stuff going on right now.</p><p>Thanks for your comments.</p>
Hey my friend I just want to know if I ask instructables to send me a battery pack like the one you got would they be able to send to me even though I'm not In a contest ... Or would they sell it to me
<p>Hi, the solar power kit that I won from the contest is a ReadySet Solar Kit from Fenix Int'l. You can buy them off of their website at the link below.</p><p><a href="http://www.fenixintl.com/product/readyset-solar-kit/" rel="nofollow">http://www.fenixintl.com/product/readyset-solar-ki...</a></p><p>Thank you for your question.</p>
GENIUS!! thanks for sharing.
I did the same kind of setup except with 2 of those panels (same kind) and old 12v scooter batteries that were not good enough to run the scooter, but not bad enough to toss. One light on the deck, and another light inside that pops on every night at dusk. Used two, 2w LED spots. They run all night. Felt pretty smart when we lost power a few months back. Then the damn power came back on.
get some reflectors on them babies
Nice Idea ! <br> <br>I am interesting in your room , could you please take a video from your work place? <br> <br>this is my own work place in home such you :) <br>http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-arrange-your-work-place-video/
Hi, I'm still in the process of finishing the inside of my garage. When I'm done I'll be sure to post an Instructable detailing how I've built everything. Thanks for your comment.
I am in the process of down sizing, due to rotten economy, and living from a motorhome. I am also going to pull a 8.5x24' enclosed trailer to carry my car as well as provide a small &quot;shop-on-wheels&quot; arrangement. Your solar powered lighting setup would be an excellent fit for my project.
I really like how simply but elegantly you divided the available space into work- and stprrage-areas! Also the wine-fridge seems propriate to celebrate each succesful project done there! :) <br> <br>I would kill for such a hacker-space to be called mine... Living in a small 1.5-Room-appartment i lack the space for serious DIY badly... :(
A solar unit with three 15 watt solar panels (45 watts total), a voltage regulator/charge controller and two 12 volt light bulbs with wires and sockets can be purchased from Harbor Freight for between 149 and 249 dollars (price varies with sales). Their system is also very reliable.
Love it.

About This Instructable


524 favorites


More by EcoMotive: "Off Grid" DC Solar Electric Garage Lighting... Hard Wired and Fully Integrated Hydronic Solar Thermal System for Winter Space Heating DIY Extension Cord With Built in Switch - Safe, Quick and Simple
Add instructable to: