Instructables

Solar Panel Setup around $100

FeaturedContest Winner
Picture of Solar Panel Setup around $100
P1015968.JPG
b meter.JPG
back.JPG
cell.jpg
clamp.JPG
panel construct.jpg
panel.JPG
wall.JPG
wire.JPG
wire2.JPG
My objective was to be able to charge and use, cell phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices that use less than 100 watts. Also I wanted to have the power ready and available day or night.
The parts I used are:
$39 Solar Cells Untabbed 0.5 volt 2.8 amp 1.4 watt
$11 CMP12 10 amp Charge Controller
$22 Chrome Battery SLA 10.5 Amp
$5   Old Picture Frame to encase the solar Cells
$8   Wood to build the frame to hold the panel
$4   Wood to build the Charge Station
$4   12 Volt Socket
$1    9 volt Battery To power the LCD voltmeter
$5   LCD Voltmeter

Things I had around the house:
Exterior Grade Wire 2 Conductor
Wire and Panel Mount Connectors
Fuses and Fuse Holders
Outlet Coverplate
150 watt 12 volt car Inverter
15 amp Blocking Diode

 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Panel Construction

Picture of Panel Construction
cell.jpg
Tab the Cells and check the output of each cell before you solder them to each other, If you need help or need more information on how to do this use Google search and Youtube Videos. I used the backing for the picture frame as a layout and soldered them accordingly. Then I reassembled the picture frame with the wires coming out of a hole at the back. As soon as put it together I checked the voltage and amperage output and made sure that everything was connected correctly. 2 of the 40 cells I was sent had a much lower output so I did not use them in the final panel. I added the blocking 15 amp diode to the outside because it would not fit inside the frame along with a terminal block on the back. After everything was checked I sealed the panel with caulking and painted it.
1-40 of 57Next »
ppereira1425 days ago

Cool Instructable. I was looking for a higher capacity Solar System (400W or more). I found a really nice instructable. Heres a link http://www.instructables.com/id/Apartment-Solar-System/

Khaleel123 (author)  ppereira1424 days ago

Thanks, I'll check that out

Wroger-Wroger4 months ago

It's quite a neat effort.

Trouble is that it incites that urge to do more and build more and make it bigger and get more panels, bigger batteries and charge controllers, to power more things - all the great things....

I was looking for a higher capacity Solar System (400W or more). I found a really nice instructable. Heres a linkhttp://www.instructables.com/id/Apartment-Solar-System/

Khaleel123 (author)  Wroger-Wroger4 months ago

Thats so True, small projects lead to bigger and bigger projects.

User14 months ago

Anyone have any suggestions on doing something like this. I am an apartment dweller and have access to a large flat rooftop. I'm pretty low on my average daily use of AC. My average is about 5 kilowatts / day. I'm thinking about building something small that I can slowly build as I'm learning.

What I'm looking to do is mostly read up and learn. Hopefully I've done a fairly good job on explaining what I'm looking for. :-))

Thanks for doing your instructable Khaleel123. I hope you don't mind my question.

I was looking for a higher capacity Solar System (400W or more). I found a really nice instructable. Heres a linkhttp://www.instructables.com/id/Apartment-Solar-System/

Khaleel123 (author)  User14 months ago
Thanks for the comment, I did lots of google searches and watched a bunch of youtube videos, before deciding on what parts to use. The setup you should use really depends on two things you're budget and application.
AARENAARON2 months ago

thank u so much... we nature lovers lovin it..love ur work

Khaleel123 (author)  AARENAARON2 months ago

Thank You

lumpytrout2 months ago

thanks for this, such a simple and straightforward design!

Khaleel123 (author)  lumpytrout2 months ago

Thanks for the comment

bajablue3 months ago

Great work!!!

bajabot.jpg
Khaleel123 (author)  bajablue3 months ago

Thank you

chriswooten573 months ago

Congrats on your win

Khaleel123 (author)  chriswooten573 months ago

Thank you

Dr.Bill4 months ago

Very nice. I am wondering what brand is the meter?

I use 'Astro Flight' to monitor 6-20 watt panels that charge a 'Trojan' battery.

One for power coming in from the panels and the other for power being used.

The readout lettering is smaller than yours and harder to read.

DSCN0064.JPGDSCN0082.JPG
Khaleel123 (author)  Dr.Bill4 months ago

The panel meter is 3-1/2" Velleman PMLCD/L , I don't really recommend this meter because it needs a separate power supply from what its measuring. That's why I used the 9 volt to power it. Also you have to solder some resistors to the back depending on how you plan on using it. There are better panel voltmeters out there that can be powered by what they are measuring and are ready to use.

This is the Astro Flight Meter aka; WattsUp. Cost $50 in Hawai'i.

It measures off the solar panel the voltage when the sun makes minimum 4.5v. +/-, watt hours and amps being produced.

The other WattsUp/Astro Flight measures power being used out of the Trojan battery. The meters can be always on if they have a separate power source (Small Battery). I cut the wires as I only need the meters when the sun is up or power is being used. I take power for the meters right out of the circuits as it is used or produced.

Problem is the numbers are too small for tired old eyes.

Power Distribution Panel Battery Monitor.pngDSCN0017.JPGDSCN0011.JPGDSCN0004.JPG

This is the Astro Flight. It can be powered by an external battery but I don't.

I cut the battery wires off. It is powered by the source (solar Panels) and the other one is powered by the Trojan Battery.

As the sun comes up this meter measures volts, amps, watts produced and amps produced.

When I plug in a device and turn it on the meter measures how much of everything the device uses.

The drawback is the numbers are too small for tired old eyes.

Power Distribution Panel Battery Monitor.pngDSCN0017.JPGDSCN0011.JPGDSCN0004.JPG

Here's a good substitution for that panel meter. This seller on eBay has dozens of styles for both volts and amps, many colors, bezels and mounts. I have bought several and use them often.

http://bit.ly/1ngus7c

jennyear.JPG
Khaleel123 (author)  dougstrickland4 months ago

Thanks for the suggestion

fastrat20004 months ago

Looks killer

May ask why do you have a blocking diode? At 3 amps, your dropping 2.1 watts there, and at 19 volts your making 57 watts, so that bit under 4% lost for something does not seem reason to be there. If its keeping up no need to miss with it, but if you wanted just bit more power.

Khaleel123 (author)  fastrat20004 months ago

The reason I use the diode is to protect the panel from current or voltage traveling into it, in case of controller failure or something similar.

My panel of 38 cells ( 2 were bad in my kit) is advertised to make 19 volts @2.8 amps, It actually made a little over 20 volts @3.2 amps. After installing the diode it made 19 volts @3 amps. ( you have to remember that the sunlight changes and its hard to get an exact measurement.) Even with the two cells missing and the blocking diode I end up with slightly more power than what they were rated for. Part of the reason for the increased power could be that the glass in the picture frame is really thin and extremely clear. not sure how durable it is, time will tell.

Sovereign114 months ago

You could also eliminate the 9 volt battery by using an LM7809 voltage regulator attached to the 12 volt battery. They are easy to use and circuits are all over the internet. They are also cheap; about the cost of a 9V battery, so, worth the investment.

Khaleel123 (author)  Sovereign114 months ago

The panel meter needs an isolated power supply in particular I am almost certain it cant share the ground with what its measuring. I am planning on ordering one that can measure and be powered from the same source soon.

gwaligorski4 months ago

Why are you using the inverter to charge your tablets? Wouldn't it be more efficient to charge them right off of the 12 volt connection?

He probably already owned the inverter and doesn't already own a DC in-car charger for the mobile devices. Your method would be more efficient all else equal. I wonder how much usage this would have to see in order to justify the cost of buying or building such a charger?

Efficiency of not having it when the zombie-pocalypse comes makes it worthwhile...

(that, and the coolness factor that you're charging your portables using sunlight...)

Khaleel123 (author)  AdamTheMechE4 months ago

I did already own the inverter but I do plan to use a car charger once I get my hands on one.

Khaleel123 (author)  gwaligorski4 months ago

The microsoft surface rt, uses 12volts 2 amp to charge, and I dont have the car charger for it. I would make one but I also don't have any low voltage drop regulators, or dc to dc converters handy. So until I order a car charger I will be using the inverter.

Ramundicus4 months ago

Nice work. Only question: where did you get a 12v socket that mounts like that? I can think of several uses for something like that.

Khaleel123 (author)  Ramundicus4 months ago

I got the 12V socket from walmart for like $4.88 in the electrical section they also had dual 12v sockets for like $8. Its rated for 15 amp and comes with a cover, perfect for this project.

All I've found at WalMart are the multiple outlet versions. I was looking for a single surface mount outlet like yours. I'll keep my eyes open.

Khaleel123 (author)  Ramundicus4 months ago
here is the link for the socket. http://www.walmart.com/msharbor/ip/Auxiliary-12V-Power-Outlet-10240W/29029301

Looks like a cigarette lighter add on probably from your local auto parts store. They're usually meant to be mounted to the underside of your dash.

It is, but I haven't found one with a surface mounting bracket like this.

I got mine at auto zone for 2.99

AdamTheMechE4 months ago

Next step: make the angle adjustable and use a calculator to optimize! This one seems to work well: http://solarelectricityhandbook.com/solar-angle-calculator.html

Khaleel123 (author)  AdamTheMechE4 months ago

If only I had more free time for this kind of stuff and a bigger budget. I would really go all out and go off the grid.

1-40 of 57Next »
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!