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Picture of Solar Panel Setup around $100
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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

 
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Step 1: Panel Construction

Picture of Panel Construction
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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.
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VikV25 days ago

It is great to know
that there are more and more solar panels users around the world. Pakistan is a
sun blessed city and quite logical if there will be more solar cities here. I
have read an excellent article on this topic http://solarpanelscompany.com/blog/solar-cities/ It makes me feel that very soon we will be able
to improve lives of many people in our country and throughout the world.

Dr.Bill1 year 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.

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Khaleel123 (author)  Dr.Bill1 year 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.

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i use magnifier and fixing on the fron on panel display

The meter has no back light to illuminate the screen. If it had that the meter would be better for me. Anyone know how to backlight this thing?

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.

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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

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Khaleel123 (author)  dougstrickland1 year ago

Thanks for the suggestion

stgflores2 months ago
hi. I have the same charge controller, are you able to use the load while still charging at same time. thanks.
Khaleel123 (author)  stgflores2 months ago
Yes you can charge and use the power at the same time, as long as you have enough power being provided by the solar panel.
I have a 90 watt amp (boombox) connected to the load (lvd) on the charge controller not the battery. if I try to play music and use the solar panel to charge at the same time, the amp will turn on but no music plays. I have to turn off the panel charge for the amp to play music. The voltage on the battery read close to 13v. do I have to connect the amp to the battery instead. thanks for your help
Khaleel123 (author)  stgflores2 months ago

I'm not sure what's going on with your charge controller, but I have been able to charge the battery while using a load on mine. Make sure your panel provides enough power to run the load with enough left over to charge the battery.

ppereira141 year 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)  ppereira141 year ago

Thanks, I'll check that out

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-Wroger1 year ago

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

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)  User11 year 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.
AARENAARON1 year ago

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

Khaleel123 (author)  AARENAARON1 year ago

Thank You

lumpytrout1 year ago

thanks for this, such a simple and straightforward design!

Khaleel123 (author)  lumpytrout1 year ago

Thanks for the comment

bajablue1 year ago

Great work!!!

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Khaleel123 (author)  bajablue1 year ago

Thank you

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)  fastrat20001 year 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.

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)  Sovereign111 year 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.

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)  AdamTheMechE1 year 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)  gwaligorski1 year 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.

Ramundicus1 year 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)  Ramundicus1 year 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)  Ramundicus1 year 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.

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