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This instructable will show you everything you need to put together a pretty good sized electric solar panel system. Things you will need:


Solar panels
Charge controller
Battery charger
2 AWG cable
At least one 12 Volt marine deep cycle battery
Mechanical lugs
1 power inverter
1 Rubbermaid tote or other container
1 battery charger


Cable cutters
Red electrical tape
Crescent Wrench

Gather supplies and lets get started.

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Step 1: Preparing the batteries.

Picture of Preparing the batteries.
The first thing you want to do is charge your batteries with a charger. This will insure they are charged to capacity and ready to go at set up. I purchased my batteries new and were only at about 60%.

While the batteries are charging, you can set up the solar panels and get them wired up and ready to go.

Step 2: Place batteries in container.

Picture of Place batteries in container.
Once the batteries are fully charged, place them in the container and. Make sure all the positive (+) terminals are on one side and negative (-) on the other. Once in place, measure from terminal to terminal to make the jumpers.

Step 3: Creating the jumpers.

Picture of Creating the jumpers.
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Next, we want to connect the batteries in parallel. To do this, Make some jumpers out of 2 AWG cable.

Note: Make sure to size your jumpers for your system. If you want to use a larger inverter you will need to use larger cable. 1200 Watts/12 Volts = 100 Amps. Depending on where you look, 2 AWG cable is good for around 100 Amps. If you want to run say, a 2400 watt inverter, you should use 2 cables per jumper.

Measure between terminals and cut cable to length. Then add the mechanical lugs. Since the battery terminals were a bit bigger than the holes in the lugs I bought I drilled them out to fit.

Step 4: Preparing the lid

Picture of Preparing the lid
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Now, add some holes in the lid to run the wires for the charge controller and the inverter. I wanted the charge controller outside so it was visible. You could just as easily put it inside the container for a more concealed look.
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with batteries in parallel you can have the issue of one battery failing and that can ruin the other because it will take all the charge and not hold flattening the others you have to keep a check individually


gorustal1 month ago

You can visit website for more information and a extremely relyable guide to building solar panels.

LifeCarts2 months ago

In this video, you can see a training system I put on a trailer; (20 sec in)

When not used for training, I use it to power my shed.

kirstennNaomi5 months ago
hello,im planning to run my 75watts fan and a 23 watts bulb via solar energy.. if i buy two.100w solar panel and one 12v 100ah battery what will be inverter and charge controller will fit my system?! and how many hours is approx. charging time.of battery?! btw sun shines from 9am-4pm.. thanks in advance..

How long will you run the fan and light bulb?

What you take out in watts you have to put back in. A 100 watt panel will replace what you use in an hour if you use those 2 things for an hour.

If you use 100 watts out of the battery every hour for 8 hours you will have to use the 100 watt panel 8 hours +/- to replace the 800 watts you used.

A 30 amp charge controller should fit the needs of your system with room for panel expansion.

If you only have a 100 watt load a 150 watt inverter is good.

Dr.Bill2 years ago
My system cost me around $1800.
5-20 Watt panels
2000 Watt sine wave inverter
200Ah Trojan battery
10 Amp DC breaker
and ah whole lot of odds and ends.
Your I'ble inspired me to do it.
BigAndRed Dr.Bill7 months ago

sounds very expensive for 100W system. I've just bought a 160W portable system (2x80W panels, charge controller, bag and cables) off ebay for $260 and a 120AH deep cycle battery for $100, to run a 12v fridge when out camping. I can charge phone, torch, camera batteries and run the laptop (12v-19v solid state inverter $20)

Also got a 1000W inverter for $40, but have not much use for AC power away from home.

Dr.Bill BigAndRed5 months ago

Hawai'i prices.
I live Idaho now and can get the stuff for half that price or less ~

In simple words,very

imortant and great achieving solar energy / solar power efficiency
means eliminating all the devices comprising a great part of your electricity

commercial solar panels uk solve this
problem ‘Eliminating’ can be done

Dr.Bill Dr.Bill2 years ago
I forgot the 30 Amp SunForce charge controller.
The inverter is a Xantrex.
ChristianJ15 months ago

Be careful having them in an area that can shodow half of the panel as the sun moves like on a balcony, snow or leaves even covering half the panel can cause Mono solar panels especially to break quickly

riverreaper5 years ago
how much did pannles like that cost an does keeping them clean vers dirty as A car make a differance? wish you had a vid it rains here all the time , wana trade water for power?
Solar panels actually only need to be cleaned about once a year.  If you have any rain in your area, which it sure sounds like you do, that will go a long way towards keeping them clean.  When they're dirty their efficiency can drop a few %, but no so much that you'd need to clean them off with a hose more than once or twice a year. 

If you lease a solar energy system from a company that offers a solar lease they'll actually handle all of the maintenance and cleaning for you.  If you build 'em or buy 'em outright, you'll likely need to clean them once a year yourself. 

n simple words,very important and great achieving solar energy / solar power efficiency means eliminating all the devices comprising a great part of your electricity bill. commercial solar panels uk solve this problem ‘Eliminating’ can be done here....

thumbs up for using they're and their write!

(that was a joke there, at the end.)

what about coffee makers ? they use or get used alot would sundrip be better than solor heated ?
what if i used a candle to heat half a pot of water an then took the sundrip container an sumersed it into the heatted water would the heat transfer enoght to get a hot cup of coffee or would i have to plug the heating pad in usen up everthing that battery had made the day befor , an not haven a cup of coffee to offer the garbage guy that still works
ok ok ill go give the led heads some qwestions
imajem5 years ago
How could power from the solar array be directed into the power grid? I know this is possible but don't know how.
Fildain imajem5 years ago
One problem with being connected to the grid is that you have to sell all of your power to the electric company at "wholesale" price and then buy what you use at retail. So unless you create twice the amount you need to use, the electric companies still screw you. =)

That is backwards-in Florida at least for now. That is why they discourage it because they have to buy at retail and sell it to you at wholesale. They also are responsible for the cutoff switch to keep from electrocuting any employees working on power nearby.Also, if you are connected to the grid, when the power goes down, you are down too.

In simple words,very

imortant and great achieving solar energy / solar power efficiency
means eliminating all the devices comprising a great part of your electricity
bill. commercial solar panels uk solve this problem ‘Eliminating’ can be done here....

Not always true. In many communities (e.g. in mine) the electric co. will buy from you at the same rate as they sell to you. However, connecting to the grid is quite complicated and not really worth for a system this size (you'd have to go to several kW of power, costing many k$).
imajem Fildain5 years ago
Thanks! I didn't know that BUT every little bit helps....just not as much as I thought, right?
BigAndRed imajem7 months ago

If you want to supply back to the grid then get a 'grid tie inverter'. This will sync the AC to the grid and for this small system just plug into a wall socket and turn on to connect to mains. grid tie inverters are available from ebay in a variety of wattage's.

MuhammadI26 months ago

In simple words,very
imortant and great achieving solar energy / solar power efficiency
means eliminating all the devices comprising a great part of your electricity

commercial solar panels uk solve this
problem ‘Eliminating’ can be done

terrefirmax27 months ago

What are the community thoughts on broken panels?

ppereira149 months ago

I was looking for a higher capacity Solar System (400W or more). I found a really nice instructable. Heres a link

majinbo010 months ago

Mr. Chicken, got 2 questions:

1. If more panels are set up does this speed up charging?

2. What is the ratio between panel vs. battery?

I am interested in making one for myself so that i can be independent from the electric grid because power back in my country is freakishly expensive... Hope to hear from you.

patrebates11 months ago

I've been building a few solar panels and mounting the arrays on tempered glass with solar encapsulant. My panels put out ~22-23 volts/panel in full sun and I calculate them to be ~180W each, peak. My intention has been to mount them on my barn roof and, initially grid tie them but I am beginning to rethink this and am considering a small battery bank instead for backup/supplementary power. Thing is, it's my barn. I wonder about setting up batteries in the barn and having them actually work in winter. This last winter we actually were getting some -20F days and normally I would expect ~0 to -5 or so. Still pretty cold. I fear a battery bank being usable in such conditions. I like the barn because it has a huge south-facing expanse of shade-free surface upon which to mount the panels, but the batteries and the cold...any suggestions? There's really no good place to put panels in a rack in my yard though I do have a big south-facing roof on the house too but I don't want to mount DIY panels up there.

when you say "barn" i picture hay. are you sure it's a good idea to store large batteries in a barn? dont they tend to be at risk of exploding?

fixfireleo11 months ago

did you guys hear that oklahoma may pass a law that you have to pay the electric company a monthly FEE if you generate your own electric? other states are considering it also. what a crock!

This IS a true report. However from all I've read about this VERY bad plan is that it's for those that tie into the grid. I saw no words about freestanding setups.

Interestingly enough, there is already a law on the books that seems to state that power companies CAN NOT charge a fee for those that tie into grid, and they also have to essentially pay the solar owner for excess fed back into system....

This new proposed law now essentially becomes a penalty for subsidizing power companies... that already saved billions by not having to build all the time to meet the power needs...

Oklahomans... unite and get governor to not sign it!

That said..... this is a GREAT instructable!

I don't know when items were purchased, but you definitely paid too much for solar panels.

It didn't say, but I presume used panels.... which is fine...they work well. But, routinely on eBay and even Amazon single panels of equal or greater ability are available for less, and many ship free.

The key is...don't rush to your homework and save money when it makes sense....

Mr. Chicken...keep up the great work!
u did not point out how the solar panel was connected
are u sure adding the solar panel without any automatic cutoff/changeover circuit won't have any effect on it?
and lastly, how long have you used it.
i hope this is not your final placement for installation (ie. panels on porch)
shading can result in a very serious decrease in amount of power output of a solar panel. (ie. 10% shading can result in 90% loss!!)
DIYPro05051 year ago
I have one question what are the specz of your batteries
Can you give a more detailed sequence for the parts. Solar panels go (what size is this wire?) to charge controller (what wire size here?) then to batteries then to inverter Is this right? I have six solar panels given to me. Is there a schematic for building the panel array the even shows the size of wire to use? Is there a detailed book I could buy? I am crippled with medical equipment that I can't sleep without. When our power is gone I have to sleep in the car. I'd like to be able to run a small light, my sleep apnea machine and a fan. Any advice appreciated!
kenpg672 years ago
im setting up a smaller system myself but this answered a lot of the questions i had.

jbaker222 years ago
can you get more energy out of them by duct taping vaseline glass to the back?
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