Introduction: Solar Powered AC110-120V Outlet

Picture of Solar Powered AC110-120V Outlet

This is my first Instructable but I think I've got the basics down. I chose to order all the materials online but I'm sure you could find most of this stuff at radioshack. The end result is a solar powered 110-120V AC outlet that can be used for small appliances. eg recharging your phone or ipod or laptop..... I plan on implementing it into a backpack later so it would be more portable. If you see any flaws or errors in anything please let me know and leave a message or comment.

Step 1: The Panels

Picture of The Panels

You need to buy some panel(s). Try and get one rated at about or a little over 12V. Or you could do with a couple smaller ones that total to about 12V if wired correctly. I got mine for free from a couple of broken electric fence chargers that were headed to the dump. They're pretty expensive and will cost you more than enything else in this project but will eventually pay for themselves in electricity. Estimated cost- approx $100+

Step 2: The Batter(y)(ies)

Picture of The Batter(y)(ies)

We're gonna be using a 12V 10Ah battery. Cost about $30 online. However the more you spend the higher Ah you can get but keep it at 12V. Or you could choose to use a series of smaller batteries if wired properly. just make sure the voltage adds up to 12. eg. 2 6V betteris. If you really wanted you could probably find a 24V converter and use a 24V battery but l2V systems are much more common and cheaper. (If this doesn't make sense to you then you aren't the kind of person to be trying it! =P Don't sweat it just focus on getting the 12V battery.)

Step 3: The Charge Controller

Picture of The Charge Controller

An essential part of any solar powered system make sure to get yourself a 12V charge controller. Charge controllers block reverse current and prevent battery overcharge. Some controllers also prevent battery overdischarge, protect from electrical overload, and/or display battery status and the flow of power. The one I bought for less than $30 has two small indicator lights showing the charge level of the battery.

Step 4: The Power Inverter

Picture of The Power Inverter

Electricity from a battery comes in DC form while basically everything in your house runs on AC outlets. For this project you're gonna need a power inverter. I bought a 200W DC to AC power inverter for just under $40. However the more you choose to spend, the higher wattage and the more load it can handle without blowing a fuse. I've seen some that even have a 5V usb outlet. You can find these in the car department or the electrical department at any walmart or target.

Step 5: Wiring It All Together

Picture of Wiring It All Together

Lastly we're gonna connect it all together. The optional wiring (Two 6V batteries, or additional panels) is shown in the image labeled optional.


DanielleC102 (author)2018-01-15


I would like to put a 40 gallon stock tank water garden in a location without electricity. I will need a way to power the pump/filter year around and an aerorator during the winter. Would this items battery store the power from the panels to run the pump and aerorator at night? Does this allow for outlet installation so I can plug in the needed pond item.

Thank you,


tommymahar2 (author)2017-07-20

If you are just recharging something like your phone (DC) or even laptop (DC), you don't even need the inverter. You can use a DC-DC buck (step down) regulator to take the 12V and step it down to the input voltage of your device. This approach uses less power and is less expensive. You could step it down to 5V and have a USB power receptacle. In the case of your laptop youd have to build a modified cord to plug in to the battery port on the laptop, since your cord now is built to be plugged into the wall. I'd be nervous about plugging my expensive laptop into a lower supply like this, but the approach of leaving everything DC is possible.

scfernandes1 (author)2015-01-15

can I leave this outside?

Someone built me a lighthouse for outside but I have no electric there.

rcook9 (author)scfernandes12017-04-09

My thoughts although I'm new to this: You would need to place the invertor inside something to keep it weather proof (i.e. build a cute little house for it or a well sealed box/cooler) but we know the solar panels were previously used for outdoor purposes before for electric fences. In fact, I don't think any solar panels are made for indoor use?

rcook9 (author)2017-04-09

Will this power the little crockpot warmer seen here?:

ctapner (author)2016-11-24

can a 12v solar panel charge up a 600w motomaster eliminator powerbox
with inverter? Then I would not have to buy the inverter or battery? I
would still need a charge controller.

zaxs18 (author)2016-10-06

yoooo toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

zaxs18 (author)2016-10-06

tis suks i want to build tis ting but the 150$ inverter is not cheap in any way.

jessevans67 (author)2015-03-09

you forgot about the 2-300 dollar inverter i see sitting there in the first improve upon this tutorial ill let everyone know, the inverters are expensive. to power a blow dryer not unlike the one you have could cost up to $200 depending on the size. see your batter in DC but your outlet is AC. the solar panel charges the battery, then you have your DC, then the current runs thru a inverter which converts the DC power to AC power and its then ready to use...1000 watt pure sine inverter could cost $300, but i have seen a run of the mill 1000 watt inverter go for $100, or a little cheaper, i have found you pay a lot more for the "pure sine" inverters. anyone not familiar with sine waves just google what the difference is between a inverter ans a "pure sine" inverter....cheers just hope i helped filling in the blank spot

TronQuixote (author)2014-09-27

I'm looking at buying solar panels now...Do they need to be a particular wattage, perhaps the same wattage as the inverter, or does the wattage on the panels only matter if you're running whatever you're powering directly from the panels and not storing it in a battery?

n0ahsapp (author)2012-10-03

Um, so I have a question. I have a 300 W DC to AC power inverter made by Supro. It has the car outlet thing attached to it, will I need to take that off?

DNMEBOY (author)2012-02-16

I built something real similar to this, I used a 12v 6ah lead acid battery, wired it up to one of those car adapters that plugs into the lighter plug and that gives me two 5v usb ports and 2 more lighter plugs to use. I charge it off the wall but will eventually be converting it to solar power. It is all built into a small tool box with an on/off switch on the back that lights up, a spot to plug in the charger and a cooling fan that starts up when you power on the box just in case it ever gets hot, which it has not.

The option to run an inverter to get a 120v outlet is always nice but I doubt that you would be able to use it that long on just a 12v battery. They are made to be used in a running car so the battery is charging at the same time you are using the inverter.

Great instructable though.

wildside (author)2012-01-08

On our web site we sell 6 and 12 volt solar panels for a decent price. QWe use them on our home made deer feeders.

Josehf Murchison (author)2011-07-18

How do you get complete inverters so cheep at crappy tire a 1000 watt inverter is $120?

rolandseps (author)2011-06-27

Does it still work? You made it 2 years ago, what happened to the battery?
I started to make a similar one, two days ago.

Did you put it into a casing ?

CullenWebb (author)2011-04-14

Would these batteries work?

It has 26ah for $80.

Would it be correct that 26 amps for one hour would also be 26 hours of one amp?


P.S. Here are their other batteries:

minime12358 (author)2010-09-09

Anyone who made this- can this charge a laptop?

minime12358 (author)2010-09-02

quick thing- 30 bucks for a 12 volt

RaySimpson00 (author)2009-02-11

are there any exterior solar outlets for a home to mount on outside of home?

GreenD (author)RaySimpson002009-12-25

Not sure what you mean, this system is self-contained, i.e. everything you need, and everything you use, is in this instructable!

Thanks for posting this - exactly what I needed.

wtrujillo (author)2009-06-04

I have a bunch of little solar pannels, about 20 small ones from those outdoor solar lights for your yard. I was wondering how to find out the volts per solar pannel? You said I needed to total about 12V, but I dont know what the voltage rating per small pannel is. and is there any major changes in your instructable if I was using a bunch of these smaller ones?

harvbailey (author)wtrujillo2009-11-14

On a sunny day, orient the panel toward the sun, and hook your voltmeter to the wires coming from the panel , and it will tell you the max voltage for each panel.

wkumtrider (author)wtrujillo2009-06-26

Use a voltmeter.

kukulcangod (author)2009-09-11

how many amps is the solar panel putting out? great project cheers

thatguyinpa (author)2009-07-22

so i want to take this concept ad expand it to run a bigger application. I have a swimming pool with two 1/2 horse power pumps. One pump is for the filter and the other pump pushes the water up to my roof through a solar heater. I want the whole thing to run green... kind of a neat idea, the whole pool would be heated and cleaned using the sun. I invision a deck box next to my pool with a solar panel on it. Inside the box are the batteries, inverter, and controller connected to a GFI outlet. I do not know how to figure out the electrical specifications and which parts I would need to buy. Can someone give me some hints and or advice ?

ElectricMan1 (author)2009-06-20

Can you run a mini frige off this setup but with a 400 watt inverter?

wiz0floyd (author)2009-05-14

That's a really awesome instructable. One suggestion, if you want to make this specifically for one type of appliance, skip the inverter and just wire directly to the charge adapter for whatever you're charging. Just make sure to use an appropriate voltage. :-)

2 stroke (author)2009-04-19

how much time will it take to charge the battery.

ElectricMan1 (author)2009-04-04

Great Instructable! It would be more efficient to use 12v lighting with your system.

ElectricMan1 (author)2009-03-28

What do you mean the glass solar panels cost $100+? Get them off The Electric Goldmine for only like $20. Also, why didn't you use a marine deep cycle battery instead of a motor scooter battery (12v 10AH)? It isn't even worth using just like the 600mH battery.

acer5050 (author)2008-11-13

will 12v 600mAh work? (author)acer50502008-11-16

well yea...but that battery would be so tiny it wouldn't really be worth it. I guess it depends on what you're using it for. with a 600mAh battery you would only be able to run a load of 600mA for one hour before your battery would be completely dead. And 600mA is just barely enough to charge your phone so yeah I guess it would work but it wouldn't really be worth it. (I didn't even realize such batteries existed. Where did you get one what is it's application? A cellphone battery?)

Yes, they make them even smaller than that. I think that they go down as far as 350mAh which is just something that is enough to power a light for a quick fix.

BlackHatCracker (author)acer50502009-03-24

To really make it worth wild stop at a Home Depot, or even Radio Shack and get a few alarm batteries. If they are lower then 1A then get a few of them and wire them in paraelle. That will increase your run time, and still maintain the the 12V that you are wanting. As stated, its not really worth anything if you are going below 1Ah.

Lazy Ape (author)2009-03-22

I want to create something similar for a vaporizer that i want to power on trips (and I dig your idea of weaving it into a backpack too). My device runs 90-120V, AC 0.4A 50Hz-60Hz with a wattage for 45W. How would I alter your original design to accomidate this device...? (author)2008-08-20


pyrogoth (author)2008-08-17

i have actually been thinking of a design like that for quite some time that would be able to power my computer, i was thinking of having a few batteries in sequence that would allow it to power my computer for several days if there was a problem with the solar not getting enough sun (like there was a storm or over cast sky's for a few days)

thrhymes (author)2008-07-29

looking at the optional wiring-diagram ....

if you have 12V-Panels putting them in a serial setup adds up the voltages... so 2 x 12V = 24 V, when connecting them parallel, + to + and - to -, the voltage is the same, but the power increases.

you should either write the voltage in to the boxes - as you did with the batteries- , or "rewire" it.

looking at the first image, you connected the two panels in parallel. (author)thrhymes2008-07-29

what would happen if the voltage coming from the solar panels exceeded 12V when connected to a 12V battery? Does the charge controller regulate that? (mine does not but should it?)

thrhymes (author)i.need.help2008-07-29

to charge a 12V-battery 13.8 V are OK. up to 14.4V can be used to quick-charge the battery, which often results in heating up the battery. more will damage the battery. it might work for some time, but the battery will not last to long. (author)thrhymes2008-07-30

how would i regulate that? is there some sort of voltage regulator that i could buy? how would the amps be affected by that? the charge controller i have is a 7 amp charge controller. does that mean it limits the amps flowing to the battery to 7? i have a 10Ah battery. i don't exactly understand what Ah means but will 7 amps damage the battery or a voltage regulator? thanks

thrhymes (author)thrhymes2008-07-29

what i forgot to say.... : great instructable!! it shows how easy this really is... i would be interested in how long it takes to fully charge the battery....

Hands Without Shadows (author)2008-07-28

If you were goint to charge your Ipod it would be much simpler, cheaper, and more efficient to hook up a 5v regulator to the battery.

or buy a 12 volt car adaptor, that way you don't transform it twice.

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