Building a Micro Solar Generator




About: ill add to this later

This is a little solar generator i made for camping and fishing. It could come in handy in a power outage as well.

supplies needed:
1.26w weather proof solar panel $30.00 (cabelas)
12v 7.5amp rechargeable sealed lead-acid battery $30.00 (radioshack)
12v socket $11.00 (walmart)
cooler $8.00 (walmart)
nuts/bolts $2.00 (walmart)
wire plugs $2.00 (walmart)
super glue $1.00 (dollar store)

TOTAL: $84.00
w/tax around $90.00

tools needed:
utility knife
screw drivers
wire cutters

Step 1: Cutting Wires and Holes

I made no exact measurements for wire length, just guestimation. using a tape measurer i centered the panel on the lid and used the 12v socket for the hole pattern on the side. On the lid I drilled 5 holes, 4 for the panel to mount to the lid and 1 for the panel wire.

Step 2: Assembly

First I bolted the panel to the lid and ran the wires throw, because of the uneven surface on the underside larger holes were made to make access to the nuts to be placed in the hollow cavity of the lid.
Next the 12v socket was threaded into place.
super glue was applied to the nuts and the 12v socket threading to insure vibration would not cause any thing to come loose.
After the glue set I crimped the wires from the panel and the 12v outlet to quick disconnect tabs.
the final step was dropping in the battery and plugging in the wires.

Step 3: Testing

Plugged in the power inverter and a lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb to test it out.

Step 4: Accessories

I added a few Accessories.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at:



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    46 Discussions


    1 year ago

    This time I'll use Inplix instructions to make it by myself.


    2 years ago

    You can tell it's an old plan because it says to get something at RadioShack.


    3 years ago on Introduction


    Please confirm, you are using a 1.2watt panel to charge 12v battery. Please correct me if I am wrong.


    4 years ago

    Thank you

    I know this is an older post but instead of using a power inverter to run a lamp you could just wire up an older halogen head light from a car still available at your local parts stores for around $10.00 and it would also put off some heat.

    1 reply

    It would draw to many amps to run a halogen for very long. You would be better off pulling in a strand of 12 LED lights. Way less power consumption.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Since you are using a lead battery, don't you want to put some additional ventilation in to allow hydrogen gas produced during the charge to escape the container?

    And also, to control overcharge you can buy an inexpensive solar charge controller off ebay for like $10.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    12 volt batteries need a head voltage to charge fully ( you car charges at 13.5-14 volts)
    So it will not over charge if the proper panel voltage is applied. The panel likely has a rectifier so that it does not discharge when the sun goes down.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very good project! I was a bit concerned about battery voltage back feeding into the solar panel. Then I went to Cabelas web site and found out that the panel has blocking diodes. Nice Job!


    8 years ago on Step 3

    i know that this thread is old, but i really like the idea. the only question i have is how you keep the battery from being overcharged


    8 years ago on Introduction

    would this run a crockpot?Mine is 120v, 180 watt... on low
    still looking for an inexpensive way to run one in an emergency.
    Is there a way to hook up 2 of these to give double the power?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Would this run an incandescent lignt bulb for a few hours per night.. Just enough to provide light and heat for my chickens. I already have the ice chest and few non-working solar lights and solar spot lights I got from Wal-mart and Harbor Freight. Except for the batteries that seems to be the most expensive part of the project.

    I also have working solar lantern (uses L.E.D. bulbs) that I got from tractor supply for $25 + tax that has a 5.5 volt panel. I don't have (or really want) electricity per se, but don't want to run a propane heater to the chickens. Incandescent bulbs provide heat, in fact I think they provide more heat than light.

    For about $80 I can put a deep cycle marine battery on lay-a-away at Tractor supply. 12 v. but I'm not sure about the wattage or the ampage.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Will this unit power a small space heater? Like the ones you find a walmart that can fit on a desk or heat a small room? Thanks....

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    A space heater requires a considerable amount of power (most small units start at 500-1000 watts). A small system like this would not have nearly enough capacity. From the hugely inadequate solar panel rating of sub-two watts, it is evident that such a heater could not be run from solar power alone, but you'd have a hard time even running it from the battery. A 500-watt, 120V space heater draws around 4 amps from the wall. If you want to run the same heater from an inverter, the wattage will be the same, but since the voltage is reduced by an order of magnitude, you will now need 40 amps from the battery. Most batteries' amp-hour rating is based on a so-called 20-hour rate, or how much capacity the battery has when discharged over 20 hours. For this battery at 7.5Ah, the 20-hour current rating is about 400mA. At 100 times this load, expect battery capacity to drop by a couple to several Ah, which cuts your runtime - if it is able to run the load at all - to ten minutes or less. So in summation: no, this system would not run a space heater. It's much better suited to small loads. To the author, nice packaging, though.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is a cool project. I velcroed my batt to the cooler, as that kept it from sliding when carring. The solar panel charges slowly, needs about 2 weeks of full sunlight to be recharged. I love it, thogh. It powers everything in my treehouse (lights, fans, etc.) I am going to build an air conditioner this summer, so keep your eyes peeled!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    i did something identical to this with a trickle charger panel , a blemished diesel battery from a local factory outlet and an old 400 watt inverter. i put the panel,inverter and solar panel on a luggage cart and park it in the sun . When I need it i drag it to the spot and have power on demand. the only improvement mine needed was a way to charge it from standard household outlets. those blemished/ factory seconds batteries are easy to get from battery outlets like interstate battery etc. the amp hour ratings are pretty good but the sloshy old cells can be leaky. anyway the luggage cart was sort of tippy and that big battery tended to want to sort of tip over and kind of got an acidly sort of way. so any way wheels are nice to have on a unit like this .


    12 years ago

    pardon my the lamp (in this scenario) charging the battery that it's plugged into via the solar panel? obviously your concept isn't to power the lamp right? it's to charge much smaller devices etc?...just perplexed