Intro: Portable Solar Generator
The photo above is not mine!
That being said, I will be making another voyage to burning man this year, and i had decided to come with some power this time! I just built a portable swamp cooler to take with me to burning man this year and needed to add a few more things to my gear.
One of the great things I love about being outdoors is being out and away from technology and such, but after going a few years I have realized that it would be great to have some power to light up my camp, maybe use a fan to cool down, etc.
There are a lot of people that are going there will portable gas generators, which is great, but they are incredibly loud and suck up gas like crazy.
So I decided to go green this year and make something with renewable energy! I has seen some one else on here with a solar generator as well and the designs are pretty similar.
(That image above is not mine, but finished looks very similar)
Step 1: Get Your Gear
The gear for all of this consists of 4 major pieces and a few small extras. Some of the stuff I bought online bc it was cheaper and I couldn't find any place where I am at that had exactly what I was looking for.
1. solar panel (~$60.00): i bought this on amazon.com, the ones you can buy range from 10 watts, all the way to 500 watt panels. keep in mind you will get what you paid for. since I won't be needing anything super powerful, just enough to recharge the battery I'm using, I opted for 30 watts. The sun will be out all the time there and it'll make charging a breeze.
2. solar charger controller ($10.00): another amazon buy. This regulates how much power goes from the panel to the battery and makes sure everything is flowing smoothly. last thing I want is for anything to blow up on me!
3. deep cycle battery ($80.00): I bought this pretty cheap. it's a group 24 deep cycle marine battery. There are a few different kinds of marine batteries: deep cycle, starter, and dual purpose. You want to buy deep cycle, bc of the power and the constantly charge it can keep.
4. power inverter ($40.00): I bought this at Frys on sale. I won't be using my genny for a ton of things so 400 watts is more than enough for me.
5. misc wires and battery box: you're gonna need some cables and something to put the battery and inverter in, so that it's all together and not all over the place. plus it makes it all easier to carry.
Step 2: Put It All Together!
This is actually a lot easier than you think it might be!
1.We start with the solar panel. It shouldve come with a cord attached to it. Now depending on which you get, the cords will all be different. mine came with a male/female connector on it, and it came with another cord to attach to it, with positive and negative clamps on the other end.
2. plug the solar panel into the controller. since my panel had the pos/neg clamps, I just cut them off and exposed the wires. they will insert easily into the slots designated for the panel, and just tighten them down with a screw driver.
3. connect the batter to the controller. in the slots next to wesr you connected the solar panel, there will be two slots for the battery. run some cables to from the batter to the controller. I bought ten gauge wire and connected some round terminals to one side. The black tape indicates which is the negative lead. screw in the other ends into the controller.
4. connect the inverter to the battery!
super easy. your inverter shouldve come with cords to connect to a power source, if not, you can just use some of the 10 gauge wire and put some round connectors on them and put them all together.
5. put all that crap in the box. just make it nice and tidy. The box I bought came with a divider in there which is super convenient and will hold everything in place for you.
Step 3: That's It!
You are now all set and ready to rock! I've tested it out using string lights, my portable swamp cooler and a couple other small things and works perfectly.
I just make sure that the charger is generating enough power for my needs.
If you have one, a multimeter will work great in regulating how much juice your battery still has in it. You don't want it to dip too low from consumption. but I have yet to run into that problem.
Have fun guys!