Portable Solar Generator




Introduction: 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)

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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!

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I've never been to Burning Man but if I went and wanted some REAL power in a portable unit (that I developed myself), mine provides 2 kw (2000 watts) and can keep just about anything going for hours and even days. Costs about $750 to assemble including a large panel, deep cycle batteries and inverters. You can see at power from sun dot com.


    Reply 4 years ago

    That sounds cool and everything, but you really will never use that much power unless you are running an RV or have some heavy duty electronics going on. I don't find myself spending a ridiculous amount of time at camp either, so it's a bit overkill to me. Plus when going to Burning Man, weight and space is a huge factor in what you do. You got take everything you need to survive, and bring it all back with you, including trash and grey water.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm not sure that a 30 watt charger will be able to output the necessary amps to charge a drained 80 amp/hour (AH) battery. With that many AH, you will need to have close to 47 hours to charge from dead to full (assuming 17.5v @ 1.71 in the picture). Even if you drain it only to 75%, it would still take 11.7 hours of uninterrupted, direct sunlight to get up to full.

    This is a good idea but I think that your panel will be under-gunned for what you want it to do. It would also be nice to have actual pictures of your completed setup. I wish you luck and have fun at Burning Man.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    No, I have used this setup before, and have seen others use it with even a 15watt panel and it works perfectly. I am not looking to charge a ridiculous amount of stuff with it. Just some small lights and and a small fan. The watts and ah usage is very minimal. So the recharge time is significantly less. I dont plan to run my battery to dead either, I have different things to help me read and regulate. This is the first time mine is going to burningman, but sun def wont be a prob lol, esp since a deep cycle lasts so much longer, itll help. But I really do appreciate your comment.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    That's good to hear that you are aware of the limitations and are planning accordingly. A lot of people who bring tech to Burning Man really bring the tech (laptops, routers, satellite internet, etc) and your setup wouldn't be able to keep up with that.

    A suggestion if I may: show pictures of your setup, even if it is messy. It goes a long way to have others see how you did it because a picture is worth a thousand words and all that rot.


    Reply 5 years ago

    I will post a photo ASAP! yeah I am a natural burner and prefer to keep it simple, because I don't see my self hanging out extensively at my camp lol