Solar Power System




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.

Step 1: 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.

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.

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

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.

Step 5: Connecting the Charge Controller and Inverter to the Batteries.

Next we connect the charge controller and the inverter to the batteries. You will want to make sure the inverter is turned off and the charge controller is not connected to the solar panels yet.

Step 6: Final Set Up and Test.

It should all be wired together. All that is left is to connect the charge controller to the solar panels and turn the inverter on and check to see that it works.

Step 7: Some Final Thoughts.

I originally made this set up as a back up power source for when the power went out. But, I think I will use it more often than that. I don't think the solar panels are powerful enough to charge the batteries after depleting them every day. I will use it for a few days and update how well the system charges with constant use.

I originally tested out a single battery and was able to run a lamp and my laptop for about 5 hours before I finally shut it off. The good thing about this inverter is it will shut off automatically if the voltage drops too low to prevent depleting the batteries. I'm pretty confident that with the three batteries I will be able to power larger items for an extended period of time.

Also, this is a pretty expensive set up, about $650. My costs (with out tax or shipping charges) and where I got things.

Solar panels $250 (used from craigslist)
Marine batteries $240 (for 3 from Walmart)
2 AWG Cable $5 (for about 2 feet from Lowe's)
Lugs $8 (for 8 from Lowe's)
1200 W inverter $130 (

I had the rubbermaid container, battery charger, and the charge controller came with the solar panels. I don't think it unrealistic to spend around $700 or so, possibly more depending on how you set your system up.

Depending on how this works I will most likely upgrade to some better solar panels, increase the solar panel array size, and get some more batteries.

If anything is unclear please post comments/questions and I will be more than happy to update.



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    176 Discussions


    Question 3 months ago on Step 1

    Hi I have Wagga espresso machine which is 3400w.I would like to know, if this inverter Solar power system batteries can work for me?


    4 years ago

    I want the set up a small cabin and run a refridgerator,hot water heater and maybe a light. What size panels and how many batteries and what size invertor etc. Would i need ? Just a ruff guess would be apreciated ! Thanks!

    2 replies

    Reply 6 months ago

    The only thing really to worry about is how much wattage you're pulling out and how much is being replenished. I currently run a 1000 Watt system 10* 100 Watt panels with a 10 battery battery bank. With a cobra 1500 Watt inverter. I have had no problems so far running a deep freeze, a refrigerator, 12 volt lights, and multiple TV's. Just make sure you're putting more power back in your power bank than you're pulling out. Hope this helps.


    Reply 2 years ago

    You would not want to run an electric water heater off of PV. That woudl be a complete waste of solar panels. Better to get a set up where the sun heats the water directly and supplement with chemical fuel. You can get super efficient LED lights that are very bright and only use like 12W of electricity. You might only need 200w of panels.


    Question 9 months ago on Introduction

    Hello: I'm interested in making a solar power system like the this one. The design didn't include a battery bank. Not that familiar yet with everything, but it's really interesting and we want to power an outdoor water feature. I see solar kits out there that have solar panels, a submersible pump and a rechargeable battery, but none last long and they don't even store power as the feature is being used so max. and ongoing capacity is never created. If I make one that has the inverter, I don't have to use a solar wired pump and can actually use it for other AC purposes. Thanks!


    Question 1 year ago

    Hi Dear,

    Can you please Advice me How many panels in need for three battery's? how may Volts battery should i buy? plz give me the complete list of products i required to make this solar system.

    Thanks & Regards,



    Question 1 year ago

    Thanq so much
    & I didn't get clarity of this system expense totally.
    So please send me total how much money I needed to do this experiment..


    1 year ago

    I thought for sure you were going to spell it out to me how to connect that inverter and charge controller to the battery because I needed spelled out to me am I putting them connect them to the same terminal so they're touching each other I appreciate it cuz I've been looking for this answer for days and finally I'm going to post my own question thank you in advance


    1 year ago

    Hi, you have helped me understand to a great deal. I need your help actually, I'm building the same system to power a laptop and a monitor with a smart charger.

    this charger will run on solar and the grid and the batteries deriving power from both sources as necessary.

    Any ideas how I should link these two systems?

    John Stark

    2 years ago

    Thanks to its very useful information and great achieving solar energy the sun to produce energy reduce our dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels, inevitably combatting the output of greenhouse gas emissions into theair.


    2 years ago


    Kindly provide details of components, like the volts, amps, amp hours, watts, size, brand, cost & vendor

    1) Solar panels

    2) Charge controller

    3) Battery charger

    4) Invertor


    2 years ago

    Great and informative post. You described each point clearly and strategically. Installing solar power system is helps to reduce pollution by capturing energy of the sun, In this way it is helpful to protect the environment.



    2 years ago

    Useful Information


    3 years ago

    I have been struggling with this forever. All I want to do is use my 5v panel to charge my 1.5v NiHM triple A batteries. Seems like it kills every battery, they start out low at 1.0V and then after I use the panel with + to + - to -, with a diode on the negative lead.

    What am I doing wrong?


    3 years ago

    Not sure what all you got for the $250.00 but if it was just 4 solar panels and the charge controller you paid a bit to much. Those appear to be Harbor Freight panels from their kit. It usually runs about $135.00 when on sale and it includes 3 - 15 watt panels, charge controller and some lights.

    I have 2 of these kits set-up connected to 3 RV/Marine deep cycle batteries from Les Schwab Tires, I plan to add some more panels but am going to get larger wattage ones since this only runs about 4 days of night time use to run my Cpap machine, a 60 watt light bulb and a small charger that puts out 2 USB outlets for charging my phone and spare "30,000mAh Dual USB Portable Solar Panel Power Bank" that I carry when away from home, the AC stuff is running off a 2,000/4,000 watt inverter from Harbor Freight, after 4 days I fire up my small generator and run it for 8 hours or so powering a battery charger while my friends and I either watch a few movies or play D&D.

    1 reply

    3 years ago on Step 6

    Am trying to get my head around all of this, maybe as a male I am making it more complicated than I really have to? I have8 12v-130A batteries, a 60 Amp controller and 8 x 200Watt Panels. I am wanting to run on either 12V or 24V is there any formula to ascertain what size Inverter I would need? I will be adding another 5 or 7 Panels to this as my SHTF budget will allow? Thanks for the article as this covered nearly everything I was wondering about! Thank you in anticipation. harry!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    $1800 is very expensive for a 100 watt system...Hawai'i prices you pay for paradise.
    The 2000 watt Xantrex inverter is a pure sine wave unit I see now costs around $1300 that I got for $350 at a West Marine that was just opening a new store. Basically I stole it. The whole thing is now on a Garden Cart I got from Home Depot. (See step 10 update)