Solar Power Terminal




About: Wanted to become self sufficient for a long time, however i am trapped in a modern world with minimal cash and an addiction to the computing world.

I have seen a few tutorials on here regarding solar power and what to do with it, so I thought I'd add my own.

My brother-in-law is expert at all things electronic, i stung him for a few bits for this project that he had just laying around. Remnants of his old projects i imagine.

So, here is what i started with:
- 6* 12v Solar panels
- Wiring for panels with croc clips.
- 150w Inverter

Voltage    Maximum Voltage    Current    Maximum Current    Dimensions             Weight
12 volts   17.5 volts                   450mA     500mA                       11.3"x14.13"x.71"     .625kgs (1.4lbs)

I had no frame to mount them and had no idea what i was doing.

But first, mounting and wiring together!

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Step 1: The Rear of the Solar Panel Mounted on the Pallet

Here is the rear of the pallet.

I thank Freegle/Freecycle for the pallet.

I connected the wires together maintaining it at 12 volts but adding the amperage together. I have used some old lawnmower cable to feed to the control box.

Total amperage= 6*450mA or 2-3 amps max

Step 2: The Control Box

This old wooden box with metal clasp was dumped behind my house. Handy i thought, to house the controller and batteries.

The 10a Solar controller was one of the cheapest on eBay

The batteries are 2*6v batteries wired together to give 12v.
These were on special at Maplin and far cheaper than 1 of the equivalent 12v batteries.

On the side is an outdoor switch which cuts power from the panels to the controller, should i need to alter or repair anything. This was £5 from Wickes hardware store.

Step 3: Indoors

Through the window, is an ordinary household lamp wire with switch, providing an indoor cutoff to power.

I discovered too, that the output from the controller would blow my electronics without fuses.

The inverter is fused for 15a, This is the maximum i would want to draw into the house.

I had a spare 13a plug fuse spare and rigged up a holder on the unit to limit the initial amperage of any connected sockets.

Step 4: Phone Charger

I had a car phone charger that i had inserted into the front. I wanted to integrate it.

I popped open the charger plug, soldered wires replacing the original cig lighter connections were. I then connected the wires to the 13a feed integrating the original 1a fuse from the charger plug.

Step 5: The Front

The front, i started with scrap veneer from an old project.

I admit, i started out connecting anything i could run off 12v.

I started with a 12v car cig lighter socket extension and wired it in, the inverter and phone chargers worked fine.

What else could i add?
UV Cold Cathode lighting
These are from an old PC, as they came with Molex connections, i fitted those into the front too.

Above the cig lighter socket is the USB socket.
The phone charger didn't have a socket, just a mini USB plug. I scavenged the socket out of a Houseplug USB adapter and soldered it on.

Please stay tuned for updates, suggestions and/or pictures of the impending house fire!

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    12 Discussions

    Trike Lover

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Just curious about the amp-hour ratings on your batteries, and what type they are (I'm assuming SLA deep cycle?). I have ten 13.8 volt 1 amp solar panels, purchased at different times from a local hardware chain when they go on sale for $8-$9 or so. Each panel is designed to be connected to a car battery, to keep it "topped up". Each one seems to have a built-in charging regulator. However, I've used as many as six panels connected in parallel to a 20 amp-hour 13.8 VDC battery, the SLA type, and taken power from that. I've connected both direct 12 volt loads, such as car cellphone chargers, and a mobile thermoelectric picnic cooler, but also a 12 volt inverter which puts out 120 VAC. (I have several of these kicking around, ratings from 250 watt to 600 watt.
    I found the six 1-Amp panels and the single battery an almost ideal combination while traveling by car on vacation - all the "secondary" accessories ran off of the SLA battery, and the six panels, arranged to fill the rear window of the car, did a pretty good job of keeping the secondary battery charged. That way,the very small main battery in the car was not "drawn down" if I was parked for some length of time (The only thing I had to remember was to park with the car pointing North, so that the solar panels in the back window got full sunlight. I made up a very temporary frame from some scrap aluminum angle stock, pop rivets, and used duct tape or double faced foam tape to attach the panels - the frame was just sort of hooked under the top edge of the inside of the window, and rested on the small deck area behind the back seats. The only down side was that the battery was a discard, and would self-discharge if left more than about 24 hours, even with no load. I used it mainly as a "float" for the solar panels, and a sink for intermittent current loads greater than the panels could provide. It died completely not too long afterwards, so I am once again looking for a battery or batteries.

    The solar panel array I built won't work in the winter where I live - we get only about 6 hours of daylight, and the sun never gets more than about 25 degrees off the horizon. That's one problem with using solar in the winter at high latitudes. .

    Anyhow, thanks for your article. It's motivated me to make a permanent fixture with all of the available solar panels, a variety of low-voltage outputs, and a 120 VAC inverter. A couple of cheap meters to read battery voltage and current draw are the only additions I'm going to make, so that I can keep an eye on the charge state and current draw from the battery.
    Many thanks.

    1 reply

    Most of it was hand downs or scavenged. I only really purchased:
    - The solar charger - £6.59
    - The 2*6v batteries - £10.99 reduced to £5.99
    - The 12v cig socket - £2.99


    i was talking to a guy at my boat club about 230 and 12v cable, he told me that a switch for 230v has a smaller gap than 12v and vice versa as the 12v could jump the open gap on a 230v switch. im not sure if the switch you have used would be ok for stopping the power everytime from the panels but something to look into.

    1 reply

    Definitely! The LED on the controller goes out once the connection is broken, but i will look into replacing the switch if i need to. Thanks for that.


    i was talking to a guy at my boat club about 230 and 12v cable, he told me that a switch for 230v has a smaller gap than 12v and vice versa as the 12v could jump the open gap on a 230v switch. im not sure if the switch you have used would be ok for stopping the power everytime from the panels but something to look into.


    6 years ago on Step 5

    Next 'ible here:

    Thanks for your comment, just a hobby project for now. But as it becomes a fixture, upgrades will be made. So far, just a proof of concept. It does prompt me to address the safety issue first though!


    6 years ago on Step 5

    DANIEL ANTHONY YOUNG! If you set our house on fire I will have your hide! Until then, I'm very proud of you! Love you! x

    1 reply