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DIY Solar Generator Portable Power at a Fraction of the Cost I was intrigued by some of the solar generators I’ve been seeing, like the Goal Zero Yeti and other similar units. Being a techie, it occurred to me that I should be able to build a reasonable equivalent for less than those units go for.

Although I have several fuel-driven generators, total power replacement in a prolonged grid-down situation isn’t very practical. Anything more than a few days would need substantial fuel reserves, which would require a disciplined strategy to rotate the fuel, amongst other considerations. In the southwest, we have plenty of sun, so a solar generator seemed a good addition, so, I set out to build my own.After doing some homework, I set the following goals: the unit had to have a reasonably high output, similar to a small gasoline generator; it needed to be reasonably portable — something my wife could move around on our property my wife could move around on our property to provide 110-volt power where it was needed, and could be easily positioned to catch the sun in different seasons, and at different times of the day; it needed to have a power reserve capacity similar to the units available for purchase; and it needed to be affordable. So, here’s the unit I put together. For storage capacity, I chose a high-capacity group 27 deep-cycle marine battery. The deep-cycle type will tolerate repeated discharges to around 50% without damaging the battery.It should tolerate a daily charge and discharge cycle for some time, and will provide daily power for considerably longer than any reasonable expectation for fuel-driven generators. The inverter is a Go Power! unit rated at 1,750 watts, which produces sine-wave power suitable for sensitive electronics, and has the power to accommodate any appliance we own. It features a voltage and power monitor display, and two AC outlets.


To connect more items simultaneously, I added a power strip with USB charging. This adds four outlets and two USB charging ports, at the cost of using one of the two outlets on the inverter. Since the inverter will lose a certain amount of power to its own inefficiencies, I envisioned charging all the devices for my family or group simultaneously, so having multiple outlets is important. I used a Renogy 200W dual-panel solar bundle kit, which has two 100-watt solar panels, a charge controller, and all the wiring for the solar side of the generator. The charge controller has a 400W capacity, so I could add two more of the 4ft x 2ft panels to improve re-charge time.[/quote]


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