How to Build an Affordable, Residential Solar Generator

Rick Magliano

Solar generators are entirely powered by the nonrenewable resources of the sun, using solar energy to generate electricity so that even during power outages, appliances in your house can still be running. And best of all, solar generators are affordable and can be easily made at home for around $250 to $300.

Material Needed:

  • 12-volt solar panel
  • Deep-cycle battery, 12-volt lead/acid battery or gel battery
  • Battery box
  • 12-volt DC meter
  • DC input
  • Inverter
  • Insulated wire

Material for Building Solar Generator

First, you need to gather your materials. Buy a 12-volt solar panel from a marine supplies store or an RV store. These cost approximately $100. Buy a 12-volt lead/acid battery, a deep-cycle battery or a gel battery, as well as a battery box. These types of batteries can be found at marine supplies stores and cost about $50. They will provide continuous power, unlike the type of battery used in a car to start its engine. The battery should only cost $10 or so.

Buy a 12-volt DC meter for about $30 from any DIY retail store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. You will also need to buy a DC input, which can be found at a car parts store for about $15. The DC input will power DC applies. To power and run AC appliances, purchase an Inverter to convert the DC power stored in the battery into AC power.

How to Build a Solar Generator

The next step is to build the solar generator. First, use a drill to attach the DC meter to the DC input. Place this somewhere at the top of the battery box. Use insulated wire to attach the DC meter to the battery terminals. Be sure to connect the negative (-) pole first and the positive (+) poles second, handling only one wire at a time. Next, connect the DC inlet and the solar panel to the battery box. Again, be sure to connect the negative (-) poles first and the positive (+) poles second.

Once everything is connected, close the lid to the battery box and position the solar panel so that it will get as much direct sunlight as possible. Charging the solar panel should take about five hours for a dead battery and about two hours to top off a weak one. This fully charged solar generator can give approximately five hours of continuous use at 115-volt AC. It should be able to power a fan, laptop or small TV, as well as run small appliances.

The power of this solar generator can always be increased by using larger solar panels, wiring more solar panels together, more inverters and more batteries. Be sure to always keep electrical components out of the reach of children.

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