"How to make a solar power generator"

since 1996 THE ORIGINAL
How to Make a Solar Power Generator for less than $300

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Simple!
Even a child could make one.
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Here I am in 2010 with my nephews and the original $300 solar power generator I designed in 1996. None of them were even born yet. They think solar power is "steampunk."


Using parts easily available from the internet (see helpful links) and your local stores, you can make a small solar power generator for $250 to $300. Great for rolling blackouts, life outside the power grid, or the coming zombie apocalypse. Power your computer, modem, dvd, tv, cameras, lights, fans, or DC appliances anywhere you go. Use in cabins, boats, tents, archaeological digs, or while travelling throughout the third world. Have one in the office store room in case of power failures in your highrise. I keep mine in my bedroom where it powers my music, lights, dvd player, laptop, and (ahem) a back massager. I run a line out the window to an 8" x 24" panel on the roof. This is the smallest simplist set-up practical for daily use. It saves me about five dollars a month off my electric bill. It also saves the environment. (Do you know that most of the electricity coming out of your wall socket is generated by coal?) All of the parts you need can be bought from Amazon.com or the merchants linked to this page for your convenience. Plans for larger systems can be found here (in an adorable video).

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1. Buy (or make) yourself a small solar panel. For about $100 you should be able to get one rated at 12 volts or better (look for 16 volts) at an RV or marine supplies store or from Earthtech or Solar Sphere.

Powerfilm F15-300N Foldable Solar Panel - approx. 5 watts
Powerfilm F15-300N Foldable Solar Panel - approx. 5 watts
- $ 79.47
Wow! What a great price on this foldable solar panel. Get one while they last! 15.4 Volts 300ma size: 648mm x 279mm (25.5 x 11 inches) folded: 140 x 114 x 1.9mm (5.5 x 4.5 x 0.75 inches) weight: 0.38 lb.Assembled in China with USA panels and other foreign components.
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2. Buy yourself a battery. We recommend rechargeable batteries from this green company: Greenbatteries Store. Get any size deep cycle 12 volt lead/acid or gel battery. You need the deep cycle battery for continuous use. The kind in your car is a cranking battery--just for starting an engine. Look for bargains. The more amps, the more expensive. Figure out how many amps you need (see FAQ'S). Twenty amps is a good estimate of what a one-room home with a family of five would need. The cheapest ones should cost about $50-60. Schools and health care facilities would need amps in the hundreds.

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3. Get a battery box to put it in for $10. (This is good for covering up the exposed terminals in case there are children about If you going to install the system in a pump shed, cabin, or boat, skip this.)

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3. Buy a 12 volt DC meter This will help you monitor the charge in your battery. Discharging it below 50% can damage it. Overcharging it can damage it. Keeping it at about 80%-90% charge will keep your battery well for a long time.

4. Buy a DC input. I like the triple inlet model which you can find at a car parts store in the cigarette lighter parts section for about $10. This is enough to power DC appliances, and there are many commercially available, like fans, one-pint water boilers, lights, hair dryers, baby bottle warmers, and vacuum cleaners. Many cassette players, answering machines, and other electrical appliances are DC already and with the right cable will run straight off the box.

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5. But if you want to run AC appliances, you will have to invest in an inverter. This will convert the stored DC power in the battery into AC power for most of your household appliances. I bought a 115 volt 140 watt inverter for $50 fifteen years ago--it still works. The prices have actually dropped on inverters. Count up the number of watts you'll be using (e.g., a small color television(=60 watts) with a VCR(=22 watts), you'll need 82 watts. Cheap inverters of many sizes can be had online.

 

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6. Use a drill to attach the meter and DC input to the top of the box.

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7. Use insulated wire to attach the meter to the wingnut terminals on the battery. Connect the negative (-) pole first. Only handle one wire at a time. Connect the DC inlet to the battery in the same way. Connect the solar panel to the battery in the same way.

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8. Close the lid (I use a bungee cord to keep it tight). Put the solar panel in the sun. It takes 5-8 hours to charge a dead battery; 1-3 hours to top off a weak one. It will run radios, fans, and small wattage lights all night, or give you about 5 hours of continuous use at 115 volt AC, or about an hour boiling water. This system may be added on to with larger panels, inverters, and batteries.
Options: A pop-up circuit breaker may be added between the positive terminal and the volt meter. Some of you will want an ampmeter as well. The panels I recommend have built-in bypass diodes, but I recommend charge controllers for people who have panels without diodes. Another option is a voltage regulator, which is not necessary for a system this small, but a larger system would require one.

Having trouble? Watch our video tutorial How to Wire a Solar Power Battery Box


  • New! Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: How many appliances will this run? How long will it run for? Will it run my refrigerator? (No.) Can it pasteurize water? (Yes.) Ummm...what's an ohm? (Click Here.)

  • To purchase an improved PDF file of this webpage with more information and pictures, go here.
    Q: Why should I buy a PDF file of information that I can get for free off your website?
    A: Short Answer: A website can disappear overnight and a PDF ensures you have all the info in an emailable format.
    Long Answer: An NGO volunteer in the Philippines requested a PDF file because he did not have web access where he was, just email. He pointed out that people who need this device do not have electricity. People without electricity don't have phones, modems, telephone lines, internet or computers. People who can go to my web page already have all that stuff. So wrote it in PDF and emailed it. Now he is happily rigging up one for each family in a small village. In order to make the technology easier to reach my intended audience, now the PDF file (good for Macs or Windows) is available to the public at cost.

    New! The PDF file has "Frequently Asked Questions" and "How to Make a Wind Turbine out of a Hank-Crank Flashlight."

  • Sprechen Sie Deutsch? "Wie um eine Solarenergie Generator fur weniger als $300 Zu Machen" en PDF Sie konnen hier kaufen.

  • Habla usted espanol? Para obtener una version en espanol del libro electronico, haga clic " aqui.

  • Find a Solar Contractor in your area.

  • Technical specifications for this solar power generator, some solar links, and more about solar power. (Free!)

  • Make Your Own Solar Panels and More (click below):
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  • Tired of the high cost of of solar panels? Hate cloudy days? Try optimizing your panel this way. (Free!)


  • How to Make a Wind Turbine out of a Hank Crank Flashlight. (Free!)

  • Introducing Phil Heiple's Fresnel Sun Ovens. (Free!)

  • All of the parts you need can be bought fromAmazon.com.


  • Copyright 2010 Phil Heiple. All rights reserved. Email me. Affiliated with all the merchants linked to this page and the GreenEco Club.

    Copyright Boa Boy Press 1996, updated 2008, 2009, 2010. All rights reserved.
    Free for non-profit use.(That doesn't mean you can republish it under your own name, please.)
    Created by Phil Heiple. Listed in Green Business Directory and Alternative Energy News.
    Rated #2 in the Top Ten Alternative Energy Sites. And rated #4 in the Top Ten Solar Panel Sites. Thanks for the votes!


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    Providing free and low cost solar power technology to the world since 1996. Please help support our current projects in the Philippines, Pakistan, Spain, and Central America by buying a copy of our ebook for your elibrary. Now with Frequently Asked Questions.


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    Special! Buy our popular dinosaur book for only $5.99! Limited time offer.

    New! "Kachina Dolls of the Maloof Collection" by Phil Heiple Click Here.
    NTER>
    New Year's Special! Buy our solar power generator instructions and recieve "How to Make a Wind Turbine out of a Hank-Crank Flashlight" for FREE!


    Special! Buy our popular dinosaur book for only $5.99! Limited time offer.

    New! "Kachina Dolls of the Maloof Collection" by Phil Heiple Click Here.
    NTER>
    New Year's Special! Buy our solar power generator instructions and recieve "How to Make a Wind Turbine out of a Hank-Crank Flashlight" for FREE!


    Special! Buy our popular dinosaur book for only $5.99! Limited time offer.

    New! "Kachina Dolls of the Maloof Collection" by Phil Heiple Click Here.