Are you looking to build a DIY portable solar generator? There is indeed an awesome collection of full-fledged solar generators on market. But if you are a DIY enthusiast you could yourself put together one. To build something your own gives you two main advantages. First, it can go a lot cheaper, second you get a chance to add personalized features. So it is always a cool idea to build own solar generator, your best travel partner.

How to Build DIY Portable Solar Generator for Off-Grid Power

There is actually no complex setting behind a solar generator. Well, it is all about the assembly of some parts that are aplenty available on market from various brands. Sometimes building your own solar generator is cheaper than buying a fresh one. A decently powerful portable solar generator of 1500 watts usually costs around $1500, but most of the time you could build similar one for a cheaper price, but that largely depends on your making procedure, of course.

There is actually no specific form for a solar generator. Any device that collects solar energy and stores that in a battery for current or latter use is a solar generator in principle. So building a DIY portable solar generator is not a tough job. You could set up the basic components inside a portable case or box and connect it with solar panels. Below we have a list of essential components required to build a solar generator from scratch.

  1. Portable Solar Panels
  2. Solar Charge Controller
  3. Battery Packs
  4. Power Inverter
  5. Digital Voltmeter
  6. Cables and Wires
  7. Clamps and Screws – Mounting Brackets
  8. Compact and Rugged Portable Case

i. Portable Solar Panels

Simply, you could guess what a solar panel is. But looking to build a DIY portable solar generator, you should also know what a portable solar panel is. It is nothing other than a regular solar panel that is designed in a way you could carry it easily. Commonly, portable solar panels are available in three forms; suitcase-style, flexible, and folding. The first one, as its name suggests, is foldable like a suitcase after use. Well, you could close the solar panel lids, lock its latches, carry it comfortably in a bag, and store in a very less room.

Flexible solar panel is usually the kind of panels that you could curve up to 30 degrees. Actually, it doesn’t have much to do in portability, but you could mount a flexible panel on uneven surfaces like boat deck, RV top, and etc. Finally, we have folding panels. See, they are not typical metal or glass panels. Most likely, they are flexible solar modules sewn into polymer canvases. They come in an array of many layers and so you could fold them down. We have samples of all three portable solar panels below.

ii. Solar Charge Controller

Solar charge controller is indeed the safety valve of a portable solar power system. Current from solar panels is highly wavered and unstable. Well, it is the duty of solar charge controllers to regulate variations in power flow and ensure your batteries are safe from those fluctuations. On market we have two types of solar charge controllers, MPPT and PWM. Absolutely, the former MPPT is the most recommended option because that works more effectively in turning extra amperage from solar panels into power.

Plus, MPPT is the latest technology in solar generator industry. PWM is almost outdated now. Obviously, most solar generator makers now employ MPPT charge controllers in their machines. So looking to build a DIY solar generator, you should find one cool MPPT solar controller to make sure you get a more efficient and smarter solar generator at the end. Fine, we have a list of top MPPT solar charge controllers below.

iii. Battery Packs

Battery is what sets the total capacity of a solar generator. Depending on the application of your machine, you could decide what power its battery needs. Commonly, solar generators bundle 12V batteries, but you could set up high-end solutions with 24V or higher batteries. In that case, you should include more powerful solar panels and charge controller to the system, however.

If you are building a DIY portable solar generator for RV, boat, trailer, caravan, or home you could utilize the already available batteries in such facilities. Evidently, in that case, you should put together a solar generator that matches with the capacity of the batteries. By the way, battery is certainly the weightiest part of a solar generator. So make sure you pick lightweight battery units like lithium instead of heavy lead acid batteries.

iv. Power Inverter

Job of an inverter is to simply convert 12V DC power in your battery to 120V AC to run your electronics. There is actually no difference between a regular inverter and solar inverter when it comes the applications. Yet, you get a variety of solar-friendly power inverters, which are compact and lightweight so that you could easily integrate in your DIY portable solar generator. You should pick an inverter with the right power. See, it is the inverter that offers running watts for the appliances you want to power up with your solar generator.

In case of an emergency, you might need to run different appliances with your solar generator. Generally, an oven requires 1000 to 1500 watts to run. A coffee maker, small TV, and big appliances also consume as much as power to function. What’s more, just to neatly light up your home or camping tent, your inverter should produce 70 to 100 watts. Keeping this in mind, make your DIY portable solar generator with the right inverter.

v. Miscellaneous Accessories

Other than the above main components, you should acquire some accessories to set up your solar generator. First, you could add a voltmeter to measure the voltage, but it is not necessary. If your power inverter doesn’t have a USB hub and 12V DC ports you might also need them in different units. Above all, you should also buy all required wires and cables for the system. Likewise, you should find the best mounting brackets and screws to both place the solar panels and assemble all the components inside a box or case.

Finally, to build a DIY portable solar generator, you must need a strong and durable box or case. For this, you could try one of popular Pelican cases available on Amaozn.com. The key things you should take care of while buying a case are durability as well as waterproof capability. Of course, being a portable solar generator, you must be taking it to rough outdoor conditions. So the case you integrate the components should be tough enough to let you transport the machine anywhere you want.

Disclaimer: We don’t claim that we have a hands-on guide here on how to build a DIY portable solar generator. It is actually a general tutorial on all the components you typically need for making a solar generator from scratch. You better better visit this Instructables article for a clear DIY portable solar generator making process with all details.

DIY Portable Solar Generator – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Plan Your Solar Generator

Needless to say, the first thing to do is proper planning. You should decide what capacity your DIY portable solar generator should have. For that, you should first work with your requirements. You may need a solar generator for camping, RVing, boating, or emergency. Whatever is the need, make a detailed check on your needs and plan a solar generator in mind at first.

Step 2: Purchase Parts

It is the second step. Buying the parts for a solar generator is not a difficult thing today. You have a wide variety of options to pick from the marketplace. Under each category, you have dozens of varieties under different price and power ranges.

Step 3: Integrate Parts to a Case

If you wish to build the generator inside a case, it is time to integrate the parts. Commonly, charge controller, battery, inverter, voltmeter, and other things come inside the box. Make sure you have a quality box or case with waterproof and ruggedness. Better place solar panels outside. Later, you could buy a bag to move the solar panels easily. See the diagram on how to do the wiring of a DIY portable solar generator.

DIY portable solar generator diagram

Step 4: Connect with Solar Panels

It is always nice to place solar panel outside the case. That gives you a chance to place the panel away from the main unit for grabbing as much as sunlight possible.

Step 5: Test the Device

As you can see, there is no complicated task in building DIY portable solar generator. If you have followed the diagram well, everything would be fine for you. Once you are done with the solar generator, you could test it under sunlight. And enjoy unlimited access to solar power even when you are on the move.

Final Thoughts 

It has been all about DIY portable solar generator. It doesn’t come with any complex steps. Everything is quite simple and fine. You have all the parts readily available. Well, all you have to do is to buy them and bring them together into a unit to make solar energy. A portable solar generator is a good idea to store power for your use while going out on a camping, outing, or emergency. Making own solar generator is a lovely thing for DIY enthusiasts. We would like to believe that you liked our guide on DIY portable solar generator.

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