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How to Build DIY Portable Solar Generator: Tutorial with Diagram and Images

Are you looking to build a DIY portable solar generator? There is indeed an amazing number of full-fledged portable solar generators out there. But if you are a DIY enthusiast, you could surely enjoy putting together a DIY solar generator.

Of course, building a DIY solar generator, apart from buying a ready-made one, offers you two main benefits. First, it could be a lot cheaper; second, you would get a chance to add personalized features to it. So, it is always a cool idea to build own solar generator, one of your best outdoor partners.

There is actually no complex setting behind a portable solar generator. It is all about the assembly of some parts that are aplenty available from various brands. That would certainly go rather cheaper.

A decently powerful portable solar generator of 1500 watts usually costs around $1500, but most of the time you could build such a one at a cheaper price.

DIY Portable Solar Generator – All to Know About

There is really no specific form for a solar generator. Any device that is capable of collecting solar energy and storing it in a battery for ongoing or future use is a solar generator, in principle.

Simply, you only need some basic components to realize such a solar generator. Mostly, it needs solar panels, battery packs, wiring harness, a case or box for installation, and more.

So, building a DIY portable solar generator is a breeze. You could set all the basic components up inside a strong and portable case or box and connect it with the required solar panels. Make sure you use a box or case that is lightweight and friendly for moving.

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 the solar panels are. They are nothing other than regular solar panels, which are crafted in a way you could carry them anywhere comfortably. Of course, their portability attribute is what makes them ideal for building DIY solar generators.

Commonly, we have portable solar panels available in three forms; suitcase, flexible, and folding. The suitcase panels are simply foldable suitcase-like solutions. Well, you could close the solar panel lids down, lock the latches, carry conveniently in carrying bags, and store in the small rooms.

Meanwhile, flexible solar panels are usually the type of solar panels that you could curve up to 30 degrees. Actually, they have nothing special to do in the portability factor, but you could mount the flexible panels on various uneven surfaces like a boat deck, and RV top quite neatly.

Finally, we have folding solar panels. See, they are not typical metal or glass panels. Mostly, they are regular flexible solar modules sewn into the polymer canvases. They come in an array of layers and so you could fold them down quickly. Well, we have samples of all three portable panels below.

ii. Solar Charge Controller

A solar charge controller is indeed the safety valve of a portable solar power system. Current from solar panels is wavy and unstable. Well, it is the duty of solar charge controllers to regulate the variations in power flow and ensure your batteries are safe from those fluctuations.

We commonly have two types of solar charge controllers; MPPT and PWM. Absolutely, the former is the most recommended option, because it works more effectively in turning extra amp from solar panels into electricity and storing it perfectly in your backup systems.

Furthermore, MPPT is the latest technology in the solar industry. The PWM is actually an outdated system today. That is why most of the branded solar generators obviously have the advanced MPPT charge controllers inside.

So, if you are looking to build a DIY solar generator, you better find a cool MPPT charge controller to make sure you get a more efficient and smart solar generator at the end of the day. Fine, we have a few samples of best-selling MPPT solar charge controllers below.

iii. Battery Packs

A battery is what sets the total capacity of a solar generator. Depending on the applications of your machine, you could decide what power its battery packs should have. Commonly, solar generators pack up 12V batteries, but you could also set up high-end solutions with 24V or higher batteries.

In that case, you should add more powerful solar panels and solar charge controllers 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.

Rather, you should put together a DIY solar generator suitable for the capacity of your vehicle’s batteries. By the way, the 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

The job of a power inverter is to simply convert the 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 to the applications.

However, you get a variety of solar-friendly power inverters, which are compact and lightweight so that you could easily integrate into 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 run with the solar generator.

In case of an emergency or even an off-grid life situation, you would have to run different appliances with your DIY solar generator. Generally, an oven needs 1000 to 1500 watts to run. A coffee maker, small TV, and other AC appliances also consume as much as power to operate.

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 main components, you should acquire some other accessories to set up your solar generator in its finest way. First, you would need a voltmeter to measure the voltage, but it is not a necessary component to operate the solar generator.

If your inverter doesn’t have a USB hub and 12V ports you might also need them in separate units. Above all, you should also buy all the required wires and cables for the system.

Likewise, you should find the best mounting brackets and screws to 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 the popular Pelican cases available on Amaozn.com.

The things you should take care of while buying a case are durability and waterproof capability. Of course, being a portable solar generator, you must be taking it to rough outdoor conditions.

So, the case you choose to integrate the components should be tough enough to let you transport the overall machine right anywhere you want to.

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 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 the 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 a 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 a 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 a DIY portable solar generator.

3 thoughts on “How to Build DIY Portable Solar Generator: Tutorial with Diagram and Images”

  1. Safety First! You left out the most important item in the whole build the SAFETY FUSES! 12 volts can and will start a fire if a short or overload were to happen! You should always put fuses in to prevent a fire! And always put the fuses as close to the positive post of the battery as you can! Use the flat automotive type fuses. Make your own fuse holders from the female (insulated) spade connectors or buy fuse holders! Don’t use the glass type fuses which use a spring in the fuse holder that get weak over time and cause connection problems! Put in a separate fuse for each load or circuit that way you can very the fuse size according to the load! Safety First!


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