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

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How To Build DIY Portable Solar Generator

We’re guessing from the fact that you’ve clicked on this page that you’re looking to try and build a DIY portable solar generator. There are a lot of great, fully made portable solar generators on the market, we know! If you are interested in doing some DIY and would rather have the satisfaction of making your own, you’re sure to enjoy piecing together your own DIY solar generator.

As you may imagine, building a solar generator yourself rather than buying one that’s already made for you can give two primary benefits. To start with, it’s a lot more friendly on your wallet so it will save a lot of money which you would have already spent on buying one that’s already assembled. In addition, you’ll be able to personalize your DIY portable solar generator to your own tastes, adding extra features that you deem necessary. It’s a pretty awesome idea to try and build your own solar generator to join you on all of your outdoor excursions too, and you’ll get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the results of your little DIY project. We know we did! 

There ultimately aren’t really any overly complicated settings that lie behind a portable solar generator. It ultimately comes down to putting together some parts that are quite commonplace and made by a number of different brands. This can be quite affordable too so you don’t need to worry about breaking the bank. 

It will normally cost roughly $1500 to make a somewhat powerful portable solar generator of 1500 watts, but it’s possible to build one yourself and save a lot of money. 

All You Need to Know About DIY Portable Solar Generators

There’s actually not one particular form of portable solar generator. As long as the device is capable of collecting solar energy and as long as the device is able to store it in a battery for future use or for continuous use, it’s classed as a solar generator, as far as the basic idea goes.

It’s pretty simple. All you really need is some certain essential components to create a solar generator. On its most basic level, you need solar panels, battery packs, wiring harness, a case or box for the installation and a few extra components. 

It’s pretty easy to build a DIY portable solar generator when it comes down to it. It’s easy to set up all of the essential parts in a portable, strong box and then you can connect it with the solar panels that you need. You need to make sure that you use a lightweight box or case that can be moved without issue. 

Here are a few vital parts that you need to build a solar generator:

  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

Portable Solar Panels

This one’s a no brainer and we’re pretty sure you’ve already guessed what portable solar panels are. These are simply just normal solar panels that are made in a way that allows you to be able to carry them anywhere you like without any problems. With that being said, the portability they offer is what makes them perfect for making DIY solar generators from scratch. Some solar panels aren’t so portable and so they wouldn’t be suitable for a project like this.

We generally see portable solar panels in three different forms: suitcase solar panels, flexible and folding. Suitcase panels are pretty much foldable suitcase-like solutions. It’s possible to close down the lids of the solar panels, lock the latches and carry them easily in carrying bags, and then they can be stored even in a small room. Even if you live in a very small apartment and you need somewhere to store your portable solar generator when it’s not in use, you should have no problem finding storage with this type of portable solar panel.

Simultaneously, flexible solar panels can be curved up to 30 degrees usually. They’re nothing special when it comes to portability but they can be mounted on a range of uneven surfaces such as RV tops and boat decks fairly easily. Naturally, these solar panels are suited even more to certain types of vehicle. 

The last type is folding solar panels. These are not like normal glass panels or typical metal panels that you most commonly see. For the most part they’re like normal flexible solar panels that are then sewn into a polymer canvas. They have a lot of different layers so they can be easily folded down. We have a few samples of all of these different portable solar panels listed below. 

Solar Charge Controller

A solar charge controller exists as a safety measure for the portable solar power system. A wavy and unstable current is commonplace with solar panels and this can cause some problems. That’s why the solar charge controller exists - it helps to keep the variations in power flow under control and it also helps to make sure that any batteries remain safe from these changes in power flow.

There are two main types of solar charge controllers, and these are MPPT and PWM. For the most part, most people recommend using an MPPT as it tends to be more effective in turning extra amps from your solar panels into electricity, keeping it perfectly stored in a suitable backup system. 

In addition, MPPT is the most up to date technology in the solar industry. The PWM is a little behind its time in terms of technology and doesn’t provide the same advantages as an MPPT. That’s the main reason why branded solar generators tend to include MPPT charge controllers inside. Sometimes it’s just best to use the more up to date technology for your DIY projects to get some better results! 

You’re better off looking for an advanced MPPT controller if you are looking to create a DIY solar generator, just so that you can ensure that the generator that you get is efficient and smart. Not sure what to look for? Here are a couple of options! 

Battery Packs

This is essentially what determines the capacity your solar generator will have. Of course you should choose your battery packs based on what you intend to use the machine for. More often than not, solar generators will pack up to 12V batteries. It’s possible to set yours up with more high end power solutions with 24V batteries, or even higher than that if you wish.

If that is something you want to do, it’s worth putting more powerful solar panels and solar charge controllers into the system so you can generate some more power. If your portable solar generator is going to be used for things such as an RV, a trailer, caravan, boat or a home it’s possible to just use the batteries already available in these places.

When designing your DIY portable power generator, you should consider the capacity of the batteries in the vehicles and then build it in accordance to those specifications. Oh, and also your battery is by far going to be the heaviest part of the solar generator so you should try to ensure that the battery units you use are lightweight, such as lithium batteries instead of heavy lead-acid batteries. The more lightweight your batteries are, the more portable your device is going to be overall.

Power Inverter

The purpose of a power inverter is basically to convert the 12V DC power that is in your battery into 120V AC so that you’re able to run the electronics inside of your vehicle. There’s not a lot of difference as far as application is concerned between solar inverters and regular inverters. In this case, there’s not much distinction really. 

On that note, there are a lot of power inverters that are solar friendly, and these are lightweight and compact. They’re designed to be able to fit easily into DIY portable solar generators. You need to make sure that your DIY portable solar generator has the right amount of power. The inverter is what will give you running watts for whatever appliances you need to be able to run with your solar generator. You are obviously going to require more power if the items you intend to run on the solar generator eat up a lot of electricity.

In an emergency situation or if you are going off the grid, you would need to run a range of different machinery using your DIY solar generator. It’s worth knowing that an over for example would need around 1000 to 1500 watts to run efficiently. Things like small TVS, coffee makers and other AC appliances surprisingly take around the same amount of power to run. You should always make sure that you consider emergencies when creating your portable solar power generator. 

In addition, you’ll need to be able to generate around 70 to 100 watts of power with your portable solar generator in order to run things like lights in your camping tent or home. So, with that being said, you need to make sure that you’re making your solar generator with the correct type of inverter. 

Miscellaneous Accessories

So now that we’ve covered the essential components of your DIY portable solar generator, it’s now time to go over some extra accessories that will help you to make a top notch solar generator. To begin with, make sure that you get a voltmeter so you can measure the voltage. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it sure does help. 

Also, if you get an inverter that doesn’t come with a USB hub or 12V ports then you may need to purchase them in separate units. You may also need to buy all the wires that the device needs and some cables for the overall system.

You should also purchase the best possible mounting brackets and screws you can find so you can place the solar panels and assemble all the components inside of a case or a box. This shouldn’t cost too much money so it’s a good investment.

Last but not least, in order to build your generator you will need to have a strong and durable case or box. You may wish to try a Pelican case which you can buy on Amazon.com - these are also incredibly popular among portable solar power generator enthusiasts.

When you buy your case, try to make sure they’re durable and have waterproof capabilities. As it is a portable solar generator, it’s only natural that you’ll be taking it into rough, outdoor conditions. If you drop your case into a puddle and everything stops working, then you would have wasted a lot of time and a decent amount of money on a portable solar generator that no longer works. Simultaneously, if your case doesn't protect the device if it falls then it’s not a worthy investment. Protecting your handiwork should be one of your utmost priorities.

The case needs to be strong enough to be able to allow you to carry the machine wherever you wish to go. Keep your hard work safe so you can use it whenever you need to! 

Disclaimer: While we don’t have a hands on guide to tell you how to build your DIY portable solar generator, this is a general tutorial about all the aspects you’ll need to make your solar generator from scratch. You should visit another guide for clear instructions on making your DIY portable solar generator with all the intricacies.

DIY Portable Solar Generator - Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Plan the Solar Power Generator

Obviously, the first thing you should be doing is planning your solar generator. As we’ve covered above, make a decision about the capacity you need for the DIY portable solar generator. Also, work with the requirements you need from there. It’s possible that you need your solar generator for things like camping, RVing, boating or emergency purposes. Regardless of your need, you need to make an intricate check on what your needs are and then plan the solar generator in your mind before setting off. Consider the amount of power that you need, the purpose and just how portable it needs to be.

Step 2: Purchase the Parts

The second step is to buy your parts for your solar generator. It’s not a particularly difficult thing to do these days, and there is a huge range of options available for you to choose from. Under every category there are hundreds of varieties all for different prices and power ranges.

Step 3: Integrate the Parts to a Case

You’ll need to integrate the parts into the case if you’re planning on building the generator inside of the case. Things like the battery, inverter, voltmeter, controller and various other things come inside the box. Try to ensure that you have a decent box or case that’s waterproof and durable. Place the solar panels outside.

After this, you could buy a bag that can be used to easily move the solar panels. 

Connect with Solar Panel

It may be best to place your solar panels outside the case, as this gives you the opportunity to put the panel away from the unit so you can get as much sunlight as possible.

Test the Device

It’s not all that complicated to build a DIY portable solar generator. If you’ve followed this guide properly, then everything should be completely fine and you can easily get your portable solar power generator up and running in no time, allowing you to access your creature comforts even when away from home. Once you’ve finished setting up the portable solar power generator, you could then put it to the test under sunlight. After this, you can take some time to enjoy your handiwork.

Final Thoughts

This article has been all about building a solid, sturdy portable solar generator. As you can see, there aren’t any excessive complications, nor are there any confusing steps. It’s all quite simple and you’ll be all set up in no time. You will already have all of the parts at your disposal. In that case, all you need to do is purchase them and connect them together into one solid unit so you can generate solar energy to power all of your electronic devices.

Building a portable solar generator can have a lot of added benefits, and it’s an easy way to store some power to easily use when you’re doing things like going camping, or travelling in an RV, or you can even use it to help conserve some energy at home. It’s also ideal for emergencies. If you’re into your DIY, you are going to love creating this easy solar power generator and reaping the rewards of your work. We want to think that you’ve also enjoyed this guide! Hopefully, you’ll save a bit of money from not going out and buying an already assembled DIY portable solar generator too. 

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