We had been looking to purchase a solar generator for several years but the prices were astronomical and out of our reach. We had installed solar panels on my father’s cabin previously; so I did have some understanding of setting up a basic solar system. After doing some research for a couple days I decided to attempt my own DIY solar generator one weekend. Below is the materials we used, but most of the parts can be bought right off the shelf at local stores.
Materials list with costs. (updated 02/07/2015)
- 12v clip on adapter $4.63
- 400 watt inverter $33.89
- charge controller $14.99
- tool box $59.99
- radio $46.59
- speakers $29.00
- speaker wire $9.99
- dash-kit $14.68
- solar panels $72.00
- battery $99.97
- inverter cable kit $25.13
If you don’t need the radio then it would be $310.60, but I wanted something to listen to while gardening and not have to worry about batteries. Further cost savings could be had by building a wooden box out of pallets to hold everything together. You can see a quick overview of the assembly below.
Center battery in box
Cut out wire chase in tray and mount inverter
Cut the holes for speakers
Mount the charge controller
Wire speakers and mount them in the holes
Cut a hole in tray and install radio using dash-kit
Wire it all together
Drill a hole and surface mount the 12V plug
Wire up the charge controller
Connect the solar panels
Mount the panels to the box
That’s all there is to making a DIY solar generator that can be used for just about anything; even grinding wheat. It may not be as pretty as a commercially manufactured unit, but it does the job that I require of it. If you would like to see a more detailed tutorial of our build, click on the link below.
If you don’t feel comfortable building your own, the Goal Zero Yeti is probably the best and closest product on the market. After you add a solar panel though; it would be almost double of what it would cost to build one.
Quiet, portable power for base camps, cabins and unexpected outages. The Goal Zero Yeti 400 DIY Solar Generator allows you to live life off the grid, camp in luxury, or power through an outage without the noise and fumes of traditional back-up generators.