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A Freebie For You!

sunday-freebieBuild a Solar Power Generator for Under $300

A great step by step path to removing yourself from the grid. The great thing about solar power systems is you can start out as small as you like and build up to complete grid removal as money and time permit, if that is your desire. Plus the added benefit of the hands on learning experience, which you can pass on to others. After all, it takes a village.

1. Buy 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.  You could always look on google for places that sell them near you.

2. Buy yourself a battery. We recommend rechargeable batteries  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 cheapest ones should cost about $50-60.

3. Get a battery box to put it in for $10.  Buy a 12 volt DC meter. Radio Shack has them for about $25.

4. Buy a DC input.  Try 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.

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.  Buy a 115 volt 140 watt inverter made by Power-to-Go at Pep Boys for around $50. 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). A variety of cheap inverters from 100 watts to 3000 watts can be found by typing inverters in Google.

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

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.

8. Close the lid ( 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.

This is a great weekend project. A cheap way to start saving money and your planet.  So, have fun and please let us know how it goes!

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No Responses to “A Freebie For You!”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Hi Linda,

    This really doesn’t sound that difficult. It would give my husband something to do. Thanks for the great info.

    Barbaras last blog post..Let’s Have Some More Lemonade!

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Barbara … Seems pretty easy to me as well. Think I will build one.

  3. sharkbytes Says:

    Sounds good. We are so sun-deprived here that I’m not even thinking about this. But I am thinking seriously about some wind power. Now that I’ve got!

    sharkbytess last blog post..Likin’ the Lichen I

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi sharkbytes … I have wind all winter long and some during the summer. I really need a wind turbine to make that wind work for me.

  5. April Says:

    Very interesting thanks for the info

    Aprils last blog post..My Husband Was Joking

  6. wilson Says:

    I loved this concept, Linda. I’m a electronic home hobbyist and this sounds absolutely terrific for the weekend project!

  7. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson …. Let me know how you do! I would be interested on how long it took you to assemble it.

  8. Says:

    A Freebie For You! | Forced Green…

    The great thing about solar power systems is you can start out as small as you like and build up to complete grid removal as money and time permit…

  9. melodie.chia Says:

    Hi. Your idea is no doubt creative. But is it practical enough? Will it take a long time to recharge the aa rechargeable batteries? If it is, then i believe it may not be that feasible after all.

  10. Linda Says:

    Hi Melodie … I believe once you have charged the battery during the day and did not totally drain the battery, recharging does not take long. So bottom line, it is recommended that you build one.

  11. lisleman Says:

    I think there is opportunity to make money in small solar applications, but so far I’ve mostly just thought about it.

    Today people have many gadgets around the home that run on batteries from shavers, toothbrushes, to mp3 players. My idea would be to have a solar powered station to recharge these devices.

    Did you build this yet and do you have any pictures.

    Thanks for posting your idea.

    lislemans last blog post..Money for nothin’

  12. Linda Says:

    Hi Lisleman … No, I am trying to get some money together so that I can. A solar station is a really good idea for gadgets!!

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