Building a solar generator can seem like a daunting task at first glance. But with some basic knowledge and elbow grease, you can create your own reliable source of power! And who knows, maybe this project could even spark (pun intended) a career change for you. After building one yourself, you may want to become an electrical engineer, and before you know it, you might have a Ph.D. and end up teaching others! But we digress.
Join us as we break down how to make a 5,000-watt solar generator for less. But before we get into all that good stuff, what is a solar generator?
What is a Solar Generator
A solar generator is a portable battery storage unit. It’s like the power bank for your phone, except it can power an entire house. It works with solar panels to give you power on the go.
A solar generator is ideal for outdoor activities like camping, off-site work, and even topping up the batteries on your EV. Solar generators can come in handy during emergencies like blackouts during natural disasters. A solar generator is what you need in a zombie apocalypse.
Benefits of Building Your Own Solar Generator
You can easily walk into a store and buy a fully functional solar generator, but where’s the fun in that? And besides, ready-made solar generators cost thousands of dollars. What if I told you, you could make one at home for less and have fun while doing it?
Below are some of the benefits of building your own solar generator:
Solar Generators are Greener and Quieter Than Gas Generators
You’ve probably stumbled upon a fossil fuel generator. They are dirty and loud. Taking them outdoors is like an insult to nature. They pollute both the air and the sound of nature. A solar generator is not guilty of these crimes. It’s quieter and greener.
Solar Generators are Safer Than Gas Generators
Gas generators use fossil fuels. And as we know, fossil fuels are explosive. Accidents involving gas generators could be lethal. If not cared for, gas generators can catch fire. Solar generators don’t catch fire as easily.
Zero Running Costs
To run a gas generator, you need to buy gas. And as you know, gas is just a few digits over expensive. Solar generators only need energy from the sun. And the last time I checked, that was free.
Easy to Repair
The best thing about a DIY project is that you know where everything goes. So if any of the components grow faulty, you can easily repair or swap them out.
Gives You a Sense of Pride and Accomplishment
Accomplishing any goal gives you a dopamine hit. Imagine how you’d feel after building your own solar generator. I know one thing, you don’t get that feeling when buying a ready-made solar generator.
Solar Generators are Cheaper Than Ready-Made Alternatives
Are you debating whether to build a solar generator? Well, here’s one thing to think about; ready-made solar generators are more expensive.
If you build it yourself, you’re using your own labor. This factor alone reduced the cost significantly.
How do you make your own DIY solar generator? Well, let me show you. But first, we’ll need some supplies.
Materials and Tools
These are the items you’ll need:
- 50-Gallon Toolbox (waterproof and secure)
- 20 Solar Panels (250W)
- Charge Controller (5 kW or higher)
- Batteries with a total capacity of 10 kWh
- 1 Inverter (5,000 W or higher)
- 2 Fans (120mm)
- 2 Fan Grills (120mm)
- 1 Digital Temperature Meter
- 1 Digital Temperature controller
- Some Ply Wood
Design and Planning
That’s one long shopping list, don’t you agree? But how do you assemble all these components to make a fully functional solar generator? I’ll tell you; by proper planning and execution. And it all starts by designing a workable plan.
A proper design will reduce your workload by half. It will make assembly easy. And ultimately, the work will feel like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
Designing your solar generator involves deciding where all your components will go. Where will you fix your fans? How will you arrange your batteries? Where will you mount your inverters? These are some of the questions that you should be asking yourself.
The way you plan your solar generator has serious implications for the health and life of the device. For example, you need to keep the heat-emitting components away from the heat-sensitive parts. Or at least place vents and temperature sensors in the right places to mitigate heat buildup.
Well, how do you build the whole thing?
Let’s get into the fun part; the build. Here’s how you build a 5,000 W solar generator.
Step 1: Determining Your Power Requirements
Before you build a solar generator, you need to determine your energy needs. It’s called working smart, and this is why we always start with tis step. But since we know our energy requirement (5,000W), we can go ahead and skip this step.
Step 2: How Many Solar Panels Will We Need?
Your energy requirements dictate how many solar panels you’ll need. Let me explain; we know that we need a 5,000 solar generator. We need enough solar panels to feed a 5,000-watt appetite.
Always remember this; the total wattage of your solar panels should exceed your total energy needs. To feed a 5,000-watt appetite, you need twenty 250-watt solar panels.
When picking your solar panels, pick those with high efficiency. This winning strategy will maximize your energy production.
To understand how to calculate your solar panels’ power production, check out this article.
Step 3: Mount Your Solar Panels
With your solar panels bought, mounting them is naturally the next step. Figure out how you want to mount them and ensure they get maximum sunlight. You can go either with a fixed mount or a sun-tracking system. It all depends on your budget.
As for installing your solar panels, you can maximize sunlight exposure by facing them south.
Step 4: Make Vents
When the solar generator is functional, heat will be a problem. An effective way of solving this problem is by adding vents to the solar generator. In the design phase, you might have already decided where you want your vents to be. All that’s left is cutting them open.
Use a saw to cut out the vents. Remember to heed the safety guidelines.
Step 5: Connect Your Charge Controler
The charge controller is the intermediary between your solar panels and your batteries. It guards your batteries, protecting them from overcharging. But before they charge your batteries, they need some juice. Connect your solar panels to your 5 kW charge controller.
Step 6: Connect Your Batteries
Such a powerful solar generator needs a big power bank. You can choose any configuration you want (lead-acid or lithium-ion) as long as the battery capacity is at least 10 kWh. Place your battery pack into the toolbox. Ensure that you secure it. Our solar generator is mobile. We don’t want a wobbly generator.
Step 7: Connect Your Power Inverter
At this point, all our power is in the DC (Direct Current) format; it’s not ready for consumption. We need to convert it to Alternating Current (AC). And how do we do that? By employing the services of a power inverter.
Connect your batteries to your 5 kW power inverter.
Step 8: Double-Check Your Electrical Wiring
A solar generator is still an electrical appliance, and we need to be careful about the wiring. Always use high-quality cables that can handle your solar generator’s load.
Also, ensure that you’re consistent with grounding. Follow local electric codes and stick to the safety guidelines. If ever in doubt, consult with a professional.
Step 9: Instal your Monitoring Systems
When it’s fully functional, your solar generator is like a living, breathing animal. As such, we need to monitor its health. Different monitors will help us diagnose different problems.
For example, the charge controller is known to emit heat. This heat can build up in the toolbox and can damage our batteries. We need to know the temperature inside the box so we can decide when to turn on our fans.
We can monitor generator temperature with heat sensors. And you can place these probes in different places throughout the generator. Find the components that give off heat and place your sensors near them.
And voila, your 5,000-watt solar generator is done.
Sure, you can buy a ready-built solar generator. Yes, it’s fancy. Yes, it has all bells and whistles. But where is the fun in that? Why don’t you pick up your tools and build one yourself? All you need are the supplies.
There are many benefits to building your own solar generator. And they include:
- A DIY solar generator is greener than a gasoline generator
- Solar generators have zero running costs; you don’t have to buy gas to run it
- A 5,000 W solar generator could power an entire home
- A DIY solar generator is easy to repair
- DIY solar generators give you a great sense of achievement
- Usually, a DIY solar generator is cheaper than a factory-made equivalent.
So why don’t you buy some supplies and build yourself a solar generator?