First I should clarify – there are solar panels, solar chargers and solar generators. I have featured several tutorials showing how to build cheap solar chargers. These are simple to build as they are basically just a solar panel that produces electricity and charges when the sun is out, but when the sun goes in, it does nothing. This tutorial is to build a simple weatherproof solar generator – when the sun is shining the panel produces electricity AND then charges (and tops up) an internal battery so you can store the electricity to use later. To be fully weatherproof I would probably make a little cover to go over the external socket, just to keep it dry.
A solar generator like this would be awesome for camping, fishing and emergency preparedness etc. With it you can power lights and other small devices. Check out the full build tutorial below.
This is a little solar generator i made for camping and fishing. It could come in handy in a power outage as well.
1.26w weather proof solar panel $30.00 (cabelas)
12v 7.5amp rechargeable sealed lead-acid battery $30.00 (radioshack)
12v socket $11.00 (walmart)
cooler $8.00 (walmart)
nuts/bolts $2.00 (walmart)
wire plugs $2.00 (walmart)
super glue $1.00 (dollar store)
w/tax around $90.00
I made no exact measurements for wire length, just guestimation. using a tape measurer i centered the panel on the lid and used the 12v socket for the hole pattern on the side. On the lid I drilled 5 holes, 4 for the panel to mount to the lid and 1 for the panel wire.
First I bolted the panel to the lid and ran the wires throw, because of the uneven surface on the underside larger holes were made to make access to the nuts to be placed in the hollow cavity of the lid.
Next the 12v socket was threaded into place.
super glue was applied to the nuts and the 12v socket threading to insure vibration would not cause any thing to come loose.
After the glue set I crimped the wires from the panel and the 12v outlet to quick disconnect tabs.
the final step was dropping in the battery and plugging in the wires.
Step 3: Testing
Plugged in the power inverter and a lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb to test it out.
Step 4: Accessories