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My Amazing DIY Solar Generator

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My Amazing DIY Solar Generator

I remember the inspiration for building my solar generator clearly. It was close to 20 years ago and we were camping at the dunes in Oregon. Our campground neighbor, in a huge RV, ran his generator for about 2 hours one evening. Needless to say, it was annoying beyond compare — we go camping for peace and quiet.

We later found out from overheard conversations that the RV people were using the gas generator to charge the camcorder. Apparently they did not have a DC adapter or know about a thing called an inverter. One of the campers on the other side of them, also in a big RV, explained how the inverter works. An inverter plugs into a cigarette lighter socket (or they can be hardwired) and converts 12 volt DC into 120 volt AC. The other RV camper said they charge all of their things while they are driving. Brilliant, eh? Well, I took this idea a few steps further and set up something that is completely solar-powered and portable.

More Modern Needs
20 years ago, I did not have a camcorder or a digital camera. My photography was old school and used film … you might remember how primitive that seems today. Just a year or so after I got my first digital camera, I picked up a simple inverter for my truck and we charged things while underway. This concept works great if you are road tripping and spend a good part of your day driving. But recently, we have spent a bit more time in a “base camp” type trip. Not driving a few hours each day limits the potential for keeping the camera battery topped off.

My solar generator is comprised of a single 12 volt, 10 watt solar panel that feeds a sealed 12 volt gel battery. To keep the battery in tip-top shape, the current is routed through a small charge controller. The whole set up fits neatly into an aluminum attaché sized case. I use it now to charge my camera batteries via the inverter (which I borrow from my truck) or use it to charge things directly via the generator’s cigarette socket. I picked up a “car adapter” for my laptop and my sweetie uses her car adapter for her iPhone. 120 volt items are covered with the inverter, and the item-specific car adapters fill their roles. To power even more devices, I have a cigarette socket adapter with a USB port.

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By Kevin Stevens, Networx

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2:34PM PDT on Oct 31, 2014

Live long and prosper

10:30AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Thank You!

10:51PM PDT on Oct 28, 2012


3:39PM PDT on Oct 28, 2012


4:31AM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

Thanks for the article.

10:17PM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

Wow! What an amazingly innovative individual you are! Talk about thinking outside the box. You really take the cake.

9:27PM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

The national parks association should buy the rights from you for this and install the solar generators in all the campsites!

11:04AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

I appreciate the info. However, it took digging down three layers of websites before I got to actual plans for building something like this for myself.

3:13AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

Thanks. All our hot water comes from solar energy in Israel. it's a very sunny climate.

2:41AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

Thanks, and the solar panels gets cheaper and cheaper per Watt.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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