How To Build A Solar Generator (3,000 Watt) – Part 1

Note: The original design of this solar generator used a 2,000 watt inverter. This has been upgraded to the new 3,000 watt model in the latest version and several other improvements. Before you build the solar generator following our plans, be sure to watch the new intro and updates video below so you are aware of the changes!

Introduction

I started looking into some of the biggest portable solar generator units on the market, because the idea of a completely silent generator that can run large power loads while never needing gasoline is a really cool concept. Whether you want to run a portable table saw, or go tailgating  / camping where the noise of a standard generator would just be irritating, we will show you step-by-step how to build a weatherproof indoor/ outdoor solar generator!

Solar Generator Build – Quick Links

Part 1 – Component Overview – (current step)
Part 2 – Component Testing

Part 3 – Mounting Internal & External Components
Part 4 – Wiring the Solar Generator
Part 5 – Plexiglass Cover & Design Updates
Part 6 – Solar Panel & Battery Bank Expansion

After seeing what was available, I found myself wanting to design my own solar generator for a number of reasons. For one it will be a lot cheaper, second, I can add several features I wanted to add that were not built in to the manufactured units. Finally, because it will be a really fun project!

By building your own, you will learn all about small off-grid solar setups, and also be able to fix the individual components if you ever have problems with it down the road. You can also easily modify the plans to build a permanent style off grid solar power setup for a cabin or camper.

For comparison, here is a popular manufactured unit. It is nice looking package, and if you don’t care about cost it might be a good option for you, especially if you are not really the maker type.

Goal ZeroYeti 1250

As of this writing, the above unit is selling for $1,999.95. It includes a 1250 Watt Ac inverter with a 1500 Watt peak surge capacity. It includes two 30W panels.
The solar generator I am going to show you how to build will cost half the price, include a 2,000 watt / 4,000 watt peak AC inverter, a 100W solar panel, a high quality true deep cycle AGM battery. I also will add extras, such as integrated LED flood lamps, a high current port for attaching jumper cables, and some others.

Main Components for our Solar Generator

I selected the components listed below based on the quality of reviews, as well as price and features suitable for this project.

Rugged Pelican Case 1620

Pelican Case

I selected this Pelican 1620 case for our portable solar generator because it is waterproof / weatherproof, has rugged several sturdy handles as well as rolling wheels. I unit will be quite heavy once complete, so I needed something that can take a lot of abuse!

Kreiger 3000W / 6000W Peak AC Inverter

Kreiger 2000W Inverter

The Kreiger 3,000 watt power inverter should be able to run nearly anything that you could normally power off an standard 15 Amp wall outlet. It also comes with a mountable remote power switch that we will be mounting into the side of our case, as well as heavy 0 Gauge battery cables and main fuse.

When this post was first created, we used the 2,000 watt unit which is no longer available. The 3,000 watt unit installs and wires up the same way, although the unit in the videos and photos is the older 2,000 watt version.

Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel & Charger Kit

Solar Panel And Charger

This kit includes a very high quality Renogy 100 watt monocrystalline solar panel as well as a 30A solar charger that is matched well for our needs. The kit also includes a set of MC4 solar cables for easy install.

Optima Blue Top 8016-103 Battery

Optima Deep Cycle Battery

The Optima Blue Top AGM battery is a deep cycle battery, which means we will be able to discharge the battery somewhat further during night time use or during short high power loads without shortening the normal life of the battery.  Another advantage of this battery is that it has both standard top posts as well as threaded posts for easier connections. One other important feature is that the battery can be mounted and used in any orientation, which is important considering our solar generator may get stood upright or laid in different directions during normal use.

Main Components for the Solar Generator

Below is a list of components used in this post and their current Amazon prices.
(If you are using an Ad Blocker, the list may not show)

Additional Components & Supplies

You will need two sets of these:

Tools You May Need (if you don’t already have!)

 

Click here for Part 2 where I will show you how to function test all of your components before we start the actual build.

118 thoughts on “How To Build A Solar Generator (3,000 Watt) – Part 1”

  1. Hi Mark, excited about this build! We live near Hilton head and after the recent hurricane we started to think about alternative energy during an evening on the patio when the power was out!

    I have a question about your chosen battery. you’re building a large powered unit which I like and main Concern would be to power the refrigerator.

    How did you choose your battery? Why one and not two? I saw on Amazon that the optima battery has 55AH, is this enough to power things for a good length of time (say 2-3 days incase any day is cloudy and for extra).

    I am still learning about electricity, so please bear with my questions.

    Can’t wait for video 3, thank you!
    Stephan

    1. You can run as many batteries in “parallel” as you want. You will maintain 12 volts but increase the capacity or amp hours with every battery added. But keep in mind that added battery’s means added weight. You will have to get a larger box with wheels that will be able to handle the added weight. If you really want to go down some internet rabbit holes for batteries (which is dangerous and expensive) you can run two 6 volt golf cart batteries in series to make it a 12 volt system and have more amp hours. All electric golf carts run 6 volt batteries for more range. Full time RV’ers also run 6 volt batteries for more capacity, but wire them so that they will still power all their 12 volt items. Now if you have deep pockets look into “Edison Batteries” or “Nickle-iron batteries” Pretty expensive but nice stuff. But the more batteries that you run the more solar panels you’ll need to replenish them. Then you can’t forget about your solar controller. That can only handle so many volts and amps too. So a simple solar generator like this guy built will honestly be able to do quite a bit. If you want a little extra help get a small inverter generator from harbor freight or Home Depot. They’re quiet and can supplement power when needed while topping off your solar generator on a cloudy day.

      Then there is always wind generators. But That’s enough shit hits the fan prepper stuff for one night.

  2. This is a fantastic tutorial presentation. I’ve been considering building a solar generator/battery backup solution for my home (we get many storm related power outages each year.) You have done a very good job planning out the components of your generator and assembling them into a finished kit that looks as good as any I’ve seen advertised for sale.

    I’m planning to tweak the idea and use two panels (hinged together) and 2 batteries in the case which will require either a bigger case or some changes in the included components. I also want to put mine to use running low voltage exterior lighting when not needed for emergency power, so I get double duty from it throughout the year.

    Thanks for the thorough explanation of how to get the project done!

    1. Sounds like a great plan Andrew. Please post some pictures when you are done with your build. I would love to see how it comes out!

    2. Helllo. Just wondering if the system can be recharged by heat from wood stove also with a thermal electric generation unit in case there is no sun to charge solar panel?

  3. The battery quick connect should work to jump a car battery, or to charge the deep cycle battery in the box from a car battery right?

    1. That is correct Josh. The high current quick connect is tied directly to the internal battery, so current can flow either way. Which ever side has a higher voltage, will supply current to charge the other.

  4. Appriciated your video. In fact, I am about to build my solar generator based on your lists. One thing I still think it would be helpful is the schematic. Do you have it?

  5. I love the idea and the detailed plans you provided. Thanks so much. I’m going to give this a shot myself.

  6. Hello Mark,

    Thanks for the tutorial, I plan to build a solar system using your specifications. I was just curious as to what load your current specifications can handle. I’m planing to build a unit that supports a household of Fridges, A/C units, lighting, Tv’s.

    Will having multiple batteries help with long term usage. Also should the batteries be wired in a series or parallel connection? Also how long will it take for the battery to be replaced?

  7. Hi Mark, thanks for the greta write-up, currently using this to build my own.

    Question: My chosen Victron inverter strongly suggests to ground the unit. Any tips on achieving this in a trolley-type generator?

    1. Yeah, I have found a lot of differing opinions on this. In the case of a permanent installation setup, I would ground the inverter per manufactures recommendations. For a mobile / portable solar generator setup, grounding can be difficult. Lots of these inverters are used in work truck / vehicles, where the same problem exists. I would check to see how your inverter is recommended to be installed in a vehicle application and design it to be similar.

  8. Hi,

    I just put this same Renogy system in at my cabin in Talkeetna Alaska. I was impressed with the quality and simplicity of the system…1 year later it is still ticking along. So nice to have led lights and phone chargers in a remote location.

    As with Stephen, I am interested in how you chose that battery…?

    Thanks for the tutorial!

    E-

    1. I chose the Optima Blue Top because I had purchased one for another purpose (robotics application) in 2002, and it is still working! It’s weaker now, but after 15 years I was impressed! I am not sure if they are the same quality now or not, but they were the right combination of AGM, size, capacity for our needs here. When I designed the battery expansion unit, space wasn’t as big of a concern for that so I went with a 125AH AGM that is more purpose built for solar applications.

  9. I just completed the same generator. For some reason my voltage on the USB panel display says 13.4 V and the inverter says the same thin 13.4 V. Why is it not showing 12.4 V. Is it to high or ok with 13.4 V.

    1. That’s completely normal Justin. They call them 12v batteries, but the voltage can vary depending on the conditions. When the solar charger (or AC charger) are charging the battery, normal voltages can be as high as 14 volts or even slightly higher. You don’t want the voltage to exceed 15 volts though, however the chargers we are using are designed to limit their full charge voltage automatically.

  10. Having a hard time seeing all of the info on how to build one. Due you have any other way to see the info

  11. Nice work Mark,

    I watched the video and surprisingly, I was able to follow along with everything you were saying 😀 I’m fixing to build one of these myself. There’s only one thing that I am thinking about changing and I’d like to get your feedback if possible.

    I am thinking about upgrading the non-solar charger from the listed 1.5A charger to a 7.2A charger shown here:
    http://a.co/4TSwToB

    Stephen Harris from battery1234.com says:
    “Harris Tip #4
    Under NO circumstances would I go lower than a 6 amp battery charger. DO NOT buy 1 or 2 amp ‘trickle chargers’ EVER. They are not intelligent and they usually end up destroying a battery PLUS they NEVER have the ability to bring a discharged battery back up”

    The NOCO Genius G7200 12V/24V 7.2A UltraSafe Smart Battery Charger is a bit pricier, heavier and not as mount friendly, but I think it might provide a good option for AC charging.

    As someone who has actually built this thing, and thus has more experience with it than I do, do you forsee any problems coming from this substitution???

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Chris, glad you liked the videos!

      The alternate AC charger you selected looks like a good product, and should work fine also. It is pricier, like you pointed out, but if you plan to recharge your batteries by plugging into existing AC a lot, it will recharge faster due to the higher output current.

      I am going to have to disagree with the guy you quoted stating that any 1 or 2 amp charger will destroy the battery. The product I used in the video is absolutely designed to be able to be connected all the time, and will not overcharge the battery. It is indeed automatic and will “float” the battery once it is fully charged. It currently has 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 623 reviews, so I cannot believe it destroys batteries. But the one you link is also good, and if a faster recharge rate is what you are looking for, give it a try!

      Good luck with the build!

    1. Hi Joseph, no not currently, but I do go over every single connection in the wiring video. I may add a full schematic later but haven’t yet.

  12. Mark, I attempted to send you and email yesterday, July 30 after inhaling your 6 videos. WOW! I am in AWE of your creativity, style and neatness. Do you respond to emails?

  13. Hi Mark..
    Thank you for posting an awesome tutorial for making these generators..
    I’m very excited about doing this project , which will be quite a new experience for me, but feel absolutely positive by your videos that I can do this..! Lol
    I do have a question on batteries. I noticed that some of the high end made generators have the Lithium Iron batteries used . I know that they are less in weight and get more charges , but is there anything else I should know? If they are
    good to use , can you recommend one that holds a lot of power..? This is all very new to me so I’d appreciate any wisdom and advice..

    Thnx… Tommie

    1. Hi Tommy, I am confident you can build it too! Yes, Lithium Ion batteries are much lighter and that is why most cordless power tools have switched over to them. They discharge at a much steadier voltage as well, but need additional electronics to monitor and protect them from overcharge and discharge. They are also more expensive, but another issue to check into before jumping over to them, is most solar charge controllers do not work well with them. I have not fully researched this side of things, because I wanted to keep the budget for the build within reach for more people.

  14. Hello Mark! I have a pretty urgent question of you if you don’t mind! I am building one of these this week (absolutely incredible tutorial by the way!). Anyway for an event I’m helping out with this weekend, I need to have 2kW consistent power over the course of 9 hours. I know its a lot and I’m struggling to find a way to make it work. At this point I have ordered, piece for piece, your recommended items with only a few changes.

    Essentially my question is, how many batteries (same model as yours), do I need to put in parallel and how many panels should I have to reach this requirement. Is it even possible?

    Your quickest response would be greatly greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Jonah

    1. Hi Jonah, I just saw your question. That’s a tough one to answer as there are a lot of variables. When you say 2kw consistent over 9 hours, do you mean they will be actually using 2kw of load the entire time? If so, that’s going to take a pretty big system. The batteries will be draining down pretty quick with that size of a load. It would take 20 of these 100w panels to produce 2kw in full direct sunlight. That is the lot of power!

  15. Hello Mark,

    great project and presentation.

    I am in the process of replicating it with some modifications (2 100W panels, MPPT charge controller, 2 Optima BlueTop batteries)
    I was wondering if it would make sense for efficiency purposes to configure it as 24V (panels, charge controller, batteries) and then step it down to 12V with a transformer like this https://www.amazon.com/uxcell-Converter-Regulator-Transformer-Waterproof/dp/B01LY8D7U0.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Thank you much,
    Martin

    1. Hi Martin,

      That is an interesting question. I am not certain but I would think that stepping 24v down to 12v to power a 12v inverter would be less efficient (due to the conversion loss through the 24v-12v converter) than using the same two batteries in parallel (so they are running at 12v) would be to power the same 12v inverter. Now with that said, I have heard 24v AC inverters have an efficiency edge over the 12v ones. Although they are less common, would always need 24v, and you would have to find one that fits for your application. Let me know what you end up using and how it works out!

  16. Hi Mark,
    Love your video. Followed it but made some modifications. Question, I have 2k watt pure sign wave inverter & per manufacturer, suggests it must be grounded. I read somewhere it doesn’t have to be because it’s under 5 kilowatts & will be used indoors(garage) while portable 100watt panels will be in the backyard. The argument is how can it be called portable if it’s grounded. Your thoughts?

  17. Iv gotten mine pretty wrapped up. Still
    Waiting on my VMAX 135ah battery to
    Come in but everything looking ok on tests so far.

    I was able to fit the krieger 3000 watt as well as a Reliable 2500 watt pure sine as a back up in my pelican 1650 case. It’s not wired but can be in a matter of minutes. In event of any EMP type event I want a back up. Il likely keep an extra charge controller inside as well. I was very meticulous with wire management and used auto wire conduit for management and organization. One other major difference for my case is a 1/2″ piece of plywood I mounted with construction adhesive to act as a base for hardware mounting. I just didn’t want fasteners showing on the outside for waterproofing and aesthetics. Shoot me an email or send me yours and il send some pics.

  18. I was wondering how you were providing ventilation for the unit. Does it get hot after the inverter has been running for a while?

    1. Haven’t had any issues with heat / ventilation yet. Most of the high current / power uses I needed are intermittent so the unit doesn’t get too hot. The inverter will shut down if it overheats before any damage occurs, but this has never happened to me so far. If it ever does, I plan to just open the case and let it breathe!

  19. Hi Mark, I really need you help. Could you send me a phone number or email address to contact you. Please just send it to my email address so I can get some information from you. I hope this finds you in the best of health and spirits, Chic

  20. Hi,
    This is a fantastic video. I like that you published a video showing it’s capabilities powering some tools. What kind of results have you had peering other things? Fridge, fans, etc.

    Thanks

  21. Hi,
    This is a fantastic video. I like that you published a video showing it’s capabilities powering some tools. What kind of results have you had powering other things? Fridge, fans, etc.

    Thanks

  22. Hi Mark, thanks for all of the time and effort you put into this. I am going to build one of these but had a few 25ft 4ga jumper cables laying around that I was thinking of using as the power cable from the panels to the generator (I believe you are using a 25ft 12ga wire). I know that 4ga is overkill for this application, but do you see any reason that a jumper cable couldn’t be used for this (ie. insulation, resistance, etc.)?

    Also, I have some surplus lithium battery packs laying around from a previous project (wired in 12v packs totaling ~120ah/1.4kwh @ ~18lbs) that I was thinking of using in lieu of lead acid. If wouldn’t mind, do you mind shooting me an email?

  23. I have an Electric golf cart with 4 12-volt batteries already. Can I utilize those batteries to running household items – as well as recharge it via the solar panel?

    Thx

    1. You can definitely use the batteries as long as you have them wired in parallel for a 12v system. The components I used are all geared for a 12v system, not 24v, 48v, etc.
      you may also need to keep them upright and in a ventilated enclosure depending on the battery construction / chemistry.

  24. Hi I’m new to this but setting up off grid and was looking for a way to have quiet power without an entire field of panels. I love this idea and an going to do it. One question – how would i hook a wind turbine in the mix? I know your product is portable but I’ll have mine stationary\fixed. Here in Maine, wind is a must in the winter. Thank you for your fabulous instruction and saving one old vet a ton of $$!

    1. Sure! Just set up your wind turbine to charge the battery as you would with a dedicated wind system. Both the solar and wind turbine will contribute to recharging the batterys. You *might* even be able to wire the wind turbine into the same charge controller, but I am not sure on that one. It will depend on how much voltage / current the wind turbine can produce.

  25. Thanks for all the great questions / comments guys. Sorry I was out of town for a couple weeks and was backed up on the day job as well. I am doing my best to keep up with the questions / emails I get but I am definitely backlogged. I will answer as many as I can, but I don’t know all the answers either!

    Feel free to chime in and help others if you know an answer to a question. It is my hope to make this site / forum community based in the future. I would love to have great useful content from lots of perspectives and backgrounds!

  26. I’m sorry to keep bothering you. Is it possible to link two or more of these together? I have been reading the other comments and know already that for my application I’ll need a pure sine wave inverter, but I’m not sure how to link the gennies to each other. Thanks

  27. I need a solar generator for our home so my mom’s oxygen will run in a power shortage. Would you make one of these and sell it? If so, how much?

    1. I have one I made the exact same way and it includes 1 – 100watt solar panel. That should run your moms machine. I can sell You that one. I can send you pictures. Let me know.

      Justin. 941-320-9386
      I live in Florida.

    2. Hey Pat. I can also custom make yours to the way you want it. This is what I do because I am a disabled vet with nothing to do so I make these boxes to sell. I have not made a website yet but I will customize the box however you want. Let me know. My email is
      Jtzb03@yahoo.com

  28. Hi my name is Juan I Built your solar generator tu use in Puerto Rico and It’s work fantastic thanks I would like to ask too you too show me how to install 2 panels to the System

    1. To Juan Martinez,

      I lived for over 8 years in PR, and am getting ready to go back soon. I am interested in bringing a bunch of these (as many as I can) to Borinken and Vieques, and I’ve been in discussions with some friends with a solar power company about building a solar generator along the lines of these ones, with parts that are readily available on the island now. Would you have any insight into what the availability is in PR for the components needed to build this design. I am wondering if I will need to bring a container load of components, or if I could just find the parts there?

      What do you think? Do you know anything about the current availability of these parts needed on the island?

      Will Amazon even deliver to PR?

      At any rate, good luck to you and your family.

  29. Mark,
    Great videos! I’m considering building one for emergency backup power. Ice storms are a threat here but I don’t like the idea of relying on a generator and gasoline. I have a new furnace and am concerned about the quality of power. Any thoughts on running furnaces and HE gas fired water heaters. Is a pure sine wave inverted required? Simple substitution but pricey .

    The inverter link to Amazon is pulling up a smaller unit.

  30. Hello Mark,

    Great videos, I just wanted to know why not use Lithium Ion batteries? They’re lighter, more reliable, and requires less time to charge compared to lead acid batteries.

    1. While I think everyone can use the type of batteries they prefer, I still go with lead acid batteries for now, since they have a longer track record, lower initial cost, are widely available, easier to recycle, and less specific about their operating conditions. It just comes down to individual preferences for a given application.

  31. For Chris Dresser
    I’m assembling the components to build this system in Vieques. I found no components readily available in Puerto Rico. Comment here and I can let you know my process for acquisition. Amazon will deliver some. Maybe I can get you contact info through the administrator

    1. I already sent a few less rugged but lithium solar generators to PR. The only issue I found was getting batteries shipped. Shoot me an email if you want dettails.

  32. I’m currently putting the pieces together for my first dyi solar generator. Of all the videos I’ve watched your’s are definitely some of the most helpful, thanks for putting these out there. One question, my inverter states that you should never mount it near the battery as a spark could ignite the off gas. I am using sealed batteries but now I’m worried:). It looks like a lot of people do it this way, so I’m wondering if the risk is very minimal? Thoughts? Thanks.

    1. Hi Rick, I would love to see them. There isn’t a way to upload photos in the comments here, but if you go to the forum section, you should be able to create a post and upload photos there.

  33. Man I’m really glad I built mine. Shortly after we had this major fire in Fallbrook ca. Took mine with me when I had to bug out! Keep charged with hotel power in case I need it when I got back to the house. Plus I was ready for brown out with my portable light. One thing I found out was, to read the charge % the solar quick connect cord needed to be connected, but no the panel. Thank for the build.

  34. I am currently in the wiring process of this project. Unless I missed it somewhere, I didnt see or hear what you did with the wires coming from the battery charger… I am not electronicly minded so I am having to start and stop your video over and over again during this process. It’s a little tighter with the 3000 watt but everything fit. For those like me building one that doesnt have the heavy duty crimpers, I took my cables to a local car and audio and the kid just soldered them in. Any suggestions on the charger wires would be appreciated Mark. Thank you again for the great video.

    1. Hi Matt,
      The wires from the charger lead to one of the tabs on the fuse block and the negative bus bar. This ultimately connects it to the battery, but ensures that is is fused. I wired both the AC battery tender / charger and the Solar Charge Controller in the same way. This is in the Part 4 video, starting at about 12:20.

      Having a local car audio installer help with the large crimps was a good idea. I am surprised they didn’t mechanically crimp the wires first before soldering though, as this would provide a better electrical connection, as well as reduce chance of wires pulling out. You can also use a vise to partially crimp these, and or use a metal punch and hammer to smash a divot into the side of the crimp to help clamp the wires inside.

      Good luck with the rest of the build!

  35. Hi Mark, I am building my generator and my switches to the flood light work great . However, my digital voltage reader is not coming on even though my sub and my cigarette lighter work. What is causing this problem?

    1. Hi Hans,

      It sounds like you may have a defective volt guage if your wiring is correct. Since you have power at the usb and 12v aux outlet, we know your switch is working and that you have power to that point. Double check that your crimps are tight, and that the + and – wires are not reversed on the back of the volt gauge. If all checks out there, I would suspect it is defective. If you happen to have an DMM / voltage meter, I would also double check for voltage at the guage terminals as well to be sure.

  36. Hi Mark, Just now I have finish watching your last video of how to make solar generator.
    I am very impress the way you explain it. i have watch so many videos to learn to make it but no one explain it like the way you did. now I have full confidence that i can make it. I am really thankful to you for making these detail videos. I have one question. Can I charge this battery unit with my car cigarette charger while traveling and long driving. If not then can you please explain how can I charge with 12v cigarette charger. I will really appreciate that.
    Again thanks a lot for these videos. Great job.
    Aslam Molani

    1. Thanks Aslam! I am glad it has been helpful. Yes, you can definitely use the 12v cigarette port as a way to charge the solar generator. They make double ended 12v cigarette / accessory connectors for this kind of purpose. Here is one that looks like it would be good: http://amzn.to/2CZtC8Z

      The solar generator unit can also recharge the car battery in the same way, or greatly extend the cars battery life when being used while the vehicle is not running. The water / electricity analogy is a good way to explain how this works. When the solar generator is connected to the car battery, which ever side’s battery has the highest pressure (voltage) will push water (current) through the wires into the other battery, until eventually the pressure (voltage) is equal / balanced on both sides.

      Once the voltage on both sides is balanced, all current flow will stop and they can remain connected indefinitely. If either side experiences a load and begins to drop voltage, the other side will begin charging again until once again the voltage on both sides is balanced. Hope this makes sense!

  37. Thanks Mark. Yes it make sense. I think it will be fine if I plug one side in the cig. port at the back of my suv and second one in the cig.port on the generator or i have to add additional cig.port which connect directly to the generator battery. (it’s when I am not using solar panel while driving)
    Thanks again for you help.
    Aslam Molani

    1. Great! Shouldn’t be any need to add a second cigarette port to the generator. The one that is on their will work. Just make sure to turn on the power switch for it, and it is wired through the fuse block and then directly to the battery.

  38. Hi Mark, I have one question. Do I need DCDC charger to charge from car battery to Generator.
    The charger you put in is for AC outlet so when battery get full it will disconnect it.
    Thanks
    Aslam Molani

  39. Hey I finsihed the build, and it all seems to working fine except for the voltage meter reader on the outside. Doesnt come on. The usb is working though. Curious where I should start on troubleshooting this. I never worked any kind of wiring before until this so I’m kinda stuck like chuck not wanting to mess something else up.

    1. Check your wireling setup. You could have them switched of a bad meter. Could be a bad connection or connector

  40. I liked your build had kept the YouTube link to your videos for when I go back to my country I get to build it. 1 thing is let’s say I don’t want a portable solar generator and want want to add more batteries can you make a video on that. Trying to power a normal refrigerator, fan, lights in a home for when power goes out.

  41. Hi Mark,

    Let me first in congratulating you on an amazing DIY project. You videos are amazing and the finished product is worthy of admiration. I would like to get your advice on the following; How many solar panels and batteries would I need to run an average size refrigerator 24 a day and keep operating everyday? Is there any other change that I would need to do to the system? I would like to make only my refrigerator completely off grid. Your help and advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Javier Espinosa

  42. This is such great info and using it to piece together my project now. Thank you

    What portable solar panels do you recommend? I’m looking for something that may fold up in a briefcase or something flexible for the underside of a tonneau cover to be flipped up. Thoughts?

  43. Hi Mark! I’m almost done the build. I’m into Part 4, wiring and have wired the battery, bus bar, quick connect, and put the fuse box in. I was wondering if you have any Survivalist stickers left. Would really like to put one on the case! By the way, thank you for the research. postting all the materials, the videos and the links to Amazon. You really made this so easy!

  44. Mark,
    I noticed in the pictures that you did not include ventilation in the case, how do keep the inverter from overheating? Also the solar charge controller has a temperature sensor and the heat from the inverter in an unvented box could affect the charging operation. I build military target ranges and laid my panels flat to prevent ricochets from striking the panels and I started losing batteries life. Turns out by laying them flat in 90+ degree temperature the sensor did not have enough air flow to operate properly. Another thing is that even though the battery is a sealed lead acid it vents around the negative post, in a sealed box there is nowhere for the gasses to go.

    One of the things I noticed in these comments was someone stating they were not familiar with electricity, my advice when you start building one of these is to have someone who is familiar check your work BEFORE connecting the battery.

    Another was someone wanting to power refrigerators, AC’s, TV’s and such. Keep in mind that using a 50-55 AH battery you can power a CPAP machine for 8-9 hours before having to recharge. With a 100 watt panel it takes about 6-10 hours of bright sun to fully recharge.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to write a book

    1. Rick, I have a CPAP machine that uses 13 amps (12V), so that would give me only 4 hours. I’m obviously going to have to include a separate battery and additional panel in my system.

  45. Hello Mark. Very nice project and great instructions! I have a quick question: When looking up this battery on Amazon, the description also shows the option for a red top and yellow top. Their recommendation seems to be to use the blue top only for starting. And it seems, based on their description, that the yellow top would be more suitable for this application, but I have no clue. Could you please shed some light on the rationale behind your choice of battery. Much appreciated!

  46. Hi Thanks for posting such a wonderful tutorial. I too am planning to build my own portable solar system.
    I was wondering, why go with a modified sine wave invertor, rather than a pure sine wave? With a pure sine wave, I know its cost a little more, but you will be able to run sensitive electronics devices.

    Thanks
    Al

    1. The easiest way is to follow Mark’s step-by-step videos which is better than plans. They’re all on YouTube or you can follow the links on this site to the next video. You actually see him in the process of building the solar generator, and the tools he used to accomplish the different tasks. That, plus all the links to buy the components puts this within the ability of nearly everyone to be able to build. This was my first time working on a solar generator project.

  47. Strongly considering building this, with one adjustment: I have two 10w LED spotlights, but they’re not flush mount, so I plan to move the solar charge controller next to the battery tender and mount a fishing rod holder and second trailer harness in the area of the top handle, to accept a pole with the lights mounted on top. (Basically building Pelican’s “remote area light” with all of your added functionality.) Awesome work! Really enjoy the combination of your write up and videos, as well as Amazon links for all the major components. Thank you!

  48. It’s a great idea, but a bit not realistic. The title “3000 watt” in the title is misleading, as the solar panel gives out only 100 watts max. Let’s say your battery is completely charged and it can hold like 150 amp-hours. If you don’t want to destroy the battery, you should not drain it more than 50% of the total charge, which means you can only use about 75 amp-hours of charge. If you use 3000 watts of power at 12v you will be using 3000/12 = 250 amps, which means you can only use it for 0.3 hours, or like 17 minutes. I am not even sure it’s possible to pull that many amps at once. You should really base the system size not on the inverter capabilities, but on the realistic available power.

  49. Hi Mark,

    Excellent work you have done. I have been looking it over prior to building one.

    A couple of comments/questions I have.

    1) Is the KR3000 supposed to output pure sine wave? The manual says it is modified sine wave. I know this will not adversely affect corded power tools but not sure about ‘delicate’ electronics or chargers for cordless devices.

    2) Using the direct 12 high current connector for jump starting cars might present a problem They are rated at 175A. The starter motor current chart (link below) shows MANY cases where the current required could be higher (sometimes much higher) that the rating of the connector. If the draw is for very short duration and not much higher than the ration there shouldn’t be a problem, but otherwise could definitely be an issue. Are there higher rated connectors?

    3) Also with the high current connector. If a battery expansion box is used (VMAX-125) and the load put upon the invertor is maxed out (6000W) or close to it the connectors between the two boxes could be forced to handle at least 250 amps load (possibly more if the primary battery is smaller than the VMAX-125).

    4) I would put one of those marine super heavy battery switches in the expansion box due to the fact that as soon as you make connection you could have a major spark if one of the other is very low/dead.

    5) I have seen some golf carts with flush-mounted metal boxes for the charging cable were the connector is recessed. I think this might be better because the connector would be mounted more securely and also would not be sticking out.

  50. AWESOME SITE. Was wondering 1 thing. I have a Pelican 1615 case. Will this work? Its brand new and id like to get buy with not having to order the 1620 if I can swing it. Thanks

  51. I was able to buy several surplus Pelicans a while ago that are decently bigger than the 1620. This will allow me to add a 1000W pure sine wane inverter as well as replace the floating charger with a ‘smart’ charger. This will allow me to charge at a faster rate at night if needed. Will be able to watch the large screen TV/DVD while out roughing it in the woods.

    I would suggest doing searches on letgo/offerup/Ebay for used/surplus cases. I got mine for $80 each.

  52. OK, for the 1620
    Inside dimensions are: 22L, 17W, and 10.75H (with the lid open)
    You should not feel obliged to use the same locations or even the same components. I had to do it again, I would use a pure sine wave inverter, for example which probably would not fit in my 1620 unless I bought maybe a 1000 watt inverter.

    The height of 11.02 in your pelican case, if that is also including the height of the lid, could be a problem.

    Hope this helps!

  53. I have made your box mark but I put a lot of new twists on it to accommodate every person and there need.
    1. I made it without the battery so people can add there own battery acid/gel/ or lithium. Which ever they like. Plus it keeps the weight down.
    2. Add a pure sine wave inverter.
    3. Add a second solar input to add 300watts of solar to charge batteries quicker.
    4. Added a weatherproof battery connector. So the whole box is weatherproof.
    5. Added a top panel so you don’t have to look at the inside with all the wires.
    6. Made it easy to replace any part that might go bad over time.
    7. Added 2 fans to circulate air flow.
    If anyone needs one custom built Let me know. I custom make them any way you want. Just email me at
    Jtzb03@yahoo.com.
    I will send you pictures of the finished product with every option I offer.

  54. Oh yea. I forgot. I also added a meter that tells you everything. how many watts is being used and produced / battery meter / voltage / amps / currents basically everything.

  55. I’m looking at running a small shop in the Philippines which is currently running on the local “regular brown-out” electricity. The shop has two fridge/freezers, aircon from a box in the wall, three leds in the ceiling, flat screen tv, coffee machine, toasty machine, water cooler, and I regularly charge several iPhones and Bluetooth speakers. How do I even start to work out how much juice I’m going to need?! Most of it doesn’t have a manual. And has anyone experience of putting it between the mains electricity? I also imagine it will need a voltage stabiliser.

    What we do have though is plenty of sunlight.

    1. Here are some thoughts on estimating how many batteries you need and the calculations.

      Here’s what I would do. First, add up your watts for all the appliances. Let’s suppose 600 watts at 120 volts as an example.
      Watts = amps X volts
      600 = ? x 12 (volt battery)
      Amps = watts / volts
      50 = 600/12

      So, a 12 volt 50 amp hour battery would run your appliances for one hour. But, you really should drain batteries only about 20% if you want your rechargeable marine type batteries to last any number of years. Your one battery would not last too long.

      So, let’s say you decide to buy 128 amp hour batteries, which is fairly common.

      So, you can drain 26 amps from each battery safely. Suppose you buy 10. That gives you 260 amps that you can safely drain and recharge.

      Suppose you want to run your 600 watt appliances for 5 hours. You need 3000 watts total.

      260 amps X 12 volts gives you 3120 total watts, which can give you 5 hours to run continually 600 watts.

      Those 10 batteries could run your appliances totaling 3000 watts total for 5 hours without over draining your batteries. Also, you will likely not be running everything continually. But, the above you be sufficient to get you started with your own calculations.

  56. I have a 3000watt pure sine wave inverter I was going to use but it is too big to fit in my solar generator box that I make for my customers. I’ll sell it to you for $200. It cost me $400. If you want to buy it I’ll send you a pay pal email and I’ll ships to you. All I need is your email and address.

  57. I’ve been gathering the parts to build the 3000w set up. There’s only a handful of things i need to collect. Great walkthrough, and very informative. Considering how late i came across this, i know there’s no more stickers left, lol. I’m looking forward to the finished product. Will work great for fishing trips.

  58. Hello Mark, Great videos and information. I noticed that renogy doesn’t offer the controller with the lead connection anymore. I’m going to be using lithium ion batteries. Do you foresee it being a problem hooking the inverter directly to the batteries since there won’t be a low voltage disconnect? Do you recommend another charge controller?

  59. Has anyone explored the idea of what it would take to make this a plug and go unit. I know the idea is that of obtaining power via solar, but let me describe my purpose and interest. Our HS marching band uses a gasoline powered generator to power our sound system and keyboards for practice and performance. I hate hauling gasoline, storing it inside the building, and the the sound generated by the engine.

    I’m thinking a 2000 watt sine wave inverter with a 4000 watt surge capacity attached to a couple of 100 amp AGM batteries and adding a few usb outlets as well as a GFCI to power up the sound system. I need 4-6 hours of service and the ability to recharge over night.

    I think this is a great outline and guide, and I’m just trying to get some ideas on how to modify to fit my needs.

    1. I have created the same exact solar box that you described. You can go on offer up and look at my box I have for sale or you can go to my Facebook page and look at all the pictures. My Facebook page is under Justin Raphael. Send me a friend request I’ll look for it under rusty.

    2. Hi Rusty, No modifications needed. The build I have above does include a way to charge the batteries directly from the wall. The parts list includes a 1.5A charger /battery maintainer. I added it as a wall to allow storage of the unit while keeping the batteries topped off. You could use a larger version of that charger if you needed faster recharge times, and the solar panels / solar charger are not needed if you do not intend to charge your batteries that way. Thanks for your interest!

    1. Thanks Al. Life has been really busy and I had to step away for a while. I am hoping to get back into making some more posts / videos very shortly. Sadly, no millions! : )

  60. Hi Mark,

    I am a fan of your site and I have decided to go ahead and build a solar generator for camping, but the components list w with links to amazon seem to be gone. Let me know if you can get that back or send me a simple list of part numbers so I can take it from there.

    Hope you are well. You have a great resource here.

    Regards,

    Eric

    1. Hi Eric, thanks for the interest. The amazon links for the various parts still appear for me. They are using affiliate links, so some Ad blockers will prevent them from showing, so that might be why they are not showing up for you.

  61. Hi Mark,
    I built your box just as you described in your videos. I am not sharp on electricity so I am hoping you can help. I used the box two weeks ago with no trouble. Because I drained the battery a little bit, I plugged it in to trickle charge. I used it again this past weekend but had some trouble with it cutting the power. I noticed the light on the remote flashing. I didn’t find anything in the inverter manual but saw something online that this indicates the inverter was in protection mode. I doubt it was the too warm because it was 39 degrees outside. Heat wave in MN! The inverter felt cold to the touch. Admittedly, there were two of us running saws at the same time. Is it possible this was the problem? I realized I was probably drawing too much power and backed off to just one saw. This was still too much. I double checked the connections and didn’t see anything loose. Is it possible something happened to the inverter while trickle charging? Does the inverter switch inside the box have to be turned off while trickle charging the battery? Thank you for putting together such good directions in your videos. Macy

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