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Cheap, reliable solar generator, the best choice for backup power for your home

Updated on March 8, 2018
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Living in rural Canada, Robin & Liz Olsen became experts in DIY money-saving solutions. They like to share their ideas with others.

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assorted solar panels
assorted solar panels

This video shows how to setup the basics of an emergency solar backup generator.

This is a simple solution that costs about the same as a good diesel generator but requires no fossil fuels at all to run, will never need to have it's fuel tank refilled and will work even on cloudy days or in winter. Factor in the rising costs of fossil fuels and this solution begins to look very appealing indeed.

The most expensive part of the system depends on how much electricity you want to generate. For me, during a extended power outage (which we get from time to time living rural) I am really only concerned with keeping my freezer running, so my food doesn't spoil, a space heater (in winter because I live in Canada) a transistor radio to get any updates and a simple table lamp. For cooking during outages I actually use a simple camp stove and, in a pinch, if you are low on battery power due to extended usage you can use a camp lantern for light.

This design in the video was tested during a 24 hr power outage in which I was able to run a small freezer and a couple of lights and a household battery re-charger. It works and it costs less than the average gas backup generator of similar capabilities and I can add onto it as finances permit and need arise.

The light in this photo is powered exclusively by the sun.

Do you have an old wall unit hanging around you don't want or know what to do with? Turn it into a power box...I have updated the inverter to 1000 watts in this photo and you  can see the charge regulator mounted on the frame of the power box itself.
Do you have an old wall unit hanging around you don't want or know what to do with? Turn it into a power box...I have updated the inverter to 1000 watts in this photo and you can see the charge regulator mounted on the frame of the power box itself.

What you will need:

Approximate Cost
Solar Panel(s)
$80.00 -> $500.00 each
The more capability these have the more they will cost. I use 4 - 15 watt panels daisy chained together for a total of 60 watts and these cost 80 dollars each.
Charge Regulator
$20 dollars and up
These regulate the flow of power from your solar panels to your batteries. which one you need depends alot on the type of batteries you use. The cheapest one is roughly $20.00 and the price goes up from there.
$80.00 dollars and up
There are many options for batteries. For small simple generators, golf cart batteries are actually quite robust and relatively cheap. For large power requirements Marine batteries have a great reputation but are very costly. Technology is always improving in this area as well so what you use today can be replaced by something better down the road.
Wires and cables.
included in most solar panel kits.
Wires and cables can be anything really, you can buy them or rig something up yourself. They should, of course, be copper wires. Be sure to check that they are included in the solar panel kits, not every panel kit has them.
Power Inverter
$100.00 -> $500.00
Tiny small inverters that cost less than $100.00 are generally no good for this type of system. You need to determine what appliances you need to run during an outage, determine how much power they use and that will determine how much you need to spend on this item.

The costs are approximate costs only, prices will vary from retailer to retailer.

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Emergency Solar Generator

© 2012 Robin Olsen


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