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

Updated on August 18, 2016
CreeViking profile image

Robin & Liz Olsen have become experts in 'do-it-yourself' money saving solutions while living in rural Canada. They like the share these...

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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:

Item
Approximate Cost
Notes
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.
Batteries
$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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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 7 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful and informative hub! Solar energy is the need of the day and We all have a role to play to save the environment.

      Your video is very helpful for those who want to set up the solar power generator with details about the components too.

      Thanks for sharing this helpful and informative hub!

    • CreeViking profile image
      Author

      Robin Olsen 2 years ago from Rural Canada

      David - modern farms are power hogs, especially Dairy farms with the milk machines and refrigeration units you need to get and store the milk. Then add in lights, etc...maybe keep your barns etc on the main power grid and provide solar to just your living space? Could save you some money that way I would think...

    • David Trujillo profile image

      David Trujillo Uribe 2 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

      Is this a video hub? Never seen one before

      I once thought about using them in my farm, but turned out solar energy is way more expensive than electric, taking into account the cost of the technology and live span

    • CreeViking profile image
      Author

      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      It's a 'starter' kit for sure. Great way to learn the ins and outs of solar power. I am in the market for bigger solar panels and my research into batteries is suggesting that a Marine battery used in boats are excellent for solar power.

      It gets pricey as the capacity goes up. 85 watt solar panels are 450 dollars a shot here in Canada, marine batteries also very expensive here but at least the 1500 watt inverter is reasonably priced.

      Once I get the upgrades complete I am going to put up another video of that setup. Currently it does serve as a backup power source which will keep a small freezer and a couple of lights on during outages.

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 3 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Great idea shared and voted up. I just don't know how good it would work in the North East of U.S.

    • CreeViking profile image
      Author

      Robin Olsen 5 years ago from Rural Canada

      I bought a starter kit for 500 and it came with the charge controller and a 200 watt inverter along with the solar panels and wiring. Batteries were extra and I bought two RV batteries but you could go with golf cart batteries and you could start with one and add to it as you go. The most expensive components are the panels. You can buy bigger inverters but i wanted to know all the components and a starter kit seemed like a great place to start building

    • Zubair Ahmed profile image

      Zubair Ahmed 5 years ago

      Hi CreeViking,

      I like this video very useful I am interested in Solar energy and this video certainly makes it plane ad easy to understand what components are required.

      Out of interest what was the total cost to set yours up?