Simple Solar Power System for an off grid Cabin


How’s, it going everybody. My name is dave whipple and you’re watching bush radical. Today, we’re, going to build a super, simple solar power system for your off-grid cabin. We’re, going to use a car battery a 100 watt solar panel, a harbor freight charge controller and about a half an hour of our time.

Let me run into the shed real, quick and grab our solar panel. This panel is made by a company called renegy and it’ll set you back about 110 bucks. As for the battery. Well, we & # 39. Ve got vehicles all over, so we’ll just borrow a battery from one.

We’re, not using at the moment now. The beautiful thing about this is not only do you have a battery that you can use out of a vehicle? You’re, not using, but it’s also going to keep that battery healthy by charging it constantly and the battery is going to last longer by being charged and not just sitting in an unused vehicle.

Now the battery that’s in this 78 ford van, it just happens to be a marine deep cycle battery, so it’s, a battery that’s, probably better suited for solar applications anyway. Give me a second to get her out of here and we’ll move on now we’re, going to need a set of battery clamps to clamp our wires to the battery itself.

Luckily i have this stanley charge thing i found at the dump it’s got two wire clamps on it, so i mean it’s. It’s, gonna be just what i need a little bit of delicate precision. Electrical work here and we’ll, have these cables adapted to the need that we’re, going to put them to just like that, [, Music ].

One other thing that we’re going to need is a whole bunch of let’s, say 14 gauge wire, just something to hook. One part up to the next part. I’m, going to use this chunk of old extension cord as my source for wire [ Music ].

What i’m going to do here is i’m going to take about. I don’t, know 15 feet of it, and i’m, going to cut the casing off of the extension cord wire there’ll, be three wires inside there. There’ll, be a black wire, a white wire and a green wire, and you know they’re, all going to be the same exact gauge.

So they’re, going to work out just fine for what we’re using all they’re going to be doing is the functioning is hookup wire. So once i get the casing pulled off of these three wires, i can just wind them up set them aside.

Now the concept is really simple. At this point, we’re gonna have a solar panel from the solar panel. We’re gonna have a charge controller. This is the charge controller that i’m. Using comes from harbor freight.

It’s like a twenty product. Basically, all this does is it keeps the solar panel from just cooking the battery. Once the battery reaches a certain spot, this charge controller will just shut off the charge it’ll break the connection.

The panel will no longer be charging the battery. This is what we’re, going to use for our outlet. Basically, what this is is a dual power point connector, just like you’d, see in your car for charging your cell phone or your laptop, or what have you gonna? Put one of these in the house: basically, you have two powerpoint kind of cigarette lighter type plugs.

So if we have a powerpoint type plug inside the house, how do we use that in the house to do house type of stuff? Well, of course, for a cell phone charger just like out of your car, you can plug a cell phone, a dual usb adapter into it.

That way, you can charge your cell phones inside the house without the generator running. Also now this is a cheap 200 watt. Inverter that i usually have in my car, this will run a laptop just fine, basically what an inverter like this is doing.

It just converts 12 volt dc, which is what you’re, getting off the battery into uh 120 volt ac, like you’d, get out of your wall. Now there is a bit of a loss making that conversion from one type of power to another type of power.

But if i wanted to plug my laptop straight into this, it would power it just fine anything that’s, 200 watts or less. That’s, just a household appliance! You could plug it right in to one of these sockets.

You could plug a lamp into one of these sockets and run it off a car battery, because this little box is making the conversion from dc to ac and from 12 volt to 120 volt. Well, let’s get right to it. First things: first, we need to put our solar panel on the side of the house that’s, going to get the most sun and i think this corner is probably going to be the sunniest [ Music ].

The solar panel has mc4 solar type connectors, so i’m going to use this pigtail adapter. I’m, going to cut off the mc4 connectors from this little adapter. What i’m going to do is i’m, going to wire them to my battery and to my charge controller.

So i don’t have to mar the solar panel in any way. I’m just taking the last probably inch of insulation off with the blade of a sharp utility knife and getting these all prepped and ready to hardwire in to my system.

[ Music ] from here i’m gonna need to get some wire ready. So i’m. Just gonna take the two colors that i’m using the black and the white, and i’m gonna pull the green off of the other two wires and it’ll.

Just all come off on a big rat’s, nest. That leaves me a black and a white wire, which is all i need two different colored wires. So i can make the connections that need to be made and not be confused as to where i’m hooking.

What up to what? Once again, i’m going to strip off about an inch of insulation on each one of these wires and get it all prepped and ready [ Music ]. Now this is a very, very technical operation here.

This is what’s called twisting two wires together. Don’t. Try this at home here’s, the charge controller. This is a 19 unit that i bought at harbor. Freight excuse me might be 21. It’s, got a little picture in the corner, basically shows you how to hook it up.

If you can look right close here, you see there’s, a solar, a load and a battery set of wires. One goes to your outlet. One goes to your battery. One goes to your solar panel very, very simple. The problem with this is it does have connectors that i don’t have other connectors for so i’m just going to cut those ends off prep.

All my wires and hardwire everything together, [ Music ] and there’s, my charge controller, pretty much all set up and ready to go. I’m ready to hardware all my lines into it right now, but first these mc4 connectors.

I want to make sure that they’re. All ready to go to i & # 39. Ve got one more of those to do so. Let me get that one taken care of see that delicate job of twisting two wires together very important.

Now, of course, you could solder these together. If you want a really good connection and you could use a heat shrink tubing to totally seal that connection, keep any of the weather out of it, but just not that guy.

So i’m, going to use black tape that works perfect. Now, once i get done with these two mc4 connectors being all ready to go, i can clip them into my panel because the panel has the other side of each one of these connectors.

Already in it and it’s ready to go now, i & # 39. Ve got my clips and i can clip them into the solar panel, and then i just have bare wire leads going out that i can hardwire wherever they need to go here’s, a real good close-up.

Look at those mc4 connectors notice. They actually have positive on the one connector and they have negative on the other connector. That really helps you to make all your connections right. You don’t have to guess, because they’re, both black and the wires that go to the panel are black.

One thing i really want here is: i want enough of this wire that i can move this panel around to kind of follow the sun. This cabin is kind of facing west southwest, so the sun comes across kitty corner on this side of the cabin it’ll be fine half of the day, but it would be much better to rotate it to catch the sky that way anytime.

After about two or three in the afternoon, so i’m, going to put it right here in the corner of the cabin and i’m going to leave enough wire so that i can manipulate that solar panel to get the most Out of it here’s, my battery clamps, my jumper clamps.

Now you can see these are. These are made for like 500 amps. This is a nice big fat cable. I only need just a tiny bit of that, so i’m. Going to get the insulation off these and i’m, going to cut that copper core down to something i can actually use because right now it’s way more than i need, but it was free.

Now you could go to the hardware store and just buy two little battery clamps with a little bit of wire. That generally comes with them already attached, but you know, like i said these came from the dump.

They didn & # 39. T cost me anything. They’re good quality; they’re heavy duty. I don’t need all this extra wire, so i’m just going to pair this back and cut the excess off. This is still probably even more than i need, but that’s.

What i think i’m going to stick with everything else, can just get pruned like so there’s. My two battery clamps ready to be installed. I believe right about here is where i’m, going to pass the wire through for the panel and on the inside is where i’m, going to have my uh output.

It’s where i’m. Going to have my outlet and where i’m, going to have my charge controller. What i will do is i’ll. Take both of these pieces of wire tape. The ends together then i’ll. Try to stuff them through that hole.

Something like that here on the inside, i’ll. Just pull this wire through. My outlet is going to go right up underneath the seal here. First things: first, let’s, cut and strip these wires on our solar charge controller.

These center two wires right here that’s, where the solar panel needs to be tied to right by each of these little words. There’s, the positive sign and the negative sign on this particular plug. The red is positive.

The black is negative. The wires i have to work with are black and white, so you know they’re all mismatched, but so long as i know what it’s doing, i suppose we’re fine, that’s, ready to Get taped up, i’m going to do at this point.

Is i’m going to take this wire that i pulled through the wall? Everything that’s left? I’m, going to stuff it back through the wall, and this is going to be the line that goes to my battery. Both the positive and negative coming in from the solar panel are tied in now the positive and negative that are going to go out to the battery.

This is where my outlet is going to go: [ Music, ] there we go that looks about right, [, Music, ] right about there’s where that plug is going to go [ Music ]. Now i need to take the wires that are going down to my battery and i need to hook my battery clamps to those wires.

I’m, going to start by making sure the ends are stripped about an inch back and, of course, i’ve already got my battery clamps all prepped and ready to go. Let’s twist them up together, get them taped up and that we can clip them onto our battery and once we have it all ready to go, we can put the battery anywhere.

We want so long as the wires are long enough to reach there and for this application i think the battery is probably going to end up underneath the cabin just. So it’s totally out of the weather there’s, one cable, a little bit of tape work there’s, two cables.

These guys are ready to go nice, as you can see our charging lights on now. Everything is hooked up. Our dual outlet plug is hooked up. Our solar panel is hooked up our battery’s, hooked up. Let’s. Take a reading on this battery right now to see where it sets and it looks like we’re great in the ballpark of about 12.

6 volts, that’s pretty good. Now, what i’m going to do is i’m, going to put this battery out of the way this is going to be. The final resting place for this battery is up underneath the cabin that way it’s.

Not going to get rained on, i don’t have to tuck it underneath the solar panel, it’ll, just stay down there out of the way and it’ll be fine. So the question is: what is the value of a simple solar system like this? Well, you can’t, do a whole lot with it.

You can charge handheld devices cell phones, ipods. If you still have one of those i do. You can also plug in an inverter like the one i showed you earlier. This one is a 200 watt unit, so it’ll power, any ac appliance up to 200 watts power consumption.

For me doing youtube means running a laptop a lot of the time. Now i have a little generator i can use, and i do use it quite a bit, but as opposed to running that with the solar system like this, it’s, just keeping the battery charged up enough that i can run my laptop.

I can charge my cell phone, so basically i have my telephone needs taken care of, and i also have my laptop taken care of and with the laptop i’m using it 90 of the time for editing videos, just like this couple, that, with A lamp or two and that’s, pretty much my electricity needs in a nutshell.

Thank you guys. So much for watching bush radical. My name is dave. Whipple. Be radical. Eh, see you soon: [ Music ]! You