Building blocks of a Portable Solar Generator 

I get lots of related questions about the battery pack builds, the solar panels, and charge controllers we see on the channel. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what a solar generator actually is. Let’s see if we can break it down in just a few sentences . 

Components of a solar generator

  • Solar panel for collection
  • Charge controller to regulate the collected energy, and pass it to the battery at the correct voltage
  • Battery to store the collected energy
  • Power distribution to send the stored energy to the devices we want to charge/power.

When you look at the breakdown above, you can begin to understand how every battery build we’ve done on the channel so far, has actually been a  portable solar generator. Add a couple of extra components,  and we expand the use of this solar generator, to practical uses beyond amateur radio. An example often used is portable power for a CPAP machine. Since we primarily focus on amateur radio and grid down communications,  I generally omit that additional information for a wider audience.

Whether big or small, every solar generator has these components

 

In this image you can see a Lithium-Ion or lithium iron phosphate based solar generator using 18650 or 26650 cells, battery management system, charge controller, inverter, and DC output

What’s commercial suppliers of solar generators are able to do, is build beautiful enclosures around the basic building blocks of a solar generator. In many cases these are excellent solutions. Still, it’s important to understand the building blocks of a solar generator, as it empowers you to make an informed buying decision.

In the following video I’m deploying a solar panel, battery storage, and a charge controller to create the marriage between the two.

As you see,there’s nothing complicated about the solar generator. Companies often make them seem complex, in order to add value to their own products. They hope to convince you to buy their product, over building a solar generator yourself. Nothing wrong with that, when a beautiful solar generator is offered. 
Finally we can add things to our solar generators like pure sine wave inverters. Although, why would we power a device that runs on DC, with an AC converter, to power that DC device!? 
 Anyway I hope this article helped.

73
Julian oh8stn
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