Solar Generator (DIY Goal Zero Yeti)

javelinadave

Administrator
Staff member
Here is a portable solar generating system I built last year. It was built to power an ARB 12v refrigerator and as a power station for base camping trips. In a nut shell it's a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 for less than a third of the cost.

Here is the breakdown. I purchased these three dustproof containers at Home Depot ($98 OTD special) I only used the bottom wheeled box which by itself was $60.



Next up was selecting the battery. I wanted something sealed so I went with a 70ah AMG battery from Auto Zone. I considered Optima but from my research the new ones lack quality and were WAY more expensive. The charge controller is a Morningstar 10amp model from Amazon ($56).



I went with Blue Sea for the fuse panel, master switch, 12v outlets and the USB outlet. Amazon had them but they were about 10% cheaper from a marine shop on EBay.









Here is the almost completed interior. I still need to cut some stiff foam to hold the battery in place.



The RENOGY 100 Watt 12v solar panel was purchased from Amazon for $150. I also bought with it a 25 foot cord and cut it in half so I could have a positive and negative 12" section with the correct connectors for the panel. On the box side I went with an easier to connect/disconnect plug type.





All the wiring is 10 gauge except for the wiring to the USB. Goal Zero wanted about $1600 for their unit plus a few hundred for the solar panel. I'm in it for less than $500 and am very happy with the final results. The rolling box weighs about 50 pounds and the panel weighs just a few pounds. I still need to make some folding legs for the panel and sew up a neoprene sleeve to store it in.

The experiment starts this morning and this should be a good test. Today's forecasted high...... 113F (45C) with an evening low of 85F (29C)



This turns out to be a great week to test things out. Record heat (114F) yesterday and hotter (115F) today. Here is the data thus far.
Battery started the test at 13.0v at 10:00a yesterday and the fridge set and pre-cooled to 32F.
07:00a this morning the battery was at 12.4v and the evening low was 82F
08:30a I lower the t-stat to 30F.

115F on the patio, the fridge is 27F degrees and the battery is 100% topped off. I'm calling this a successful project.
 
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Tbaumer

Well-known member
Thanks for the details. Nice clean work.
Great for my Doomsday prepping to get off the grid!
I am definitly doing this.
 

Toyrover

Well-known member
Where did you find the 25 foot cord with the correct connectors? Sorry you motivated me and I can't figure that part out, as well as I really like simple disconnect plugs you used exiting the box, did those come on that extension? Cheers and thanks again for writing the description
 

SARTech

Well-known member
Nice, well done.
Those Ridgid brand boxes are so useful.
I have a first aid kit business and use the smaller top box as the container for my Industrial/Job Site Aid Kit.
 

Josh-man

Well-known member
Dave, in the VW Van community many people are converting to using two 6v Golf Cart batteries (like the trojan's) wired in series. I dont know much about this stuff but wanted to keep the conversation going on how you chose the battery, etc. I think this is an AWESOME project.
 

javelinadave

Administrator
Staff member
If weight wasn't an issue two 6v might have been an option. For this application I needed portability. Top priority was a sealed battery. I went with a sealed AGM battery. I am building a very similar system in my 110 and will go again with one 12v battery dye to the available space.
I believe people are using 6v golf cart batteries due to their ability to put out decent volts and amps for a very long period of time. They are also able to recover well after a total draining.
Disclaimer: I'm not an electrical engineer nor do I play one on TV.
 

Josh-man

Well-known member
ahh right. Those trojans are NOT sealed. I guess it depends on application. Sailboat has 8 sealed batteries. if it wasnt for heeling and waves, I could probably get away with 3 or 4 non sealed....
 

The Dro

Well-known member
Shit... the pictures are gone... I was hoping to do a few of these for my family/friends in PR.
 

javelinadave

Administrator
Staff member
I HATE PHOTO BUCKET!
All fixed!
Aqui tienes Pedro. Me alegro de que tu familia este a salvo.
 
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FlyersFan76

Well-known member
I totally forgot about this thread/project. I do not camp but I can see how this could be really useful and would like to try it out. The power in my neighborhood loves to go out.


My dad's boat lift has a solar panel and battery set up and he says it is acting up so this might be a good project for that. His present battery is in one of those boat battery boxes so aside from blocking sunlight it does get exposed to the elements a little bit.



Probably overkill but probably a cool way to install remote camera's around a property where wifi is available but power is not.



Questions
1. Instead of the wires exiting the box through a hole couldn't a plug and adapter be attached at the box so the box is sealed?


2. Does the box need to be vented or can the box be 100% sealed?
 

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javelinadave

Administrator
Staff member
Plugs could be used instead of pigtails for sure.
A sealed battery could probably be used in a sealed box but I’m not an expert on this subject. I’m sure others will chime in on this.
 

Red90

Well-known member
It is a bit risky as sealed battery can still vent in an emergency. You need to also be careful with heat generation from the electrical items. Probably not an issue with a fridge and solar panel as they are all low draw/supply.

For cameras and wifi, this is much bigger than needed. It matches well with the fridge use.

For the power outage scenario, at a house, a small generator, with an emergency sub panel and switchover is what you want to do. A lot cheaper than a suitably sized solar backup system which still needs the panel and switchover.
 

rocky

Well-known member
If you want to add a vent, something like an eave vent will probably work well and keep rain and critters out. I'd forgotten about this project. Its great!
 

FlyersFan76

Well-known member
It is a bit risky as sealed battery can still vent in an emergency. You need to also be careful with heat generation from the electrical items. Probably not an issue with a fridge and solar panel as they are all low draw/supply.

For cameras and wifi, this is much bigger than needed. It matches well with the fridge use.

For the power outage scenario, at a house, a small generator, with an emergency sub panel and switchover is what you want to do. A lot cheaper than a suitably sized solar backup system which still needs the panel and switchover.

A NG generator with switch over is still on my list of things to do. Building one of these would just be for emergency where I would plug in whatever I needed, fridge, fireplaces, etc. Much cheaper than a generator at this point.
 
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