Portable Solar-Powered Generator

These homesteaders converted an out-of-use garden trailer into a portable source of power to use around their property.

| June/July 2020

Photo by Kerry W. Mann Jr.

Over the past five years, my wife and I have built many outbuildings and tackled numerous projects around our homestead. First came the chicken coop, followed by a greenhouse, a garden, a dog kennel, and even a small ice-skating rink! Each of these projects has one thing in common: They need electricity. We had been using a small gas-powered generator, but it was loud and expensive to run. For a more sustainable option, we decided to build a portable solar-powered generator.

Our solar generator provides us with 115 volts of power that can be moved anywhere on our property. We built it using an old garden trailer, so we can simply hook the trailer up to our ATV and relocate it as needed. We’ve used it for several months now, and it’s performed flawlessly. So far, we’ve used it mainly to power our dog kennel, which includes four lights, a ceiling fan, a radio, and a large exhaust fan. During the first week, the solar panels absorbed enough sunlight not only to only sustain the kennel, but also to store an extra 1/2 volt.

We tried to source as many materials from our homestead as possible for this project. We already had the garden trailer, scrap lumber, wire, insulation, and, most fortunately, four 12-volt, 40-ampere-hour (Ah) sealed batteries from an old electric scooter. We purchased two solar panels, a 1,600-watt power inverter, and a charge controller. 

Tools and Materials

This is the list of items and approximate lumber dimensions we used; you'll likely need to tweak it some for your own project.

6/24/2020 10:46:50 AM

I read this article in my paper edition and it is something that I could utilize around my place. I missed the part about the total wattage of the solar panels. I know there's a calculation so maybe I can just back-calculate that. Great use for a garden cart. I have two of them that I use all the time to haul stuff from one end of my yard to the other and when I need to transport my portable water pump around. Great idea and a useful one. Thanks!

Hettie M
6/3/2020 10:32:48 AM

What a super idea! I hope we can do as good a job. Well done!



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