DIY Solar Generator

Ken Miller, McKinleyville by the Sea

My neighbor’s generator sounds like a dental drill in my house. There’s no escaping the irritating sound and nauseating fumes. Her small family purchased a “quiet one,” but understandably declines to move it to the other side “because there are neighbors there, too.” (They also have a generator).

Similar scenarios play out around the county. My considerate neighbor is not alone—there are 20,000 other gas and diesel generators in the county spewing fumes and greenhouse gasses and annoying neighbors left and right. 

Imagine living on a block with thirty running gas generators—this is where we’re headed unless Humboldt County embraces solar in a big way.

Inverter and 2 batteries. Photo by Ken Miller

I, on the other hand, am listening to the radio (quietly), running my fridge, charging my computer and cell phone, and lighting LED bulbs, all from a simple affordable solar generator powered by the quiet sun. And I do this in winter on the coast. Even when the grid is OK, my solar generator can power my fridge, and a few other things, all the time.

 

I use two deep cycle car batteries, a solar controller, two 275W recycled solar panels, and a 2000W pure sine wave inverter to convert the coastal sun into quiet electricity, all for $1500 (including 4×4 posts and plywood to house the batteries and inverter).

Ironically, neighbors are the beneficiaries of solar generators, just like drivers of infernal combustion cars benefit from electric vehicles “idling” quietly and cleanly in front of them in traffic jams.

South Facing solar PV panels with wires connecting to batteries. Photo by Ken Miller

I want to ask my neighbor what they need to power, because I could share my electricity or build a solar generator for them. An efficient fridge uses very little, and less with limited use, and it doesn’t need to run overnight. LED TVs and light bulbs are lightweight users. Gas stoves can be lighted with a match (electric induction stoves are highly efficient). Electronic ignition of on-demand water heaters and gas furnaces can also be fired up by this system.

Those lucky enough to have rooftop solar can adapt their inverter to disconnect from the grid and power their house when the sun shines; static battery storage, or a pluggable electric vehicle can deliver that electricity any time.

As we consider simple measures to do our part, a solar generator should be on the list. Entrepreneurs, opportunity knocks!