Why would you pay $2100 for an 1800 watt Solar Generator when you can make it yourself for well under $1300?
Let’s look at an example. This complete system from Earthtech Products uses the Xantrex PH-1800-GFP PowerHub (obtainable separately from Amazon at a price of $899.99), adds a 160 watt solar panel, two 100 ah lead-acid batteries and a 25′ solar cable, and sells the package for $2099.00. Check out their package here.
The first thing to note about this unit is that it is 1800 watts maximum. On a continuous basis, you can only connect up to 1440 watts.
DIY and Save
If you want to be a little industrious, shop around and put things together yourself, you can save a bundle and end up with a much better system at the same time.
What’s in the Xantrex PH-1800 Powerhub? Well, it contains the basic components of any solar generator setup:
- A combined inverter/charge controller (NOTE: the inverter is modifed sine wave)*
- A battery box (you provide the batteries)
- DC inputs for solar panels or other charging devices
- AC outputs for connecting household appliances.
- LED display for system monitoring
Add the batteries and the solar panel and you’ve got a complete system.
Let’s see how we can DIY this system, improve on it, and save almost $900:
|2 x 100 watt WindyNation Solar Panels (Amazon)||$274.99|
|2 x UPG 100 Ah Sealed Lead-acid Batteries (Amazon)||$375.44|
|Signstek 25′ Solar Cable (Amazon) –||$17.99|
|WindyNation 30 Amp Charge Controller (Amazon)||$27.99|
|SunForce 2500 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter (Amazon)||$439.83|
|Keter Master Pro Sliding Box (Amazon) –||$62.99|
|Plugs and connectors (various) – say||$50.00|
|Total cost –||$1249.53|
Our DIY system saves us $850.00 and it is a superior system; it has larger solar panels and, importantly, a more powerful (2500 watts continuous) pure sine wave inverter (you shouldn’t consider anything else if you ever intend to run sensitive electronic equipment from your solar generator).* The Keter battery box has ample room for two batteries, plus auxiliary compartments to contain the inverter, charge controller and wiring. The SunForce charge controller includes an LED monitoring panel. All you need to do is some basic wiring and connecting to put the system together.
Constructing this economical DIY solar generator will give you great satisfaction, and you can be satisfied that you’ve created a powerful backup power source for your home. You can make it the basis of a permanent home solar installation, or keep it portable to take with you on camping trips or to power an off-grid cabin.
*You might have noticed that I have a bias against modified sine wave inverters. That’s because I lived with one for several years in an off-grid situation. Never again! Forget AM radio, all you’ll hear is the screeching of the inverter. Watch TV? Yes, if you like jagged lines appearing across the screen. Modified sine wave is really modified square wave. It radiates junk frequencies throughout the house. Pure sine wave is like the power you get from the grid, i.e. clean and interference-free.