The Yeti 400 is a nice little unit. It looks nice. It performs well. If you like to buy off the shelf it’s a good choice.
However, it isn’t cheap. At $459.95 you’re buying a quality item at a premium price.
If you want to save some money, and you don’t mind a little workshop time, you can create a solar generator that will exceed the capabilities of the Yeti 400 for about 60% of the cost. Let’s check out the options.
|AGM battery||33 amphour 396 watthour|
|Pure Sine Wave Inverter||300 watt|
|Charge controller||10 amp (120 watt)|
|Input ports||1 x 8MM for solar panel or wall charger|
|Output ports||2 x USB, 2 x 120W ac, 2 x 6mm (12v), 1 x car socket (12v)|
The Yeti 400 does not come with a solar panel or a wall charger, which means you have no way of charging it out of the box.
|ML35-12 – 12V 35AH Deep Cycle AGM Solar Battery||$63.99|
|Wagan EL2601 Elite 400W Pro Pure Sine Inverter||$144.26|
|Sun YOBA 20A LCD Solar Panel Battery Regulator Charge Controller 12V 24V Auto Switch||$28.99|
|NOCO HM318BKS Group 24-31 Snap-Top Battery Box for Automotive, Marine, and RV Batteries||$8.94|
|Marine Grade Cigarette Lighter Socket 12 VDC||$6.48|
|Sabrent 4-Port USB 2.0 Hub with Individual Power Switches and LEDs (HB-UMLS)||$6.99|
|allowance for additional wires, connectors, fuses etc.||$20.00|
|Total cost of DIY Parts||$279.65|
These components will enable you to build a clone of the Yeti 400. You will save over $180 on the retail item, and have a lot of fun building it yourself.
But that’s not all. Compare our DIY components with the Yeti 400, and you’ll see that we actually end up with a much improved solar generator in the process:
- The Yeti battery is 33ah. Ours is 35ah.
- The Yeti inverter is 300 watts, ours is 400 watts
- The Yeti charge controller is 10 amp (120 watt), ours is 20 amp (240 watt)
This means we can run our unit at a higher rate for longer, and charge it from a larger solar panel or wall charger.
|Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel (Slim Design)||$141.09|
|BINZET AC 100-240V to DC 12V 10A Converter Adapter 120W High Power supply LED Driver Transformer 10A 120W Adapter with 3-Prong Plug 12 Volt 10 Amp for 3528 5050 SMD LED Lamp Light Strip With 5mm DC Output Jack||$17.99|
|Total extra cost||$161.08|
Do the sums! The total cost of our project including wall charger and solar panel is $447.62. So we have a complete working solar generator and still have $12.33 in our pocket from the original Yeti 400 price. Go figure!
Need some technical help with the project? Here’s a nice little eBook that explains the whole process. It also contains a lot of useful general information about solar energy. At $3.75, it’s a good investment.