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Making a solar powered battery with AC power socket

  1. Jul 7, 2017 #1
    It's mid summer and I think I need a project to keep busy. What better than a solar project? Problem is, I've never built a solar circuit before, let alone a battery charger. Ideally, I would like to build the equivalent of a solar powered generator. I know there's no way I'm getting as much power as a gas generator, but it'd be fun project. I would hope to wire in an American standard wall outlet to power whatever gets plugged in. Would it be possible to put in a battery charge monitor as well? My experience with electronics lies in the realm of novice. I've done some electrical work, but by no means would I consider myself too knowledgeable. Is what I'm proposing unrealistic for my skill level, or is it doable? Thanks in advance.
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  3. Jul 7, 2017 #2


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    do you have any significant electronics construction experience ... if you answer is no, then my maybe answer in the first bit would be changed to no
    not without some close hands on mentoring help

    line up of modules required.....

    Solar panel(s) with suitable battery charging capability ( depends on battery capacity) ---- > solar charge controller unit ---> battery(s) ------ DC to AC inverter

  4. Jul 7, 2017 #3
    I wouldn't say it's significant, but I have done a fair bit of electronics work, just nothing involving solar power.
  5. Jul 7, 2017 #4


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    If you haven't worked with AC Mains projects much yet, I'd avoid that for right now. It's best to have an in-person Mentor to help you learn about AC Mains based projects and how to design to comply with UL and other industry standard safety rules.

    Solar does sound fun, and you can definitely learn about Maximum Power Point (MPP) power converter design as part of the project. If you stick with a simple battery technology (like lead-acid) and follow the general guidelines for charging the battery, it should be a relatively safe project. You could also make the output 5Vdc, and use the setup to recharge your cellphone via a USB cable.

    Have you designed or worked with DC-DC converters before? That's the basic building block of the MPP power converter...

  6. Jul 7, 2017 #5
    Yes, I've done a few projects with DC/DC converters using higher voltage batteries to power lower voltage motors. Is DC to AC similar in the way that it is set up?
  7. Jul 7, 2017 #6


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    No, a DC-to-AC Inverter topology is pretty different, and involves high voltages at the output. To make the AC 60Hz output waveform, you typically boost the input DC up to higher AC square wave waveform, and smooth it with a passive LC filter. You can also use PWM in the chopping/boost waveform to help you get fewer harmonics after your output filter.

    More sophisticated Inverters can be hooked in parallel, and cooperate in adding their output powers in phase smoothly.


  8. Jul 7, 2017 #7
  9. Jul 7, 2017 #8
    I think you need to look at your project as two separate challenges.
    1. Efficiently collect and store solar power in batteries.
    2. Convert stored power into an AC source synchronized with the grid, (more difficult but there are standard designs)
  10. Jul 7, 2017 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    Please always link to anti-islandiong advice when saying this. Thanks.

    Good point. @JoeSalerno -- Have you considered adding simple motor tracking of your solar panel into your design? That would be fun and useful learning as well.
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