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Solar Power Projects

How to Charge a Generator Battery with a DIY Solar Panel, MPPT Charge Controller and the Sun

13 Nov , 2013  

DIY 60 watt panel

DIY 60 watt panel

The project for the day was to do some firewood splitting. Off camera, there was a pile of 18 – 24 inch tree rounds. They were a freebie given to us by a city dwelling neighbour (it cost $$ to dispose of trees in the city, most people are more than happy to give it away for free!)

Splitting firewood starts with of the big blue generator, 5 ton electric wood splitter, few extra hands and pile of firewood nearby. The generator was pulled out from the genny hut, hooked to the exhaust pipe and the starter battery. To my dismay, found out the battery had no juice. Bummer! Maybe it was showing its age or the below freezing nights must have sapped the power out of it.
So, I was in a jam. No spare 12 volt batteries, didn’t have long enough booster cables to use the car and the pull cord mechanism was broken. Didn’t want to give up. I had people waiting and didn’t want to spend another weekend doing firewood.

After I calmed down, I looked around and noticed there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Checked the forecast and it said that it was going to be above normal day in November for a warmth. Hmm… I thought that if I could get a couple of hours of charging into the battery, it might be enough. It was a small 7.2 Amp hour Gel battery, so it would need a lot of time to charge. (Just need enough for the generator started, once it’s running, it can charge the battery too)Dug through some of the old ebay solar stuff. Found an 60 watt DIY solar panel, MPPT charge controller, alligator clips and some wire. Sat down on the steps and rigged up a quick charging station. I kept the battery and the solar panel in the sun the whole time.

As the sun travelled across the sky, the panel was adjusted/moved to

DIY solar panel can be mounted anywhere

DIY solar panel can be mounted anywhere

get most charging. By 3:00pm, the battery had charged for 6 hours. Decide it was a good time to see if there was enough juice to start the generator.

Hooked it up to the starter, crossed my fingers and it turned the motor over! Sweet! It worked. Now the firewood project could finally get started.
So, in a nutshell, the sun charged the battery and it turned an obstacle into a solution. Plus,  keep old parts around, never know when they will come in handy.

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