The need for a portable generator is more popular these days as power outages become more frequent. A portable generator can be a godsend when you are stranded with your car and no place to go. I know, having recently spent several days in the remote bush of New South Wales without electricity. There were no power outlets and no phone connections so it was obvious that I would need to use a portable generator. Here’s how you can build a cheap 12 volt battery generator.
Make sure you have two fully charged batteries and an inverter to back up your solar panels. This is important for your vehicle’s safety, as well as any other appliances you might have. If the electricity goes out, you won’t have the ability to start your car or any of your other heavy duty appliances. Note: You should have a working understanding of electrical circuits and electricity before attempting this project otherwise you may very easily injure yourself!
Connect a car battery into one of the outlets on the rear of your vehicle. This will allow you to use your battery generator while still providing you with power for light and other general activities. Note: Always connect a completely discharged battery into an uncharged outlet. You don’t want to shock your battery. Connect the other outlets first then turn the car back on to see if it powers up correctly.
Use a pencil to determine the height of your solar panels relative to the top of your roof. Note: Measure the height to the roof first and then use the pencil to determine the height of your battery generator. Remember, batteries are sensitive to moisture and heat so it is wise to keep them away from any sources of moisture or heat. They must also be kept away from direct sunlight and heat.
Some battery generators do come with a storage unit to hold the spare batteries when they aren’t in use. Note: Never keep your portable power source (solar or otherwise) within arm’s reach of your family and/or pets. I have heard of cases where children have fallen victim to electrocution because they were playing with their own batteries. And just imagine what could happen if you left your portable power source near a pet or child. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that to happen.
Another common problem with some battery generators is that they can be loud. Note: Do not operate these types of appliances near other loud fans. This can cause an accident. Many times you will find that the fan on the battery generator is too loud to be used near most types of home audio electronics. I guess the saying “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here.
Finally, you should know that when operating a battery generator, you need to have it connected to your household power source before you are going to be using it. Otherwise you will be leaving your battery generator connected to the power tools and appliances for far longer than you need to. You might be surprised at the time you spend recharging the battery in those power tools. You can end up being overcharged if you don’t have your batteries charged and ready to go.
Most of the time battery generators will have two batteries plus one reserve battery. Note: Never use more than two batteries plus the reserve battery. The reason why is because if one of the batteries fail, you will have no power to your home. If you use more than two batteries plus the reserve battery, you risk losing power to your home even if there is still some power left to the home after the batteries plus reserve battery charge period.