Build your own

Solar panel. Inset: Toolbox on wheels
Solar panel. Inset: Toolbox on wheels

In joining the residential sustainable energy revolution,White Sulphur Springs resident, Jamie Lafferty, has built his own solar powered generator for emergency backup during a power outage. The unit he built will offer enough energy to power small appliances such as an internet modem, cell phone charger, or television and DVD player.

Lafferty travels in the circle of friends interested in using more renewable sources of energy, while decreasing the use of fossil fuels. The solar powered generator is his first foray into turning his home into a greener residence.

Spending just under $400 for the equipment, Lafferty says, “I describe myself as a handy guy, a do-it-yourselfer; but I am new to solar energy and this project seemed like a good place to start.” He says that it wasn’t difficult, if you have fairly basic knowledge of electrical wiring. “Once you have the parts, it is pretty much hooking positive to positive and negative to negative connections,” he claims.

Lafferty purchased a Windy Nation 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit, which includes the panel, 40 feet of wire, solar charge regulator, mounting brackets and connectors. He also purchased an EverStart Maxx Group Size 29 Deep Cycle Marine Battery. There are some other parts, but everything was ordered online or purchased at local auto parts stores. He also used a large toolbox on wheels to store the battery and move it around. The battery is heavy.

The system is up and running. Although very happy about the project, he quickly chose to upgrade from the original Power-on-Board 500 Watt AC-DC converter to a 1250 Watt version in order to have even more energy support during a crisis. He also wishes he had gotten a more sturdy toolbox on wheels and thus advises that to others.

Our country is experiencing an arguably successful run on sustainable energy use. Billionaire Elon Musk, chairman of SolarCity, the leading provider for residential solar power in the United States, says he plans to provide energy to 1 million residences by 2018. Electricity generated by solar power increased more than 600 percent from 2006 to 2012, producing 4.3 million megawatt hours.

Lafferty has plans to expand his use of solar energy; having a best friend with more extensive solar use which sometimes feeds surplus energy back into the municipal grid.

A solar powered generator is quiet as a mouse, and safer than a gas powered generator. They can be built to suit your needs. Purchasing a solar generator kit has just moved up on my priority list.


more recommended stories