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LARGE MOBILE SOLAR POWER SYSTEM (LMSPS)
After the success of our $150 Small Solar Power Solution, we wanted to take it to the next level. The small solar power solution was intended for emergencies; running small LED lights, power small 12 volt appliances, and for charging batteries and devices. Our main goals were to educate our users by identifying the required solar components, and demonstrate how to assemble a budget, yet practical, solar power system. Going into the first project we understood the small solar power system’s limitations, and also understood our user base would like to see a larger system. Our next project, The Large Mobile Solar Power System, will demonstrate how to build a more capable system, which can meet moderate daily power requirements during extended power outages. While, our example system is not capable of running every power-hungry device in your home, it is great for running the “necessary” equipment during a grid down situation.
Why We Built the System
When we started designing the LMSPS, we wanted to offer a solution that was portable, modular, and can be scaled to accommodate different user requirements. While we call it a mobile “solar power” system, it must also accommodate wind and hydro. With these objectives identified, we put a lot of thought into our large mobile system. The LMSPS can be assembled and disassembled easily, can be transported in most vehicles, and the individual components can be lifted by the average adult. The LMSPS leverages the lesson learned from the initial project [Small Solar Power Solution], and ensures accessories and wiring methods are compatible with the Small Solar Power Solution. The LMSPS provides the framework for an extremely modular solar power solution that can be expanded to meet most “survival” power requirements. I love watching YouTube videos of different prepper’s alternative energy systems; 2000 watts of solar, a dozen deep cycle batteries, and multiple charge controllers all neatly organized in their garage. While I am envious of their accomplishments, I still wondered what they would do during a SHTF situation; worst case scenario they had to flee their home. The system would be useless in their garage, while they were in a National Park several hundred miles away. Hopefully, this is all for naught, but the what-ifs always causes concerns. To identify the system’s components, we had to come up with a practical scenario. It would be great to have a residential solar power system during a Bug Out situation, but that is not practical if you are leaving at a moment’s notice and are restricted by weight (vehicle payload). So, the LMSPS had to be large enough to accommodate moderate power requirements, but must also fit inside of a vehicle or truck bed, or be mounted inside a recreational vehicle (RV) or trailer. Our minimal component guidelines include: 200 AH of battery storage capacity, 200 watts of solar panels, and a 1500 watt inverter. There are several good companies out there that offer portable solar power solutions, and on paper and demonstration videos, it appears some of these systems are well made and would meet our minimum component guidelines. However, the prices are extremely high, and there can be a long build period or waiting list. To defend the company’s pricing, the systems may contain proprietary equipment, and the design and manufacturing processes are both expensive (they should be compensated for their investment). Besides pricing, one of our biggest issues with prefabricated systems is that are extremely heavy, and would require multiple individuals to move the system. We are not downplaying any company’s products; there
are pros and cons to building your own system, and the LMSPS is by no means a budget system. If you have not already, we recommend purchasing Bug-Out Prototype; please read our review. Surefire Woodsman’s system is hard mounted inside a trailer. While our concepts are the same, a mobile alternative energy system, our system is not hard mounted inside an enclosure. Before we get into our components, let’s first discuss our key objectives.
Portability – Selecting the Container
To ensure our system was portable, we needed to find the correct container/s for the components. We are using the word container to identify the box/enclosure/ rack that our components would be mounted inside. When designing the system, weight was our first major problem. The average weight for a single 100 Amp Hour (AH) Deep Cycle battery is 70 lbs. Two batteries, if wired in parallel would bring the battery capacity to 200 AH (our project goal), and the weight to 140 lbs. 70 lbs is a lot of weight; most males could safely move a 70 lbs container unassisted, but could not safely move or carry a container weighing 140 lbs unassisted. Sure, you could use a dolly and/or small crane to move your system or set it into the back of your vehicle, but what if you did not have these moving/lifting devices. What if you were the only capable individual of lifting the weight? What if you were alone? We played the what-if game a lot when designing this system, to ensure it met our portability goals. Our solution: find a container to house a single battery. Since our batteries were to fit into a single container, we wanted to use the same container for the entire system. We wanted the option of stacking the containers on top of each other. While the system could be disassembled quickly for travel, and moved container by container, we also wanted to have the option to move it using a dolly, if one was available. The container had to be large enough to safely house a battery, but also large enough to hold the inverter and charge controller. The inverter is what caused a challenge here. Most large inverters [1500 watts and greater] are large; the dimensions are dependent on the product. To achieve our stacking objective, the same type of container that housed the battery, would also house an inverter. Additionally, the container/s would have to be rugged enough to withstand the weight; the bottom container would need to support a minimum of 100lbs (4 container stack – 2 battery, 1 inverter, 1 charger controller).
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While the toolbox is capable of holding a 70lbs battery. Become a member of Stanley Bostitch 23” Structural Foam Toolbox (The link is to Amazon. and they are extremely helpful (Prepper Link is no way affiliated Combiner box mounted. shunt. Our Container Selection: Stanley Bostitch 23” Structural Foam Toolbox. So our container had to rugged (support the weight) and had to be water resistant. To wire the solar panels to the charge controller. This was due to the option of using one battery. Inverter / DC Box – Houses the inverter. the system can be connected directly to your vehicle's battery. we next focused on environmental considerations. This PDF may be distributed freely. and they recommended using their solar power combiner box. ©2013 PrepperLink. and Power Post. our system is comprised of three different tool boxes. We recommend purchasing the grommets in person. This moderates weight requirements (only one required battery). Battery Box – The battery box can accommodate a large battery. we focused on the wiring the system. There is also one 12 volt DC outlet. you can still use the other). shunt. A tarp or plastic wrap could be used to cover the system. tail gating. do not lift it using only the handle. We had to compromise a little container integrity to achieve the tasks. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS Key Component List While your components may differ. the battery temperature cable (which runs between the charge controller and the first battery). but not altered in any way. We also used a grommet to provide the access hole for the AC extension cord. Additionally. If selecting this container. and houses the charge controller. Achieving Modularity – The Wiring Dilemma With our container selected. ensure your batteries will fit inside (send an email to admin@prepperlink for inside dimensions). is able to support the weight requirements. or transporting the system when it was raining. Control Box PrepperLink. the Bostitch line includes a 29” model as well. Junction Box. If we were Bugging In. Control Box – The control box is the heart of the system. Secured by Velcro. and start your own group. we contacted AM Solar. We were able to pick them up for $20 apiece from our local Lowes. we installed two access ports. mount to the outside of the toolbox. and DC fuse panel. after you have all of your components so that you can accurately measure the hole size needed for running your cables. We mounted the combiner box. a normal-large toolbox. 6” x 6” x 4” – Used to mount the Charge Controller. camping. and is weather and dust resistant.com for FREE to get downloads. We have included two wiring diagrams at the end of this document. 8” x 8” x 4” – Used to mount the remote. we played the what-if game: what-if we were Bugging Out. These terminal connectors extend the battery terminal to the outside of the box. with AM Solar). instead of wiring two batteries in series. and to limit complications (if one battery inoperable. instead of a 24 volt system. while having a simple box to box wiring solution externally. without the need to cover it. we adopted a 12 volt system architecture. our goal was to wire most of the components internally. To wire the battery temperature cable from the charge controller to the first battery. meet other preppers.Large Mobile Solar Power System (LMSPS) Not knowing where we might use the system. and used grommet cable wire hole plastic covers. To take advantage of the weather resistant toolbox. it has three 12 volt DC outlets and an AC extension cord. Additionally. Box to Box and Control Box. is large enough to house a single 100AH battery (we did have to modify slightly). The positive and negative power cables. but compare the price at your local hardware store) Junction Box. but we wanted the container to be water resistant. All Rights Reserved. This allows quick connect and disconnect options. On/Off Disconnect Switch. and inverter on/off switch. Yes. If you need a larger toolbox. Challenges during this phase included the solar panels to charge controller. although you will need to ensure your batteries can fit inside your container. secured by Velcro to toolbox. To achieve this. we used battery cable firewall feed-thru panel terminal connectors. inverter fuse. AM Solar is one of the leading solar providers to the RV industry. and the inverter AC outlet. the system would be safe inside of our home. First. to the top of the charge controller toolbox. power post. The 23” Bostitch toolbox is extremely rugged. DOC 05-003-13 PAGE 2 of 4 . Again.
is highly recommended. you can get by with only one terminal connector. even if the Inverter/DC box was not connected. a few of the components will need to be cut/trimmed. which is connected to the Power Post. and it does not compromise the integrity of the tool box. hydro) Non-Fused Disconnect – Used to cut power from the solar. you do not want your batteries run on the same line. On the charge controller. It regulates charge to the battery. which is connected to the shunt. 100 AH Battery – This battery will fit inside the toolbox. We use it to between the power post to the Inverter/DC box. your components. on the primary negative terminal. To counter this. Eventually. Provides 12 independent connections. Battery Box – Two supports will need to be removed on each battery box lid. or equivalent. Go Power Amp Fuse – Standard application with inverters. DC Blade Fuse Box – Connects to the 12 volt outlets. on the secondary negative terminal. The following only applies to the above listed items. Our inverter draws power even when powered off. However. This is a heavy gauge metal. The shunt is connected to the negative power cable. and will not allow the box to be shut. 1 x Red Terminal Connector – Connects directly to the control box. may not be compatible. must be connected to a positive cable. and the Power Posts to the Shunt. Simple fix. › Get Free Downloads › Meet Other Preppers › Start Your Own Private Group › Totally FREE! Wiring Sizes We used 4 Gauge wire to connect the terminals together (box to box connections). DOC 05-003-13 PAGE 3 of 4 . Mounted to the outside of the box. Purchase from eBay. Battery Box – I used expanding foam to make a tight fit inside of the toolbox. however slight modification to the toolbox top support will be needed (Dremel tool recommended). If you are not monitoring your power consumption using a shunt. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS Battery Box (List is for each individual box) Stanley Bostitch 23” Structural Foam Toolbox (The link is to Amazon.com Become a member of Stanley Bostitch 23” Structural Foam Toolbox (The link is to Amazon. on the primary positive terminal.Large Mobile Solar Power System (LMSPS) 2 x Black Terminal Connector – Used to connect wire boxes together (1 connects to Battery Box/es. This PDF may be distributed freely. Both are mandatory if your inverter consumes power even with off. the Power Posts to secondary terminal connectors. Go Power 1500 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter – We also recommend purchasing the on/off remote switch. but compare the price at your local hardware store) 1 x Black Terminal Connector – Connects directly to the control box. which is connected to the Power Post 1 x Red Terminal Connector – Connects directly to the control box. 12 Volt Outlet – We wanted to have a DC power source. wind. You can pick this up at any hardware store. The supports come into contact with the battery terminals. but not altered in any way. AM Solar Combiner Box – can accommodate other alternative energy inputs (wind. Inverter – Part of the support frame will need to be cut to ensure it seats correctly inside the toolbox. and measures power consumption. which is connected to the On/Off Disconnect Switch. on the secondary positive terminal. PrepperLink. For this system. Panels 2 x Kyocera 135 Watt Solar Panels – Total of 270 Watts. hydro inputs to conduct maintenance on the system. we will adopt the system identified in the Bug-Out Prototype video. 1 connects to Inverter/DC Box). I used a Dremel Tool with metal cutting disk. We installed two heavy duty hinges and a handle for easier movement. On/Off Disconnect Switch. Go Power Inverter Remote – Allows the inverter to be turned on/off remotely. 2 x Red Terminal Connector – Used to connect wire boxes together (1 connects to Battery Box/es. but compare the price at your local hardware store) 1 x Black Terminal Connector – Connects directly to the control box. 1 connects to Inverter/DC Box). if different. All Rights Reserved. we ran a switch to control on/off positions. Inverter / DC Box Modifications A Dremel tool. Charge Controller – The charge controller is the heart of the system. Power Post – This is the center of your wiring system. Charge Controller Remote and Shunt – The remote allows you to see your power input/output as well as advanced configurations for your Blue Sky charge controller. we used eight gauge wire ››› Click Here ©2013 PrepperLink.
we used a 10 Gauge 2 Pole Connector. trailer. PrepperLink.com for FREE to get downloads. you can start off with the control box. Keep in mind that our wiring technique may differ from others. Don’t forget to purchase terminal connectors for your wire sizes (we used 4. or will hard mount your system inside a vehicle. All Rights Reserved. your wiring method may differ. or RV. please let us know if you have any questions. To connect to the solar panel/s. You can also purchase pre-fabricated battery cables. 8. Our Large Mobile Solar Power System is extremely modular. Being modular. so that you can see a mounted mobile solution. but not altered in any way. meet other preppers. and can be used for various tasks. and add the additional boxes over time. We have included a wiring diagram that identifies how the major components are connected. Our example system utilizes two batteries. If you are not using a remote. so if you have any questions. or have a different version.Large Mobile Solar Power System (LMSPS) (which was recommended by AM Solar) to connect the Disconnect Box to the Charge Controller. Again. please let us know. and the Charge Controller to the Power Posts. This PDF may be distributed freely. however you can add more. and start your own group. but it works and maximizes the capabilities of our Charge Controller Remote and matches our modular box approach. you can connect to an existing battery bank to charge batteries (maybe your car battery). and 16 gauges). Become a member of ©2013 PrepperLink. All 12 Volt outlets were wired with 16 Gauge wire. we also recommend purchasing the Bug-Out Prototype DVD from Surefire Woodsman. DOC 05-003-13 PAGE 4 of 4 . Lastly. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS Conclusion This instructional was intended as an overview. Or.