M*CARBO Brotherhood

Solar powered generator

**Hi guys and gals. I’m looking into purchasing a small solar electric generator for camping, emergency or survival. Any one have a recommendation. Not looking for a $500 unit, more in the less than $200 range. Thanks. **


Are you looking for AC output, or strictly dc solar charging/battery storage/dc output capability?

Exactly what appliances do you need to power?

What is the published voltage and wattage under load of each appliance you will be powering?

How many minutes or hours will you use each appliance in a 24 hr. solar cycle period?

What voltage/size battery bank do you intend to use?

Add them up for maximum full load watt-hour needs in a 24 hour period. That’s a Load Analysis Work Sheet.

That’s how a solar-battery-appliance system is designed.:sunglasses:

Your budget is very constricted and will most likely eliminate any quality components…which may damage whatever you intend to use.

:eye:’ve been living off grid for over 40 years, in the Sustainable Energy Field the entire time, and know most of the products that work and don’t work.

If you find something of interest post it here and the Electrical Wizard(s) will comment…:zap::sunglasses::grinning:


Tagging along. Im looking to outfit my popup with panels and batteries sometime this summer. Running a small 110v dorm fridge, and some 12v lights, assuming no way to run the AC unit via solar :hot_face::hot_face:


Have you looked into propane refrigerators? I had one in my van in the 80’s (mostly lived out of it working 3 jobs and going to school) and I could run it for two months on one 20# tank. It even made ice. Perfect if you also use propane for cooking.


Propane refrigeration is NOT efficient and costly, also has a full time pilot heater that generates huge amounts of heat…And CO2 / CO.

Propane refrigeration runs on Amonia…which is highly corrosive to the system. When it leaks which it will eventually, good luck finding someone who will work on or dispose of it.


Which part of the world will you be needing Air DeConditioning?

In low humidity environments a DC “swamp cooler” may be effective…and cost efficient.

12 VDC efficient led lights are an easy load to deal with…even small portable individually solar powered light systems are now reliable and cost effective.

Luminaid.com makes some great folding solar powered lights.

:eye: have a Merlin Helix for over 10 years and love it…

For the refrigeration…,you will need to make a proper “Load Analysis” spread sheet to determine your Power watt hour needs, and system sizing…to get a ball park cost.

Block Ice is cheap and lasts a long time in an efficiently designed storage box…invest in super insulation.

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I never had a problem with it. It originally came out of a Cadillac Camper and was at least ten years old when I got it. I ran it for 3 years before I sold the van. Back then. a 20# tank of propane was around $6 or $7, not bad for almost 2 months of cold food. I always considered it safe enough or it wouldn’t be put in a camper. They’re still available for inside-home installation, but you’re right - probably not a good first choice.



:eye: get clients a few times a year that call and ask where they can get their propane refrigerator repaired.

An empty 20 lb tank will hold about 4.7 gallons of propane .

That is $18.47 at $3.93 per gallon. :face_with_monocle:

Lots of refill stations know how to short-fill a tank these days to increase profit.:rage:

Times have changed!


Any parts hotter than 80°F!. Im a cold blooded northerner!
Ive already converted everything to LED lights, and the water pump is a small occasional draw, but the fridge is an unknown until i probe it , maybe ill put the meter on, after i get it out of storage (garage).

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Paint the top of your pop up with a good high reflectivity white roof coating for starters…

Thanks, I’ll go to work on your suggestions. All I want is a light duty solar generator to run a few small items like a light, maybe a hot plate, etc in case of an emergency. Also to charge a phone and an IPad. I appreciate the time you spent. Be well during these weird times.

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@kjpsu68 You’re welcome…:v::sunglasses:

Don’t power a electric hot plate! Use propane or other alternatives.

Better yet…buy or make a Solar Oven they work amazingly well and are fun for the family…:family_man_woman_girl_girl:

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Basically every RV has these and some I know of are people full time for 10 plus years with no issues. The Amish use the same style frig in Indiana. I had one in my pusher that had a control board go bad due to mouse damage, but that has been the only issue I have had with one in 30+ years of owning RVs. And some of them in my early days were 20+ years old.

I also have one of the ultra low KW portable frig for my off-road rig. I think it is the same ammonia style cooling. Little expensive, but works amazing. Ran it off solar in my last rig and plan to use it in my new build, if I get it done anytime soon…


I am down here in Crawfordville and have a Champion dual fuel , two years old. No problems at all .I run on propane and marine gas , non ethanol. I have been thru many canes with generators . Just run for several hours in morn and several hours in eve . Hooking into house system has never been necessary for me as all I try to run is reffer and freezer . My pump will hold pressure for enuf to get thru the day . Shower at nite when generator is running . Another advantage to not hooking in to house is if I like my neighbors I can run their refrig for a couple hours . It is not necessary to run more than 5 or 6 hours a day .

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The UN has been providing Free solar ovens to Africa for over a decade because they have deforested so much they now walk 15-20 miles to get firewood to cook with. Easy to make for less than $10.