Welcome to the solar thread. This is how I made a cheap solar setup that makes more power than my boards need. And shows how a single panel can make way more power than you thought.
You need a panel, this is a cheap 100w renogy panel off amazon for around $99. Based off more research I would no longer recommend this panel as the Richsolar 100 Watt Polycrystalline (also on amazon for $79) Produces more power for your money. Check out this guy for panel testing and more info on what makes a good panel.
You can also see here it’s angled. After a week of experimenting I found this general angle and moving the panel once a day gives the most power with the least work. In the morning it should be toward the rising sun, at around 1-2pm switch it around to face the midday and setting sun. Since we only have 100w to work with, we need to keep it working at peak output as much as possible. If you are not home around 1-2pm, face the panel with a lower tilt angle south-southeast. That should grab the most sun with 0 movements. Perhaps even put it on your roof?
It’s held up by a PVC pole, but for the first few weeks was held up by a camera tripod. Anything that angles it works.
Inside the garage/workshop.
Top right is the first thing to talk about. A super cheap charge controller. Literally $15. The two red wires are input from the panel, the black output to the batteries. I was low on properly color coded wire. Next is the batteries, I found them cheap on craigslist, $200 for both with about 20 cycles. New is $415 for both. They are hooked up in parallel (12v) right now, but if I got another panel I would change to a 24v system. (will explain that in a min) Since this is 200ah of storage, this actually takes 2-3 days of sun to charge if I drain them down low.
This is another “solar charge controller”. I have the battery bank hooked up to the panel input and whatever board, bike, or onewheel I need to charge hooked up to the “battery” output side. It’s just an adjustable boost converter with presets saved for 10,12,and 15s batteries. By using a DC-DC stepup converter we generate less heat (and less energy loss) than running the inverter plugged into your standard 110v charger. Now input voltage has an effect on output amps. So at 12v in 42v out I can only output 1.8a. If the system was set up in a 24v configuration, I could charge my boards much quicker. (but my lipo charger and inverter are 12v only, so… )
On the left is a fancy touch screen lipo battery charger. It can do basically anything I need when it comes to batteries that have dropped a P group. Or more often checking capacity through cycle programs. To the right of that is a normal 12v inverter. I run fans, lights, anything that I can’t power off the dc-dc converter.
Recently we’ve had a lot of extra sun, so I’ve been using the inverter a bit more to run things inside my house.
- Can you do with less? Yes. Now I ride during the day and charge at night. If you ride at night, then the panel can be hooked up directly to your board using the dc-dc boost converter. You don’t need the 12v batteries or the charge controller.
This setup charged my XR in about 3-4 hours, and kept going a bit past sunset. It’s honestly surprising how little light a panel needs to make power.
Wanna go camping? No problem, took one of the 12v batteries and had power for all of thunder in the mountains.
- Cost roundup and links. This is intended to be a cheap sub hobby. Don’t even think you could make a junker board for this much. These links are non-affiliate.
- $80 panel Get 2 if you want to run 24v.
- $47 dc-dc adapter (could be found cheaper elsewhere)
- $15 Cheap charge controller Get a nicer one if you get 2 panels.
- $?? At home batteries, 12 or 24v. Use some junked batteries. I’d aim for 50-75ah minimum.
So for about $200 you can smugly ride around on the power of the sun. And keep riding when the power goes out. Neat.