Power-Box or Solar Generator – Part #3

PowerBox-300bThis is the third article in a series written for you to make a power box, also known as a solar generator.

In the first article I went into the mission, restrictions, requirements, and some of the components that would be going into the unit.

In the second article I went into a few more of the components, and the step-by-step specifics of the build. I then showed how I installed each and how I wired them into the unit.

I would suggest that before you read the first two articles to come up to speed before reading this article.

< click here to read the first article >

< click here to read the second article >

I think it important that I mention right about now that this is not an inexpensive power-box / solar generator unit. First off, the battery is $200. Then there is the MFJ power supply. But, the PWRgate is even more expensive. Those three components push the cost to over $455. Then you throw in all the smaller components, wiring, blade fuses, etc. and you could easily have $600+ wrapped up in this unit so far. And we aren’t done yet. But don’t despair! This has given me another idea. One that will compliment (i.e. work with) this unit and in some cases replace it. But, you will have to keep coming back to read that series of articles 😉

OK, let’s get on with the next steps…

Step #10 –

With the power-box essentially done, it was time to start testing it to make sure I wouldn’t fry anything or start a minor house fire. And, while I wasn’t burning the house down the box would be putting out much needed emergency power.

I put the multi-meter to everything, starting with the battery, and it all checked out fine. All the voltage moving around was the right reading and no reversed polarity, no voltage feedback or reversal, and no noticeable voltage drop anywhere in the system. It all checked out fine. I even checked the voltage meter against the multi-meter and it checked out fine. Now it was time to test out the power-box in real life situations.

Step #11 –

Obviously in order for the power-box to be a success I have to be able to test charging it. Since plenty of the time the power-box will be used in conjunction with utility company supplied power I wanted to test the unit charging the battery off of the MFJ power supply (AC to DC). It worked 100% perfectly. The adjustable power from the MFJ fed through the PWRgate and ran the chassis mounted Anderson Power poles pushing the correct amount of DC voltage. And the PWRgate did a great job of charging the battery and then “maintaining” it.

Step #12 –

Next test came using an external charger/maintainer power source. The purpose to this method of keeping the battery charger is pretty simple. Since the vast majority of the time the power-box will not be in use. And all electronic/electrical equipment does have a finite lifespan. That being the case I didn’t want to leave the MFJ power supply plugged in and turned on simply to keep the battery fully charged. Remember, this is a case where the power-box is not powering anything.

So the solution is an external battery charger/maintainer. I hooked up my 1.5 amp DieHard charger/maintainer. I ran it for a couple weeks and it keeps the battery charged/maintained right at 13.2 vDC. Success again!

Step #13 –

Testing the power output capability. In other words…using the unit to provide power to the equipment that I need it to run; chargers and radios.

First I tested it with the USB power-port. Exactly the right voltage at the charger.

First I tested it with the USB power-port. Exactly the right voltage at the charger.

Next was the test on the cigarette power-port. Once again, exactly on the money. Yes, there is a 1/100th difference in voltage...ah, that it just fine.

Next was the test on the cigarette power-port. Once again, exactly on the money. Yes, there is a 1/100th difference in voltage…ah, that it just fine.

My AIMS Power (PWRI60012S) 600W Pure Sine Power Inverter was sitting on my bench so I thought I would go ahead and test it. And again...perfection!

My AIMS Power (PWRI60012S) 600W Pure Sine Power Inverter was sitting on my bench so I thought I would go ahead and test it. And again…perfection!

I loaded up most of the power outlets and once again tested the power at the charger. Bingo!

I loaded up most of the power outlets and once again tested the power at the charger. Bingo!

Then I tested the actual voltage coming off the battery. Plenty! All of that gear was only drawing down the available power by .22 volts.

Then I tested the actual voltage coming off the battery. Plenty!
All of that gear was only drawing down the available power by .22 volts.

Then came the test to see how well it powered the radio. Absolutely no problem. I also tested disconnecting the AC power and the switch-over to battery power was flawless. The radio never even blinked when the power source switched.

Then came the test to see how well it powered the radio. Absolutely no problem. I also tested disconnecting the AC power and the switch-over to battery power was flawless. The radio never even blinked when the power source switched.

I also tested the radio operation from the cigarette power outlet. No problems.

I also tested the radio operation from the cigarette power outlet. No problems.

PowerBoxTesting-009

For those of you anxious to get started on building your own power box, here is the wiring diagram…

Power Box wiring diagram. click the image to enlarge

Power Box wiring diagram.
click the image to enlarge

 

In the next article I will go into the external charging aspect of the power box which will include solar charging as well.

 

Related Articles –
Associated Articles –

 

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