diy solar

diy solar

DIY Portable Power Station w/ MPPT

cr117

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2024
Messages
12
Location
PNW
I know there's a lot of these builds like this out there, but I'm surprised at how well this turned out. It was a good excuse to try working with new materials, tools, and components.

Primary goal for this was to build something compact that I could take with me camping so I'd have power to run a fridge, camp lights, and charge devices. During the planning stage, I started spiraling into the idea of adding solar charging capability and stumbled upon this forum.

My design considerations include:
  • Rigid frame to secure battery and all components that could easily be removed if something needed servicing
  • The ability to store the box flat or horizontally, while still allowing access to all the ports and air flow for the cooling system
  • Single power button to cut off everything connected to the battery
  • Expansion ports to connect other devices (inverter) or for charging (AC charger or DC-DC charger)
  • Programmable temperature-controlled fan to pull air through the box only when needed
  • Keeping everything as tidy as possible
With space being a premium, I needed to be strategic about where all the major components would go and also account for the wiring between them. I used sketchup to find the best placement of things and to optimize the support frame.

Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 7.55.36 AM.png Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 7.56.13 AM.png

I also sketched out a wiring diagram of everything so I knew going in what needed to be connected to what.

IMG_1477.jpeg

The Build

Here are several photos of the progress of the build from start to finish. I started with assembling the frame out of HDPE boards I had leftover from another project. This stuff is awesome. It's got a lot of the same properties as wood, but the density is more consistent, making tapped & screwed connections much more secure. Plus, they come in black, so I don't have to do any sort of painting to make it all look nice.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 10.31.34 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 9.02.19 AM


Cutting holes in the case and mounting all the components...

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.09.57 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.10.04 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.10.16 AM


As mentioned earlier, I wanted to design the frame to be completely removable so I could easily connect all the wiring and service components down the road if needed without having to take everything apart. Since the frame was custom fit to the box and braced in all directions, it's not actually secured to the case itself. A strap was installed to secure the battery to the platform. It wasn't moving around before adding the strap, but I found that with the battery's weight, it was nearly impossible to lift the whole assembly out of the case without something easy to grab onto.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.11.00 AM


Wire thickness was probably a bit overkill for this setup, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Everything connected to the battery on its own circuit is appropriately fused to prevent it all from melting down (hopefully).

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.11.14 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.11.37 AM


Final assembly was a bit of a pain, just because I didn't leave much room for my fat fingers to connect all the plugs. After some minor adjustments, everything fit nicely together. The left side of the power station will be used for charging devices (phones, laptops, flashlight batteries, etc.) as well as running a fridge or camp lights. The battery monitor display is also on this side for easy access.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.22 AM


The right side is for connecting utilities, like an AC charger, a DC-DC charger, or outputting to a small inverter run things on AC. There's also the solar input for charging the battery on its own. The hole cutout serves as the intake for air to get pulled in across the length of the case by the exhaust fan on the other side. The fan is controlled by the programmable temperature relay switch with the thermometer mounted next to the solar charger (because that is likely to get the hottest during operation).

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.31 AM


The single power button on the front acts as the cutoff switch for the entire battery via the large relay. I placed it there to protect it from getting accidentally pushed when moving it around or packing it in next to other things. With the power off, all internal circuits are disabled and no electricity will be able to run in or out of the box. This will be useful to easily power it all down when not in use.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.57 AM


Believe it or not, it all fits in there with the lid closed.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.41 AM


Here are the high-level specs at a glance:
  • 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 battery
  • 15A solar MPPT charger
  • Battery monitor with color LCD screen
  • Temperature-controlled cooling fan
  • Single power button battery disconnect
  • 2x 20W USB-C ports
  • 1x 18W USB-A port
  • 1x 300W 12V cigarette lighter port
  • 2x 30A Anderson Powerpole ports (input/output)
  • 2x 50A Anderson plug ports (input/output)
  • 1x 30A Anderson Powerpole solar input
 
Very cool. Thanks for posting so many pictures. I'm most inspired by the Anderson SB50 panel mount connectors with flip lid. Those will be making an appearance in my upcoming small builds. Where did you source them?
 
Really nice and compact! I would be interested to see a parts list of all the misc stuff, like what relay, fan, case, or controller you used.
 
Really nice and compact! I would be interested to see a parts list of all the misc stuff, like what relay, fan, case, or controller you used.

Here's a list of all the major components I used (aside from the wires, terminals, screws, etc.). Total ended up being $631. Definitely could have cut some corners and got cheaper stuff or reduced the number of ports, but decided I'd rather do it (mostly) right the first time.

Component​
Price​
Quantity​
Total​
Apache 3800 carrying case$ 40.001$ 40.00
100ah 12V LiFePO4 Battery$ 250.001$ 250.00
Circuit breaker$ 43.001$ 43.00
Power cutoff relay$ 12.001$ 12.00
Power switch$ 9.001$ 9.00
Terminal stud bus bar pair$ 11.002$ 22.00
4 circuit fuse block$ 20.001$ 20.00
50A fuse w/ holder (2 pack)$ 13.001$ 13.00
50A Anderson plug (2 pack)$ 12.001$ 12.00
Dual Anderson power pole connector mount$ 27.001$ 27.00
Single Anderson power pole connector mount$ 27.001$ 27.00
Dual 12v outlet panel$ 17.001$ 17.00
Battery monitor shunt w/ display$ 50.001$ 50.00
Temperature controller relay switch$ 12.001$ 12.00
Blower fan$ 9.001$ 9.00
Victron MPPT 75/15$ 68.001$ 68.00
 
Just an FYI, the forum does not allow links to amazon like that. I know that you are just trying to be helpful.

Added - ( AFAIK ) - could be completely wrong.


Edited - thanks for the clarification. I have been avoiding linking to supplier web stores where people can find things for this reason - will look into providing more options.
 
Last edited:
Just an FYI, the forum does not allow links to amazon like that. I know that you are just trying to be helpful.
Are these affiliate links? I did not know a link could not be posted to Amazon.
 
cool build, impressively compact. active ventilation nice touch. nice to have shutoff switch. nice case!

no affiliate part on link = no problem afaik.

inspirational portable power project!
 
Thought I’d post a quick update: Done a few cycles and haven’t had any issues. The built in solar charger works great. I can go from 0-100% charge in about 7 hours with the 250W panel I’ve been testing it with (outputs close to 210W). In all my testing, with the lid closed, the internal temp hasn’t gotten above 90.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System IMG_1712

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System IMG_1711

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System IMG_1707
 
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Must have been fun to bend the busbar for the circuit breaker and battery. That takes some precision in three dimensions.

1715455473696.png
 
I have made a couple both for home use and for work. I wish I had more pictures.

This is what we call our Portable DC Plant for running radio systems. Rectifier rack for providing charging as well as 48V, 24V, & 12V. Bullet Breaker and Cricket Fuse panes with connectors and Anderson for quick deployment. AGM batteries. Next one will have LiFePO4 ;)
1716649314217.png

Old Server Room UPS
1716649444132.png

Old AGM with old sign wave inverter that somebody threw out & UPS on wheels... crude I know but it worked through hurricanes
1716649562710.png
 
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I know there's a lot of these builds like this out there, but I'm surprised at how well this turned out. It was a good excuse to try working with new materials, tools, and components.

Primary goal for this was to build something compact that I could take with me camping so I'd have power to run a fridge, camp lights, and charge devices. During the planning stage, I started spiraling into the idea of adding solar charging capability and stumbled upon this forum.

My design considerations include:
  • Rigid frame to secure battery and all components that could easily be removed if something needed servicing
  • The ability to store the box flat or horizontally, while still allowing access to all the ports and air flow for the cooling system
  • Single power button to cut off everything connected to the battery
  • Expansion ports to connect other devices (inverter) or for charging (AC charger or DC-DC charger)
  • Programmable temperature-controlled fan to pull air through the box only when needed
  • Keeping everything as tidy as possible
With space being a premium, I needed to be strategic about where all the major components would go and also account for the wiring between them. I used sketchup to find the best placement of things and to optimize the support frame.

View attachment 213098 View attachment 213099

I also sketched out a wiring diagram of everything so I knew going in what needed to be connected to what.

View attachment 213100

The Build

Here are several photos of the progress of the build from start to finish. I started with assembling the frame out of HDPE boards I had leftover from another project. This stuff is awesome. It's got a lot of the same properties as wood, but the density is more consistent, making tapped & screwed connections much more secure. Plus, they come in black, so I don't have to do any sort of painting to make it all look nice.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 10.31.34 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 9.02.19 AM


Cutting holes in the case and mounting all the components...

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.09.57 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.10.04 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.10.16 AM


As mentioned earlier, I wanted to design the frame to be completely removable so I could easily connect all the wiring and service components down the road if needed without having to take everything apart. Since the frame was custom fit to the box and braced in all directions, it's not actually secured to the case itself. A strap was installed to secure the battery to the platform. It wasn't moving around before adding the strap, but I found that with the battery's weight, it was nearly impossible to lift the whole assembly out of the case without something easy to grab onto.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.11.00 AM


Wire thickness was probably a bit overkill for this setup, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Everything connected to the battery on its own circuit is appropriately fused to prevent it all from melting down (hopefully).

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.11.14 AM

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.11.37 AM


Final assembly was a bit of a pain, just because I didn't leave much room for my fat fingers to connect all the plugs. After some minor adjustments, everything fit nicely together. The left side of the power station will be used for charging devices (phones, laptops, flashlight batteries, etc.) as well as running a fridge or camp lights. The battery monitor display is also on this side for easy access.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.22 AM


The right side is for connecting utilities, like an AC charger, a DC-DC charger, or outputting to a small inverter run things on AC. There's also the solar input for charging the battery on its own. The hole cutout serves as the intake for air to get pulled in across the length of the case by the exhaust fan on the other side. The fan is controlled by the programmable temperature relay switch with the thermometer mounted next to the solar charger (because that is likely to get the hottest during operation).

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.31 AM


The single power button on the front acts as the cutoff switch for the entire battery via the large relay. I placed it there to protect it from getting accidentally pushed when moving it around or packing it in next to other things. With the power off, all internal circuits are disabled and no electricity will be able to run in or out of the box. This will be useful to easily power it all down when not in use.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.57 AM


Believe it or not, it all fits in there with the lid closed.

Ford Bronco Portable Power Station DIY Build -- My Portable Battery System Screenshot 2024-04-25 at 11.12.41 AM


Here are the high-level specs at a glance:
  • 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 battery
  • 15A solar MPPT charger
  • Battery monitor with color LCD screen
  • Temperature-controlled cooling fan
  • Single power button battery disconnect
  • 2x 20W USB-C ports
  • 1x 18W USB-A port
  • 1x 300W 12V cigarette lighter port
  • 2x 30A Anderson Powerpole ports (input/output)
  • 2x 50A Anderson plug ports (input/output)
  • 1x 30A Anderson Powerpole solar input

Excellent build, super efficient on use of space.
Put some mounting holes like blind nuts for an inverter to screw to the outside (easy to remove and put back on). Or even some magnets inside for seamless mounting. Nice job well done!
 
I like his box better. 100aH 12V Eco-Worthy LPV with Magnetic Shunt (FET) & Harbor Freight 2k Inverter. Great for pole saw in yard. AC & PV Charger inside box for ez deployment.
 

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Very nice use of space. Appreciate ability to open lid during charging for additional cooling as needed. When closed up looks like something used in a movie like Mission Impossible LOL.
 
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