author Image

DIY 200 Watt 12 volt Solar Power System "The Minimalist" Beginner Tutorial

32 Comments

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Parts list, cost estimate and blueprint photos available for free on my website: https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/the-minimalist-great-for-small-vans-and-cars.html

If building your own system sounds like a pain in the butt, check out these pre-built systems:
https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/plug-n-play-systems.html

you are amazing , nice work

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Hey Will, please can you help. I’m living in the Uk and I know very little about solar. I was running a single 100w panel through an Epever Triron 30v controller last summer and this month I swapped it for a 370w solar panel bought from Photonics Universe a reputable company here in the UK running it through the same controller to 2x 90 ah 12v AGM batteries. Specs said controller could could take up to 390w. However after following your wiring really carefully the controller now says that it’s not charging the battery. No arrows moving across to the battery. It’s also saying that the batteries are empty which we know isn’t correct. So we swapped the 100w panel back in again and it worked. Battery indicator full and arrows demonstrating charging. Yay. We swapped it again for the 370 w panel , tightened the wiring and it worked for about 10 minutes. We thought it was just our wiring. Then after about 10 minutes the controller showed it wasn’t charging. So frustrated! Where do I even begin to start trying to sort this out?I contacted Epever and they said that there is nothing wrong with the controller as it can handle a 370w wattage panel. Photonic Uni don’t understand it either. They’ve offered to replace the panel but we’ve attached it to the roof with sicoflex. The controller appears to be working as it’s giving us indications so it is wired to the batteries ok I think. Surely the wiring is correct as the controller is working and they generate their power from the battery and not the panel? Whilst I know that you may not have the solution, where would you start looking to solve the problem.? I’ve just bought a multimeter but I don’t know what I’m looking for or how to use it. I’m determined to try and fix the problem. I know you’re super busy Will and you may not have an answer, but if you’ve come across this problem in your research I’d be grateful for your thoughts. Equally who could I go to to try and get a fix? Thank you for all your brilliant videos. I just love them and I’ve learnt so much about solar. Take care. Sara, from Eastbourne, England

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Thank you for sharing, you're a good person with a big heart. More patience to the seniors with solar panel installation.
God bless

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Why wouldn't you use the Rover, please?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Hi Will, I was reading your blog post about 12v fridges. Why do you recommend using a 1000w inverter for a dorm fridge, when to my knowledge small dorm fridges never get close to that number? I am only planning on charging my phone and laptop occasionally with the inverter. Anyway thank you so much for the easy to understand video!!!

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for your valuable information
I have 200w panels on top of my van connected to bluetti inside my van
I was told I need 30 w fuse from the panels to my c
Bluetti
Do you think it’s needed

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Hi, thanks for the awesome video. Do you have a link for that handy pack of terminal connectors? Thanks!

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

is there a reason why the positive wire going from the inverter to the fuse box isn't fused?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

How would I add a alternator charge to this kit? I'm looking to add this to a small off road trailer that would be used for led lights, small water pump and a 12v fridge/freezer… thanks!

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

what size board is that i want to put a solar system in my house and be able to disconect it later im thanking about buying some solar passthroughs so i can run the solar cables through my home my goal is to ultimatley get off the grid

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

damn i came for the solar panel tutorial but you are fine

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

love your videos Will, but Christ on crutches the Battle Horn LiFePO battery is almost a grand!!!

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

@will … I saw this post on an RV forum site and wanted to see what you thought as far as a valid answer (as you can expect, the forum answers were mixed). Any way to clear up the question? Is that what BMS does or does the charge controller do that? ……
"I've heard many people claim that solar panels charge the battery ONLY and do not supply electrical loads in the RV. How is this possible?

A battery can only be in one state at a time – it is either charging or discharging. It can't be doing both at the same time. Whether it is charging or discharging depends upon the voltage of the bus it is connected to. If the voltage on the bus the battery is connected to is higher than the battery's internal voltage, then the battery is charging. If the voltage on the bus the battery is connected to is lower than internal battery voltage, the battery is discharging. Do I have that correct so far?

The charging controller connected to the solar panels charges the batteries by supplying a voltage (anywhere from 13.2 vdc to ~15.5 vdc) which is higher than the standard internal voltage of the battery (12.7 volts or less). But the charging controller is not connected to the batteries alone. It is connected to the entire DC power bus of the RV. Unless the solar charging controller is connected to the battery alone, and the controller and battery are disconnected from the rest of the RV DC system, I don't see how it is possible for the solar panels to ONLY charge the battery and not be supplying all the DC electrical loads at the same time.

Am I missing something?"

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

From what I'm hearing lead acid battery is junk do I have to wait 6 to 7 months to be able to buy a lithium battery so I shouldn't even bother getting a led acid battery so my solar panels sit on my roof of my van I am not a smart man I'm starting to get confused about fuses how many amps size wire baba baba blah what was I thinking

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Three points: Good Job on the tutorial. However, this isn't Minimalist for the price tag of $1700 est. I have a small teardrop that only requires LED lighting and recharge of portable electronics (cell phone, ipad, 200W ceramic heater, flashlight) and came up with this for my needs: Rock Pals 300W portable rechargeable generator (7.5 pounds… $250… three ways to recharge) and a 100W solar panel ($130).

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Clean Install, continue the great work, Thank you for the content

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Do you need to ground to the vehicle chassis?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Hi Will, For future california power blackouts, I recently got the ecoflow delta and two 100 watt solar panels. My house already has a professionally installed 20 panel grid tie solar edge system. With the new small solar panels for emergency battery power mostly in storage, would it be a good idea to get a small 500 watt grid tie inverter and use the backup panels at the same time as the solar edge? Is there a chance the new inverter could damage the other inverter, or make it less efficiently run?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

I don't understand how to get power to my DC fridge from this system…..help!! I have a cigarrette lighter adapter plug that came with the Dometic CFX3 fridge. I get all the other stuff, the inverter is for AC power..but what about DC?????? From what I understand it is better to run the fridge in DC, as it uses less power than in AC mode. The other thing is I bought the renagy 200 watt "premium" kit with the mppt, do you connect the Solar panels in series or parallel? And if you connect in series, doesnt that mean you have to use 24 volt for power? Or does the charge controller, same as you have here the 20 mppt, does it automatically figure out what voltage you want. I get confused on that part. Perhaps you could make a video on just that. Connecting in series vs parallel, and to 12 volt or 24 volt. Thanks!!!

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Hi Will, I am looking for info on installing PV system on an ebike such as the one used in Suntrip from Lyon to China. Can you share some tips?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Hi Will, thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge and expertise. We are using your videos as our manual for solar installation. I have a question/NEED some advice. We want 400W solar on our Ford Transit but we ALSO have a fan to install AND we want a small window over our bed and so having 4X100W panels is impossible for our layout. I see that Rich Solar have a 200W solar panel and the dimensions would suit us better. Its probably a silly question but would there be a disadvantage to installing 2X200W panels instead of 4X100W panels? Thanks mate and greetings from New Zealand 😀

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Will this system run a 12v refrigerator 24/7 with power to spare?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Hey man, loving your videos! I wanted to pretty much do the same set up in the back of my 4wd but with an epever going directly to the fuse box as you have done. I would like to also use the mt50 to view the display. I want to be able to view the load though. How do you attach the load cables to this set up with all the accessories coming from the same fuse box?? TIA

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

will why do we need that fuse box if my inverter comes with a radical fuse

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Why did you connect the fuse block to the battery outlet on the solar controller and not the load outlet?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Is this guy's last name Edison

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

if the battery is full, does the charge controller stop the charging process or how is the load shed? thanks for you video!

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

legit bro. thanx

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

What is the 1.25?

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

SO EXPENSIVE JESUS CHRIST

June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

So for a basic 200 watt addition to RV already wired with converter?

Leave a Comment