How To Build A Portable Solar Panel System

What You'll Need
15 watt solar panels
7 amp charge controller
12 volt deep marine batteries
Copper lugs
AWG wires
1500 watt inverter
30 gallon tote

A portable solar panel system is a great addition to an RV or any vehicle used for camping. Solar power is environmentally friendly, and best of all, it's free! Building your own solar panel system is complicated, but with the right supplies, you can avoid the costs of professional installation.

Purchase Kits

Solar panels are very expensive, so your best option is to find a kit that includes all the components all ready for you to assemble. Expect to pay as much as $1000 for this type of kit.

If you don’t purchase a kit, you can still expect to spend this much on the components needed to create your portable solar panel system. Keep in mind that after the initial investment, you will never have to pay another dime to harness the power.

How Much Wattage You Need

Decide what you plan to operate using the solar power as this will determine how much power you need to derive from the system. Running a television and radio will require less power than running a microwave and a computer.

You can purchase panels that are already built that run in 15 watt increments. Once you know how much power you need, you can figure out how many panels you will need to get.


Deep marine batteries will work best for your portable solar power system. Try to purchase batteries with a higher amp hour. Start with just one and go from there.

Connect the batteries to your charger and charge them completely—because of shipping, they don't generally come at full charge. Store the charged batteries in a 30 gallon tote or cooler. There should be enough space to hold three of the marine batteries. Even if you just start with one, you may want to expand later.

Hook All the Batteries Up

Take your copper lugs and 2 AWG gable and make jumpers to connect the terminals together. You will need several lugs for this. If you are using multiple batteries, attach the positive from one battery to the positive on the others. Do the same for the negatives.

Charge Controller and Inverter

Connect the battery to your charge controller. The controller will help to keep you from overcharging the batteries.

Next, connect the power inverter. This will draw power from the batteries to your solar panel.

Set up the Panels

Set up the solar panels in a spot that gets direct sunlight. Once the system is set assembled, plug in your electronics to the inverter and test it out.

Once that you know how to do this, you can expand on the system anytime you want.