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How to Make an Inexpensive 1200WH Portable Power Station for Camping and Vanlife

Charles is an avid outdoor enthusiast that field tests and reviews the quality and durability of camping, hiking, and backpacking gear.

The DIY 100Ah/1200Wh Portable Power Station/Solar Generator

The DIY 100Ah/1200Wh Portable Power Station/Solar Generator

Why DIY?

When I researched the cost of portable power stations or solar generators as they are sometimes called, I found plenty of them with hefty price tags of $500-$1000 dollars. Most of these didn't even provide the amount of power I was looking for. I wanted a minimum of 100Ah/1200Wh of available 12V power for my charging needs. I thought to myself, self, there has to be a cheaper alternative.

All I basically needed was a 12V deep cycle battery and some sort of box to house it in so that 12V battery power could be harnessed for charging cell phones and other small electronics, maybe even a small cooler-type refrigerator for camping. I am also able to use a 300-watt inverter that plugs into the 12V outlet in the 4-in-1 USB outlet. I recharge the battery using a cheap, 3 amp 12v battery charger. I can even charge on the go by plugging the 300-watt inverter into my car's cigarette lighter and using the battery charger to charge the power station/solar generator while I'm driving.

I finally decided to make my own portable power station/solar generator. I was able to accomplish this for less than $200 using parts from Walmart and Amazon. This was a simple DIY project and I was able to complete it in under an hour. I have provided a parts list and a step-by-step guide below.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick and easy project

Cons

  • Bulky and takes up more space than a lithium power station/solar generator
  • Heavy, 36 pounds
  • No fancy features such as Bluetooth connectivity or system monitoring displays
The side of the portable power station with the upgraded 4-in-1 USB panel from Amazon

The side of the portable power station with the upgraded 4-in-1 USB panel from Amazon

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Parts List

Tools Needed

  • Cordless Drill
  • Hole Saw/Spade Bit 1 1/8"
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Wire Stripper
  • Electrical Tape


Inside the portable power station is a Group 24 marine battery provided by Walmart and a 12V 3A battery charger.

Inside the portable power station is a Group 24 marine battery provided by Walmart and a 12V 3A battery charger.

The DIY Power Station Instructions

  1. Purchase all materials and find a flat surface to work on. I used my living room floor. Make sure to check the fit of your battery in the toolbox. Ensure the lid will close properly with the battery inside. This can be done in the store.
  2. Use the 4-in-1 charger outlet bracket as a template and trace the openings onto your toolbox. Make sure there is enough clearance inside between the battery and the wall of the toolbox for the outlets. (See pictures.)
  3. Drill the 4 - 1 1/8" holes you traced out with a hole saw or spade bit. Wire the outlets using the included wiring diagram and instructions from the 4-in-1 charger outlet and secure the outlets and mounting bracket to the toolbox with the 4 included screws. Note: I replaced the included battery voltage display on the 4-in-1 charger outlet with the quick charge USB outlet with the display. This gave me two extra USB 3.0 ports. This item is listed in my parts list below. (See pictures)
  4. Place the battery in the center of the box and trace the location. Cut 3 strips of the Gorilla tape to fit into the traced area of the battery. Apply the tape to the bottom of the toolbox.
  5. Gently place the battery onto the Gorilla tape and press firmly until seated.
  6. Connect the positive and negative wires to the battery. (See Pictures)
  7. Fire up your new portable battery station with the switch on the 4-in-1 outlet panel.
  8. Enjoy cheap, portable, power on the go!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Charles Kikas

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