DIY 1300Wh Camping Power Station

DIY 1300Wh Camping Power Station

When we started looking for some portable power, there seemed to be plenty of products on the market, but they were all quite costly… The Yeti Goal Zero 1400 power station is $1900! Our thought was that there can’t be much to it (though the Goal Zero does pack in some fancy features like mobile app connectivity and monitoring etc.) In the grand scheme of things, the design very simple, just a battery with a way to connect to it. The important thing is knowing the right type of battery for this application. So, what we have done is put together a complete guide for a DIY power station battery pack system that has the similar power performance as the expensive units, but at a fraction of the cost.


DIY Battery Pack Build

First things first, we started off with the proper sized toolbox. We felt this Craftsman one was big enough, and also structurally sound enough to handle the weight. (Full disclosure, the cheaper battery is HEAVY)

The layout is pretty simple… and the battery will be on one side, so all of the plugs naturally end up on the other.

Measure out your plug locations as you wish; we decided to go with this arrangement as it made sense for the plugs and inverter we used.

Preliminary layout DIY home made power station deep cycle battery pack for camping

Next, we picked an inverter that has a conveniently removable face plate, so we were able to unscrew it, and get about 2 extra inches of internal wiring to reach the wall, while having the body of the unit mounted to the floor. In this case, the inverter mounting is nothing fancy, we just took some 2×4’s laying around and bolted the inverter to it, and then screwed the 2×4 to the toolbox through the bottom.

DIY home made toolbox power station deep cycle battery pack for camping
NOTE: We initially didn’t realize that the LED sockets would have an “always on” blue LED, we thought it would just turn on when something was plugged in… but since they were always on, we had to add a separate toggle switch to those so that the LED would not drain the battery.

When you look inside, you’ll see that wiring isn’t anything fancy, just bundle it with some zip ties when you are done. As simple as it sounds, to secure the battery we just Dremelled a slot in the bottom and side of the tool box to run the strap though. It works really well, just be mindful of sliding the toolbox around too much as it may wear through the strap eventually.

Note that the toggle switch is now installed as well. We used one that is rated for 20A at 120V, which is more than enough to just run the 4x 2 Amp USB plugs though. The Cigarette lighter plugs don’t have LED’s so those don’t need to go through a switch.

DIY home made power station deep cycle battery pack for camping

The state of charge meter works pretty well, it has some menu options that let you program it to the type of battery that you have so that the readings are a bit more accurate. It also comes with a thermocouple to display temperature, so make sure to tape it to the battery somewhere, we recommend using aluminum tape.

State of charge meter DIY home made power station deep cycle battery pack for camping

To charge the battery, just use the AGM battery charger linked in the shopping list (make sure it is set on 12V AGM mode). Because the charging does take a while, so start at least a day before you intend to use it. For charging, we just use the red and black terminal posts, just don’t mix them up!

Below is the State of Charge voltage chart we used to program ours (This is an AGM battery):

State of ChargeSealed or Flooded Lead Acid battery voltageGel battery voltageAGM battery voltage

We have taken the battery pack with us on several camping trips already and it works great. You can use it for charging phones, laptops, drones, running a heater or heated blanket etc. And this battery pack is all for a reasonable price (just be ready for it to be a bit heavier than the commercial units).

DIY home made power station deep cycle battery pack for camping

Shopping List

100Ah Deep Cycle Battery $ 179.99
Battery Terminals $   15.97
Battery Meter $   16.69
AC Inverter  $   34.99
USB Plugs (2x @$13.99)  $   27.98
Tool Box $   29.98
Toggle Switch $   4.21
AGM Battery Charger $   36.99
1 In. X 12 Ft. Lashing Straps 2 Pk  $   3.99
TOTAL $ 350.79

We’ll definitely be adding this to our list of camping essentials!

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Gott

    Hello, great build! I found this and your site by searching for “100ah inverter diy box”, as I’m hoping to build something similar for camping trips. Your writeup, pictures and links are really helpful to others wanting to try this. Just yesterday I was in Lowe’s trying to compare sturdiness of the Crafstman boxes — do the handle & latches appear to be handling the weight of the battery well? How about heat buildup (e.g., when the inverter is running a full load, or when charging,) — any need to open the lid or perhaps add a fan? Out of the many who’ve built these boxes, you’re probably one of the few who could also run CFD on it!

    1. Savannah

      Hi! Thanks for the kind words! The top handle works but has detached several times so the side handles are what we use to move it around, since they don’t detach. Heat has not been an issue because the inverter has its own fan that we cut an opening for in the box. Good luck on your build!

  2. Norm

    This is great. Can you tell me if it’s okay for batteries to lay on their side? Also how long does the battery last generally? I realize it may depend on how much juice is being used based on what is plugged in but for your use what do you normally get? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Valentin

      Thanks Norm, glad you found it helpful. The battery that we have in our list is an AGM battery, which the specifications say can be mounted on its side (a standard Lead Acid car battery can NOT be mounted on its side as it will start to leak). We primarily use it for powering our diesel heater for colder nights out camping, as well as charging phones in the morning etc. So far, I would say we get 3 days of use out of it easy, and would probably be able to stretch it to a 4th. when fully discharged, it does take a while to charge back up though so start charging it at least a day before your trip.

      1. Norm

        Wonderful. Thanks a million!

  3. Court

    Thanks for posting this, looks super helpful! Wondering if it might be advisable to add a 20A in-line fuse, and also wondering how much you can depelte the battery without damaging it (I’ve read elsewhere that you should try to keep it at >50% charge). My application will be to recharge a few 36 volt 14Ah batteries and I’m guessing the battery could get below 50%. Any insight you can share would be great…and this is a great site!

    1. Savannah

      Hi Court, Thanks for your comment! Yeah, you can certainly ad the 20A in-line. It would definitely be a safety feature. On the AGM batteries, it is advised to keep it above 20% charge, but if they go below they are much more resilient than the lithium batteries. You can likely charge one at a time safely, a second 36v 14Ah would likely deplete this 12v 100 Ah battery pack. Let us know if you have any other questions!

      1. Court

        Thanks so much for the response! I’ve built my box, following your instructions to the letter, and it works great. I really appreciate you taking the time to post, and to answer questions. Thank you!

        1. Savannah

          Awesome, yay! Thanks so much for sharing and glad you found it all helpful!

  4. Joe

    Hi. I am a little confused at the specs on this. I am not an electrician nor an engineer so bear with me. The article cites building a power station comparable to the yeti 1400 but the build uses a 100 ah battery? Please clarify. Thanks

    1. Valentin

      Joe, no worries, hopefully this clears things up. The Yeti 1400, is a 1400Wh system. This is a 1300Wh system, meaning that we are running a 100Ah battery at 13V (13V is 100% on this battery and then it goes down to 12 at 25%, and you don’t want discharge it below that), so then using the P=V*I, 13V * 100A*h = 1300W *h. there are just different ways of expressing the performance of these, saying that it has a 12V 100Ah battery is perfectly fair as well, but everyone seems to try to go for the “bigger” looking numbers so we used that to make comparisons easy for folks.

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