Have you ever thought of making a portable power station but don’t know how to? We’ve got you covered. In this blog, we will be discussing how a 1200-watt power station is made from simple lithium batteries. Going on a camping trip? Take this portable power station with you to power up a microwave to heat food or to charge your electronics. You can even charge a car’s battery or power up some lights with this portable power station. The uses are endless! So, what are you waiting for? Read more to find out how it is made!
Products required for this DIY project:
1. 84 lithium-ion battery cells
2. Plastic battery spaces
3. Non-conductive nylon bolts
4. Nickel strips
5. Battery management system
6. Insulating plastic: PTFE
7. Metal sheets
8. Voltage regulators
9. Voltage meter
11. Small fans
12. USB type C
17. Leather strap
Let’s get started with this DIY project!
We need to start by making a structure of lithium batteries. For this first, you need to measure the voltage of each lithium battery and put them into groups depending on their voltage.
The batteries are likely to have the same voltage but in the case of old or refurbished cells, their voltage could be different.
This step is important because in a project like this the difference between the voltages of the batteries could cause a substantial amount of current to pass through these cells when wiring them up.
Now it’s time to connect the grouped cells. Bring out your plastic battery spaces and connect them together so that they form a 7 x 12 grid.
*It is important that you use this mat rather than glue to put the batteries together because the outer part of the cell acts as a negative terminal under the PVC wrapper which should not come in direct contact with another cell with a negative terminal. The mat ensures that there is a space of at least a few millimeters between two consecutive cells.
You must also drill holes between the plastic spaces and screw in some non-conductive nylon bolts. This ensures a secure mounting method and electrical insulation system.
Now it’s time to start assembling the batteries in the mat. Carefully place the cells in the first row and make sure that all of them are the same way round. Repeat the same step for the second row but this time the cells need to be the other way round for the purpose of series wiring. Keep repeating this process for all the cells to form a structure like the one given below.
Next, we need to start wiring up the cells. Instead of soldering the wires directly onto the cells which could heat up the battery and result in dry soldered joints, it is advised that you use a method of spot welding that will increase the lifespan of your batteries and won’t harm them. This process involves conducting a low voltage high current to weld a nickel strip directly on the cell. First, you need to weld the nickel strip row-wise on all negative terminals of the batteries with the end of each strip folded over the side for easy wiring of the balance cables. Then, the nickel strips need to be welded to the batteries in series to add the rows together. This results in a current path that flows from the left negative side of the pack into the next row and so on till it reaches the positive end.
Now we install the BMS. The lithium batteries should never be overcharged or undercharged so that no voltage difference arises between the rows which could damage the cells. This is why we need a battery management system or BMS to keep each of the cell rows at matching voltages.
We can connect the BMS to the battery by using a PTFE sheet. First, make holes in the PTFE sheet for the wires that connect the batteries and the balancing tabs of the battery structure. Then take another PTFE sheet and attach the BMS to it after soldering some wires up to its output and charging pads. Once it’s mounted to the structure, solder the positive and negative inputs of the battery and clip the balancing blades into place. The installation of the BMS is now complete.
We now need to add some more insulated plastic PTFE boards to cover the tabs. To this, attach a thick black cable to hook up to the lowest cell’s negative terminal acting as the battery packs ground.
The power station is now capable of outputting 50 volts but not all the devices need such a high voltage to function. Therefore, in order to regulate the voltage, we need to install some voltage regulators which will be mounted to a PTFE board. To the same PTFE board, you also need to mount a power board, a voltage meter, a few switches, some fuses, and a USB type C device. After this is done, screw the PTFE board into place on the side of the power station. Also, add some small fans to keep the area cool after installing the power delivery circuitry.
Cover the exposed battery with PTFE sheets and metal sheets of any color of your choice from all sides to provide extra support and security and to make your power station look aesthetically pleasing. You can also add some leather handles so that it’s easy to carry around from one place to another.
Your 1200-watt power station is now ready! Charge it for a while by plugging it into a lithium charging brick and then have fun with it. You never have to worry about power again. Take it along with you for your next road trip or beach day!
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