Whether you live off grid or just want backup power for emergencies, having a small solar generator at home can definitely come in handy. While most store-bought solar generators can be pretty pricey, you can actually create your own with parts easily acquired through the internet or at local stores for $200 to $300 – and you don’t have to be an engineer to do it.

An online tutorial created by Phil Heiple features easy-to-follow instructions with amusing illustrations that guide you through each of the eight steps. Once you obtain the parts, which include a small solar panel, a battery, a DC input and an AC inverter, assembly takes about an hour to complete.

When you're done assembling your new DIY solar power generator, place the solar panel in the sun for five to eight hours to charge the battery the first time. It takes one to three hours of exposure to direct sunlight to recharge, and once juiced up, it’ll give you about five hours of continuous use of small electronics.

The finished product is small enough to tote on camping trips, on the boat, out in the field or while traveling in the third world. Just a small investment of your money and time enables you to take advantage of the power that the sun’s rays can provide for free.