DIY solar panels are within the reach of anyone with a little time and a small amount of money to spend. Whilst full-blown solar panel set-ups installed by a professional installer can run to tens of thousands of dollars when it comes to DIY solar panels just a few hundred dollars is enough to get going. Clearly such a small investment for your own bespoke solar panel installation that can provide plenty of free, clean, renewable energy to use around your home really puts solar energy within easy reach of just about anyone willing to learn a few basic concepts.
When it comes to DIY solar panels there are really four essential pieces of kit that you will need. These are the solar panels themselves, the inverter and the battery. In addition the fourth essential piece of kit – bearing in mind you’re dealing with live electricity here – is a detailed guidebook taking you step-by-step through every element. Besides these main requirements you will also need suitable wiring and a way of attaching the solar panels securely so that they receive the most sunlight possible each day without getting damaged by bad weather.
1) DIY Solar Panels
Solar panels are made up from small photovoltaic cells fixed together to form a large, uniform sheet to catch the sun’s rays. Buying solar panels from a shop and installing them yourself is typically a lot cheaper than having a professional installer do the job for you but if you want to save even more money you can buy the individual photovoltaic cells themselves for next to nothing online and then fix these together efficiently to form completed and full-functional DIY solar panels.
The energy harnessed by your DIY solar panels won’t be in a form that your household appliances can use so in almost every situation an inverter is essential for “inverting” or changing the power into a usable form. Experts in homemade solar panels have found that the inverter is really one of the most important pieces of the puzzle altogether and investing in the wrong inverter really can be disastrous with lots of the power you create being wasted.
As a result don’t settle for just any old inverter when considering DIY solar panels but instead try to buy the best model that you can – even if it means buying a top-notch model second-hand rather than a lower-quality inverter brand new. Indeed as we’re all trying to be as environmentally aware as possible buying second-hand will not only help to save you money and make your DIY solar panels installation more efficient but will also help to “reduce, reuse and recycle” thus keeping more unwanted cast-offs from going into landfill.
If you want to go totally “off grid” then batteries will be essential to store all the electricity you create before you need it. However some people go the alternative route and like to stay connected to the electricity grid, feeding unused power that they have created into the grid in exchange for an agreed sum of money. Then, should power be needed around the home yet the batteries have gone dead, power it drawn from the grid knowing that the overall effect is to generate additional renewable energy for the grid while ensuring you yourself never run out of power no matter how cloudy the day has been!
A variety of batteries can be used when building a DIY solar panel installation including car batteries and forklift truck batteries and once again these can be bought second-hand very cheaply and then “reconditioned” to make them fit for purpose. Whilst the exact process of reconditioning old batteries is beyond the bounds of this article in our experience many solar panel installation manuals give detailed information about how to perform this simple but effective technique.
4) DIY Solar Power Manuals
Over the last six weeks we’ve been working our way through a mountain of different books on the subject of DIY solar systems looking for the best overall guide around. While the vast majority were useful and well-written many seemed to either be pitched too high (too much physics and math to be enjoyable or even useful for the average person!) or seemed to miss out vital steps, thus making it essential to read a number of these manuals one after the other in order to get an overall informed decision.
Some of the best guidebooks we actually found were available online only in the form of ebooks – which seems particularly satisfying because of course we eco-warriors don’t have to worry about new books being printed in order to learn all about homemade solar panel installations.