Editor’s note: If you’re thinking of building your own solar power system, here’s info from Ben Tanner to get you started. – John
Building your own solar power system is a great way to save money. Those who are looking for ways to get off the grid opt for creating their own energy this way. But it can seem like an overwhelming job to undertake. Where do you start?
Basically, if you are competent enough to install a light switch or ceiling fan, you can build your own solar power system. A bit of planning is needed to get you going and figuring out the amount of power you are using currently is that first step. You can find the amount of kilowatt hours you are using per month on your electricity bill.
Next you will need to decide just how much of your electricity you want to swap out for solar power. Keep this low if you are doing this for the first time. You can add more later once you have an idea of how well it is all working.
Choosing the location of your solar panels is important as well. The roof is the best place, close enough to the house for wiring purposes, and facing in a direction that will get the most sunlight. If an area of your roof is shaded, you can build a post to attach a panel to that will get it up higher. If you live in the Northern hemisphere then your panels need to face the south. Southern hemisphere needs to be facing north.
It’s time to get together your equipment. Here is what you will need for installing:
- Wire cutters/strippers
- A utility knife
- Cordless drill
For the system itself you will need:
- A solar inverter
- Wire nuts
- Conduit and wiring
- Grid tied interconnect
- And solar panels of course.
The hardest part is getting your solar panels because they can be really expensive. You can, however, find slightly damaged panels for a fraction of the cost. Those that are more familiar with making panels can use the working elements they salvage from damaged panels to create a fully working one.
From here you need to get your solar panels mounted and then wire them. This is where the solar power inverter comes in. It takes the electricity that has been produced by the panel and turns it into a form that you can actually use in your home.
So, wiring from your solar panels needs to run to your solar inverter. The solar inverter needs to be wired to your breaker box using a grid tied interconnect. This is the tricky part and it may be best to have an electrician helping with this one to make sure it has been done safely. This is also the tool that will help you to sell that extra power you make back to the electric company.
Of course for bigger and more complex systems, like getting off the grid entirely, you will need other tools and steps. But these are the basics to get you started with your own solar powered panel system.
Ben Tanner is a survival writer for food storehouse.