Why should one make off grid solar power system a priority? With disasters, natural and man-made, continue to shake the system leading others to go off grid, many households also contemplate installing solar power system to prepare for the possibility of going off-grid. The battle for energy as well as that of an impending nuclear skirmish between the US and other opposition countries brought about sudden demand in DIY solar power. While it is easier to simply shell out a few thousands worth of money to hire a company to retrofit one for your home, making one on your own may prove to be the more practical route.
When thinking of crafting your own, the following guidelines can make the effort less stressful yet, more doable:
1. Armed with some basic electrical and carpentry skills, you will need to acquire important components that will make up your DIY off grid solar power system. You will, of course, need PV panels, inverter, battery, charge controller, battery, and a few pieces of wood for the stand should you decide to not install it on the house itself. You will also need copper wire, breaker, MC4 connector, fuses, meter, and electrical tools like the one below from Wiha.
2. Calculate the power load you need vis-a-vis time it will be spent. Start doing inventory on what energy-dependent appliances will be used and approximate number of hours each will be used. A power rating is usually indicated on the appliances and multiplying the number of watts used to the number of hours it will be used will ultimately yield the total watt hours for that particular appliance. Sum up all of those watt hours and you got daily consumption!
3. Decide what voltage to use. There’s 12v or 24v for home-use-only solar power systems.
4. Now, the tricky part– finding the right components to match and deliver your load requirement. This means picking the right battery, PV panels, charge controller, and inverter.
- Pick quality yet affordable solar PV panels. If sustainability is your end in mind, choosing monocrystalline solar panels is a more practical choice. Though a little costly, it is longer-lasting and more efficient. To save, pick starter kit.
- You will need to choose a good battery to help store energy harnessed from the sun during daytime. Solar power saved in batteries provide stable and reliable energy source. Don’t just buy any bike or car batteries though. Always pick lead acid tubular ones like the
- Find a good Charge Controller. This helps to regulate voltage and current from the PV panels installed. Keep in mind that sun energy can be volatile. A charge controller takes out such volatility to keep your panels and battery in sync. Pick a PWM over an on-off or MPPT though for more efficiency.
- You will need an “inverter” to turn DC (direct current) energy harnessed from the sun into an AC (alternating current). Keep in mind that all electric appliances you own are dependent to AC electricity. Choose a “pure sine wave” type for more efficiency.
5. Get your tools ready to mount your solar panels. From a saw to soldering iron, paste, a solder, PPE and other tools including a pen and a ruler, having these tools handy can also be used for cars or motorcycles. You will need these when creating a mounting stand or when assembling solar power kit unto your roof.
6. Choose a sun-savvy location before setting up your solar power mounting bracket or stand. You can create your own tilting stand or simply buy one like the one below from Smarkey or get a starter kit. The idea is to point brackets to the direction most exposed to sunlight and have energy harnessed regulated accordingly. New technology have also been developed today allowing brackets to tilt automatically to the sun’s direction. Simply wire the PV panel into the bracket or stand via series or parallel connection then, to the charge controller.
Note: Connect solar panels to a Charge Controller away from the sun. Cover it with dark and thick material to prevent accidents and damage to the Charge Controller with sudden high voltage.
7. Add extra layer of protection by installing switches and fuses between a solar panel and charge controller, between charge controller and battery, and in between inverter and battery. Installing an energy meter monitor like the one below from UCtronics will help monitor and mine data logs for your energy consumption.
Without a doubt, building your own of grid solar power system can be quite challenging even to the most prolific of DIY-ers. But with the uncertain times continue to loom up ahead, it is only fitting to learn how to do things on your own. The main idea in learning how to live off grid is to hone your various skill sets to aid your survival as well as that of your loved ones. Crafting your own may prove to be quite a headache at first, but when done accordingly, your DIY solar power system will not only deliver energy into your home and more savings but more so, on living a sustainable life.