Full Solar System With Inverter
Above: This diagram represents a more comprehensive 12volt/240V system that is very functional and would meet the requirements of most Caravans and Motorhomes. a) A battery charger will be used to charge your battery when 240volts are available. b) A multi-stage charger is best, plus the higher the Amperage output of the charger, the faster it will recharge. c) When the sun shines, the solar panels will feed a current to the solar regulator. d) The solar regulator will first try and supply current to any 12volt devices connected directly to it. e) Any excess current from the solar panels will go to the batteries to recharge them. The batteries can accept charge from a battery charger and a solar regulator at the same time. f) While 12volt lights and devices could be connected directly to the batteries, the better solar regulators will prevent over-discharge of your batteries if you connect the devices to the 12volt load terminals provided on the regulator. g) Most installations will now include an inverter, which generally gets connected directly to the batteries. The inverter produces 240V that you can connect any **240v appliance to.
**Warning: Do not connect your battery charger to this 240v outlet. Specialised switching is required to input the 240v back into your 240v circuit.
What Is A Community Solar Farm
In recent years, more people have come to realize that they can shift to solar power even without installing solar panels. This has been made possible by the emergence of solar community projects which we sometimes refer to the as roofless solar or solar garden.
With this type of a solar project, the power generated is shared among multiple households or families.
Mostly, the solar panels are ground-mounted on an extensive area which spans over several acres. Community solar farms are similar to utility solar farms except that they are mostly smaller in size.
Unlike in utility-scale, customers here either buy a power share of the solar garden or lease energy from the system.
In this manner, they tradeoff their utility payments for community solar payments, which typically costs lower.
How To Set Up Off
I really enjoyed your article on home solar.
I have a cabin that is off the grid completely, and I would love to get your suggestions on equipment to buy that includes storing the power with batteries.
I use very little power, usually about 300 watts for about 24 hours while Im there once a week. Can you suggest any articles or resources to point me in the right direction for a DIY project?
A: Hey, Keith,
I love off-grid solar. Its fun to set up, and amazing to have working. Im happy to share some of my own off-grid experiences to point you in the right direction and help out any other readers who want to learn more. To be clear, going off grid isnt worthwhile for most people who are grid-adjacent. For remote cabins like yours, though, doing so can be much easier than getting electrical service installed up in the mountains.
Going off grid isnt worthwhile for most people who are grid-adjacent.
The total price climbs closer to $5,000 for a more robust system.
Look at a power bill, divide the kWh by 30, and get an idea of how much power youd need each day.
If youre budget-conscious, dont even think about going to lithium-ion batteries just yet.
With planning, creativity, and input from your vendor, you can find ways to start small and scale up without wasting money on equipment youll outgrow.
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Wiring Up For Off Grid Solar
With the panels up, now comes time for wiring of the system. This step doesnt need to be complex. Going off grid, with a boondocking RV, country cabin, or permaculture homestead, means that your electrical system can be much simpler than gird tie systems.
Going off grid means you have the option to install an all DC system, which can be quite simple and efficient. But even whole home replacement AC systems are possible for the DIYer.
However, if you intend to use your solar system and connect it to a home that is already connected to grid power, you are likely to be legally required to hire a licensed electrician to wire in your system, and you will need additional hardware from your utilities company to make your own energy system work with line power.
We talk about wiring your system in part 3 of this series.
Can I Install My Own Pv System A Diyers Checklist
Its time for the litmus test that tells you whether to proceed boldly as an amateur solar installer or to hand over the reins to a professional. For most of you, the decision will come down to the rules of the local building authority or your utility provider, either of which may require that solar installations be done by a licensed professional. This is also the best time to confirm that your project wont be nixed by your zoning department, historical district standards, or your homeowners association.
WARNING: PV systems are inherently dangerous and potentially deadly. As a DIY system installer and owner, you must understand, respect, and mitigate the risks involved with all installation and maintenance tasks. Pay special attention to safety warnings as well as all requirements in the local building and electrical codes and equipment instruction manuals.
Text excerpted from Install Your Own Solar Panels © 2017 by Joseph Burdick and Philip Schmidt. All rights reserved.
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Summary: How Many Panels Do You Need
Knowing the answers to the above questions will give you an idea of the ideal number of panels for your electricity generation needs or at least a realistic range. Next, a professional installer needs to assess your roof architecture, angle to the sun and other factors to see if and how youd be able to physically arrange the right number of panels on your roof to achieve your daily energy production goals.
You should also consider net metering as youre considering how much money youll save and make from your solar system. Net metering is how your utility company credits you for producing excess solar energy when the sun is shining and then lets you draw from those credits when youre using conventional power grid at night, if you dont store your excess solar energy in a battery storage system.
To get started, check out our solar calculator, which can help you figure out how much you might save going solar.
Beginners Guide To Solar
This is a simple introduction to help you decide what you need and how to do it.
Firstly there are two different types of set-ups Off Grid and On Grid. If you live remotely and want your own independent power source then you want an Off Grid set-up. If you have a house and are connected to the mains electricity grid then you probably want to use an On Grid set-up, unless you want to use solar to become independent from the grid and have your own power.
As the majority of our customers are off grid we will start with that.
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Energy Information To Size The Solar
The first requirement of the entire solar power installation process is that the homeowner should have some information about their energy usage to give to the solar company that will be supplying them with a quote. This typically comes in the form of an electric bill summarizing the usage of last years electicity which is expressed in kilowatts. Also, if there are any energy additions expected in the future such as a pool, more A/C use or electric car, these should be considered in the ultimate estimation of electric usage.
The reason this energy information is needed is so the solar system proposal will be sized correctly, based on the energy usage. Typically, when a solar installer creates an installation quote, they design it so it will offset the homes full yearly usage. So, the amount of solar recommended will be based on how much power the home uses in a year: a full offset.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need: Panel Size And Output Factors
How many solar panels does the average house need? How many solar panels do I need for a 3-bedroom house? How many solar panels do I need for a 2000 sq. ft. home? These are all common questions for an aspiring solar homeowner. Determining how many solar panels youll need for your home requires first knowing what your goals are.
Do you want to minimize your carbon footprint? Maximize the return on your investment? Save as much money as possible?
Most people want to save money while minimizing their environmental impact.
To calculate how many solar panels you need, you need to know:
Your average energy requirements
Your current energy use in watts
The climate and amount sunlight in your area
The efficiency of the solar panels youre considering
The physical size of the solar panels youre considering
One simple way of answering the How many solar panels do I need question is to consult a professional solar installer, who can give you a free home solar evaluation.
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Home Equity Loans Or Home Equity Line Of Credit Loans
Home equity solar loans allow homeowners to borrow against the equity in their home to pay for the homes solar. Home equity loans normally have 7 to 20-year terms and interest rates of around 5%-7.5%. A positive aspect of home equity loans is that any interest paid by homeowners may be tax-deductible.
Similarly, a home equity line of credit or HELOC loan allows homeowners to borrow and repay loans within a range or credit line for more flexibility. This form of financing is also secured by the equity in the home. The draw period for a HELOC is typically 10-15 years but can be re-negotiated as needed.
The Minimalist Solar Setup
If you want a simple solar setup that you can use to charge a battery when you go camping or to live out of your van, then here are the components youll need for a minimalist solar setup. In this post were covering the components of this system, in our previous post, DIY Solar Guide, youll find everything you need to start setting up your at-home or on the road solar system. Heres what you need for a truly minimalist solar power system.
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Future Changes To The Electricity Market
The electricity grid in Australia wasn’t originally designed to cope with large numbers of homes exporting solar power into it. There are proposals for how to modernise the grid and manage it more effectively and fairly, and these include a possible surcharge or “solar tax” to owners of solar PV systems who want to sell their excess power to the grid. What’s this all about, and does it mean a storage battery becomes a better option?
What’s the problem with the electricity grid?
The electricity grid in Australia was originally built with the expectation that electricity went in one direction only, from power stations to homes and businesses. It wasn’t designed to also allow for solar-generated power to flow back the other way. While that’s been possible to a reasonable extent so far, the grid is starting to hit the limits of how much electricity it can handle from domestic rooftop solar.
The grid needs a lot of work to update it to become flexible enough to take full advantage of renewable energy sources including domestic solar feed-in, but also allow flexibility for all consumers. This work has to be paid for somehow. Currently, some consumers have little access to the benefits of solar power but must still pay for electricity, and to some extent they subsidise the benefits that solar owners obtain.
What’s the solution?
The proposal includes the option of a surcharge to solar PV system owners who export power to the grid .
When is all this going to happen?
Designing A Diy Solar System That Meets Your Needs
The most important thing to know, when getting ready to build an off grid solar system, is how much energy you need, as well as how you energy usage changes throughout the day and year. Renewable energy systems are inherently variable, and therefore understanding daily and yearly rhythms of your familys energy usage is essential in planning an efficient system.
Getting this right will be a big portion of part one of this guide.
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How Big Are Solar Panels
Panels come in two standard configurations: 60-cell or 72-cell. If you want to know when you might choose one over the other for your solar project, read our breakdown of 60 vs 72 cell solar panels.
60-cell panels measure 39 by 65, while 72-cell panels are 39 by 77. In reality, these dimensions can fluctuate by up to an inch because manufacturers use different frame sizes. But the 60 and 72 cell layouts are standardized across the industry.
There are also smaller options for RV / mobile use, and some companies are experimenting with larger 96-cell panels, but these sizes arent common enough to be standardized at the moment.
Learn more: Solar Panel Size Guide
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Solar Power
Here are some reasons why you might choose solar over another source of power:
- Renewable: Sunlight is an infinite resource. Its not like oil, which we remove from the Earth and spend when we use it. The suns rays can be harvested for energy over and over again without depleting the source.
- Lower Electric Bills: As a replacement for grid-tied properties , solar power costs just a fraction of what you pay the utility company each month. A properly sized system can drop your electric bill to $0.
- Remote power: If you live in a remote location, it may be too expensive or impossible to run power lines to your house. Solar power systems generate energy when you cant hook into the power grid.
- Improve Property Value: Homes equipped with solar systems sell for 3.74% more than equivalent homes without solar. Solar homes sell for $14,329 more on average. Read more about how solar impacts property values. Off-grid solar also enables you to buy affordable undeveloped property in rural areas.
Here are some drawbacks to consider before going solar:
Read more: The Pros and Cons of Solar Power.
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What Are Power Optimizers
Power optimizers can be attached to your solar panels, allowing the system to control each panels output independently from the rest of the string. If a single panel under-produces, optimizers ensure the other panels in the string are not affected.
We recommend adding power optimizers to mitigate shade from obstructions and overcast weather. Our favorite pick in this category is the SolarEdge HD-Wave series. Read our HD-Wave review here.
Solar Kits Eliminate Guesswork
You can cobble together your own system with individual parts, but that can be dicey. Matching the right collectors, charge controller and the battery takes some know-how. If you want AC power, youll also need an inverter that converts DC voltage to AC for outdoor solar outlets. All those components must be compatible and work together flawlessly or youll have big issues. Plus, the components have to be suited to the climate you live in. Some can handle extreme heat, cold or dampness while others cant. So unless you just want occasional short-term lighting, we recommend buying a kit.
You can find local or online companies by searching for solar kits. Most companies will help you pick a kit or design one for you to exactly suit your needs. Shopping locally can save you big on shipping this stuff is bulky and heavy. The kits listed below are from earthtechproducts.com.
Youll find many low-priced solar shed light kits, and most of them work finefor a while. But cheap kits often fail in about a year. So check the manufacturers warranty and replacement terms before you buy, and try to find online reviews from long-term owners.
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Series And Parallel Connection
After calculating the battery capacity and solar panel rating you have to wire them. In many cases, the calculated solar panel size or battery is not readily available in the form of a single unit in the market. So you have to add a small solar panel or batteries to match your system requirement. To match the required voltage and current rating we have to use series and parallel connection.
1. Series Connection :
To wire any device in series you must connect the positive terminal of one device to the negative terminal of the next device. The device in our case may be a solar panel or battery.
In series connection the individual voltages of each device are additive.
lets 4 12V batteries are connected in series, then the combination will produce 12 + 12 + 12 + 12 = 48 volts.
In a series combination, the current or amperage is the same.
So if these devices were batteries and each battery had a rating of 12 Volts and 100 Ah then the total value of this series circuit would be 48 Volt, 100Ah. If they were solar panels and each solar panel had a rating of 17 volts and were rated at 5 amps each then the total circuit value would be 68 volts, 5 amps.
2. Parallel Connection :
In a parallel connection, you must connect the positive terminal of the first device to the positive terminal of the next device and negative terminal of the first device to the negative terminal of the next device.