Do you want to become energy independent and completely off grid, or do you want to reduce your energy usage and save on your power costs? Whatever your reasons, solar energy may be the solution you are looking for. With the rising costs of energy it is becoming more expensive to power your home. With solar energy you will be able to save money on your power bill immediately. The advantages of solar energy are very attractive, but a complete solar energy system can initially cost a lot of money. If you don’t have that kind of money up front, you can reduce your costs with DIY solar panels. Do-it-yourself solar panels for your home are easier to make than might you think. They will reduce your costs considerably, which will result in a quicker payback on your investment. Once your initial investment is recovered, you will save money on your energy bills, or completely eliminate them for the rest of the life of your system.
Harvesting solar energy can be done in a variety of ways with systems of varying size and design. Your motivations for wanting to use solar energy are most likely to do with saving money, but there are other reasons that may appeal to you. Reducing your energy consumption is good for the environment. Solar energy has no harmful emissions, therefore it does not contribute to greenhouse gases and global warming. By using solar energy, you are actively reducing reliance on dirty fossil fuels. Helping the environment and saving money are great reasons to use solar energy. If you have an interest in DIY projects then you can reduce the cost of your system by learning how to make solar panels yourself. Making your own home solar panels will require some initial knowledge and skills, but don’t be put off by this, you can find out all you need online. Here are some basics to get you started.
Solar Panels and Solar Energy
Solar panels are the key to your solar energy system. A solar panel is a collection of individual silicon cells that generate electricity from sunlight. The photons, or light particles, produce an electrical current (DC) as they strike the surface of the thin silicon wafers. A power inverter is used convert the DC power to AC so that you can power your appliances. The power is stored in rechargeable batteries so that you have power even when the sun is not shining. Solar energy can be used around your home on a small scale, like with a few solar lights, or on a large scale, with a complete solar system that will power your entire home.
Tools and Equipment
You will need a manual or instructions for your project, which can be found online. You can pay for a comprehensive instructional program like, Earth4Energy, that will teach you all you need to know. Or you can search online to find the information you need. There are plenty of videos on Youtube for DIY solar panels, this may be enough to help you complete your project. There are a few other things you will need as well:
- solar panels, 12 or 16 volt, can be purchased on eBay, or from your local supplier, you will probably need 4 to 8 for a small to medium system
- batteries to store the electrical power that is generated, a lead or acid rechargeable 12 volt battery should do the job
- a battery box to protect the battery
- a charge controller to prevent overcharging of the batteries, proper charging will prevent damage and increase the life and performance of the batteries
- a power inverter to convert the DC power to AC, to power your AC appliances
- wires and cables to connect everything together
- handheld drill and bits
There are a few steps required for making DIY solar panels. The first is planning ahead to ensure you have everything you need. How many solar panels do you need? This will depend on the amount of energy you use in your home and whether you want to completely replace electricity with solar power, or just reduce your electric power usage. You can use past power bills to get an indication of how much you use, and you can also look for ways to reduce your energy usage further. You will need to work out where you are going to put your DIY solar panels. You can have them lying flat on the roof or angled towards the sun, or on the ground in a built enclosure. Once you have everything you need the steps are simple:
- Build a container to hold the cells and mount them. A simple way to do this is with a ground based frame angled toward the sun. You can also have an adjustable angle mount than can be altered to account for the movement of the sun throughout the year. A more complex, and more expensive, solution is a tracking mount that will automatically follow the sun each day. For most, the simple angled frame will do the job.
- Connect your solar panels together. You need to wire the solar panels together and attach them to the frame.
- Test your system before installing it on your roof to ensure it is working as it should.
- Install your system on the roof, or wherever you want it to go, and connect it to your home. This may be something you need professional help with, or perhaps you can work this out on your own as well.
This is a very simplified version of the steps required, just to give you an idea of what is involved. If you decide to go ahead with your DIY solar panels, you will need the more comprehensive instructions in a manual, or one of the many step-by-step videos available online.
Eco friendly homes use alternative energy sources to reduce energy usage and save money on energy costs. You can enjoy the same benefits with DIY solar panels for a system that will save you money and benefit the environment.