We’re all looking for ways to cut our household bills, not to mention trying to do our bit for the planet, and if you’re reasonably handy with some tools, then you might be surprised at quite how simple it is to build and install your own Home Solar Energy installation.
Not only will you be able to have a constant supply of “free” electrical energy inside your home, but if install a grid tied solar system, any excess electricity generated can provide you with an income by selling it back to your power companies.
The following are the 7 essential components that make up a home solar energy system, and are listed for convenience in the correct order of installation:
1). Solar Panels – Theses are the crux of the system, and are the panels that will be fitted onto the roof of your home to absorb the sun and generate power. You can buy these already made if you choose to or alternatively you might prefer to make them yourself. It’s possible to source low-cost fully functional photovoltaic cells from the internet and connect them together making a complete solar panel. Standard solar panels range in size from 80W up to 200W which are then wired or electrically connected together to produce larger solar arrays of any wattage or voltage.
2). Solar Array Disconnect – A long name for something that is essentially an on/off switch. This gives you the ability to disconnect the solar DC power of the solar panels and is a vital component of the system. Without it there is no way to carry out any essential maintenance or repairs to the solar panels. The switch has to be of a heavy duty, as the amount of energy absorbed by the panels in bright sunshine is considerable.
3). Battery Charge Controller – Most home solar energy systems have back-up batteries for the hours of darkness or for cloudy days. The charge controller ensures that these batteries receive a consistent source of power. It’s actually similar to a motor vehicle battery charger and is an inexpensive component of the system.
4). Deep Cycle Batteries – These are the batteries that store the electricity generated by the solar panels. They must be tough enough to cope with the rapid charging and discharging they undertake, and differ in so many ways from the shallow cycle, thin lead lined batteries used in automotive vehicles. New deep cycle solar batteries are very expensive. A more cost effective purchase is to buy re-conditioned ones, or for the most frugal method, you can get free, dead or unused batteries that have been discarded from golf buggies, electric carts and fork trucks. You can then recondition and recharge them for your needs.
5). System Power Meter – Although this is not an essential component of the system, it will enable you to see exactly how much electricity you generate from the system, and help you to improve it to get the most cost-effective and efficient system. By utilizing a power meter you can also give exact energy saving figures to your neighbors or others…