Solar Power

Solar Panels – How to Build

Home solar power systems can be designed for anything from full off grid living to powering up a single light and anything in between.

A complete “off grid living” solar power system will require a solar panel array that produces enough KW (kilowatts) to supply all that your living style requires. One way that this can be calculated is to look at your last year’s power bills to see what your total and average KW requirements were and go from there.

If complete off grid living is what you desire, then either back up storage batteries are required or you could go with a fossil fuel generator that will kick in when your solar power system doesn’t produce enough to cover your immediate needs. Both back up systems have their pros and cons, you have to figure out for yourself which would work best for you.

After the solar panel array, the next component that you’ll need is a DC disconnect. Remember that as soon as your solar panels are exposed to light, they are producing electricity. So you need a D.C. disconnect, correctly sized to the amount of power you’re producing, for a safe and legal installation.

From the D.C. disconnect, you will connect to an inverter. The inverter converts the D.C. voltage from the solar panels to A.C. voltage that we all use in and around the house.

Then we connect from the output of the inverter to our house panel or breaker box. Then of course all of our household loads are connected to our panel’s individual breakers.

If you’re not ready to go completely “off grid”, then you will be connecting your solar power system to your house panel along with the power company’s wires. This is called “Net Metering”

The concept of this is that you will be using your solar power first, but if you don’t produce enough to power all your immediate loads, then the power company makes up the difference. If you produce more power than you actually use each month, then the power company pays you for the extra power you produced and sent out on their power lines.

Net metering is a great way to go and is connected pretty much the same way as off grid, except that a transfer switch must be installed also. The transfer switch automatically disconnects the solar power from the power company’s lines when the power company has an outage. This protects the linemen working on the power lines from dangerous high voltage coming from your solar power system. Even though you’re only producing 120 or 240 volts ac from the inverter, as it goes out to the power lines it goes through the transformer on the pole and steps up the voltage to a very dangerous level.

The most expensive part of this system is usually the solar panel array. Luckily, this is also the easiest place to save money if you’re willing to build your own panels. It really isn’t difficult to do. I can help you learn how to build them quite easily.

Visit my website to receive free instructions on how to build your own solar panels and a list of tools and materials needed.

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