More and more people are beginning to turn to solar power renewable energy for some, if not all, of their electrical needs. Solar power is a much cleaner, more efficient form of energy and it’s easy to see why people are making the switch. However, there’s one slight problem with it—and that’s the initial outlay.
Solar power has many advantages and will no doubt save you a great deal of money over time. However, the initial outlay of having to buy the solar panels, a solar backup generator, and all the other relevant equipment is not something everyone can afford. To try and reduce this expense people have been turning to DIY solar generators as an alternative.
DIY solar generator components explained
It’s not as difficult as you’d expect to build your own solar generator. There are very few components and you don’t need to be a genius to be able to put it all together. They are:
- Solar panels: Depending on what you intend to use the generator for, it will determine what solar panels you need. These can be bought online as separate photovoltaic cells or as a complete panel.
- Deep cell batteries: Your solar generator needs somewhere to store all the energy that’s harnessed by the solar panels, which is where the deep cell batteries come in. This kind of battery is more robust than standard batteries and has been specifically designed to be able to handle frequent charging and discharging.
- Charge controller: This part of the solar generator ensures that the batteries are not overcharged and that a consistent amount of electrical power gets sent to the batteries.
- Power Inverter: The power inverter is needed to convert the DC power generated by the solar panels into AC power that can provide electricity for your home.
- Wires and wire connectors: These are used to connect everything together in a safe and secure manner.
Part-made or Built from Scratch?
The next thing you have to decide is whether to buy a DIY kit that comes complete with everything you need to build your own solar generator or go it completely alone and buy each component separately. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. With a DIY kit that’s part-made, you don’t need to worry about sourcing all the individual components as it’s all been done for you. All you have to do is put it together. The problem with that is that you then don’t get the same flexibility in being able to mix and match the parts that you want. You’ll also pay more for a part-made kit.
If you decide to go for a completely DIY approach and build the solar generator from scratch, you’ll get everything just as you want it and it could cost less too as long ith customization.
Putting it all together
If you do decide to go ahead and build your own solar generator, the following step-by-step guide may prove useful along the way:
- The first thing you need to do is to use the wires to connect the inverter to the battery. Make sure you connect the negative wire to the negative pole of the battery first and then proceed to connect the positive wire.
- Next, you need to connect the charge controller to both the solar panel and the battery. Again, make sure you connect the wire to the negative pole of the battery before connecting the positive.
- Place the panel in place where it can absorb the maximum amount of sunlight and leave it to charge. Be aware that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and even buildings can affect the amount of sunlight the panel can absorb so position your panel carefully.
- As soon as the generator is at least 50% charged it’s ready to use. Simply hook up your appliances to the inverter and voila—you have free solar energy.
While it’s pretty clear that DIY solar generators will help you out in an emergency and can also save you a considerable sum of money on your electricity bill, not everyone’s convinced. Some of the most common concerns about DIY solar generators are:
- Performance levels: Some people are concerned that the solar panels that come with most DIY generator kits aren’t as powerful as they need to be and are in effect useless. Solution: When it comes to performance levels of solar panels, you tend to get what you pay for. Higher wattage solar panels will give you more energy, quicker. Obviously, if you do choose to buy a part-made kit, you’ll need to search for one that has high watt solar panels. You could also buy the kit and upgrade the panels, but this may cost you more in the long run. However, if you build your own from scratch, you can just choose a higher wattage to begin with.
- Cost: Some people feel that they’re just not affordable. Solution: While the cost of DIY solar generators and components are coming down, it is still a concern for many people. The advantage of building one from scratch is that you can literally buy it piece by piece as and when you can afford it. However, if you save up and buy all the parts together or a complete kit at least you can use it straight away.
- Safety: Not everyone feels comfortable connecting their DIY generator to their home. Solution: Connecting your newly built solar generator up to your home is not difficult, and there are plenty of guides that can take you through it on the Internet. If you bought a DIY part-made kit there may also be a guide there too. However, if you do have any concerns it is best to employ a professional to do it. It will cost you initially, but it will only need to be paid once and could put your mind at ease.