The price of solar panels has come down quite significantly in the last couple of years, making solar a viable option for anyone one who chooses it. Although solar panels are now cheaper, unfortunately it's still not a viable option for many. But there are several ways you can get cheaper solar panels...
Top of the list is DIY solar panels. Sounds like a great idea, but is it worth the sweat?
I tend to steer away from building my own solar panels, as there is a lot of work involved. When you compare for example, a bought 100 watt solar to a DIY one, there really isn't that much price difference. Yes, it was a great idea to build your own solar panels, back in the days when they were really expensive! But with around $50.00 price difference for a 100 watt solar panel, or a $70-$80 difference for a 200 watter, do you really want to build your own solar panels?
Building solar panels can be a lot of fun if you are into that kind of thing. But it can be really tedius, if you're not into that kinda thing! In hindsight, our DIY solar panel array of 2Kw seems like so much work, compared to the prices of panels today!
Don't be dismayed by the comments above, as you can learn a great deal by making your own solar panels. We couldn't have got we are today, if we didn't first build our own solar panels! If you do want to build your own solar panels anyway, then you can't go past Earth4Energy. Earth4energy has been around for quite some time and that's where we first learned to build our own energy system!
These days solar panels are a lot cheaper, but we wish we could say the same for batteries!
If you are planning to go solar and want to do it cheaply, then you may want to avoid a professional contactor as they charge bucket loads by the hour! The best system you can opt for, although not cheap, is an off grid energy system. With the off grid system, you won't need to touch the power running through your home, as you could create a simple plug in socket, where you could simply plug in your power hungry appliances...
An off grid energy system is a stand alone power supply system...
A solar energy system that works independent of the grid, a.k.a "off grid energy
Basic off grid energy system system" is comprised of some basic, power storing and rectifying components.
(1) Solar panels use the power of the sun to generate electricity.
(2) Deep cycle batteries are used to store the solar energy.
(3)A solar charger controller regulates the energy from the panels to charge the batteries effectively and efficiently.
(4) An inverter converts the low DC Voltage into higher Voltages of AC waveform, which can then be used to power home or industrial appliances...
The solar panels are the most important component of the system and it is also the most expensive (prices are rapidly decreasing though) component of the system. There are 3 different types of solar panels which are Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Amorphous. Monocrystalline PV panels are the most efficient of all the panels and perform great under low light levels. That's why Mono panels are more expensive than the other types.
Building your own solar panels is currently the most cost effective way to incorporate solar power in your home and lifestyle - but some of the uses of solar power though, far exceed the benefits, such as: flexibility to work anywhere, never missing important phone calls, back up supplies for emergency medical equipment and the list goes on... If you've ever had a flat phone battery in the middle of nowhere or your laptop's battery went flat at an important time of usage, then you know what I'm talking about.
While building solar panels may be the most cost effective solution to harness the sun’s energy, it is only recommended for off grid configurations. Grid tie setups should ONLY be left to a certified professional and so our main focus here is only for off grid systems.
Wiring and installing an off grid solar energy system entails some complex wiring and even though the system may not be grid connected, it still involves some dangerous wiring at the inverter mains socket and inside of the inverter. Because the inverter will be converting the LOW input voltages to HIGHER output voltages (AC) that can power household appliances, and as we all know or should know; these voltages are dangerous.
Just as long as you don’t mess around with the inverter output currents, you are relatively safe setting up the system. The dangerous voltages are usually only present at the inverter outputs (in higher powered inverters, dangerous voltages may be at the inputs as well) of small systems, however, the mains power outlet is the same as your home power outlet, so treat this output the same as you would treat your household electricity.
More and in depth information about off grid systems and how to set it up is covered in another section on this site, click here to go there or read on to learn more...
While batteries for an off grid enery system can get quite expensive, have you considered reconditioning your own batteries? We paid $100 for a battery, that we would have otherwise paid $600 for a new one... and they both work identically!
For some people, building a DIY solar panel is the only way to get the cost low enough to begin to integrate solar energy into their lifestyles. Some people who live off the grid are so committed to recycling that they make a point of only using equipment, tools and devices that are recycled. Still others like to learn new things by hands-on experience. But no matter which category you fall into, there are plenty of useful applications for your do-it-yourself solar panel once it’s finished. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about your own solar panel project.
Recharge your 12 volt battery
Building your own solar trickle charger can ensure that you never have to worry about a dead car battery, and can save you money by extending the life of the battery you now own. It’s also useful for keeping full charges in batteries that sit for long periods of time between uses, like boats, snowmobiles and recreational vehicles.
Recharge your cell phone
One of the easiest do-it-yourself solar panel projects is to build a solar panel to recharge the battery in your cell phone. For materials, you simply need to assemble a small plastic project box, a solar cell, and a 12 volt DC car power outlet socket. With only a few components that can be easily obtained from your local hardware or electronics store, and by cutting a few holes and soldering a few connections, you can be charging your cell phone within in a few hours.
Solar power for your laptop
Since laptop batteries only last a few hours, having a solar powered laptop battery charger can let you work on your laptop while it’s unplugged from grid-tied electrical sources and from automobile charging systems as well. This is especially useful if you are a surveyor, engineer, have a job where you use a laptop in the field or like to stop and write while hiking and camping.
Solar power for your outdoor lighting
Any of your outdoor lighting that can be powered by battery can be charged with solar energy instead of using conventional plug-in battery chargers. Patio lights, flood lights or holiday lighting can all be solar powered. Security lights and motion detector lighting are especially well suited for use with solar electricity because they will still work during a power outage when you need the extra lighting the most.
Save money and learn about solar energy at the same time
Now that solar panel parts are readily available for purchase on the internet, it really is possible to save money by building your own solar panels. Build a few to power small battery powered electronics equipment like your laptop and cell phone. Use those projects to learn about how solar energy works, and to find out if you enjoy the process enough to tackle building them on a larger scale. If you find you enjoy building solar panels, design a system for larger scale solar energy applications.
Solar energy systems are scalable
Many people think that in order to use solar power in their homes that they have to build and install a complete solar electric system that will supply all of the electricity that they now use. But that’s simply not true. You can start off by using smaller solar panels to power outdoor lighting or to light the inside of your garage. Or you can install a small grid-tied solar panel system to offset part of the electricity that your family uses on a daily basis to cut your energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Later you can add more solar panels and eventually generate enough solar electricity to be energy independent or even sell electricity back to your local utility company.
Do an energy audit before you install a PV system
While it’s true that you can reduce your family’s dependency on the local utility company by installing solar panels, the smart way to approach it is to do an energy audit on your family’s electricity use before you start planning your PV system. By uncovering your energy use habits and making energy saving changes beforehand, you may be able to lower your electric bill immediately. And if the changes result in a big enough decrease in electricity use, you may also be able to plan for a smaller solar electric system. Lower electricity usage means that you will need fewer solar panels to meet your family’s residential energy needs. In the long run, you’ll be saving money by using less energy and by paying for a less expensive PV system.
Solar electricity for home use is now one of the most popular ways to make a difference. If you are thinking about building solar panels to generate your own home electricity, there are several routes you can take:
1. Hire a specialized solar energy contractor to install solar panels for you, or build solar panels yourself. Bringing in specialist contractors is a very expensive way to install solar electricity for home usage, and unless you can afford this option, for many people it’s not a viable option. If you are going to use an expert, always check their qualifications!
2. The most cost-effective way to install solar energy in your home is by building your own solar panels. You may think it is difficult, or that you simply aren’t a solar panel expert. However, there are many comprehensive plans out there to help you do this.
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