Simple Solar System
If you have been reading in the solar energy forums and on the solar energy websites, you probably have the idea that solar energy is expensive and complicated to set up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the so called experts on the forums I read seem to be more concerned with impressing us with their knowledge than giving useful information. Sure, you can make a complex issue of anything but is it really necessary? No.
Many of the people I talk to seem to think that it takes thousands of dollars to get started with solar power. The fact of the matter is that you can build a simple solar system with one solar panel, one battery, one charge controller, and one power inverter. No, you are not going to be able to run your microwave oven or air conditioner with it, but you can run your laptop computer and some lights with it.
I know this to be true because it is exactly how I started sixteen years ago. I was curious about solar power so I traded for a used panel, bought a used car battery, used a Chevrolet voltage regulator for a charge controller, and had to buy the inverter new. The entire system cost me less than $75.00. I put it all together and learned the hard way, by trial and error. Looking back on it, the main thing that I learned is that you do not have to be an Electrical Engineer to build your own solar system that actually works.
The one thing you will not be forgiven is crossing polarities. Be sure that all your connections are positive to positive and negative to negative unless you are wiring them in a series to increase voltage. If you want to wire your panels or batteries in a series, make sure you know what you are doing before you actually make the connections. Use a little common sense about it and you should be ok.
One of the things I especially like about solar systems is that you can start small and build your system a panel or battery at a time until you have as large a system as you want. Of course, as you build your system up, you will have to upgrade your charge controller to make sure it will handle the amperage of more panels, and add more batteries to store more of the power you are collecting.
If you are the kind of person that will want to hire someone to design and set up a system for you, then you can expect to pay top dollar for it, but if you are willing to build it yourself, you can have a working solar system for little expense. Start small, according to your budget, and build it up over time. You can have as large a system as you want this way without a large cash expense. This is how I have built mine and I no longer need outside power.
You can purchase a complete starter kit from Amazon for $279.89. This kit comes complete with everything you will need to start out except the battery. It has 4- 15 Watt panels, PVC frame for mounting the panels, 200 Watt inverter, all the wiring and connectors to hook it up, and instructions to put it together and hook it up. It is the Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Kit. I have had two of these kits for 4 years. I use them to power lights, my computer and modem, radio and television. I use 6 deep cycle marine batteries to store the power and seldom have to run a generator except when I want to run the air conditioning in the heat of the summer. I did have to replace one of the inverters last year after 3 years of use. This kit is the easiest and best way that I know of for you to start out with your own solar system. You do not have to waste time and effort piecing your first system together like I did, it is all there from the start, ready to use.
Build Your Own Solar System
Build your own solar system. It is not as difficult as you may think. A solar system only has four parts. How complicated can it be? A solar system consists of; the panels, charge controller, batteries, and an inverter. Yes, you can make it complicated if you want to, but it is not necessary.
The people that design and install solar systems will tell you about necessary wattage for your panels and the necessary storage capacity of the battery bank you will need and, of course, the inverter has to be big enough to run everything in your house. It all gets pretty scary when you start adding up the cost. They are only leaving out one thing; a solar system does not have to be big enough to run everything in your house to save you money. Read that last sentence again.
The reason most people become interested in solar energy is to cut down on their light bill or provide power where or when none is available. Even the most basic and smallest solar system will produce some electricity which you can use instead of paying the power company to produce it for you. You can produce it much cheaper than they can, and much more reliably, if you live in a rural area like I do.
The logical way to approach this is to start small and add to your solar system over time and this way you can start using solar power immediately. Most of us cannot afford to lay out ten or twenty thousand dollars for a professionally designed and installed whole house system, however, we can afford three or four hundred to get started with a system that will power some lights, computers, television, and other small appliances. That is power you will not be paying the Electric Company for. Put the money you save in your pocket and use it to pay for your solar system, or use it to add more panels or batteries enabling you to produce even more electricity and save more money, (it has a snowball effect.)
So; where can you get your first basic solar system for only $279.00? I thought you would never ask. You can get the Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Kit here. I have used two of these systems for the last 4 years and they have given me great service. I did have to replace one of the inverters last year after 3 years of use. I live in a remote area with no access to outside power so they produce most all of my electricity. I have a generator for back-up when I use a lot of power or when I want to run the air conditioning or vacuum cleaner. This kit comes complete with everything you need, including the wiring, except the batteries. For batteries, I use 6 deep-cycle marine batteries. Complete cost of one of these systems including 2 batteries is less than $400.00, which is also less than 3 months of electric bills for the folks that live in the town nearest to me. Think about it; less than $400.00 for a start-up system that could be the beginning of your independence from the Electric Company. Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Kit