Do it Yourself Solar – Good idea or bad?

Can you build your own solar system?

You can build your own but should you? Building a solar panel system has become much easier and cheaper. You can purchase a complete solar kit or you can go out a purchase it piece by piece.

Here are the steps for a DIY solar system.

Figure out how much energy you will need. Most appliances will tell you the kWh and\or watts that they use and you can use the calculator here to convert the information.

Select the size system you want based on the estimated watts you have calculated.

Purchase either a solar system kit or the individual pieces. Don’t forget the inverter and mounting hardware if you are buying individual pieces.

Residential Options

If you are considering adding solar to your residence, that already has electricity, there are a few things to consider. Where I live you have to go through the utility company and use one of their contractors. The reason for this is they make you tie into the electrical grid and then they give you monthly credits for the power that you are putting into it.

The advantages to this is being qualified for any installation credits available, including city, state and federal rebates, and, of course, the monthly credits on your power bill and the reduction of the electricity that you are consuming. That would help in reducing the cost of the installation.

The disadvantages, as I have been told, are if the power company needs to do blackouts for repair, they can shut down your system. It is also installed with a power shut off switch that engages when there is a power outage. Therefore, you would need a battery bank that charges while it is on to utilize when the power is out.

Solar for RV’s

I have a new fifth wheel that came equipped with Solar On The Side, the unit is already wired for a panel and all you have to do is buy it and plug it in. Most solar kits for RV’s come with multiple plugs that can be utilized. The kit I bought has both the plug and the clamps for connecting directly to the battery. It is also equipped with a charge controller so that it won’t overcharge my batteries. The system I bought is only a 90 watt because all I wanted it to do is keep the batteries charged and it works really well.

Powering an Off-Grid Cabin

This is the easiest of all because you control how the cabin is positioned and what you will be running on the solar power versus what alternate power sources you’ll be utilizing. There is more information building a cabin off grid here.

Our cabin will be running propane for everything except for the satellite, television and internet. We’ll be purchasing a complete kit, probably an 800 to 950 watt and we will have a generator for backOff Grid Solar System up.

Solar Selection

Choosing the right solar system can be a little intimidating but if you do the proper research you’ll be able to select the right system for your needs.

There is solar for every application. You can get portable solar chargers that are great for hiking and camping as well as solar generators. There is even kits for running the pump in your well. You can also utilize a solar powered water heater.

Solar power is becoming less expensive and the technology is getting better and better. I believe that it will become common place soon. It is much cleaner and better for our environment.

Remember the solar kits that can be purchased are for off-grid applications and if you want to install solar in your residence start by contacting your utility company.

9 thoughts on “Do it Yourself Solar – Good idea or bad?”

  1. Andrey says:

    Dear Stevie
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to take towards their proper understanding of solar systems. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,

    1. Stevie says:

      Thank you Andrey, I’m enjoying sharing my experiences and I hope that it helps answer questions for people that are considering utilizing solar power.

  2. Cathy says:

    Great ideas! I have heard that the local electric company will give you some money for letting them have access to your personal power supply. Then again, I saw an article about a man with his own windmill, and he was being taxed on his electricity! Anything the government can tax, it will. Thanks for posting this. Solar power is pretty darn inexpensive after it pays for itself.

    1. Stevie says:

      Thanks Cathy, I think it’s a great idea but it’s really unfair, that if you live in the city, they make you tie into the grid and only give you credits. You are most definitely right about the taxes and I believe that is why more people are moving off grid.


  3. Strahinja says:

    Thank you for this article. My friend tried making his own solar panels and failed really hard, so I am not comfortable giving it a try myself. I think purchasing your own solar panels from a licenced dealer is a way to go.

    Awesome website by the way.

    1. Stevie says:

      I don’t think I’d try to build my own panels. It’s one thing to build your own system but if I don’t buy a complete kit, I’m going to buy the components. Kudos to your friend for trying.

  4. derek wood says:

    Great info, but I got lost on the calculator page, any way you can simplify the process as to where to find the info to enter for the calculator

  5. derek wood says:

    love the content and info, I did get lost on the calculator page as to where to get my info to put in to calculate, any way you can explain or simplify this process for the layman

    1. Stevie says:

      Hi Derek,
      I got a little lost the first couple of times I used it to so here is an example of how to use it.
      An energy efficient refrigerator uses approximately 350 kWh per year which is 8760 hours so the equation would be 350 / 8760 X 1000 = 40 watts.
      The information should be on the specifications sheet for your actual appliances. Your utility bill, if you’re still on the grid, should give you your average daily kWh usage and if you take that divided by 24 x 1000 you will get the average watts per hour that your home uses.
      I hope this helps

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