Introduction: DIY Home Solar: Planning a Solar Array (Beginner's Guide)

Picture of DIY Home Solar: Planning a Solar Array (Beginner's Guide)

Hi there!

Maybe you've considered solar energy - even if only for a brief moment - only to dismiss it as too complicated and too expensive, or maybe you're seriously considering a project, but don't know where to start. With this Instructable, I hope to demystify the (not-really) intimidating process of installing solar panels in your home. We'll review the parts of a solar panel system, the things you need to consider when you're planning, and how you can save money on (and even get free money for) your project. At the end of the day, you'll know what to look for and what to keep in mind with any solar project.

Why Go Solar?

If you've been thinking about going solar, there's no better time than now to do it. Government financial incentives are still ripe for the picking, the cost of photovoltaic (PV) cells is falling every day, and you'll probably be the first person on your block to make the jump. Adding solar energy to your house is an excellent project for several reasons: You'll save loads on electricity, and may even be able to sell some of yours back to the utility company; you'll reduce your carbon footprint; and if you're installing in a remote location (such as a cabin), you'll have much less to worry about than you would with a gasoline generator. You'll also support a growing industry, and in doing so, help contribute to the worldwide adoption of this wonderful new energy source.

Further Reading:
Throughout the guide, I'll be providing links to articles from SolarTown.com's learning center. This guide is meant to be very broad, so that you know what to keep in mind and what to plan for. Once you start researching individual products, though, you'll probably want a little more specific information. Hopefully, these links will address your questions. If anything you need to know isn't covered, feel free to surf over to our community page and ask an expert solar installer.

Step 1: Parts of a Home Solar Energy System

Picture of Parts of a Home Solar Energy System

The hardest part of starting a project like this is knowing what to buy, so we'll look at a list of parts before we get into the nitty-gritty.

What's Grid-Tie?

This article is going to assume that you'll be building a grid-tie (or "on the grid") system. Grid-tie means that your house will still be connected to the utility company. The biggest benefit of staying on the grid is net metering: If you're producing excess power, you can actually sell it back to the utility company. Since your system will help produce green power for the grid, and reduce the overall strain on the utility company, they'll buy it from you at a huge premium. Because you're still on the grid, you'll still have power on cloudy days.

What do I need?

These are the parts of a grid-tie system, in order:
1. Solar Modules (aka PV Panels) collect energy from the sun and turn it into direct current.
2. Power Inverter turns the DC from the panels into AC that your appliances can use.
3. PV Disconnect lets you cut off power so that you can work on the system without electrocuting yourself.
4. Your home's breaker box is where the solar energy connects to your house.
5. Net meter connects your house to the grid, measuring how much power you take from - or give to - the power grid at large.

You can buy panels, racking, inverters, and more at SolarTown. As we continue through this article, we'll look at some of the products that are available and what each will cost. If you feel overwhelmed by all of the different options, we sell packages that include panels, racking, and the inverter at discount prices, so give that a look as well! You could have a 5kW system for $35,000. Try not to let the price tag turn you off - we'll look at government programs to help cover the costs in step 7.

Now that you're familiar with the vocabulary, we can get to planning your solar array.

Step 2: Load Calculation

Picture of Load Calculation

Knowing how much power you need is the first step to planning your array. Since solar panels are measured by how much energy they can absorb, this will tell you how many panels to buy, how efficient they need to be, and (perhaps most importantly) how much space you're going to require. Don't worry, this process doesn't require more than your utility bills and some basic math.

First, check out your utility bills to see how much energy you usually consume. Typically, this number falls around 900 kWh each month, but it varies wildly from household to household.

Next, find out the "peak sun hours" of your area. This number is a measurement of how sunny someplace is. On the West coast, this number is between six and seven hours; on the East coast, between four and five. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has an excellent insolation map. Follow the link for Photovoltaics under U.S. Solar Resource Map.

All that's left now is to do the math. At 900 kWh each month, you're burning 30 kWh each day. Divide this number by the daily peak sun hours. If I use 30 kWh in a day, and there's five hours of sunlight, then I need 6 kW worth of panels to match all of my usage.

Step 3: Choosing Panels

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There are two basic kinds of panels: Crystalline andthin-film. Choosing one or the other has major consequences for the rest of the installation process, so we'll look at the differences between the two before we make any decisions about how to mount them.

Crystalline

Crystalline modules are the big blue panels that usually come to mind when you think about solar power. They're very efficient and very durable. A 40 year lifespan is more than you can ask of many home improvement projects, and gives you more than enough time to make your money back in savings. A drawback of crystalline is installation. These cells require a somewhat elaborate racking system. We'll cover racking on the next page.

For a 6kW system (fully power an average household), crystalline panels would cost about $16,500: You would need 25 panels supplying 240W each. 240W panels cost $660.

Thin-Film

Thin-film comes on a roll of flexible material. Though crystalline modules are more popular, thin-film is gaining a strong foothold in the market due to its ease of use. The two biggest advantages of thin-film are cost and convenience, since installation is as simple as slapping the module onto a smooth surface. One major drawback of thin-film, however, is durability - Thin-film usually only lasts around 25 years. Compared to crystalline, thin-film is usually more efficient in the dark, but less efficient in general.

For a 6kW system using thin-film, you would need 44 panels supplying 136W each. The panels cost $472, so the total would be $20,768. Although the thin-film panels are slightly more expensive, you don't have to buy expensive racking for them.

Keep the differences between these two modules in mind as we discuss location considerations on the next page.

Further Reading:
Buy solar modules at SolarTown.com
Consumer Guide to Buying Solar Panels
Comparison of Several Leading Solar Panels
Comparison of Thin-Film and Crystalline Panels
Blog: Aesthetics of Solar Panels

Step 4: Solar Panel Racking and Location Considerations

Picture of Solar Panel Racking and Location Considerations

If you go with crystalline modules, solar module racking (the bits and pieces that hold your panels in place) may be the most important part of your project. Here, we'll discuss a few things to keep in mind while you determine where you want your solar panels to go. If there's too many obstacles to crystalline panels, you'll definitely want to consider thin-film instead.

Roof Mounting

Roof mounts are especially great since they're aesthetically pleasing and don't take up any space in your actual yard. There's a lot to consider with roof mounts, however. Most importantly, you'll need to think about the actual strength of your roof. If you live in an older house, you might have to get your roof redone before you can start bolting PV panels to it. Thirty panels weighs an awful lot, and it'd be a shame to have the whole thing come crashing down into your living room. Besides the strength of your roof, you'll need to make some decisions as to whether it's the most effective location.

Your goal is to expose the solar panel to as much sunlight as possible. First and foremost, this means you need to avoid shade - one panel in the shade can affect the efficiency of the entire system. Be sure to keep details in mind: Will the neighbor's big oak tree grow in the next ten years? Will something that's out of the way at this very second be casting a shadow later in the day? You also need to consider the qualities of your roof. In order to get the most direct sunlight, your panels should point towards the equator (South, in the Northern hemisphere) - will your roof accommodate this? And is the roof big enough to hold your panels? Another, more obscure consideration is your homeowner's association. Some people think solar panels are an eyesore (personally, I think they make your house look great) and may have banned them in your neighborhood.

If it looks like a roof mount isn't the best idea, you have nothing to worry about. If you're concerned that your roof isn't stable enough for thirty crystalline panels, you may want to consider thin-film. If your roof has too much shade, you can still rack the panels in your yard.

Ground Installation

Ground installation is very easy, since you don't need to spend the day mucking about on your roof. Ask yourself if you have the land to sacrifice for the panels, and again, pay attention to details when you're picking the site. Two not-so-obvious considerations are soil and wind - You don't want your big, expensive solar array to be sucked into a sinkhole, and you don't want it to blow away like a giant sail. One of the big advantages of a ground install is that you can have the panel on a pivoting pole, so that it follows the sun. These movable mounts are expensive, but they'll significantly increase the output of your system.

Now that you know what panels you want and where to put them, things get pretty easy from here on out.

Further Reading:
Homeowners Associations and Solar Panels: Can They Live in Harmony?

Step 5: Solar Inverters

Picture of Solar Inverters

Picking an inverter for your system is pretty important. Fortunately, there's not too much room for error. You need to make sure that you're buying a grid-tie inverter, rather than off-grid. You'll also need to check the wattage rating to make sure it can handle your solar array. Finally, you can consider buying micro inverters. Remember how I said that a single panel in the shade can affect the efficiency of your entire system? A micro inverter system uses a small inverter for each panel, instead of one inverter for all of the panels. The shoddy performance of one panel won't be able to affect the rest of the system.

For our hypothetical 6kW array, we could use a 6kW SunnyBoy inverter - $3,999.00 at SolarTown.

Now that you've picked panels and inverters, the hardest parts of the planning phase are over. Whew!

Further Reading:
The Good, Bad, and Ugly in Inverters: All the Questions You Need to Ask

Step 6: The Net Meter and Battery Backups

Picture of The Net Meter and Battery Backups

Net Metering

As you know, your power meter measures the amount of electricity you take from the grid. It is very likely, however, that you'll need to get a special meter that is able to spin backwards - without it, you can't accurately measure the amount of energy you're giving back to the grid. In most cases, you can call your utility company and they will provide one of these meters for free. As I said before, having a power station in the middle of the grid - even a tiny one - takes a lot of load off of the system, and the utility company will gladly assist you with your solar home.

Battery Backups

Although solar battery backups are outside of the scope of this article, I find it necessary to at least mention them and why they are useful. First, battery backups are good in the event of a blackout. Unfortunately, your solar panels will not power your home if the lights shut off. This is to prevent your system from frying a lineman who's repairing the grid. A battery blackout will let you keep your refrigerator running while the power's out. Second, if you are running an off-grid system, you'll need the batteries when the sun's not shining.

Step 7: Finances, Installation, and Some Final Phone Calls

Picture of Finances, Installation, and Some Final Phone Calls

Finances

As you may be aware, the Federal government will provide you with a hefty grant to reward you for being a part of the transition to renewable energy. Just how hefty, you ask? The incentive program will cover 30% of your costs. Not bad, right? For more free money, be sure to check out North Carolina State University's DSIRE. Many states, towns, and utility companies provide additional grants, tax breaks, buyback programs, and low-interest loans to help offset the costs of solar energy. DSIRE maintains an up-to-date list of these programs.

Installation and Regulation

Before you begin, you'll need to make sure that what you're doing is legal. Call your local government and find out what kind of building permit you need - often, for renewable energy, they will waive the permit fee. Also be sure to contact an electrician. Even if you are installing the entire system yourself, you'll need to have it inspected, just to be safe. An electrician can help with problems or opportunities you may have missed. Be sure to read DSIRE carefully - It has some information on state and local regulations.

Another thing to double-check on DSIRE is the installation requirement for any incentive programs you may apply for. Although I'm sure that the most Instructables users will opt for a DIY solar installation, you may not be qualified for state or local grants if you don't hire a government-approved contractor to do it for you. That said, a do-it-yourself solar project is both fun and rewarding! Check out the further reading for some advice on DIY solar.

Further Reading:
Going Solar: What Are the Economic Incentives?
Solar Installation Challenges: My First Person Report
What You Need to Know When Selecting a Solar PV Installer

Step 8: Conclusion

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We hope you've found this guide to be helpful and informative. Home solar energy isn't terribly complicated, and with government incentives, it isn't terribly expensive either. In the long run, you can save a lot of money on your energy bills, and even make money by selling power back to the utility company. Once you know the parts of a solar array, the entire process is much less intimidating - it's just a matter of adapting the formula to your specific situation. Stop by SolarTown.com for more learning articles, solar news stories, affordable solar modules and components, or if you have any questions for a solar expert. Thanks a lot for reading, and have fun with your solar project!

For the next part of our DIY home solar installation, visit the second piece on Instructables called (how to select the right solar rack)

________________________
Image Credits
All images shared under Creative Commons licenses.

I. Gray Watson http://256.com/solar/ cc by-sa
1. Oregon DOT http://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/3077175469/in/photostream/ cc by
2. Brendan Wood http://www.flickr.com/photos/brendanwood/2161236298/ cc by-sa
3. Clearly Ambiguous http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-45978012 cc by
4. Lauren Manning http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurenmanning/2205351010/ cc by
5. reedyoung http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/5Kzzsf3A5pmYO88bXB7ALQ cc by-sa
6. MRBECK http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbeck/2718357659/ cc by-nd
7. edinburghcityofprint http://www.flickr.com/photos/30239838@N04/4271445364/sizes/m/ cc by

Comments

RajaCellular (author)2017-06-09

This article was uploaded June 19, 2010. 7 years ago.

My country (Indonesia) is on the equator and very rich in sunlight but I just thought to use it since last night.

How stupid I just read this article today!

Thanks for the great article DIY Solar Jon.

NoyaFieldsOrg (author)2017-05-26

Great explanation and guide. Thx

kingstone (author)2010-08-19

It looks nice there, and u can benifit from the nature without doing bad to it ! I pro U up, and hope the government can devote more to this project in the near futrue, so all of us may benifit from it!

DIY Solar Jon (author)kingstone2010-10-15

I hear you kingston. I think alternative energy will really help everybody and it can possibly create more jobs to help the economy! Help the planet, help the job market, help people, win win in my opinion

Thanks for your feedback

If people really wanted to help the planet they would divorce themselves from the local power company by installing their own one. Get rid of all those power poles, etc. People don't though, most of them can only think short term about saving a few bucks. If the grid ever goes down and stays down, they will wish they chose to do a full off grid, and they will have no power panels are not, because they are not set up for it. They have no batteries or anything to store the power, and those gen sets will soon be out of fuel.

Sure, but a propane fired generator and some propane to fuel it, but let that be for an emergency with a bunch of cloudy days.

triumphman (author)2010-08-15

Here in Orange County, New York, the local Utility provider is Orange & Rockland Utilities. A Doctor here solarized his home and they only gave him pennies for his electicity that he sent back through his meter to the grid. As usual a Large Monopoly sticks it to the consumer when he tries to save energy and avoids their price per Kwh. As we speak, they are asking for another increase in rates! How much greed can there be?

No shortage of greed, they can only lose if you choose not to play with them, and you do that by being fully off grid. They will find a way to make you lose if you do a grid tie, matter of time. They are only even giving you money because you are installing solar power on your home, that they own.

DIY Solar Jon (author)triumphman2011-12-02

your buddy will break even at some and then really stick it to the util... when it comes to feed in, it really depends on location and what homeowners want to achieve. If i'm not mistaken ny has netmetering so your friend will be saving a lot of money from whatever the solar energy covers... the energy he consumes from the utility on the other hand will continue to go up at the discretion of the util overlord :(

Dr.Bill (author)triumphman2011-12-01

All the more reason to go off grid like my Son. He lives in Vermont and he powers his house on 2 large panels, I don't know the output, and on cloudy days he has a generator works off the containment pond with 400 feet of head. If you are an Energy Hog you will need to spend a lot of money for panels.

No Grid Tie Here !

Gwenyth (author)triumphman2011-01-06

Hmm...much like the banks who pay you a measly interest rate and then stick it to you many times over when they issue you a credit card. Maybe the doctor should start selling his electricity to a neighbor.

DIY Solar Jon (author)triumphman2010-10-15

NY state has a pretty good program but I try to avoid the craziness of business polices and such... More headache than it is really worth. The best way to go is to eliminate the higher cost of energy we pay to utility provider, which is why I love alternative energy. It empowers homeowners and gives them the right to choose what they want to pay.

Thanks for the feedback

hintss (author)DIY Solar Jon2010-11-23

big corporations are always evil...(stares at oracle)

KeithH19 (author)2015-09-18

How can i get solar when my power comepny will let me tie in to them

Just do an OFF GRID solar install. If you use led lights and use conservative power, you can get by nicely on a 3000 watt system. I myself don't understand why people go solar and still tie to the grid, if the grid is down, you still have no power, however with an off grid battery bank, you do.

It's because off-grid solar power costs from 5-10 times what it does from the power company per kWh. There is never a ROI due to battery cost (initial and replacement cost). With grid-tie, you can have an ROI.

I disagree, I have saw evidence the power companies always find a way to steal back whatever money you would of saved. There is a return on your own system if you do it right. There are solar panels that have 25 to 30 year warranty, and they should still produce power even after that. If you use Edison type batteries they will last decades, and when they go bad you can just refresh them. Once you have them paid for you no longer are paying for power anymore, and when everyone's power goes out, yours will still work.

There are in fact people that collect the original Edison batteries, and believe it or not some of them still work even today. The problem is people take the cheap battery way out and those batteries don't last. Buy good batteries and cry once. There is a company that offers the Edison type batteries for sale brand new, and that is the route I would suggest going. Buy good solar panels and Edison type batteries, and cry once. The only thing you will probably have to replace is he battery acid and maybe your inverter somewhere down the line.

https://ironedison.com/nickel-iron-ni-fe-battery

Read up on these batteries.

People (like me) go with grid tie because net metering makes it economically a win (unless you end up in a bad lease, PPA or simply over-pay). I installed my 4 kW system myself for $8000, the IRS gave me back 30% of that and my $1200 annual power bills are now slightly negative :-) I've paid no power bill for two years now, and it's a pretty good feeling, and slightly weird to have the power company owe me money.

If I had batteries it would be very different. With FLA or AGM batteries cycle cost at roughly $.50 to $.80 per kWh, my power cost would more than quadruple. SO there is no way I would have a battery system. If I needed backup power, I would just buy a generator.

At work we install large off-grid solar battery systems, but not with NiFe because the ones we looked at had high internal resistance and low charging efficiency, which would require much larger arrays. The people we have talked to that do use them say they are a PITA to maintain and take a lot of water, and that they wouldn't buy them again. At least they don't suffer from sulfation. I think they are worth watching to see if they improve, but I wouldn't suggest using them now unless you like to fiddle with batteries.

If you have a system of your own and would like to post your experiences with it, by all means do so, I've love to hear about it. I value advice based on first hand experience much more than advice based on what someone reads on the internet.

"If I had batteries it would be very different. With FLA or AGM batteries cycle cost at roughly $.50 to $.80 per kWh, my power cost would more than quadruple. SO there is no way I would have a battery system. If I needed backup power, I would just buy a generator."

So you think buying a generator that takes fuel and maint cost is a better solution than buying NiFi batteries once that don't take fuel, lol. Why keep talking about the expense of FLA or AGM batteries when that was not what I suggested? If you need backup power you can't use a generator tied to the grid, unless it's off grid only.

There is nothing wrong with NiFi batteries, and they don't need improvement. Sure you have to add water, big deal, at least you only have to buy them once. Unlike the FLA or AGM batteries you keep talking about which you will be replacing every 5 to 10 years, you only need buy NiFi once. Since you can drain over 80 percent from an Edison style battery and it don't hurt the battery, you don't need as big of a battery bank as with the others, which saves money even up front.

Yep, the IRS will give you money back on your system whether it be on or off the grid.

You want a story from someone who uses them, well here is a good one:

http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com/Nickel-Iron-Solar-Chicago.pdf

That junky install makes me glad I am not one of his neighbors. The fact that his system is 12V should tell you something.

"So you think buying a generator that takes fuel and maint cost is a
better solution than buying NiFi batteries once that don't take fuel,
lol."

Yes

SteveD113 (author)SteveD1132016-05-22

I just read an article where he says "

"...And I
was having trouble because I wanted to vacuum but there were no sunny
days. I can't run my vacuum if I want to have power in the
evening."

So he's having to carefully conserve so much that it has changed his lifestyle. Meanwhile, with my grid tie system, I'm able to run the A/C, hairdriers, TVs, anything I want, and still spend no money for power. Looking at his roof, my system is about 1/3 of his size, physically. There is one difference: If the power goes out, I have no power, but he does. To me, having all the power I want, when I need it, for free, I can suffer through an outage once or twice a year. So even if he didn't have any battery cost whatsoever, I would never advise anyone to do what he did, unless they are just really into it. For him, it's a hobby, a labor of love, and all that. That's great for him, but it's not what most people are in this for, they just want to save money or get off the grid without understanding the ramifications. Even if there WAS a ROI, you'd have to value your time at zero to realize that.

Arkanies (author)SteveD1132017-04-07

This is not my buisness to interject and I am no expert, but it seems that having a hybrid system would alleviate some of this issue. You can purchase a few up to 600w wind generators for around 120$ a piece on ebay and that would mostly fix the issue of not having enough power. The whole point of being off grid is to "change your life style" so adapting our lifestyle in a way that works with the environment and exploits what is already available, free and clean will guarantee a healthy planet for generations to come. At the present rate we are destroying our planet with the lifstyle's we have become accustomed to and it is very ignorant to hear people say whether directly or indirectly that "I wont be here when that happens so who cares" doesn't it bother you that the power you use from the grid is generated by burning fossil fules or creating toxic waste? I suppose I am the odd man out to think that is is the responsability of everyone to care for this wonderful jewel of a plant we have, look at the universe around us, when this planet is no longer inhabitable what are we going to to do? There is no where else to go so far as we know and even if we found somewhere our technology prevents us from reaching it at this time. It's the mentality of people that move into a house trash the place and then just move leaving behind all of their filth.

Just food for thought if anyone is listening

SteveD113 (author)Arkanies2017-04-07

Wind generators are worth having if you have to hold onto your hat every time you leave the house, otherwise not worth it. We have tried several at work on some windy mountaintops and the maintenance and low power produced are just not worth it.

You missed the point of why I showed you that article entirely. The point was how old was his batteries and they still worked. I get it, you are only in this for the money. Some of us though desire our own power anytime we want it. It don't matter what kind of solar array or battery bank you get, if it's off grid and you are not a millionaire, then you probably will have to make a lifestyle change and learn to not waste power.

Of course you can use power anytime and as much as you like when the power is up, you are doing what everyone else is doing, which is using a giant NiFi battery bank to store your power at the power company. This guy used a bunch of different mixed size solar panels with old tech, they make better panels now that work good even in overcast days. Of course, your panels won't make much either on those days.

There is a video on youtube where a guy from Cali puts in a massive grid tie system, and his power bill actually went up. The reason it went up is the power company would only pay him for so much power a day, and do what they do best, dump excess power back into the ground which is wasteful.

I agree with you, if your only goal is to knock a little off your power bill, then just do a grid tie system. If your goal is to have power no matter what and be off grid though, then you should buy Ni-Fi batteries and not waste power. I am on the grid right now till I sell this house and build my off grid house, but I been researching this for many years. My power bill is only around $50 a month, and that's because I don't waste power. If I walk out of a room I turn that light off, etc.

In my off grid house I will be building, it will be very efficient, and won't need much power because I won't be heating and cooling with power, I will be using thermal mass and sun instead. There is nothing wrong with a 12 volt system either, and most accessories and inverters are 12 volt and can be sourced anywhere. With a 12 volt system you can use anything from an RV. With a 24 volt or 48 Volt system your system uses less gage wire at the cost of being limited in hard to source components. Here read this link:

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/big-steps-in-building-change-our-wiring-to-12-volt-dc.html

With 12 volt you can always use your car as a backup power source. I keep a 450 watt invertor in my car, it will run most smaller things, and cost me about $40.

12V is OK for small installations like campers and RVs, but I wouldn't use it for a system like this because of the huge currents and massive wire needed. His inverter is 2500 watts, and with 12V, I think that would need 4/0 cable. He's going to have over 200A going into the inverter at times, which is dangerous in a DIY system in my opinion. He could have 1/4 of that with 48V.

Grid tie can eliminate the whole bill, not just a little. Well, I need to qualify that; they do charge $10 a month for the privilege of using the grid, but I don't mind that too much because they are, in effect, providing me with a huge unlimited battery that I never need to maintain.

JohnyF2 (author)SteveD1132016-05-30

Full spectrum i am with SteveD113 on this, but the sysytem greatly depends on your needs, saving money or bing free of utility companies. I personally have nor researched Ni-Fi, but it last 100 years then why is every phone and toy not using them. I personally have a 3kw hybrid System, i can fee the grid and save money, but when the power goes out i have 4 x 105ah deep cycel batteried to run the lighting and a couple of things.

Actually, you save money by being fully off grid too, because you no longer have a power bill ever again. Once your equipment is paid for, power is free, and if the grid goes down, yours still works because you have a complete stand alone power grid, unlike grid tie.

"I personally have nor researched Ni-Fi, but it last 100 years then why is every phone and toy not using them."

The batteries are not sealed, and they are heavy. You have to add water every month, and they are around 1.2 to 1.5 volts each, so you need 10 of them just to make a 12 volt battery. If you will research them, you will find a certain company bought the original tech back in the day and sat on it. The batteries can last 100 years, and it's been proven some already have.

"I personally have a 3kw hybrid System, i can fee the grid and save money, but when the power goes out i have 4 x 105ah deep cycel batteried to run the lighting and a couple of things."

Well that is great, but most grid tied users don't have a battery bank, or a safe way to isolate their battery bank from the grid. Another problem people run into is trying to get the power company not to make you take power at peak rate times, and sell it at off peak times, which greatly makes a difference on how much money you actually make or save. At 3Kw, it just sounds like you are saving a few bucks, and I understand if you have more power than you need, or if you need more power hook into the grid.

I just think without an isolated battery bank it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, since if the Power Company's grid goes down, so does yours without the bank.

The reason I say just completely divorce yourself from the grid is, I have personally caught multiple power companies completely ripping me off over the years. One time I was in the NG, and was gone 15 days that month. My power bill tripled that month, even though instead it should of been a fraction of the month before, and that's just one example.

Another thing of concern is the radiation from the ZigBee transmitters on the smart meters, and the spying on us.

If you use Edison NiFi batteries you only have to buy them once it's a proven fact that people own the original batteries from the 1920's and those batteries still work. So you are wrong, there is a ROI, because once you got your system paid for, you always have free power. Thomas Edison said the NiFi batteries will last 100 years, and he has already been pretty much proven right as there are batteries almost that old that still work fine.

SteveD113 (author)KeithH192016-05-22

You said "the power company will let me tie into them", so it depends on the purpose of the solar. If it is to save money by lowering your bill, you want a grid tied system. You can do that if your power company allows it and allows for net metering. If you want to have backup power for when the grid goes down, the cheapest way is with a generator, but solar can be used if you don't mind paying 5-10 times the cost of grid power.

Just put your solar power off the grid, you can either go fully off grid or just have your solar off grid and on it's own wiring. An example would be to take just your refrigerator and lights off grid and on their own circuit.

kirksky23 (author)2011-09-17

Hi!good day to all,i would like to say its very very good if you have solar power grid,becouse it to helpful in our solar nature for the future of our children and stop air polution,and being like a distroyer..build your own solar energy system..thanks to all.....

SteveD113 (author)kirksky232017-04-07

Heh heh...Well said, Kirksky, well said.

VeronicaJacks (author)2016-08-24

If you want to make your own eco tool yourself just look for Inplix website. There is all you need to make it :)

SteveD113 (author)VeronicaJacks2017-04-07

I've looked at the inplix site. It advocates DIY panels, which are about the worst option out there. With the price of grid tie panels as low as it is, it makes no sense to build your own panels. They will cost around the same and only last a year or two.

JoshuaC20 (author)2016-09-06

Awesome post! I honestly love the idea of solar and am thinking of getting some panels myself. My only problem is that there are so many different types of solar panels out there. I recently learned about flexible solar panels from this website.

http://www.bestsolartech.com/best-flexible-solar-p...

My only question for you is are these type of solar panels good to use on a house? Or are they mainly used for things such as RVs and boats? They seem like they would be a good option, but idk the pros and cons of each. Any guidance would help!

SteveD113 (author)JoshuaC202017-04-07

For a house the best option is Grid-tie panels, they are the most power per dollar because they are made in such large quantities. With an efficient (MPPT) charge controller, they can also be used with batteries.

kwinana made it! (author)2017-01-26

Nice guide. I built my own 6.3 kWh ground mount array.

sohailwahab (author)kwinana2017-04-04

hi

can you please let me know, how did you make your solar system.

I do have 2kVA UPS(Inverter) with 12Volts, 175AH (2#) batteries.

i think all in need is solar panels 12Volts of suitable power (may be 1 kW) and one disconnector swithch to isolatet public power.

if you have any info, specificaitons, drawings etc, please do share with me.. at sohhailwahab@yahoo.com

sohail

Alden Tortem (author)2017-02-17

Good project ! Actually we can recondition any batteries and charge by solar panel. Thank you man !

iratozer (author)2017-01-30

I am NOT interested in hooking a solar array to the power grid. I want to convert most of the equipment in my home to 12 Volt. Most Motor Home equipment can run on 12 Volt. What do I need to consider?

Marcia-Anne (author)2017-01-28

Great, beats the pants off the solar hot water system we built 1n1970 here in the UK.

Anne

Ed de la Cerna (author)2016-10-08

Can you give a good option on this..
I have an existing solar set up with 1500 Watts Peak total. I'm
contented on its performance and was happy viewing my electric cost
slashed by few hundreds.
My plan is to add another 4 panels or 1000
watts peak to the existing solar set up I had and I'll using another set
of solar panels.
My
question is as follows: Assuming all is well as planned, Can I connect
the 220 volts output coming from the new separate inverter of my new
1000 set up to the existing 1500 watts peak set up inverter output?
My
other question is assuming it will work, will my output Voltage of 220
Volts stays at 220 Volts while the over all Amperage of my self generated
power coming form the 2 sets of 1500 Watt Peak and 1000 watt peak will
increase? Thanks a lot and kindly email your answer to philtronics@gmail.com.
Thanks again ED,...

DoItYolo (author)2016-05-30

Those who are interested in a convenient step by step filmed guide, visit: http://www.energybilldown.com/diy-home-alternative-energy-solar-system/

AaronJ7 (author)2015-07-27

Any tips on wiring the solar array to the house wiring?

SolarQueen (author)AaronJ72015-12-28

I made a video explaining how to select the right wire for your solar system. https://youtu.be/89u8R_aUFO4

SteveD113 (author)SolarQueen2016-05-19

Amy, your contributions on solarpaneltalk are great! And I think your youtube videos are great too.

ShaunteB (author)2016-04-17

You can take instructions from inplix website :-)

BrianT23 (author)2016-04-07

I was wonder if you have any information on adding a house battery for when the grid goes down. I realize it's not as economically advantageous as the original solar installation. biggest ques

GlennT17 (author)2016-02-05

They have really oversimplified a complicated process. If you go playing with your electricity to your home, you will likely burn your house down. And if you believe the electric company (who currently has a monopoly for your business) will pay you a premium for you to generate electricity, then you are very naive.

BrianT23 (author)GlennT172016-04-07

actually it is simple, the hardest part was the paper work to setup net metering. Which was worth it. The $1000 check at the ends of the year is great.

BrianT23 (author)GlennT172016-04-07

actually it is simple, the hardest part was the paper work to setup net metering. Which was worth it. The $1000 check at the ends of the year is great.