Hi. I've been interested in renewables for a while now. Our society can't continue to work on oil, and with rising gas prices and more frequent power outages, solar energy seems to be the way to go. The main problem that inspired me to make this system comes from my love of technology. When my iPhone and laptop run out of juice, my life becomes very primitive. With the goal of keeping all my electronics up and running no matter what the weather and grid status is the main reason I made this system and instructable. This is my system and how it functions. I'll start with the original setup and show how it has evolved over time.

Step 1: The Original setup

My original setup started off with a 10 watt panel I built myself from some cells I found off of eBay. These were the tougher CIGS cells rather than monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The cell was originally rated at 15 watts but because of all the inefficient soldered connections (I wasn't that great at soldering yet), it made about 10 watts. Each black square is one cell that makes approx. 5 volts. The voltage was combined in series to create around 20 volts, and then the amperage was adjusted with wiring the strings of 20 volts into parallel. I'm not really going to go in a crazy amount of detail because this is explained on hundreds of other instructables. This amount of power is ideal for maybe some DC lights and charging cell phones. It's not nearly enough for even my laptop. The inverter would whine and the adapter on my laptop would begin to buzz. Probably not a good sign!
*Note* The third picture to this step is a quickly drawn schematic of how everythig in this system currently works. It will help with trying to understand the basic function of the system if you are new to solar for simplicity. I'll try to include a schematic after every major change to clarify.
<p>Nice set-up for a home made DIY solar energy kit. I know some people aren't big on building the parts themselves, there are some good tier 1 products you can get and use for a plug n' play solar power system. </p><p>http://www.solaris-shop.com/blog/building-a-quality-and-affordable-solar-power-system/</p>
<p>Very interesting progect. just interesting the price of this invention. I was interesting in such equipment some time ago and I know that it is very expencive. Just look on the price for adapters http://hardware.nl/sma?p=5 I'm sure it's better and cheaper to make efforts and to do such system by your own hands</p>
<p>Battery on concrete? Actually its more to do with temperature <br>differences during charging and discharging I think . Concrete is cold <br>and stays that way holding the base of the battery cold too. The heat <br>though moves to the top by convection and during charging the top gets <br>hotter. Stress cracks and warps the plates. It protects your battery too if you sit it on a plastic tray on top of a sheet of some sort of insulation. You will need to hose off battery tops from time to time and a tray catches spent/spilt acid . Try leaving a gal nail or two on top and you well see what I mean.</p>
<p>And use copper impregnated anti sieze grease all over the terminals if you want them trouble free. If corroded then pour boiling water over the tops to clean up terminals and connectors then grease.</p>
<p>hi please tell me which cells i've to use and how?</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>I have a solar panel of 12watt. 16v DC. I am using it with PWM invertor of 55watt to charge the battery of 12v 7ah. But it cannot run a fan with AC motor. Please suggest what needs to be done.</p><p>Fan is of 45-50watt.</p>
<p>Impresionat! But you need some batteries. Here you will find a small guide how should Choosing the right batteries <a href="http://www.patriotdirect.org/choosing-the-right-batteries/" rel="nofollow">http://www.patriotdirect.org/choosing-the-right-batteries/ </a></p><p>And in this article you'll find the components you need </p><p><a href="http://www.patriotdirect.org/the-components-of-an-electrical-solar-power-system/" rel="nofollow">http://www.patriotdirect.org/the-components-of-an-electrical-solar-power-system/</a></p>
<p>I am looking for detail about your product place leave a messages . When I post this, I am looking for more information .</p>
<p>Impressive system! I'm curious how much is the total cost? This is nice for off the grid, but I'm thinking about buying a simple on-grid plug-in system. It seems to be the easiest way to offset your usage with solar. Lots of info here: <a href="http://www.pluginsolar.org/" rel="nofollow">http://www.pluginsolar.org/</a></p>
<p>this setup is impressive!</p>
I was wondering I am looking to build a solar charger to charge maybe my devices while also having a little bit of battery storage so far I have about 20-30 .518 volt at 4.01 amp solar cells what would I need to complete this project?
<p>My boss was talking to me about inplix -&gt; http://inplix.com , after seeing it on the news. She said she has saved almost 70% on her utility bill and I'm thinking about giving this new program a shot. Has anybody else used it? It seems to be super popular.</p>
<p>If you are interested in learning exactly how to generate power and reduce your bill then this is the perfect resource for you! With the ever increasing costs of living, there is no better time than right now to stop throwing money out the window and start generating our own electricity. Check http://inplix.com</p>
<p><a href="http://inplix.com/" rel="nofollow">http://inplix.com</a> </p>
<p>If you are interested in learning exactly how to generate power and reduce your bill then this is the perfect resource for you! With the ever increasing costs of living, there is no better time than right now to stop throwing money out the window and start generating our own electricity. Check http://inplix.com and learn more about it.</p>
<p>If you are interested in learning exactly how to generate power and reduce your bill then this is the perfect resource for you! With the ever increasing costs of living, there is no better time than right now to stop throwing money out the window and start generating our own electricity. Check http://inplix.com and learn more about it.</p>
<p>I think you'll find that it is better for a sump pump to be run less frequently, for a longer time... In other words, rather than 15 seconds per minute, 45 seconds for 3 minutes would be less damaging to the pump.... The constant starting/stopping is what's really bad for the motor..... I have one pump that usually runs (as is rated to run) continuously, because it recirculates a fish pond in the yard... But, if it's just for de-watering (drainage) in order for your pump to run longer, either the sump pit needs to be wider (but not necessarily deeper), or to have a separate long-interval float (and maybe a deeper sump).... In the last option, the pump goes into the water deeper, but the float actuates where you want it to (usually several inches or more below the floor), and the float keeps pump on until it reaches the either the top of the pump (kept submerged), or less as long as the pump stays on longer.... In any case, 15 seconds is a pretty short cycle-on time....</p>
<p>Why pay a huge amount like $1000's for utilization of solar or wind power when you can have the opportunity to build your own home made solar system for less than $200. You can visit http://inplix.com website for more information and a extremely relyable guide to building solar panels.</p>
<p>That is true. Solar panels are to expensive these days. I bought good tool from inplix last week and now I have my own solar panel</p>
<p>Make your own solar pannel..</p><p>How To Make Your Own Solar Panels</p><p>http://goo.gl/DQGO0Y</p><p>http://goo.gl/DQGO0Y</p><p>http://goo.gl/DQGO0Y</p>
<p>Very nicely done. I didn't know at first that this is much simpler to build a solar power system. thank you very much for posting. God bless</p>
<p>I lived off the grid for 26 years, using a similar setup (just a bit bigger). Now I am on the grid, and I use a small grid-tie inverter rather than voltage controllers, batteries, and inverters. It seems to be a great savings if you are on the grid. Of course, I still use my solar panels !</p>
I like this solar stuff allot. You keep updating your systems and for us novices it would be help if you placed a price tage on the new stuff you add. Doesn't have to be exact just what you paid would give us all a better idea of the cost. Thanks Grandpablabe
In your drawing on the last slide, you show two negative wires - or circuits - with a fuse in them. Why is the negative side fused and the positive side only has the one fuse at the battery positive? Shouldn't all these fuses be in the positive run?
I seem to be the only one to know this(no one else seems to comment on it). But a 3 stage charger is not good for a loaded system. If you are drawing power from the battery while its in absorbtion it will confuse the charge controller into thinking that the battery isnt charged. Absorbtion hold voltage constant and watchs the amperage until it falls low indicating full charge. If the system is loaded it senses that alot of current is still flowing and its not fully charged. This will lead to boiling and overcharging. In a loaded solar system it should always be a 2 stage charger with just bulk and float. This protects the battery. Although as you stated before a 2 stage charger would waste a little more power when its in float but it will prevent accidental overcharge. In an unloaded system such as for emergencies only a 3 stage system would work best but that is not the case here. By using a 3 stage charger you will have to fill it with water more often and drastically shorten the life of your battery.
This is a amazing project. A great place to find the necessary solar components for a project like this is at <a href="http://www.siliconsolar.com" rel="nofollow">Silicon Solar</a>. They offer a wide variety of quality solar panels and many other solar other accessories.<br> <br> Check out their solar panels and cells:<br> <a href="http://www.siliconsolar.com/shop/solar-store/solar-panels-cells/" rel="nofollow">http://www.siliconsolar.com/shop/solar-store/solar-panels-cells/</a><br> <br>
I have just favorited you. your work is very interesting. Have ever played with gell cell sealed batteries? They have the advantage of being able to be taken down to zero and come back quickly. I have rolled dune buggies with these as back ups and with 30 watts of solar got the winch working well enough to right it and start.
This space is really about experimenting ,learning, and having conversations for new possibilties. there may be some waste in the learning curve but it keep others from making the same mistakes over again.
Yes let's please put this one to rest once and for all,in the 1910s to the 30s Battery bodies were made out of hardwood. especially Henry Ford's model Ts and tractors. His thinking, It's on rubber tires so who cares it's insulated anyway. Remember electric start was a bonus because these vehicles all had handcrank starters.
Thanks for the post. Home made solar panel is an amazing and important thing.....<br> I want to make one like that and for that searched over the internet<br> And then find a<em><strong> <a href="http://topdiysolarpanels.com/" rel="nofollow">Homemade Solar Panels Blog</a></strong></em> ...<br> Where an engineer gives tips how to make homemade solar panels..<br>
Everyone who is reading this, I just want to say from my own personal experience (which you can see in my instructable) that websites like the homemade solar panels blog mentioned in Paul Janes' post are PURE LIES!!! Being that I made a solar panel myself, I will tell you straight out that it's work. Working every evening in my free time, it took me 2 WEEKS to build a 15 watt panel. This is a minuscule amount of power compared to what an extremely energy efficient home uses. Now imagine building 3000 watts worth of panels? Sure, it is cheaper, but who really has that kind of time? <br> <br>There are many benefits to buying panels. The most important is being that they typically have a nice 20 to 25 year warranty that protects just about everything. Home made panels? They can't possibly survive that long because they aren't sealed in a vacuum in 99.9% dust free conditions with zero moisture. Not to say that you can't build a very nice solar panel that will last for a very long time, but for the amount of time and energy it takes to make them, it's just not economical. <br> <br>Companies like the one mentioned are scams. They get you to invest big bucks into their cells only for you to find out that youll never complete all the panels. <br> <br>So, to end this ramble, I would suggest to all of you that want to build solar panels (and I'd encourage anyone to build one in order to fully understand how these things work, or if they need a very small amount of power), but be aware that building them yourself is not the way to lower your electric bill. <br> <br>For some REAL information about building solar panels, take a look at http://mdpub.com/solar/index.html . This was the general template I used to build mine, and its still running after two years in the sun!
Thanks for this. I've been doing a lot of research for <a href="http://skylineenergyusa.com/index-2.html" rel="nofollow">residential solar panel installation in Los Angeles</a> and this is perfect. I hope this works, thanks again.
Good instructable! <br>I have that same volt meter! Got it for 12 dollars, my favorite tool too.
Where did you get that volt meter? What is the make/model? I really like it. Seems like a simple way to monitor things passively.
I got mine at my local Walmart, in the automotive section.
I got it from Northern tool I think. It was only about 10 bucks. It has a nice rubber casing over it (because we all know it's going to be dropped from time to time). I tried looking for it on their website, but I couldn't find it... I wonder if its discontinued...
Yea, I love that meter. Only thing is the amp meter part just broke. Checked the fuse and it was fine. But for the price, who cares?
Did you test over 10 amps? <br />The DC 10 amp part is not fused, only the miliamp part is fused.
Ahhh. Now I see. Guess I shot the amp reading part. Still is very accurate for voltage, though. I'll have to pick up another one from harbor frieght.. I was wondering what gave in it. Now I know. Thanks!
im a beginner but do you think if you put a schlotzsky diode on the positive out put of the solar panel and then connected it to some type of capacitor whos voltage is well over the max out put of the solar panel voltage and then hook a resistor to the capacitor to bring the voltage down to a voltage that the charge controller can handle do you think this would make the voltage completely stable to the controllers without any voltage fluctuation and maybe the controllers wont burn out?
The controllers don't burn out. They're designed to handle the 20+ volts from the solar panel. When the entire system is connected, the solar panel can &quot;see&quot; the battery, and it's voltage is limited to slightly above the battery's voltage (That's how all charging sources work. The battery will pull down the voltage until it's slightly above). Since the solar panel is still making the same amount of power, it trades voltage for amperage. For example, open circuit, my 100 watt panel makes 5 amps @ 20 volts, or 100 watts (5*20) or about 8.5 amps @ 12 volts. Either way you put it, the output is exactly the same. The only reason my first controller burned out was due to poor design and over complexity. All my other Xantrex controllers are running fine. <br> <br>ALL solar panels come with a diode built in. Otherwise, during the night the panel will pull electricity backwards, discharging the battery. <br> <br>Would your idea work? Yes. It would be a good way to limit voltage. The only problem I could see is when the panel becomes shaded or as the sun sets. That's why the controllers are made and designed to take such a range. My Xantrex C35 is capable of regulating voltage from 12 - 55 volts. WAY more than I would ever really think of putting into a 12v system. And by the time the sun sets, it's not really worth all the effort and losses just to gain a couple more watts. <br> <br>Thanks for commenting, and good luck! <br> <br>
I really hate to disagree with you about all solar panels coming with blocking diodes. I have a pair here that do not have blocking diodes built into them. How ever all quality charge controllers have blocking diodes built into them.
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Solar energy is the infinitely available and easily accessible source of energy that anyone can utilize. Technology development and man's unstoppable desires have made solar energy available for many residential as well as commercial uses. <br> <br><a href="http://ratemytradie.net.au/electrician-perth" rel="nofollow"><b>Electricians Perth</b></a>.
Actually, if solar were the way to go, society would have done it by now. The problem is, to make all these renewable products, you need vast amounts of oil too (to make them) and the batteries are all toxic disposal problems by themselves. <br> <br>That said, if I weren't renting I'd have built a solar system for my house by now. It's still expensive to do, but as you said, the world can't just keep going the way it is. I think it is more rational to accept that all renewable energy should ben combined with oil products, to definitely converse more energy consumption without having to pay half your salary for it. I'm looking forward to the day that happens in some small degree. Good instructable.
I agree with you on some points, and disagree on others. The idea with solar panels is that you make enough off of oil to start making more through solar. The future for the renewable energy industry does not rely solely on everyone having an off-grid system and toxic batteries. The entire utility grid needs to adopt this style. If everyone were to have panels on their roof pumping juice directly into the grid, there would be no loss from batteries. It would be much more efficient and probable. <br> <br>You were very specific about solar, but solar is NOT the 100% solution to our problems. The only way our entire grid system as we know it could function is with a giant hybrid system of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. During the day humans use the most electricity. That is also when solar production is at its highest. During the night, the rapid change in temperature causes more wind, all of which can help compensate the night load. Hydro and geothermal are extremely reliable 24/7 resources. PLUS... in the United States, the east coast has sun before the west, and the west has it longer than the east. If our grid system could go from coast to coast, you could essentially have 8 hours of constant solar input per day around the country. In the end, the only reason we still would need oil is so the fat cats who own oil reserves can make a few million a year. <br> <br>As you said, it is expensive, but if gas prices can take another hit, we can expect the price per watt to fall to $1. That's something very promising and reasonable.
Don't believe the hype that solar would have been adopted by now it it made financial sense. The original funding of fossil fuel and nuclear far surpasses what &quot;green&quot; power receives now. so basically you have the upstart trying to battle the entrenched establishment. That is always a hard fight. A quick search turned up these numbers(websites included and they have links to where their info came from for further research) <br />&quot;http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/WebHomeCostOfNuclearPower <br /> <br />Given the history of Nuclear Plant construction in the U.S.A., the financial industry sees the construction of the new generation of reactors as a risky investment and demands a premium on capital lent for the purpose. The Energy Bill recently passed by the US Congress assumes this risk and provides production credits of 1.8 cents per KW-Hr for the first 3 years of operation. This subsidy is equivalent to what is paid to Wind Power companies and is designed to encourage new nuclear reactor construction in the USA. <br /> <br />If the AP1000 lives up to its promises of $1000 per KW construction cost and 3 year construction time, it will provide cheaper electricity than any other Fossil Fuel based generating facility, including Australian Coal power, even with no sequestration charges. This promise appears to have been unfulfilled. The cost of the first AP1000 is expected to be over $3500 per KW. <br /> <br /> <br />http://www.edf.org/energy/smart-grid-overview <br /> <br />about one quarter of the electricity we pay for is wasted because our household appliances operate when they&rsquo;re not needed. <br /> <br /> <br /> Approximately 10% of electricity generated is lost in the transmission and distribution system, costing consumers roughly $25 billion annually. <br /> Power demand rose nearly 30% between 1990 and 2009, resulting in a rising number of power outages and blackouts, which now cost the nation at least $150 billion per year. <br /> <br />Over the next 25 years an estimated $1.5 trillion will be spent upgrading and expanding the electric grid. The choice is between building a whole new fleet of wasteful, inexpensive fossil fuel power plants or creating a flexible, efficient and resilient smart grid.&quot; <br /> <br />Fossil fuels and nuclear is not so cheap when the cost of environmental damage(which we WILL have to deal with eventually. Also the CDC has estimated that right now 3.1 million people die every year due to the pollution caused by fossil fuels(this is easily looked up) it is is killing that many imagine the health affects and doctor bills associated with those affects. When ALL the costs are factored in &quot;green&quot; energy is much cheaper than fossil fuels. But to make it work we must stop this more society we have developed. Appliances that never really cut off just to save us a few seconds of inconvenience is retarded. For instance I actually watch my TV maybe 5 hours a month but It wants to burn electricity 24/7 just so I don't have to wait 60 seconds for it to reprogram the channels when I do turn it on. Really? We're that spoiled? And I know some of the satellite systems use the exact same amount of energy when turned off as when they are on, meaning the only difference is the red &quot;off&quot; light comes on when you turn it off. <br /> <br />This wasteful spoiled consumption is what we must stop if renewables are to ever work for us. And do we really need to live in houses that are so huge compared to just a few generations ago? It's stupid. No family of four needs 2,000 SQ'FT 1,000 is more than enough and most of the world makes it quite well on less than half that. In fact, in some of the poorer nations a family of 6-7 makes do with well less than 300. What makes us so privileged that we need to waste so many resources on our dwelling and energy to power it? <br /> <br />The price of energy will go up and down, but it will always go up in the long run, guaranteed. We will never have a 20 year period go by where it's cheaper at the end than the beginning. <br /> <br />the total cost of fossil is many times higher than we pay the utility company, we just don't associate it since it's paid in taxes. and not even that covers the true cost we have to pay in extra medical bills, funerals and eventual clean up. Nuclear always gets touted as cheap, but it always seems to cost much more than the original quoted price, and even then you have to pay hundreds of millions at the end to decommission the plant and then there's the cost of disposal of the waste( not chump change by any means) <br /> <br />If the numbers from that second link or accurate we have close to 175 billion a year in wasted electricity. that could be drastically reduced by spending that money to upgrade our houses to use less and making it law that appliances and electronics must turn off when they are turned off. Then after a few years of doing that we could put that 175 billion to work adding solar and wind, not to mention using the billions we would spend building fossil fuel plants to add more solar and wind instead. With the energy savings from the few years of home improvements and stopping the waste of appliances and electronics <br />I think we would currently have more than enough base load energy production that wind and solar could more than make up the difference, and we could probably shut some fossil plants down(remember we waste about 25% of our electricity by appliances using it when not needed. Imagine the benefits if we just stopped that waste, and it's easy to do) <br /> <br />Sorry for the long rant, But you're doing a good thing with this 'ible and don't let the naysayers discourage you. You're doing more than just saving a few bucks, you're also helping reduce the poisoning of our planet, which is indeed absolutely priceless. I encourage you and others to read those two links there is a wealth of information in them. i also encourage all to Google something like &quot;CDC study 3.1 million deaths per year from fossil fuel&quot; It will help you see there is a cost to fossil fuels well beyond what we pay in our bill. You and all your loved ones are being poisoned. <br /> <br />OK, I'm done. :-)
I never really looked at the deaths caused by using fossil fuels and it makes complete sense. I agree with you on nuclear. Look at Germany's progress. Even though they get FAR less sun than the northern U.S. (where I am) they still produces about 40% of their power straight from solar (and here we are wondering why we can't honestly do the same). After the Fukushimi nuclear power plant became unstable in 2011, Germany instantly opted to close its remaining nuclear power plants. If there's ever a leader to look to, Germany is it. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany). <br /> <br />As far as grid ineffeciency goes, there's not a ton we can do about it. The only thing I can think of to reduce those losses is to have areas with specific resources harness those resources. For example, Arizona has the most solar irridance of the United States by far. If they were able to provide all of the state's power through solar, they could essentially lose those transmission costs altogether. <br /> <br />I know I'm ranting, too, but you posed a good issue. Phantom loads (things that consume power even when turned off) need to go. A few weeks ago, just as an experiment, I connected a 23 inch LCD monitor to my solar setup. The monitor is extremely efficient and consumes about 30 - 40 watts running. HOWEVER, when the computer is turned off the monitor consumes 10 watts just sitting and waiting to be turned on. That doesn't seem like much, but 10 watts * 24 hours is 240 watt hours per day WASTED. Right now, my system produces approx. 500 watt hours per day ON A GOOD DAY. Then, every night I lose 120 watt hours to the outoor lighting. After all the losses from the latter, I end up with only 140 watt hours left, which is about enough to keep my laptop and cell phone working. It may not seem like much, but you're definetly right about how much is wasted just waiting to be turned on. If this is one monitor, I don't even want to know how much is wasted in the entire house. <br /> <br />Sorry for ranting again, but you definetly brought on some good topics and numbers. Thanks!
Ok. I love where this conversation is going. <br> <br>The next obvious step is to figure out an effective (and preferably cheap) method to force devices to turn off entirely such as a switch between the outlet and the plug of the device. If possible, this device would be removable, so it can be used in apartments or other areas where a permanent installation isn't possible. <br> <br>It may also be prudent to have the &quot;control switch&quot; on a few feet of cord, so outlets that are difficult to access can still be switched off. <br> <br>I know that a relay is likely to use some power even when in the &quot;off&quot; state, but I think its consumption will be small enough to be either negligible, or very close to that (I have no data to back me up, but that is what would seem to make sense to me, at least).
Why would an off relay use any power? All a relay is is a coil of wire. If you don't supply it with any electricity it certainly can't suck the stuff out of the air. Well, it could, if there was a magnetic field moving near it, but that is a conversation for another day, or my name is Michael Faraday.<br> <br> Or were you talking about a normally closed relay that you would have to energize its coil in order to open the contacts? That would indeed use some power in order to attain an off state.<br> <br> Power strips have switches on them, so if you want to stop an appliance from drawing any power when not is use plug into that then simply flip the power strip off.<br> <br> But first realize that lordgarion514 is completely full of it with their 25% of the electricity figure. Perhaps some appliances use 25% power when off, but don't for a minute think that 25% of power is being wasted overall. First off residential consumption is only 27% of the grid load. So saying there is a 25% waste is like saying we're wasting 98% of power. You don't think it is that bad do you? More likely lordgarion514 is playing fast and loose with some of the statistics.<br> <br> Those appliances that are drawing such a significant percentage of their load &quot;off&quot; aren't typically big current drawing devices to begin with. I mean how many watts do you think your cable box is sucking back?<br> <br> Tree huggers are claiming 55 watts but the actual figure is likely closer to 25. On par with leaving one 100 watt equivalent CFL bulb running.

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