Make Your Own Photovoltaic Off-Grid System

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Introduction: Make Your Own Photovoltaic Off-Grid System

About: Awesome Electronics Tutorials, Projects and How To´s

In this project I will show you how I combined a 100W solar panel, a 12V 100Ah battery, a solar charge controller, an inverter and many complementary components to reconstruct the electrical wiring inside my garage and create a photovoltaic off-grid system. Let's get started!

Step 1: Watch the Video!

The video gives you all the information you need to create your own photovoltaic off-grid system. During the next steps though I will present you additional information to make the project easier to replicate.

Step 2: Order the Components!

Here you can find a parts list with example sellers.

Home Improvement Store:

NYM-J wire, JY(St)Y wire, LS-FL wire, wire clips, M16 installation conduit, junction boxes, light switch, sockets, wago terminals

Amazon.com:

100W Solar Panel: http://amzn.to/2sH5bMa

Solar wire + MC4 connectors: http://amzn.to/2rKdC4a

Solar Charge Controller: http://amzn.to/2sM8qBu

12V 100Ah Battery: http://amzn.to/2sGRQmT

Battery terminals: http://amzn.to/2sHedbM

Inverter: http://amzn.to/2sM6pW7

Reed switch: http://amzn.to/2sMqQC3

LED strip: http://amzn.to/2rtg8wo


Amazon.de:

100W Solar Panel: http://amzn.to/2rK1YXd

Solar wire + MC4 connectors: http://amzn.to/2soYg7p

Solar Charge Controller: http://amzn.to/2soVeA5

12V 100Ah Battery: http://amzn.to/2tBrTS3

Battery terminals: http://amzn.to/2sozvbp

Inverter: http://amzn.to/2tBqQSo

Reed switch: http://amzn.to/2tBxdVL

LED strip: http://amzn.to/2soZy2d

Step 3: Do the Wiring!

Here you can find the wiring plan along with reference pictures of my setup. Feel free to recreate my wiring but be careful when working with the inverter output since it can create 230V AC. And if something like this is your first electrical wiring project then it is always a good idea to get some help from a professional because a faulty wiring can lead to a fire hazard and other problems.

Step 4: Success!

You did it! You just created your own photovoltaic off-grid system!


Feel free to check out my YouTube channel for more awesome projects:

http://www.youtube.com/user/greatscottlab

You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for news about upcoming projects and behind the scenes information:

https://twitter.com/GreatScottLab

https://www.facebook.com/greatscottlab

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41 Comments

can you do a video on building a dog solar charge controller

'd be interested to hear your thoughts on how I could achieve these same results but without the battery. Using a 12v panel to directly power the 12v LED's when there was enough sun to do so, and as the sun sets, have them gradually dim until they turn off. A "solar skylight" type of setup.I imagine it would be easy to destroy the led's with high amperage if it was not done properly. There are many people here who know more about electricity than I do, so I figure I'd ask.

2 replies

Open circuit voltage on a 12v panel might be 22V, calculate current for that. What is the max current your led can take? Calculate R(resistance) = V / A (ohms law). Power of the resistor, Watts = V x A (the more powerful resistors are basically bigger in physical size)

You will definitely require current limiting resistors in your set up else you risk burning your LEDs. The frequent erratic highs and lows of the sun intensity may cause a burnout to the LEDs but a current limiting resistor while reducing the chances of but out will also work as a potentiometer.

I would probably leave the voltage at 12v instead of converting it if all you want is light. Plenty of 12v led lights that will allow for less power drain on battery

3 replies

Definitely, all sorts of things run off 12V these days. More efficient and safer.

Funny actually. Since long ago, many gadgets gave run off 12volts DC supply without we the users knowing it. The transistor radios, gramophone records, amplifiers are 12vots DC obtained from 240volts AC rectification.

I read up quite on the "war between Direct Current and Alternating Current" for transmission. AC won the war.

AC is safer, it doesn't sustain an arc as much. DC is still used eg NZ cook straight transmission is DC, it doesn't lose power to capacitance with the ocean like ac would.

I don't mean to pick (sorry, solar is my job :) you shouldn't run a 400W or larger inverter off the load output of the solar controller which is rated at 20A. 400W continuous inverter might surge to 800W, which is 66A from the 12V supply.

A 100Ah battery won't reliably run an inverter over 240W.

Re an earlier question, house mains sockets at 240V are rated at 10A typically. That's 2400W for one outlet... Don't even think about wiring a 600W or 400W inverter to this, it will end in tears! Use appropriate circuit breakers or fuses.

2 replies

Please my question: What amperage of 12volts AGM deep cycle battery would you size appropriately for a 100 watts solar panel with 20 amps 12/24 volts solar charge controller?

I had used a 18mah AGM that didn't last three months.

You're talking about the solar charger, but say nothing about the discharge. For best life don't run your AGM or other lead acid batteries at an average of more than 20% depth of discharge. For an 18ah battery that's 3-4ah depth of discharge. You could run a half amp led light for 7 hours , fine. But a 4A TV, only one hour... Without the led light running that day.

Your circuit applies 12 Volts to each LED . Is this just a mistake?

5 replies

I've had several years experience working with a very similar system
and using 12V LED lights is much more energy efficient. I've also had
several batteries fail to such an extent that they cannot power the
inverter for more than 15 minutes because of hard use however they can
still power LED lights for more than 8 hours!

It's probably too smaller batteries for the loading, so the batteries fail, maybe not the inverter.

Nonetheless, from my own experience, I think it's still more energy efficient to run your lights off of Direct Current. I've even had some success with running entire room lights off of 5volts mobile power bank supply. Only limiting factor for now is finding a way to rapidly top-up the charge to near 100% with a 6 hours overhead sun-hours following an overnight use.

They are not just simple LED. That are LED-Stripes which are constructed for use with a 12Volt supply.

That is one good set up. I have something similar. Although I had it hooked to only 18ah deep cycle AGM - I guess the reason the battery didn't last long as it must have been fried too quickly from the 100watts. But in my own set up, I use a display that has both amperage and voltage display with an option to switch it off to save power.

I use pure 12volts DC lighting in my home since conversion to AC and back to DC all reduce efficiency. I have some usb charging ports off of it too. The other heavier gadgets sustain on 240VAC.

And now my question, what battery amperage would you recommend going with my 100 watts solar panel since the 18mah is apparently too small?

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It looks prety cool. You only forgot to leave the grid with angle matching the sun inclination.

Very nicely organized project. If I may suggest something. You always want to have some air gap between solar panel and roof so it cools off. Otherwise it looses a lot of efficiency when it heats up and also might fail soon. And completely sealing any air flow under it is super bad idea...