Introduction: Make Your Own Photovoltaic Off-Grid System

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

Comments

author
gravityisweak (author)2017-06-22

'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.

author
CraigH23 (author)gravityisweak2017-07-15

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)

author
Xanderone2 (author)gravityisweak2017-07-15

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.

author
FosterC2 (author)2017-06-20

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

author
CraigH23 (author)FosterC22017-06-21

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

author
Xanderone2 (author)CraigH232017-07-15

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.

author
CraigH23 (author)Xanderone22017-07-15

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.

author
CraigH23 (author)2017-06-21

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.

author
Xanderone2 (author)CraigH232017-07-15

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.

author
CraigH23 (author)Xanderone22017-07-15

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.

author
tytower (author)2017-06-18

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

author
shadders (author)tytower2017-06-20

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!

author
CraigH23 (author)shadders2017-06-21

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

author
Xanderone2 (author)CraigH232017-07-15

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.

author
whampe (author)tytower2017-06-20

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

author
GreatScottLab (author)tytower2017-06-19

No

author
richlang made it! (author)2017-06-20

I built a similar system would love to know how to remote monitor.

The Bluetooth module is not listed in your parts list, can you provide a source? I was using an inverter but opted to go with a full 12v system to get longer run time since the inverter was costing me efficiency and it made a lot of noise. I am powering 10 LED lights, and a bluetooth music system.

Junction Box-Wall.jpgInside Box.jpgBatt Box.jpgLED Lights.jpgPV Panels.jpg
author
Xanderone2 (author)richlang2017-07-15

I have a similar set up. 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?

Sorry I dunno how I can attach pictures to this reply.

author
WannaDuino (author)richlang2017-06-29

Well done friend,

Now that is a nice project OFF THE GRID 100%, awesomeness.

I also been busy with a 100Watt 18Volt panel and some smaller projects.

check my Youtube channel.

WannaDuino The Real LiVe.

author
GustasB1 (author)richlang2017-06-21

V.E direct smart bluetooth dongle

author
Xanderone2 (author)2017-07-15

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?

WP_20170715_08_49_22_Pro.jpgWP_20170715_08_49_42_Pro.jpgWP_20170715_09_07_51_Pro.jpgWP_20170715_09_08_46_Pro.jpgWP_20170715_09_09_13_Pro.jpg
author
JoãoP142 (author)2017-07-11

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

author
bratan (author)2017-06-26

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...

author
WannaDuino (author)bratan2017-06-29

Yep!

author
tytower (author)2017-06-18

Its also very expensive . $250 for an AGM battery so better to go to a lithium . Your solar panels are too expensive in the states . We buy them for 50c a watt in Australia now . better to get a 1000 watt inverter and be able to run a small drill as well

author
WannaDuino (author)tytower2017-06-22

he is from GERMANY

author
tytower (author)WannaDuino2017-06-29

Well its still too high isn't it .

author
nic.bryan.73 (author)tytower2017-06-22

A 100Ah lithium battery is far more expensive than AGM. Like in the 1000 dollar range.

author
tytower (author)nic.bryan.732017-06-29

No about $400 here

author
carlos enriquel (author)2017-06-22

tengo un sistema similar, con 13 luminarias led de 9watt a 12v, panel de 100 watt, sin inversor, llevo 3 años y no tengo problemas si utiliza bombillas fluorescentes estas realizan un arranque en alto voltaje lo que hace que se utilice la bateria en extremos cada vez que prende una lampara.

author
FloydT1 (author)2017-06-20

Thank You for your help :)

author
tim.nelin (author)2017-06-20

Since you say that this inverter will output 230 volts, can it be used to power a household through the fuse panel in the house?

author
FosterC2 (author)tim.nelin2017-06-20

Yes it can. It is very dangerous to do that because of possible back feed ether way to electric lines outside. Also depending on the inverter and battery your power supply is very limited

author
FloydT1 (author)2017-06-20

Can you explain the proper sequence for connecting everything?
#1 Solar
#2 Battery
#3 Charge Controller
I have heard that you have to do it in the proper sequence..???
Thank You

author
ElectroFrank (author)FloydT12017-06-20

The general safety principle is to work from the load back to the power source. This avoids the risk of live wires shorting out and causing fires or killing people. Basically, make (and check) all connections with the power source disconnected.

author
FloydT1 (author)ElectroFrank2017-06-20

So, if I understand correctly. I would cable the batteries, then run to the mppt and then connect with the panels?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Floyd

author
FosterC2 (author)FloydT12017-06-20

You would start at the lights or whatever you are powering and then connect your switch, then battery then charging system, then solar panels

author
smartrem (author)2017-06-20

Great project, I like how you added the inverter so you get 220V.

author
FosterC2 (author)smartrem2017-06-20

Yes they make ac120 and ac220 converters that will allow for household plug style use. Be aware that the wattage output vary from low cost inverters to high cost inverters so you might not be able to run a fridge or a heater but you can run a led tv or video game for awhile

author
shadders (author)2017-06-20

Good project!

I see that your charge controller is a fused one. I have come across several that are not fused so it is a good idea to include a fuse in your battery supply line if that is the case. Personally I would find it handy on your drawing to note that the reed switch is activated by the door.

author
RonC48 (author)2017-06-19

Very neat installation. Well done and thanks for sharing!

author
Oggar2 (author)2017-06-19

Using this alongside a small wind turbine would be great

author
MindDivert (author)2017-06-18

awesome project!. will make my DC power supply for my projects arduino etc. Remote Green electric power supplies.

author
MindDivert (author)MindDivert2017-06-18

remote areas for weather logging.

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