Introduction: Small Home / Apt. Solar Electricity, & Save Money

Picture of Small Home / Apt. Solar Electricity, & Save Money

This Project can be used in many different ways / scenario's.

Example: A small Room, or Garage, Hut, Apt,. house, or huge biz. building. you will have to figure out what parts, supplies, materials to use, and How much POWER youll need or want.

Here is how / what i did for my Apt. (because im a Novice) There are some areas, i went Cheap, other areas i can add on too / upgrade, or change out, ect.

First: Think about what your going to be building, and how its going to be used. and the Cost you want to spend, and if in the future, are you going to upgrade and ect.

Here are the Steps to Start the project. (this is how i went about my APT.)

1. I live in an apt. so i had only so much Room. have a few Windows, and a Small Deck. Im looking at a large panel or 2. and 1 Window that faces the SUN. Make sure u find a location, That ALWAYS gets the MOST Sun, if not, youll be loosing some Watts. (in my situation about 7pm, the building gets in the way, its in shade, so... well, thats what i deal with. looseing about 1.5hrs of sun/watts.

2. Messured out my window. and searched for some different panels. ( found 200watt, 100watt, and some 15watts. for Portable use, like camping.) So i ordered a 200, 100, for now, just to start out on my journey. of saving some money.

3. what am i going to use for the solar system. (Me: mainly for TV, Radio, lights, ect.) (now i have found a few things, that i cant use. Because i went cheap. (by doing some research, and testing on my own. some things with my current setup. i can NOT use. Example: Fridge, AC, Microwave. (if u want to use everything, you will need a Pure sine wave inverter, + a 220ac inverter, for a Dryer. or other products...)

*** #3a. "My setup" Cons. the Inverter is cheap, and its called "Modified Wave Inverter" (if i want to use Fidge, AC, Microwave, I will need a "True Pure Sine Wave inverter" Cost 2x more. (Price example: Mod. Inverter 2000watt = $150.00 / Pure Inverter 2000watt = $300.00) this is where you need to really think about what type of devices youll be useing in your project. (home, apt, garage, ect.) do u want to use everything, or just a few items. How do u determine what devices are what.

*** #3b. Devices like TV, radio, ect. take AC power, converts down to DC. (These devices are fine for Modified Wave inverter) if anything like a AC motor like vaccume, Fridge, AC, compressor, these devices are AC only, and a Modified wave inverter either will struggle with makeing it run at 100% and it may act like running at 70% and or it can damage the motor / or it just wont Run. it might just power on for a sec. and die, or cause the inverter to blow its reset switch or fry / or somthing, its really a gamble. (for me, i took a gamble with AC motors, and i did a lot of research. (here are a few of AC motors that worked and didnt.)

***#3c. Devices:

Vaccume = worked at like 85%, and dont see much of a difference. many months going strong.

Fidge = Does not really work, (starts for a sec. but no go)

AC = Does not really work, (starts for a sec. but no go)

Box Fan = Works, but runs at 60%, and hums. (im currently running more test, like RPM meter. to see if its damaging the motor.

Shop tools, like Sander, saw, dremel, shop vac, = Works at like 80%, (not sure if damage is happing.)

Microwave = Does not really work, (starts for a sec. but no go)

LED bulbs = 50/50 iv used cheap china "Corn LED's (fried / dead in 30 days) but USA made LED bulbs, no problem at all. still working strong. (must be a IC / parts issue, the LEDs were burnt., the IC must over powered the LEDs. its got to be the AC/DC diod pack that cant handle the mod. sine wave.

4. Now i know what im going to Do. Time to Order some Parts

***4a. Must Needed Parts / and some optional parts (up to you. your call.)

***4b. A Must Have:

1. A Marine Battery, or any type of Wet Cell. 12v or 24v system. (iv seen some people now are tring Li-ion Bat.s) Make sure you get a wet cell that would "Match" the type of Solar system your building. Example: Small solar, small inverter, probley small wet cell, / if doing large solar, large inverter, large wet cell. (Please research)

2. An DC to AC inverter. 12v or 24v inverter system (Modified Sine Wave or True - Pure Sine Wave) & Watts. you will have to figure out what Items / devices youll be useing, like: TV, Radio, tools, vaccume, ect. Add all them up. or how they will be used. to get an idea what is total Watts. if you end up with 3000 watts, youll need 3000/6000 watt inverter. = (Normal use / Max used watts) Max is the start up of something Like a FAN or motor, it will use 3x the power at first start, once the motor maxes out, to full RPM, then it equals out, the power useage. to the normal Power. Example: Vaccume is 12amps, that is 1,200 watts at its Normal use, but when first starts up, it will hit 2,400 - 3,600 watts. so the inverter needs to be able to hit that. or else, it will either fry, or trip the reset switch.

3. Power Wire: to hook up Bat. to Inverter. 0awg - 10awg, depending on what AMPS & Watts. youll be useing.

4. Solar Panels (there are many types: 10watt - 200watt and higher. this project i did not go above 200. i used 15, 100, 200 watt panel / and then youll need Power wire for the Solar. that can very from 16awg - 8awg, See Wire chart below.

5. Charge Controller: There are many types: PWM vs MPPT (PWM cheap = under $40.00 and MPPT above $60.00, you will need to research on your own. what the difference is. but in general, MPPT = Maximum Power Point Tracking VS. PWM =Pulse Width Modulation ( i just went cheap. PWM), when i get serious about SOLAR, i will get MPPT to maximize my full potential power.

6. Solar Panel Cable Connectors.

***4c. Extra's parts. (but you really want to consider these items)

1. Battery to Inverter Heavy AMP FUSE = ANL 200 or 300 amp Fuse holder 2-0 AW-Gauge

2. Solar Panel "Y" or "T" connectors. to hook up many panels, in Parallel or Series, to get either 12v or 24v system.

3. Other random parts, Battery terminal connectors, Different Wire sizes, for all the panels, Bolts, wood, glue, wheels, ect...

Here are the Pics

Step 1: Wire GUIDE

Picture of Wire GUIDE

1. Think about what your going to do / setup / use in your project. then look at chart, to deturmine what Wires are needed.

Step 2: Bat & Inverter & Fuse.

Picture of Bat & Inverter & Fuse.

I made a Rolling box, to hold a Exide Deep Cycle Marine wet cell 12v, 675c-amps,105amp-hrs, then i had added a 2nd bat. a month later, needed more AMP / HRS.

On top a Centech 2000/4000 watt modified wave inverter. / and an extra USB fan, just because.

Excide Bat: Terminal Post Connectors, 0/2AWG wires, with coper Ring Lugs Connectors and a 200amp ANL Fuse Box

Step 3: Panels

Picture of Panels

here are the Solar panels, i went with. and have the 100watt in my window, and the 200watt on the deck supported by 2x4s, just zip tied to deck, so the LANLORD, wont complain about mounting it to anything. just the LBS of the panel and 2x4 is enough for the wind not to blow it over. and used 10awg wire, into the apt. hooked up to the Controler.

Step 4: Controler & Solar Connectors + T to Hook All Panels Up.

Picture of Controler & Solar Connectors + T to Hook All Panels Up.

The controller is a PWM. and the conectors are M/F MC4, and a T - MC4 connector.

Step 5: Conclusion:

This project: i spent about a Month priceing everything out. at my local store, and online, Mostly EBAY.

This project was a just the begining, plan on going bigger and better, once i buy a House.

This projected cost was about...

2 batts = 180.00

Solar panels, 200watt, 100watt = 300.00

Controler = 30.00

Inverter = 150.00

Wire = about 40.00

Parts, connectors, fuse, ect. = 30.00


This project, is being used for my Apt. living RM: TV, Blueray, Sony HD audio, LED lights, and i get about 6 hrs of run time. (full charge of 12.8v down to 10.9v. When the inverter Beeps at me for 1min. before i quits / powers off.)

Now... that is a very short time, Yes. but i work 5 days a week, and do other things in my life, so no big deal, and im going to get another 200watt. and another Bat. soon. this was my very first time. and maybe i may add a Wind Gen. to my setup. will see.

My Electric Bill. was about 75.00 per month, now its 25.00 per month. the only thing that is being used on my BILL is Fridge, Washer / Dryer , AC. because i dont have a 220ac inverter yet.

Well i hope this helps someone. to save some money, and have fun, and Save the earth.


vormstudio (author)2017-10-10


Nice instructable. How long does it take to fully charge the batteries with this setup?

renegeek (author)vormstudio2017-10-11

i have a 200watt, 100watt, and 2 batts. so it takes about a full day, or 1.5 days to fully charge, Im in MI.USA. and we have clouds, and i have the apt. buld. that blocks 7pm sun. so just depends on the day, and such. so... i may need to get another 200watt to compansate for some loss, in this setup. just to watch some TV for 6hrs. or so... (its a LCD tv, so it uses lots of watts, i may buy a LED tv. to help with WATT usage.) and useing LED lights in the apt. help to, not useing old incondes. bulbs.)

RoboticsWS (author)2017-10-09

Very important, you don't have a inverter for 220 ac... yet... but very nice project and good luck with the conversion to 220ac, please share the update of this project ... regards!

SamiH17 (author)2017-10-03

You should correct your mppt vs pwm comparrison as it is really the complete opposite of what you stated here. Also your charge controller id pwm not mppt.

renegeek (author)SamiH172017-10-04

I corrected it, thanks. just so much to document. sometimes i loose track of what is what. LOL.

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