An increasing number of folks are deciding to try renewable energy options, and solar energy seems to be at the top of that list for most.
I also decided to give solar energy a try, in hopes of reducing my energy bills, and I was surprised with the many lessons I learned during the process.
Here are the four most important lessons I learned about solar panels during my DIY experiment:
1. Have a clearly defined goal before diving in
Why exactly are you looking to install solar panels? Are you looking for an emergency power system, a way to reduce your monthly electric bill, or are you looking to get off the grid?
Knowing the answers to these questions will make your quest a lot easier as you dive into the world of solar energy.
2. It’s really not as complicated as it seems
Despite the fact I’ve always been a mechanically-inclined person, I was still somewhat intimidated by the idea of installing solar panels without professional help. Those fears quickly dissipated when I started researching the process.
In reality, solar systems are surprisingly simple. You only need a handful of items to make a basic generator: a deep cycle battery, an on/off switch, a charge controller, a volt gauge, a solar panel, and a power inverter.
Connect the switch and volt gauge to the battery, connect the battery to the inverter, connect the current regulator to the battery, and then connect the regulator to the solar panel. That’s the basic concept behind solar generators. The rest is a matter of mathematics. To carry a larger load, you’ll need to install more panels and batteries.
3. It’s a lot cheaper to do it yourself
A commercially made solar generator can easily cost thousands of dollars, but you can significantly reduce your costs if you decide to do it yourself. The most expensive parts of the generator are the solar panels, and you can find those online for as low as $100. Other items are significantly cheaper, bringing the total cost of creating a small solar generator to around $300.
4. Spending a few bucks will save you money in the long run
We all love to save money when we can, but that isn’t necessarily the best idea when it comes to building solar generators. While you’re at it, you might as well spend a few bucks on safety mechanisms like fuses (in case something goes wrong in the circuit), and good quality wiring that won’t deteriorate in harsh weather.