How to build battery bank for solar power system by using deep cycle batteries
there are 4 major types of solar power system according to its application – on grid solar, off grid solar, and hybrid solar power system.
1) On grid – solar farm
It is solar power plant, also called “solar farm”. This is mega-watt huge solar power system works as a power plant to generate electricity to publics or private use. Solar panels connect to DC- AC inverter and send electricity to the AC grid. In most cases, it doesn’t need any battery as energy storage since all solar energy is sent to grid.
2) On grid – net metering
It is home or office size solar power system. On Grid – net metering system can save your electricity bills. AC loads are directly supplied by solar power instead of grid. When solar panel generate more electricity than demand of AC loads, those surplus solar energy will be sold back to grid.
3) Off grid
This is independent stand-alone solar power system without connecting to AC grid. Our LWI high performance gel deep cycle solar battery can provide long service life for off-grid solar power solution. Off-Grid solar power system gives you completely self-sustainable solar energy anytime, anywhere.
Hybrid solar power system combines the advantages of “On Grid net metering ” and “Off grid” system. AC loads are supplied by solar power directly, the surplus solar energy can be used to charge batteries or sell back to grid. The batteries are charged by AC grid in cloudy day and night. Battery can be used to supply AC loads in day or night whenever grid electricity rate is expensive. AC loads also secured by LWI high quality gel deep cycle batteries when grid is failure (blackout).
What is battery bank for solar power system ?
After understanding 4 major types of solar power systems, let’s talking to battery bank. The battery bank means several batteries with parallel and series connection set up into an energy storage bank, which store solar energy from solar panel and provide electricity to loads via DC-AC inverter. Battery bank is core item in a solar power system as an energy storage.
What is the difference between a Standby battery and a deep cycle battery ?
First, we should talking about the application of battery Generally speaking, there are two major application of industrial battery : standby use and cycle use.
Standby use – emergency power backup for UPS, telecom base station, and security system. Battery is always fully charged and in standby condition as a power backup, the battery are used only when grid power failure, the battery power supply AC loads via DC-AC inverter during blackout.
VRLA AGM and VRAL GEL battery are designed for standby use.
The GEL battery is specially well knowns as its longer standby life in extreme weather environment.
- deep Cycle use – power source for e-scooter, e-mobility, e-bike and renewable energy
Battery is always being used every day as a power source. We call it “one cycle” when battery being fully charged and deeply discharged once.
VRLA AGM deep cycle battery, VRAL GEL deep cycle battery and Tubular deep cycle battery are designed for deep cycle application.
The GEL battery is specially well knowns as its longer standby life in extreme weather environment.
The Tubular battery is named by using tubular positive plate for extra longer cycle life which is almost triple times than AGM and Gel deep cycle battery
Why should we use deep cycle battery for solar power system ?
Obviously, battery in a solar power system is being charged in daytime by sun and discharged in cloudy day or night. Battery is acting as a solar energy storage device, it reserve solar power in sunny time and provide power in raining time or night. So solar battery is always being fully charged and deeply discharged. We should choose deep cycle battery for battery bank of solar power system.
How many battery should I have for my solar power system ?
it depends on how much AC loads, which are usually home electric appliance and how long they will be powered by batteries. For example, if you have 1500W AC loads and need to be powered by batteries for 3 hours. The calculation is :
1500W x 3 hours = 4500Wh, which means you need 4500Wh battery capacity If we use 12V 150Ah gel deep cycle battery, ( Gel link ) The single battery capacity is 12V x 150Ah = 1800Wh 4500Wh / 1800Wh = 2.5, so we need at least 3 pcs battery to support AC loads.
However, the solar inverter system for household use is usually 48V system, It means solar panel and battery bank should be 48V. Single gel deep cycle battery is 12V, so we need a multiple number of 4 which make it into 48V system by series connection. In above case, we need to use 4 pcs 12V 150Ah batteries for the battery bank
What should I consider before choosing battery ?
There are several factors that should be taken into account when determining the total cost over the life of the battery.
- Battery Price: low price is always attractive, but if low price comes at the expense of quality and battery life, the need for frequent battery replacements could boost the cost over time.
- Battery Capacity: Capacity is important because it’s a measure of the amount of energy stored in the battery.
- Battery Voltage: The battery bank voltage must be considered to ensure it matches the system requirements. The battery bank voltage is often determined by the inverter specifications if installing a DC-to-AC system or by the voltage of the loads in a DC system.
- Battery Cycle Life: The most critical consideration is cycle life, which provides the number of discharge/charge cycles the battery can provide before capacity drops to a specified percentage of rated capacity. Batteries from different manufacturers may have the same capacity and energy content and be similar in weight. But design, materials, process and quality influence how long the battery will cycle.
Off-Grid Home Solar Power Systems
Are you a homeowner looking to power your home without relying on the grid?
A custom off-grid solar system is an excellent option for those who want to make their mid- to large-size homes self-sufficient. Without relying on the grid, you must generate enough energy through your own renewable sources to power your home; this is accomplished by storing energy in a battery bank that’s charged with electricity from solar panels.
We offer kits which include all the components required to ensure you get the correct amount of power. day and night! Unsure how to install it? Get in touch with us today and one of our experts will guide you through the process of constructing a perfect off-grid home system tailored for your unique needs.
Contact us now at 877-878-4060 or submit an online quote request and get started powering your home with an off-grid solar system today!
If you are looking for a smaller off grid system check out our off grid cabin and tiny house solar power systems. If you are looking to use the utility grid sometimes, check out our battery backup solar power systems and energy storage systems.
Power Your Home Without The Grid!
Homeowners, looking for an efficient way to power your home?
Going off-grid with a solar system may be the perfect solution for you! Solar systems are an environmentally friendly, cost effective way of providing your own energy source. Plus, taking the time to size your system properly ensures you get the maximum efficiency and power out of it initially and in the future.
With no grid limitations and lack of ongoing fees or connections, going off-grid with solar power is a great option for homeowners who want their own independent energy source. It will provide sustainable energy for years to come!
Keep reading to find out more about choosing an off-grid solar system that’s right for you! Find a per-designed kit that meets you needs or contact us for a custom off grid quote.
Get a Little Help from the altE Calculators
Off-grid living is appealing for many reasons. Maybe your utility company is unreliable, or power from the utility company in your area is too expensive. Regardless of your reason for going off-grid, the first step is to determine how much power you will need to produce and store. altE’s off grid solar calculator and loads list calculator will help you figure out these figures.
Taking the time and effort to evaluate your power needs ensures you are installing a solar system that meets your needs now and into the future. As you size a system to meet your needs you will probably find ways to use less power, whether it’s replacing old lighting or appliances. Going off-grid requires maximum efficiency, and identifying ways to become more efficient and reduce waste will make sure you always have the power you need.
In this next video we walk you through altE Store’s off-grid solar calculator. The altE off-grid calculator is a great place to start planning your system. The calculator covers everything from the number of solar panels needed, to the number of days of autonomy required for your needs.
Check out our video that outlines the 6 steps required to design a DIY off-grid solar system. We cover everything you need for a DIY solar powered system.
How to Choose the Best Off-Grid Solar System for Your Home
Are you considering installing an off grid solar system in your home? With the rising cost of electricity, an off grid solar system can be a great way to lower your energy bills and reduce your dependence on the utility grid. But how do you choose the best off grid solar system for your home? We’ll explore the key factors to consider when selecting an off grid solar system for your home, so you can make the best decision for your needs.
Determine Your Power Needs
Before selecting an off-grid solar system, you’ll need to determine your power needs. To do this, you’ll have to consider how much electrical energy you use on a daily basis and what type of solar batteries you plan to use for energy storage. Your solar battery should be sized to match the daily load and provide enough capacity for any anticipated future power needs. When considering battery capacity, be sure to factor in the amount of energy needed for lights, appliances, electronics, heating and cooling.
When determining your power needs, it’s also important to consider the type of solar batteries you will use. Lead-acid batteries are a common type of solar battery used in off-grid power systems, although there are newer, more efficient lithium-ion batteries now available as well. Lead-acid batteries are typically inexpensive, but require regular maintenance and replacement and have a shorter life span than lithium-ion batteries.
In addition to assessing your current power needs, you should also consider any backup power sources or grid power you may need in the event of a blackout. Stand-alone power systems are designed to provide source of electricity in the absence of grid power, so it’s important to choose a system that can support your expected energy needs in the event of an emergency.
Choosing the right off-grid solar system is a major decision, and determining your power needs is an essential first step. With careful planning and consideration of your energy requirements and carbon footprint, you can select a system that will help reduce your reliance on the electrical grid and create a more sustainable home.
Read more about the Components of an off-grid solar power system in our Resource Library.
Find the Right Solar Panel
When it comes to choosing the right solar panel for your off-grid home solar power system, there are several factors to consider. You need to consider the battery capacity, the type of batteries you will be using (such as lead-acid or deep cycle), and your estimated carbon footprint.
The size of the solar panel will depend on the battery capacity of your solar battery storage system. Your batteries need to store enough electrical energy to power your off-grid system and provide backup power in case of outages.
Finally, you should consider the impact that your off-grid power system will have on the environment. An off-grid system eliminates the need for grid power, reducing your dependence on fossil fuels and your overall carbon footprint. With an off-grid system, you can also use renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, allowing you to reduce your environmental impact even further.
Choosing the right solar panel is an important part of building an off-grid home solar power system. Make sure to take into account your home’s power needs, the type of batteries you plan to use, and the environmental impact of your system before selecting the best solar panel for your needs.
Want to learn more about the different types of solar cells used to make solar panels? Read our Comprehensive Guide to the Different Types of Solar Cells then shop our curated price list of solar panels.
Choose the Right Battery
When selecting a battery for an off-grid home solar power system, it is important to choose the right type of battery that meets your needs. Solar batteries are deep cycle batteries that are designed to store energy and release it as electrical energy when needed.
Lead-acid batteries are most commonly used in off-grid power systems because they offer a high capacity and long battery life. However, there are other types of batteries available such as lithium-ion, which can be more efficient than lead-acid batteries.
When choosing a battery for your off-grid home solar power system, consider the battery’s capacity and its ability to provide backup power when the grid power is down. The battery capacity will determine how much electrical energy you can store in the battery storage system. It is also important to think about how often you will need to charge the battery, since this will affect its battery life.
When selecting a solar battery for your off-grid power system, it is important to consider its environmental impact. Using solar batteries to reduce your carbon footprint is an excellent way to help the environment and make your home greener. By using an off-grid power system instead of relying solely on the electrical grid, you can reduce your electricity costs while still having access to a reliable backup power source.
Read more about solar batteries and then shop our extensive listing of solar battery prices.
Consider an Inverter
When installing an off-grid home solar power system, you must consider an inverter. An inverter is a device that converts the direct current (DC) generated by your solar batteries into alternating current (AC) that can be used to power your home appliances. This is important since most electrical devices and appliances require AC power, not DC power.
Inverters come in many shapes and sizes, and you need to select one based on your energy needs. Generally speaking, a good quality inverter will have a longer lifespan than other components, such as your solar batteries or deep cycle battery. When selecting an inverter, make sure it is compatible with your solar batteries and other components of your off-grid power system.
An inverter also plays an important role in reducing your carbon footprint. It can help you save energy and money by providing a backup power source during times when the grid power is down or unreliable. Plus, if your battery storage systems are big enough, you may not even need to use grid power at all.
When selecting an inverter for your off-grid power system, consider its power efficiency and battery capacity. Inverters can vary in power efficiency and battery capacity, so make sure you choose one that fits your needs and lifestyle. You also want to pay attention to the quality of the inverter and its warranty period since this will affect its overall performance and battery life.
By carefully choosing the right inverter for your off-grid power system, you can ensure that it works efficiently and effectively for years to come. With the right components and an efficient inverter, you can enjoy reliable stand-alone power systems that reduce your carbon footprint and help you save money in the long run.
Identifying a solar charge controller
A solar charge controller is an essential component of any off-grid solar power system. It regulates the electrical power that is generated by the solar panels and sent to the battery. By regulating the flow of electricity, the solar charge controller prevents your battery from overcharging, which can reduce its lifespan. It also optimizes the energy efficiency of the system by ensuring that your battery gets the maximum amount of power from the solar panels.
When selecting a solar charge controller, you should consider its voltage compatibility with your system, as well as the amount of current it can handle. You should also make sure that the solar charge controller is compatible with your other components such as the solar panels and batteries. Additionally, some solar charge controllers come with built-in features like load control and temperature compensation, which can help you further optimize your system’s performance.
Balance of System parts
The Balance of System (BOS) parts refer to the components necessary for a successful off-grid power system, other than the solar panels and batteries. These parts include all the hardware, wiring, and components necessary to complete the electrical circuit from the solar panel to the battery and then to the point of use.
Take your off-grid living to the next level with solar power.
Get step-by-step guidance for wiring and installing your own home solar system with our DIY tutorial. Are you planning on installing your off-grid solar system yourself? That’s great! We’re here to help.
In the video below we walk you through wiring your solar system components together for a safe DIY solar installation. You will learn the basic components of an off-grid solar power system, with example schematics.
importantly, you’ll learn how to safely wire and interconnect everything from your DIY solar panels, to your charge controller, battery bank, inverter, and balance of system components.
For further reading, check out our post Everything You Need to Know About Going Off-Grid with Solar in our off grid Resource Library. Read more about off grid living in the altE blog. Both Motherearth News and Off the Grid News have further articles about an off grid solar system, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. has additional information.
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Solar Panels by Sunrun
Learn about our best-in-class solar products and services.
Experience Peace of Mind for Decades to Come with Sunrun Rooftop Solar Panels
When you team up with a solar company like Sunrun, you can create your own affordable, clean energy and gain independence from your utility company. A Sunrun solar installation can help power your home when the sun is out while you boost control over your energy usage and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels.
We offer several residential solar plans to help you start your solar journey. Find out which is the ideal fit for your budget and unique energy needs.
We offer some of the best solar rooftop panel systems on the market, and you can bring them home through a lease payment plan, flexible solar financing, or by paying outright. Our made-to-fit solar solutions, paired with exceptional service and our industry-leading solar guarantee, have positioned us as the leading residential solar and energy storage company in the U.S. 1
Solar panels are just one part of the solution to experience energy freedom and security. To ensure you get the most out of your home energy system, consider adding a solar battery back-up service like Sunrun’s Brightbox. Hundreds of millions of people were affected by blackouts from 2008 to 2017. 2 With Brightbox, you can keep your lights on and your food fresh during outages with a Smart, affordable, and reliable back-up power system.
Benefits of Adding Sunrun’s Battery Storage Service to Your Solar Panels
Brightbox doesn’t need dangerous, expensive, and toxic fossil fuels to work. 3 When the sun is out, it can store clean and affordable back-up power for later use.
Brightbox paired with a Tesla Powerwall can help you back up your entire home, or you can back up just the rooms you need with an LG Chem solar battery.
Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem solar batteries can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and they typically come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty for your peace of mind.
Solar with incentives
Our Automated Site Modeling tool is a revolutionary technology that allows us to design a custom Sunrun home solar energy system based on your roof’s unique dimensions and layout.
Sunrun’s Automated Site Modeling tool will use your roof’s individual profile, including shading, pitch, sun exposure, seasonality, and roof obstacles. This will ensure that the designed Sunrun solar panel system matches your home’s structure and unique energy needs. A customized system can let you know your potential control over your future electricity bills
Sunrun’s Product Selector is an innovative and simple tool. It lets you know in minutes which solar plan, with or without a home battery, can give you and your family more benefits in the long run, depending on where you live.
Sunrun’s Product Selector will use information about your roof’s type and pitch, your household size, and other important aspects, like if you have a home office or if you need back-up power, to recommend the best Sunrun home solar plan for you. This can help secure the peace of mind you deserve during rising energy costs and power outages while reducing your carbon footprint.
Does my state offer incentives to go solar?
See the states where Sunrun is currently available and the solar incentives that might be offered where you live. Some of the most common solar incentives include tax credits, property tax exemptions, and rebates. No matter what state you live in, you may be eligible for the Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC) if you decide to purchase a home solar energy system.
You can get a Sunrun monthly plan to lease your solar panels or prepay for your renewable energy through a solar power purchase agreement or PPA plan. As a result, any incentive savings you would receive through tax credits and rebates with a system purchase can be passed to you in the form of a lower solar bill.
How do solar panels work?
You can’t talk about solar panels without talking about silicon. Silicon is a non-metallic element and the second-most abundant material on earth. 4 It can also convert sunlight into electricity, and it’s a key component in a solar system (also known as a photovoltaic, or PV system). 5
Solar panels, solar cells, or PV cells, are made by slicing crystalline silicon (also known as wafers) that are millimeters thin. These wafers are sandwiched between protective glass, insulation, and a protective back sheet, which make a solar panel. The back sheet helps to regulate the temperature and humidity to optimize the solar panel’s efficiency. 6 Multiple solar panels connected together create a solar array, and ultimately, a solar system.
Then there’s the physics of how solar cells work: Electricity is made when electrons move between atoms. The top and bottom of a silicon wafer in the solar cell are treated with small amounts of atoms of extra materials—such as boron, gallium, or phosphorus—so that the top layer has more electrons and the bottom layer has less. When the sun activates the electrons in these oppositely charged layers, the electrons move through a circuit attached to the panels. This flow of electrons through the circuit is what generates the electrical current that ultimately powers a home. 7
What are the different types of solar panels?
Monocrystalline solar panels:
Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency and power capacity out of all other types of solar panels. Another reason why people choose them is because of how they look. The solar cells within monocrystalline panels are square-shaped and have a single, flat black color, making them the most popular type of solar panels among homeowners. 8 Sunrun uses monocrystalline PV modules in all its home solar systems.
Polycrystalline solar panels:
The manufacturing process of polycrystalline solar panels is less costly than monocrystalline panels, but it also makes them less efficient. Usually, polycrystalline solar panels don’t have the corners cut off of them, so you won’t see the large white spaces on the front of the panel that you see on monocrystalline panels. 8
Thin-film solar panels:
Thin-film solar panels are less costly and easier to install than their counterparts. Still, they aren’t the best option for a home solar installation due to their efficiency, lightweight material, and durability. 8
How long do solar panels really last?
When you consider investing in a solar installation, you might wonder how long home solar panels last. Studies show that solar panels can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years, or sometimes longer. 9 Still, this doesn’t mean the panels on your roof will stop producing electricity after a couple of decades. It just means their energy production will decrease by what solar panel manufacturers consider optimal to meet the average household’s energy needs.
Do home solar systems have a warranty?
All of our solar equipment is backed by factory warranties. On top of that, our monthly solar lease plan and prepaid solar plan (also known as a solar PPA) come with 24/7 proactive monitoring and free maintenance on us. If we notice that your rooftop panels or solar battery aren’t working at their full capacity, we’ll send an expert over to fix it without you lifting a finger. This benefit sets Sunrun apart from the other solar installers in the country.
How does Automated Site Modeling work?
After you enter a few details about your home, our Automated Site Modeling tool will analyze hundreds of thousands of variables in home solar system designs to build a high-resolution image of the ideal system for your roof. These factors include your home’s pitch, seasonality, sun exposure, shading, and roof obstacles. This helps Sunrun guarantee you receive maximum benefits from your new home solar system.
How does Sunrun’s Product Selector work?
After you answer a few simple questions about your home’s details, lifestyle, and electricity usage, Sunrun’s Product Selector will let you know if a monthly lease plan, prepaying for your solar energy, financing a system, or purchasing outright—along with a back-up power service—is the most cost-effective solution for your unique needs.
Are Automated Site Modeling and Sunrun’s Product Selector really free?
Yes. At Sunrun, we’re committed to providing you with the best technology, services, and tools, like our Automated Site Modeling tool and Product Selector, to make your switch to solar as affordable and straightforward as possible. This can help you worry less about controlling your electric bills and protecting your home during outages while reducing your carbon emissions for decades.
Do solar panels get hot?
Rooftop solar panels can get hot, particularly during scorching summer days. If the panels do get hot or overheat, they can produce less energy as the temperature rises above their optimal energy production range.
In general, residential solar panels are designed to reach their peak efficiency level at 77 °F (25 °C), but their efficiency will decrease by 0.5% for every degree above this temperature. The actual percentage of lower production varies by the solar panel’s manufacturer and model. Ultimately, you want to aim for an exterior temperature range of 59 to 95 °F (15 to 35 °C). Yet, it’s unrealistic for rooftop solar panels to stay within this range all year, especially in places where temperatures can go past 100 °F (37.8 °C). Fortunately, most solar panels can withstand heat up to 149 °F (65 °C). 10
Nonetheless, solar panel overheating can be prevented. Many solar panel manufacturers cover the panels in a material that generally conducts and vents heat away from the glass. In addition, solar panels are usually mounted a few inches above the roof, which allows airflow space to help move heat away from the panels.
Despite the reduction in efficiency from extreme heat, solar energy generation doesn’t stop. The lower electricity production due to scorching weather balances out with the longer days of sunlight throughout the seasons. Although solar panels work best on cold, sunny days, they produce solar power year-round in nearly every location and climate.
Do solar panels work in cold weather?
Solar panels create energy from sunlight—not the sun’s heat. In fact, solar panels produce electricity more efficiently in cooler conditions. Even in the most frigid weather, solar panels can turn sunlight into electricity.
How does this work? Colder temperatures enhance solar energy production efficiency, which increases the amount of electricity produced. Electrons are at rest in cooler climates. When the electrons in solar panels are activated by increasing sunlight, a voltage difference is attained that creates an electric current.
Warmer summer temperatures raise the overall energy levels of electrons in solar panels. This increased energy level decreases the energy differential that can be gained, producing less energy. A higher energy state interferes with solar panel electricity production since some energy transfers into heat instead of electricity. Your home doesn’t need to be in a warm-weather state like Arizona, California, Nevada, or Texas to generate year-round reliable solar power.
Do solar panels work at night?
While solar panels need sunlight to create electricity, there are two ways you can benefit from solar power during the nighttime: enroll in a net energy metering (NEM) program (if it’s offered where you live), or add a home battery storage service, like Sunrun’s Brightbox.
Net energy metering (NEM): Lower-cost grid energy at night
If NEM is offered in your state and by your utility, you may be eligible to earn credits on your bill for the excess solar energy you produce and send to your utility company. 11 At night, you could use those credits toward drawing electricity from the grid at a lower cost. Net metering may help you save money on your future electricity bills. Visit your utility company’s website for more information.
Solar battery storage: Reliable, affordable back-up energy, day and night
A battery storage service like Brightbox can let you store the excess solar power you produce for later use. This stored solar energy can help keep your devices and appliances running at night, during outages, cloudy days, and rainy afternoons.
Brightbox offers two lithium-ion solar battery storage options: Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem. Tesla Powerwall can help yo back up your entire home while LG Chem can help you back up to four circuits inside your home. There are also differences in software and app functionality.
Request a free, personalized quote to connect with a Sunrun Solar Advisor and determine which Sunrun back-up solution would work best for your home.
How does Brightbox work?
Brightbox allows you to store the excess energy your solar energy system produces during the day to use it in the evening, at night, or when the electric grid fails due to physical damage or an extreme weather event or.
Do I need solar panels to use Brightbox?
Aside from very rare exceptions, Sunrun’s Brightbox service includes rooftop solar panels. Brightbox can store 100% clean, renewable, home-grown solar power directly from the rooftop panels when the sun is out, so you can use it when you need it most.
Can I add Brightbox to my current home solar system?
At this time, Brightbox with a Tesla Powerwall or LG Chem solar battery is only available in the installation of a new Sunrun home solar system due to tech compatibility issues. We can’t install rooftop solar panels or a home battery if you already have an existing solar installation or if Brigtbox’s battery storage service isn’t available in your area.
What happens during a solar installation?
Once you’re approved for a solar installation, your property will undergo a site assessment, and an expert solar technician will schedule a visit with you to confirm your system design.
After that, our Solar Design Experts will make any necessary adjustments to your design and get your final approval. Once it’s approved, we’ll submit your design to the city for permitting, which can take up to eight weeks. From there, either Sunrun or one of our local certified partners will start your solar installation. We only partner with the top-rated solar installers, so you can rest easy knowing you’ll have the highest quality solar installation available.
When your installation is finished, the city or county will perform a final inspection of your system. Once it’s approved, it’ll be connected to the grid, and we’ll submit your documents to the utility company. After your utility company grants Permission to Operate (PTO), you’ll be all set to start powering your home with the sun.
What happens if I move?
We have an entire team of professionals standing by to help you sell your solar home and transfer your contract, if applicable, to the new owners. Sunrun makes it easy to pass your solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) to the new owners. Our Service Transfer Specialists handle everything from educating realtors and potential buyers to working with escrow officers, title agents, home inspectors, as well as anyone else who might need to know about your system and solar lease or PPA agreement.
The Ultimate Guide To DIY Off-Grid Solar Systems
Aug 23rd 2022
Off-grid solar installations in the middle of nowhere are often the first thing people think about when they think of going solar. While it’s definitely not for everyone, DIY off-grid solar can be a great solution for those living in a remote area without reliable and affordable access to the grid, want to live a self-reliant lifestyle without monthly utility bills, or have the ability to access power during a blackout.
Off grid solar systems utilize batteries to store energy produced from solar panels. Because you’ll be relying solely on your own solar installation to cover all your energy needs, systems must be sized and designed to fit a variety of needs throughout the year, especially in the winter when there are fewer sunlight hours. Off-grid systems are great for those wanting to go the DIY route since you’re not connected to the grid. But you’ll definitely want to educate yourself before you dive in. The key components of every off-grid solar installation include solar panels, charge controllers, batteries, and inverters. We highly recommend taking the time to read up on all the different components, as well as how to plan and size your system to be efficient for years to come.
In this guide, we’ll help you navigate calculating how much energy you’ll need to produce, how to store that energy, and how to select your components, from solar panels to inverters.
Calculate Your Power Load
One of the most important parts of going off-grid is calculating your energy needs. This is because you won’t be able to tap into the electric grid, but rather relying solely on your own system. Having an accurate understanding of your energy needs will give you a better idea of the costs and ensure you don’t under- or over-build a system.
The Renogy Solar Power Calculator is a great tool that makes it a quick and easy process to help determine your specific needs. The solar sizing calculator allows you to input information about your lifestyle to help you decide on your solar panel requirements. You’ll need to know what total watts your electronics will consume, how long you plan on running the devices, your charge controller efficiency, and average sun hours per day (taking into consideration those darker winter months).
Learn more about off-grid solar systems as well as sizing your system to best fit you and your home’s needs in the posts below.
Select Batteries for your Battery Bank
Batteries are a crucial component of off-grid solar systems. After all, how are you going to store all the energy produced from your panels? There is a range of deep cycle battery options that are ideal for solar applications, such as sealed and flooded lead acid and lithium ion batteries.
Flooded lead acid batteries are the cheapest battery option and are available in many big box stores. They also require the most maintenance. Flooded lead acid batteries contain a combination of a liquid electrolyte, and the liquid in these batteries must be carefully measured and maintained to ensure a healthy, long-lasting battery. They also emit gases, so it’s important that they are housed in a well-ventilated room.
Sealed lead acid batteries require little to no maintenance and are more efficient than flooded lead acid batteries. Contrary to flooded lead acid batteries, there’s no need to add water to the inside compartment. Although they are more expensive, they also have a longer cycle life.
There are two main types of sealed lead acid batteries: absorbed glass mat (AGM) and gel batteries. Gel batteries, which use silica to stiffen the electrolyte solution in the battery, tend to have lower charger rates and output than absorbed glass mat batteries. They also can’t handle as much current, meaning they take longer to recharge. Gel batteries have a greater lifespan than AGM batteries. AGM batteries are the cheaper of the two and they also offer a better temperature range.
Lithium iron phosphate batteries are the most advanced and expensive battery type. For those who place a premium on efficiency and portability should consider lithium iron phosphate batteries. They are compact and lightweight, have an extremely long cycle life, and high discharge and recharge rates. They also require little to no maintenance. Lithium batteries typically have a lifespan of at least 10 years and lose less capacity when idle than other battery types.
When it comes to choosing a battery for your off-grid system, we typically recommend lithium batteries because of their high efficiency and lifespan.
The amount of battery storage you need is based on your energy usage, so again refer to your results from the Renogy solar panel calculator. To give you an idea, a battery capacity of 4 to 8 kWh is usually sufficient for an average four-person home. To learn more about the pros and cons of each battery type, how large of a battery bank to have, and the different options available from Renogy, read the follow posts.
- Sizing Your Battery Bank for Your Solar System
- Do I Need Deep Cycle Batteries for My Solar Installation?
- Top Selling Renogy Batteries
Select Your Solar Panels
When it comes to actually collecting energy from the sun, that’s where solar panels come in. There are a few different solar panel options available to choose from.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline Panels
Choosing between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels is one of the first steps to take when shopping for solar panels. Polycrystalline panels are light blue in color, and they are less energy and space efficient than monocrystalline panels. On the plus side, they are also the cheaper option. Monocrystalline panels, which are darker in color, are more space and energy efficient. Keep in mind that with the added efficiency comes a higher price tag.
Portable vs. Roof Mounted Panels
Rigid, roof mounted solar panels are the most common solar panel type and durable solar panel type. They are also ideal if you have consistent energy needs and want to be able to charge your battery bank at the flip of a switch. If you are looking to mount your solar panels on a non-flat roof, flexible solar panels are the way to go.
On the other hand, portable solar panels are perfect for those who may not be ready to mount solar panels on their roof, have limited surface area to mount panels, want to generate solar on multiple applications, such as on your RV and your home, or have smaller energy needs. One of the most popular types of portable solar panel systems are folding suitcase panel kits. Folding suitcase panel kits are lightweight, easy to handle, and can be set up on the ground and angled for maximum efficiency.
Solar installations be built out as 12, 24, or 48 volt systems. Most RV’s and boats have 12V battery banks, so people usually stick with the 12V panels in order to be compatible with those. You may consider a 24v solar panel system if you have high energy needs. If your energy needs are about 1 to 3 kW, we’d recommend a 24 volt system. If your energy needs are above that, you’ll want to install a 48v system. Having a higher voltage panel system can save you money in the long run as you need less charge controllers and can use thinner cables for the same amount of power.
Solar panels are also available in flexible and rigid forms. Flexible panels weigh less than the rigid solar panels and can be installed directly on the roof of your RV or van. Rigid panels, which are more typically durable, can also be mounted to tilt, which makes their solar energy collection more efficient. If you’ll be mounting panels to your roof, you’ll want to take into consideration the condition of your roof and how old it is. If it’s nearing the end of its life, you’ll want to replace it before going solar.
Learn more about all of this and more in the following posts about solar panels and how to select the right one for you.
- How Solar Panels Work: A Breakdown for Beginners
- How To Choose The Right Solar Panels for Your Lifestyle
Select A Solar Charge Controller
Charge controllers are another crucial component of your system and are recommended with every solar panel larger than five watts. They sit between the energy source and storage and perform the essential role of preventing any overcharging of batteries by limiting the amount and rate of charge to your batteries.
Additionally, charge controllers shut down your system if the stored power falls below 50 percent capacity and charge batteries at the correct voltage level. This helps preserve the life and health of the batteries in your battery bank.
There are two types of charge controllers to consider: Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controllers and Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controllers. PWM charge controllers are cheaper and ideal in smaller applications. They’re an older technology and are cheaper, but they are also less efficient than MPPT charge controllers. MPPT controllers are the most efficient controller option, ideal in large applications, and are the most expensive option. Both are widely used, have similar lifespans, and preserve the life of your batteries. We typically recommend using MPPT controllers in an off-grid system because of their increased efficiency levels.
Lean more about charge controllers in the posts below.
Select An Inverter
Inverters are the final, crucial component to consider when piecing together your solar installation. Inverters turn DC power produced from your solar panels and stored in your battery into AC power. An inverter is necessary to power the common appliances found in your home or RV, from TV’s to microwaves. When shopping around for inverters, you’ll quickly learn there is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
There are two main inverter types: pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters.
Pure sine wave inverters are capable of producing smooth, quiet, and reliable electricity to operate appliances and electronics without any interference. Like its name suggests, pure sine wave inverters produce current in a pure sine wave shape. Renogy sells a range of pure sine wave inverters of varying capacities to fit your solar installation and your energy needs. Renogy inverters also provide overload protection for both DC input and AC output to prevent damage to the components and the unit.
When looking at the waveform from a modified sine wave inverter, it has a stair-step, square pattern, where the polarity is flipped back and forth. Because of the choppiness of the wave pattern, modified sine wave inverters can negatively affect more delicate, sensitive equipment. If you have medical equipment you need to power, such as a CPAP machine, we recommend using a pure sine wave inverter. In many cases, you’ll hear a hum with devices attached to a modified sine wave inverter.
What can I run with a modified sine wave inverter?
Modified sine wave inverters can be used in simple systems without sensitive electronics. If you’re running an appliance that does not have an AC motor and isn’t a delicate piece of medical equipment, you may be fine with a modified sine wave inverter. Old tube tvs, water pumps, and phone chargers usually operate ok with a modified sine wave inverter.
Appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, and compressors that use AC motors won’t run as efficiently on a modified sine wave inverter. Some fluorescent lights will also not operate quite as bright, and some may buzz or make humming noises.
Review the posts below to learn more about different types of inverters, what to look for when shopping, and what size inverter to purchase for your system:
Put It All Together
Solar is definitely becoming more popular among homeowners and travelers alike, and it is easy to see why. There’s a lot that goes into going solar, from sorting through technology options to handling permitting, but thanks to a growing number of solar panels kits, going solar on your own has never been easier.
If you are interested in going off-grid or living a remote or mobile lifestyle in a van or RV, and have the time and energy to dedicate toward a solar project, DIY off-grid solar can be a great way to meet your energy needs, be energy reliant, sustainable, and save money. Plus, if you live a lifestyle without accessible, reliable, and affordable access to power, off-grid solar is often the best way to meet those needs and live your dream life.
We hope this guide has answered your big questions about going off-grid. Taking into consideration the different solar components, properly sizing your system, and making a plan for the entire installation process, will help ensure you have a smooth transition to start collecting and storing energy from the sun.
Self-Driven (living space and engine in the same vehicle such as vans, buses, and motorhomes)
When you have an engine built into your living space, you can take advantage of the ability to charge your house battery without resorting to lugging around a gas powered generator. You can certainly use a battery isolator to charge while driving, but installing a DC to DC battery charger can greatly increase the charging voltage/amperage and greatly decrease the time it takes to recharge your house battery!
By installing a Dual Input DC to DC Battery Charger. you can charge your house battery even faster while driving down the road by simultaneously garnering energy from your vehicle’s starting battery/alternator (when the engine is running) and from your roof mounted solar panels. This product becomes both battery charger and charge controller, all in one. The added convenience here is that when the house batteries are full and the panels are still collecting solar energy, they will trickle charge your starting battery so that you won’t have to worry about not being able to start your vehicle after two weeks in the desert.
Tow-Behind RV (living space in a secondary vehicle towed by a car or truck such as 5th wheels, campers, and travel trailers)
Trailers can take advantage of the same charging opportunities as well, but require the ability to connect and disconnect quickly. After all, the whole point of using solar is to passively charge your batteries while you go out and play outside. Either of the DC to DC chargers mentioned above can be installed in the vehicle doing the towing, or in the trailer itself within close proximity to the house batteries. Just keep in mind that the longer the distance from the starting battery, the larger the gauge cable you will need to use to reduce voltage drop and increase safety. Many Renogy customers use Anderson 4 Gauge Extension Cables to make a quick and easy connection between the trailer and the towing vehicle.
DC to DC Battery Charger (manual, pg 16)
We hope this list of blogs, videos, and diagrams has been helpful to you. Check back with us on this blog, because we will continue to try and improve it as we find more helpful information. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our website or social media listed below. And, be sure to follow our solar powered journey!
Shari Galiardi David Hutchison have turned their higher education backgrounds, desire for life-long learning, and thirst for adventure travel into writing, photography, video production, and public speaking tours from coast to coast. Known to their friends as simply Shari Hutch, you can learn more about their full-time, solar powered adventures on their website at freedominacan.com Or, follow them on Instagram. and YouTube as “Freedom in a Can.”
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