Step by step guide on how to set up solar power at home
Clean energy is gaining ground rapidly just when greenhouse gases and carbon emissions are immensely hurting our ecosystem. Worldwide, two-thirds of solar power capacity have been installed since 2011. Fortunately, India has kept pace with the Rapid development of clean solar power. Reports indicate that solar power generation in India increased by a whopping 86% in 2017.
It is now ideal to use solar power not only in commercial units but also for residential ones. The costs of installing a solar power unit have steadily dropped, but you can always try the DIY option to keep it within your budget. However, if your budget cannot afford it and you need to go for a loan, then calculate your mortgage with the help of a Mortgage Calculator.
You can save money by setting up a solar with solar photo-voltaic (PV) system yourself by reading this simple guide to set up solar power. Here is an in-depth look at how you can build and install a solar power unit for your home:
Step-by-step guide to set up solar power unit
Step 1: Gather solar power components
It all begins with gathering the basic ingredients of a solar power unit. You will need four major items – solar panels, charge controller, inverter, and a battery pack. In addition to these items, you will require a breaker, meter, MC4 connector, and fuses among other things. Keep in mind that it is essential to read the solar panel module instructions.
Before setting up a solar panel, it is crucial to choose a solar panel set that will be sufficient to run the appliances you want to operate. This is where the use of a solar panel calculator is seen. This Smart tool will instantly let you know the number of solar panel plates you need to install so that the appliances could be run without any trouble
Step 2: Calculate your power load
Before getting to the solar installation task, it is crucial to sum up the power that you use at your home. This isn’t rocket science. All you have to do is to note down the home appliances that you use on a daily basis, which include television, lights, fan, and so on. Next, add the time for which these appliances run in a day. Go through the specification chart in your household electric appliances to check their usage duration or run time, and their power rating.
Now calculate the ‘Watt-Hour’ by multiplying the runtime of an appliance with its power rating. Follow this step for each electrical device, then sum up the individual watt-hour numbers to get the grand total. You can also simplify this calculation by using an online off-grid load calculator.
Step 3: Select and charge the battery
A major hiccup with solar power is that it doesn’t provide electricity when the sun goes down. However, you can easily crack this problem by using a battery. A lead-acid or a lithium-ion battery stores solar power generated during the daytime and discharges it at night. This provides a steady supply of energy, provided you have selected the optimum battery storage capacity. You will need a power controller to monitor your battery’s charging. These come between the panels and the battery. Such controllers are typically fitted with a small LED light that announces the charging state of the battery, and it adjusts the power that flows into the battery.
Step 4: Set up the inverter
Solar arrays produce electricity in direct current (DC), but electrical appliances use power in the form of alternating current (AC). Inverter is a device that saves the day by allowing you to use electrical devices without using adaptors. Inverters come in varying power wattages and types including square wave, modified sine-wave, and pure sine-wave inverters. Square waves are not compatible for all devices, while the output of modified sine wave is not suitable for certain appliances such as a fridge. This makes a pure sine wave inverter the best choice for your solar system.
Step 5: Fix the solar panels on your roof
Once the battery, controller, and inverters are ready, you need to get started with mounting the solar panels. Select the best spot for the panels on the roof or on open ground that receives an unhindered supply of the sun’s radiation. You can either make a mounting stand yourself or get it from the market. The tilt of the mounting stand should almost be equal to the latitude angle of your location. The proper setting of the solar panels is critical for their operation maintenance. Hence, it is essential to ensure that the panels face the sun throughout the day.
In the last phase of this step, wire the solar panels. You can trace a small junction box at the back of the solar panel. The junction box has negative and positive signs of polarity. In a large sized-panel, the junction box has terminal wires too with an MC4 connector. However, you will have to align the junction box with external wires yourself if you use small solar panels. Use the black and red wire for negative and positive terminal connections, respectively.
Step 6: Connect the solar panels with battery
You need to connect the solar panels with the battery. In certain PV systems, these come paired together, so you don’t have to put in any additional effort. In cases that are not given as a single unit, you need to make series and parallel connections. You can make a series connection by connecting a device’s positive terminal with another device’s negative terminal. For a parallel connection, you need to connect one device’s negative terminal with another device’s negative terminal and so on.
Step 7: Setup stands for inverter and battery
Your residential solar unit is incomplete without stands for the battery and inverter. Again, you have the option of building the stands or getting them. Once the allocated positions for the inverter and battery are ready, you can start working on the wiring. Start with wiring the controller. The first connection from the left is for connecting the controller with the solar panels. The second connection is for pairing the battery with the controller. The last connection is for connecting the controller to the direct DC load connection.
For connecting the solar panel with the charge controller, you will need a separate connector called an MC4 connector. Once the controller is connected to the battery, its LED lights should light up. Similarly, you will have to connect the inverter terminal with the battery’s terminal.
Check this video for further guidance on solar panel setup —
Following these steps can guide you to set up a solar power unit at your home. The high costs incurred in installing one can be reaped later on as solar energy is not only clean but also a cost-effective investment.
Alycia Gordan is a tech junkie and a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare, technology, fitness and lifestyle. You can find her on : @meetalycia
Portable Solar Energy Systems for Home on the Go
Solar panels aren’t just found on rooftops and solar farms anymore — there are now numerous portable solar modules on the market for camping, RVs, and emergency preparedness. You can buy solar chargers with a small solar panel and battery to charge devices, larger DIY kits that can power an RV, and solar generators for backup power during outages.
Portable solar systems are ideal when it is difficult or impossible to access the power grid. They can fulfill a similar purpose to a backup generator, but without consuming fossil fuels or making noise. Let’s examine the different categories of portable solar systems and how they compare to rooftop arrays.
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Types of Portable Solar Systems
You have several different kinds of portable solar systems to choose from; each serves a different purpose.
Solar-Powered Portable Battery Charger
These units contain solar cells and a battery. They often have a flashlight and perhaps a compass and can also charge using a power cable. There are USB ports on these solar chargers for powering cell phones and other electronic devices. Some solar power banks are capable of just charging a cell phone a couple of times and start at around 30, while others have a larger capacity and are more costly.
Portable Solar Panel Kits
These setups contain one or more portable solar panels, a battery bank, and a charge controller that regulates how the batteries charge. In addition, many portable solar panels include a kickstand or frame to prop up the PV panel at an ideal angle. Typically, the solar panels have high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells to generate more electricity in a limited space when compared to polycrystalline solar panels.
Like fossil fuel-powered generators, solar panel generators supply emergency power during grid outages. In recent years, many different models have hit the market, giving shoppers more options for having some power during blackouts. Sometimes, solar generators are sold in kits that include the solar panels, and other times the panels are sold separately.
It’s a good idea to figure out what loads you will want to power so you can size the solar generator accordingly. For example, you might want to be able to plug in the refrigerator sometimes to prevent food from spoiling. Unfortunately, the batteries start to degrade a bit over time and cannot hold as much of their original capacity, so plan accordingly. Some solar generators are relatively light, making them more portable.
Here’s a helpful video guide to help you find the right solar-powered generator for you.
Advantages of Portable Solar Systems
Let’s explore the positive aspects of solar panels for mobile applications.
Smaller Upfront Cost
Numerous DIY solar kits and camping solar panels are available on the market. Although they range in price from under 30 to thousands, they usually cost significantly less than a rooftop solar system. Therefore, it’s an excellent way for people to start using solar energy without investing 15,000 or more for solar panels, an inverter, and labor. In addition, because the solar panels aren’t attached to the roof or connected to the electric panel, you will not need professional solar installers.
In some cases, financing is available through the retailer. This helps make these products available to more people, including people that don’t own their homes, but there are likely interest charges.
Portable Solar Power
These solar products often contain batteries that can charge with solar or sometimes a wall outlet as well. This means you would have electricity while on a boat, camping trip, or even during power outages. Portable solar products are also excellent for disaster preparedness because they do not rely on the electrical grid.
In other cases, grid power is available but might be very expensive. For example, some campgrounds charge a lot for electricity, and RVers might be able to save money by using a portable solar setup instead, or they might have greater flexibility on where to park if they don’t need to be parked near electrical outlets.
Disadvantages of Portable Solar Systems
Although they are great for power on the go, these systems do not provide all the benefits of a rooftop solar system.
Solar System Durability
Rooftop solar systems are designed to last 25 or more years, and they commonly include long-lasting warranties. The solar panels usually have frames and a mounting system that securely attaches them to the roof. By contrast, portable solar panels are commonly propped up using a kickstand and are often water resistant but can run into problems in heavy rains. Likewise, because they aren’t attached, heavy winds can damage the system.
Because they are less durable, portable solar modules usually have shorter warranties than roof-mounted solar systems. For example, the Bluetti PV350 Solar Panel includes a 2-year warranty, but the Renogy 100W Foldable Solar Suitcase with Voyager has a 10-year warranty.
May Not Qualify for Solar Tax Credit
There is a federal solar tax credit available for residential and commercial solar energy systems. However, portable solar systems qualify for the solar tax credit only occasionally. So, if you have an RV that is a primary or secondary residence and purchase a portable solar system for it, there’s a good chance you can apply the tax credit.
Even though there are many portable solar power options available, they might not be the ideal approach for everyone, and they serve a different purpose than a home solar panel system. A rooftop solar system or community solar subscription is a better option if you want to lower your home electric bill significantly. If you want emergency power or solar electricity on the go, a portable system is ideal.
Before purchasing a system, consider your energy needs and the pros and cons of each option. Figure out what electric loads you will have and make sure the solar battery can power them for the desired length of time. If you will use the portable solar system for camping or hiking trips, make sure it is light enough to be convenient.
Feature image: MarekPhotoDesign.com – stock.adobe.com. This article was originally published on August 25, 2022.
By Sarah Lozanova
Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.
Smart Home System
Smart home system enables homeowners to control, monitor and give specific tasks to their appliances.You can choose how and when to activate specific appliances in your home. Choices like that will help further reduce your energy costs and environmental footprint.The flexibility of automation allows you to customize your home’s electric usage anytime, anywhere. LA Solar Group
Get full control of your solar system!
- Get a real-time power usage display.
- Monitor the performance and value of each solar system.
- Track your energy usage patterns at home in comparison to PV generation.
- Receive seasonal and weather trend analysis so you can make Smart decisions.
- Customize how you automate your energy consumption to reduce any NEM 2.0 time-of-use usage charges.
You also can purchase your home solar system with no monthly payments. This will allow you to start seeing your energy savings immediately.
Curb: Smart-Home Comprehensive Monitoring
Curb Energy is a new Smart home energy monitoring product. It monitors the entire home’s energy consumption by sensors installed in the breaker, outlets, lights, computers, and other equipment.
Curb energy has both an app and web software to monitor everything at your home.
Easy monitoring means you can make smarter decisions about your energy usage. The Curb energy monitoring system can also help you understand your energy bills, alert you of the monthly budget, and make weekly email reports on your consumption.
Flex Energy Monitoring Solution
Using a proprietary Broadband and Cellular Gateway, Flex Energy Monitoring Solution provides each homeowner with real-time solar power usage display, control, and automation for the best Smart home devices.You can use a mobile device or web browser to review your PV system performance on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. This allows you to compare and evaluate your energy consumption patterns.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Solar energy pros and cons are a hot topic today. As the earth’s most plentiful source of energy, the sun holds enormous promise as a clean and dependable way to power our world.
When the radiant energy of the sun is converted to heat and electricity, it can provide energy to residences and businesses, and even power vehicles.
Now might be a good time to learn about solar energy advantages and explore adding a solar energy system to your home. Then you can decide: Is solar energy worth it?
When considering home energy options, it is important to understand how solar energy works. When sunlight hits a solar panel, a photovoltaic cell turns that light into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter then converts it to alternating current (AC), which is what most devices in your home use.
Advantages of Solar Energy
The more we can capture the benefits of solar energy, the less we will rely on fossil fuels. Adding a solar energy system to your home allows you to tap into these solar energy advantages:
Solar energy is a renewable energy source and reduces carbon emissions
Solar energy is a renewable energy source, meaning you don’t ever use it up. Solar energy is clean. It creates no carbon emissions or other heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases. It avoids the environmental damage associated with mining or drilling for fossil fuels. Furthermore, solar energy also uses little to no water, unlike power plants that generate electricity using steam turbines.
Solar energy can reduce your home’s electricity bill
A solar energy system for your home can reduce your reliance on the grid and help you save on your electricity bill. Some owners of residential solar energy systems may even have excess power that they can sell to the utility. Instead of paying a utility for electricity, homeowners get paid by the utility. You may not have to buy an entire solar energy system to cut your home’s electricity bill. Simply choose solar lights, lights that are powered by the sun instead of your home’s electrical system, to help save money.
Solar power can get you money back through Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)
Some states offer solar renewable energy certificates (SREC). Each one represents a megawatt-hour of electricity generated through solar energy. Electricity suppliers buy these certificates to satisfy their state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, a requirement that a certain amount of their renewable energy come from solar. You can sell SRECs for your system’s output, which is another way to earn money from your investment.
Homes with solar panels installed may improve home value
Home buyers will likely pay more for a house with solar panels installed. Considering solar energy pros and cons, the savings on electricity bills and the money earned selling power back to the utility, all count in the plus column. Residential solar energy systems are highly valued and can increase a home’s resale value. The property value of a home with solar panels can be worth up to 15,000 more than its neighbors.
Solar systems are fairly easy to install and require very little maintenance. Both are handled by your solar provider, if you opt for a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). Consider this as you ask yourself is solar energy worth it.
Solar panels have low maintenance costs
Solar panels are easy to maintain, as they have no moving parts that wear out over time. Just keep them clean and in good physical condition to keep them working properly. Between their low maintenance costs and average lifespan of 25 years, it can be easy to get your money’s worth when investing in solar panels.
Solar energy can generate electricity in any climate
Solar energy systems can generate electricity in any climate. One of the disadvantages of solar energy is that it’s subject to temporary weather disruption. Cloudy days reduce the amount of electricity you produce. Cold, however, doesn’t affect productivity. Snowfall can actually help your solar system, as the snow cleans the panels as it melts and sun reflected off the snow increases the amount of light hitting your panels. The result is more electricity production.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
The disadvantages of solar energy are becoming fewer as the industry advances and grows, creating economies of scale. Technological advances are helping solar go mainstream. Here are how the disadvantages of solar energy and the pros and cons stack up.
The high initial costs of installing panels
The most commonly cited solar energy disadvantage, cost, is declining as the industry expands. The initial cost to buy and install the equipment is not cheap. Still, if cost is an issue, leasing options may reduce the amount of your initial outlay. If you do choose to buy, you will need to live in your home for a number of years before the system pays for itself. It’s a long-term investment better suited to property owners than renters.
Solar energy storage is expensive
Of the disadvantages of solar energy, the temporary decline in energy production during bad weather has been a major issue. Days with low solar energy, however, are having less of an effect due to advances in battery technology. Old technology for storing solar energy, like lead acid batteries are being replaced by alternatives. Lithium ion batteries offer greater power at a lower cost. Nickel-based batteries have an extremely long life. New technologies, like flow batteries, promise scale and durable power storage.
Solar doesn’t work for every roof type
Not every room will work well with solar panels. Orientation matters. If your roof doesn’t face the sun, you won’t be able to capture enough solar energy. Roofs that angle into the sun tend to work better than flat roofs.
Roofing materials like asphalt shingles, metal and tiles make installing solar panels easier. If your room is made with other materials, installation may be more expensive. Part of what makes energy-efficient roofs is their ability to support solar panels.
Solar panels are dependent on sunlight
It’s obvious that solar panels need sunlight to generate electricity. They won’t produce electricity at night when you need it for light and they can be inefficient during storms and gloomy days. Your solar energy system needs batteries if you plan to fully depend on solar energy to power your home.
Batteries are one of the more expensive components of your system. Unlike solar panels, they do wear out and need careful maintenance to lengthen their lives. Comparing wind power vs. solar power, wind will keep generating electricity at night and during storms, as long as there is enough wind. Many people use both in residential systems.
Constellation Energy and Solar Energy
When weighing the pros and cons of solar energy for your home, there are additional options worth considering. Community solar projects are a great way to get the advantages of solar energy without buying and maintaining a system yourself.
If your home and roof won’t support solar panels or if you don’t have enough money to invest in one, community solar might be your answer. With this option, you agree to participating in a program that allows you receive credits for every kWh generated by the solar facility. You get a credit on your electricity bill proportional to your percentage of ownership in the project’s energy.