Building and installing your own DIY solar panels can help you save a lot of money on electricity, without extravagant upfront costs.
When we priced it, they wanted $28,000 to put solar panels on our home (which, incidentally, is about how much our house is worth!)
So, we decided to DIY solar panels ourselves, and the process isn’t as difficult as I thought. In essence, you need the panels, an inverter, and a battery o two and you have the elements of a solar generator.
We realized we can kick off this process for just a few hundred bucks. Keep reading for how we’re doing it!
Solar Cells for Your DIY Solar Panels
There are a few ways you can buy solar cells. You can buy them as part of a group, in which case you’ll be able to buy from a wholesaler directly. Though this is perhaps the cheapest way to do it, it’s much more difficult to organize.
The easiest way to buy solar cells is to use Amazon, where there’s several sellers providing solar cells, which means the competition keeps the price down to inexpensive levels.
Constructing Your DIY Solar Panels
Solar panels are basically a series of solar cells joined together. The electricity generated from the cells flows together until there’s enough electricity generated for actual use.
To construct the panel, you need a wooden container of some sort to put the cells in. You need wire cutters, strippers and soldering equipment.
All you need to do is wire the cells together to create a panel. You might also want to install a diode to make sure that energy doesn’t flow from the battery back into the panel when sunlight isn’t hitting the panel.
Want to just buy a panel? This is one we purchased for just $119 on sale!
Inverters and Batteries For Your DIY Solar Panels
Energy generated from a solar panel comes in the form of direct current (DC) power. However, in order for your home electronics to be able to use the power, you need the energy to be in alternating current (AC). So, you will need an inverter.
Also, unless you plan on immediately using the energy generated by your solar panel in your home, you’ll probably want a battery so you can store the energy.
Getting Your DIY Solar Panels To Pass Inspections
The final step to installing your DIY solar panels is passing inspections.
While it’s possible to create solar panels and run them without passing inspections, you’re leaving a lot on the table.
First of all, you can’t qualify for the many tax incentives that come with owning a solar panel if you don’t pass an inspection.
You also can’t wire your solar panel to the grid without passing inspection. If you get permission to attach your panel to the grid, you can “sell” energy to the grid and actually have your electric meter flow backwards while your panels produce energy that you aren’t using (please note that you might not be able to do this whether you pass inspection or not – in our research, we found that electric companies varied and many have restrictions).
That’s a basic overview of the entire buying and construction process. Building your own DIY solar panels takes a lot of dedication, but the process can be immensely fun and can save you a lot of money!
I’d like to hear from you!
Would you try to create DIY solar panels? Leave a comment below!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.
Interesting article. I’ve been interested in solar power for a long time. But I grew up in Southern Ontario and solar power is not a year round option. Neither is small scale hydro electric which interests me slightly more. But NOW I live in Israel which has LOTS of sun. I don’t know if I will end up staying but solar power is a great option here. It’s nice to know about the DIY option. I think even with that, a group of people “who have done it all” to work with you to get it done right might be necessary for many. Think of it: working with a group of people who travel around installing using someone else’s money! 🙂 If it was affordable, I’d pay it and host a person or two during the time it takes to install it all. Are there such resources out there?
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