P

eople have been DYIng forever. Luckily, today we can surf the Internet and find tutorials for almost every imaginable DIY project, and PV installation is no exception. Let’s briefly explore the main steps of building a solar system.

Do you need any special skills to build solar panel system?

Without any doubt, building a home solar system requires more knowledge and skills than your average weekend home improvement project, such as putting up some shelves in your bedroom. But it is definitely possible to build solar power system on your own. There are solar panel projects designed specifically for DIYers – quite time-consuming yet accomplishable.

How to make a solar panel system? Ultimate solar system building guide

Step 1. Calculate how much solar power your home needs

Here is a simple equation to figure out how much solar power you need before you start to build solar panel system:

kWh per month / (average sunlight per day * 30) = kW solar panel system

kwH is calculated by multiplying the wattage of your appliances by the hours they are used per day.

For example, if you use about 1000 kWh per month and, on average, there are 5.5 hours of sunlight per day, that would be 1000 divided by 5.5 * 30 = 6.06 kW. So, to provide 1000 kWh per month in a place that gets 5.5 hours of direct sunlight per day, you will need to install a 6.06 kW solar system.

Step 2. Select solar system components

Generally speaking, in order to build a solar panel system, you need to wire your solar panels together to make an electrical circuit through which current will flow. Naturally, the first thing that you should do is purchase the right components for building your home solar system.

Solar panel size and solar cells material

Traditionally, solar modules come in two configurations: 60-cell and 72-cell. If you want to build solar panel system without professional help, you may want to choose 60-cell panels as they weigh less and are easier to handle. However, 72-cell panels can also be used to build a home solar panel system, for example, for ground-mount solar arrays.

Most manufacturers make solar panels from monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar cells. Monocrystalline systems have a higher efficiency of about 22%, while the efficiency of polycrystalline systems is around 18%. Still, polycrystalline panels are also less expensive, so they are good for DIY solar panel system projects on a budget.

Backing material

Solar panels consist of several layers. If you decide to build a solar panel system, choosing the right non-conductive material for a back layer to attach the cells to is essential. A wooden board is usually used as backing for solar cells in DIY projects because it is easy to make holes in the wood for the wiring.

Inverter

An inverter is a device that converts the direct current produced by solar panels into alternating current, which the power grid uses. Basically, the size of your inverter should be similar to the DC rating of your solar panel system. If you are installing a 6 kW solar panel system, you need an inverter of around 6000 W.

There are several types of inverters: square wave inverters, modified sine wave inverters, and pure sine wave inverters. Square wave inverters are the cheapest option, but they are not suitable for all appliances. Modified sine wave output is also not suitable for certain appliances. Pure sine wave inverters are more expensive and the most efficient. In general, take into account that the quality of the inverter plays a critical role when you decide to build solar panel system.

Solar battery and charge controller

If you plan to build solar power system off the grid, you will also need to include a battery and a charge controller in your DIY project. The first step is calculating how much electricity your solar panel system will need to store. By calculating your power load, you can figure out how many batteries your power storage system will require. The purpose of a charge controller is to regulate the flow of electricity from the solar panels to the battery bank and prevent overcharging issues.

Step 3. Mount your solar panels

Choose a suitable location to build a solar power system with no sunlight obstructions. Prepare the mounting stand: you can do it on your own or buy one. To get the most out of your solar panel system, point the modules in the direction that captures the maximum sunlight.

Step 4. Wire solar panels

Here is the step that requires some special effort – if you want to build a solar power system, it will be good if you have any experience with electrical work. For the wiring of solar panels, you should have some knowledge of basic circuit diagrams. Solar panel wiring is a complicated topic, so we won’t dive into details in this article. Once the mission is accomplished, all components of your solar panel system are ready for use.

Step 5. Attach the cells to your backsheet

As soon as your solar cells are wired and glued to the backing, you can seal them with plexiglass so that your power system has a protective cover. If it is possible, affix each cell to the backing individually. This makes it easier to replace a single cell in case it becomes damaged or is not functioning properly.

The advantages of building a solar system on your own

Building a DIY home solar panel system can save householders thousands of dollars in upfront installation costs (approximately $7000 - $9000 potential savings). Furthermore, if you are a person who is willing to accept a big DIY challenge, a solar panel system installation might be just what you need. If you cope with this PV system project, you will certainly take pride in your accomplishment.

Downsides of not hiring a professional to build a solar panel system

By DIY building a commercial solar energy system, too many errors can occur and lead to unsafe solar installation. Firstly, DIY solar panels installed incorrectly can cause fires. Secondly, DIY solar panel systems often violate electrical codes, leading to permitting problems. Of course, it is easier for you to rely on a professional solar company to handle electrical codes. Moreover, a solar panel warranty can become void without professional installation. Lastly, DIY solar panels are not eligible for incentives like the federal tax credit, which helps bring down the cost of home solar panel systems.

So after all, does it make sense to build solar panel system on your own?

If you want to undertake a small project of building a solar system, you can give it a try using a tutorial on how to do it. You don’t even have to build a solar system from scratch, as there is a range of inexpensive solar panel kits that include each component you will need for a DIY solar panel system installation. At the same time, the following thought is anything but new – hiring a professional can save you both time and money, especially when it comes to installing a full-scale high power solar panel system on your property.

Posted 
Jul 12, 2023
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