How To Build Solar Panels

How To Setup A Basic Off Grid Solar Energy System...

Easy to Assemble “Plug and Play” Solar Power

With ever increasing energy bills and climate change, solar energy is the most sort after solution. The only problem though, are the costs of installation. These days, solar panels and all the peripherals that go with it is getting cheaper, but installing it all is another completely different issue, so hopefully in this guide we can solve that problem for most of you...

Working with solar energy can be safe, as long as the voltages and currents you are working with are well below 50 volts and 1 ma. But solar energy systems can contain high DC voltages within the networked solar panels and high AC voltages within the inverter - there is simply no room for mistakes when working with high voltages, especially where high currents are present. DON'T DO IT! If you have no idea about electricity, then consult with a professional!


Where some solar energy systems may contain batteries, this is especially dangerous as high currents can burn wires and cause fires/hazards. Again, if you don't understand electricity, then consult a professional... It's NOT worth risking you and your family's life safety!

Basic Quick Solar Setup and Tutorial Guide

Setting up a basic energy system is easy, as everything is basically modular; where everything just "snaps" together like legos. The basic off grid system is comprised of: Solar panels, batteries, solar charger controller and inverter... The only tools you will need to setup your energy system, are: wire strippers, side cutters and a Philips head screwdriver...

Below is my simple off grid system, which I assembled a few years ago! It still comes handy, especially when we get blackouts, which is a common thing these days...

Technical Info: AGM 260 AH, 12V Battery, 2000 watt inverter, 30 Amp solar charger and 3 x 12 Volt, 200 watts solar panels... 260 AH x 12 Volts = 3120 watts - 7 hours x 600 watts = 4200 Watt hours... A simple system, that's BETTER than a fuel powered generator of similar size!

The first connections that are made in an off grid energy system, is the solar charger and batteries. Solar chargers can usually accept a multiple range of voltage inputs, the basic being 12-24 volt chargers. That's why the first connections has to be the charger to the battery. what happens is this: When the charger senses the batteries being connected, i.e. 12 or 24 volts, the charger automatically adjust to the specifications of the batteries that are connected - A totally flat battery will not charge properly in this case!


When the solar panels are finally connected, the voltages being generated by the panels is regulated and then applied to the battery(s)...

Quite Simply…

+

+

= Free Electricity!

Here's How to Set One Up...


For this system, we will be using a 12/24 volt charger that's rated at 30 amps... This system will be set at 12 volts, meaning, when the charger is connected to a 12 volt battery, it will automatically set itself to that charging specification... The charging voltage of any 12 volt system is 18 volts or 36 volts for a 24 volt system. A 12 volt solar panel can easily generate voltages over 20 volts, although the charge controller will regulate it at the appropriate charge voltage of 18 volts DC... So in this case, you DEFINITELY do not want to hard wire a solar panel directly to a battery! 

Solar30 Charger

The solar 30 charger has various functions, which along with instructions can be found in the documentation when purchased...


#1. To begin, you need to first connect your battery(s) to your solar charger... Solar chargers basically have 6 terminals; -Negative and +Positive for panel input, -Negative and +Positive for battery output and -Negative and +Positive for regulated output... See example below...

Solar charger terminals

The terminals are self explanatory... Solar, Battery, 12/24 volt, 30 Ampere Output...

Here is a side view of the terminals... Unscrewing opens the clamps to accept the terminal connections...

Locate the battery connections (Battery Symbol) and connect the battery... To clamp the wires in place, first loosen the terminals with your screwdriver. Then simply push your stripped battery connector in place and then tighten the clamp with your screwdriver. The wire should now be secured in place... Do the same for the other connector, so that both the Negative and Positive connections are complete.


#2. Once the battery(s) has been connected and the charger display (or status lights) turn on, you are ready to connect the solar panels. Solar panels come as 12 or 24 volts. So if a 12 volt battery is connected to the system, you will need a solar panel(s) rated at 12 volts and vice versa... This charger can accept 30 Amps worth of solar panels, which equates to 30Amps x 12 = 360 Watts, which is about 3 x 120 watts solar panels total... But 1 single 100 watt solar panel is efficient for our setup...

First (battery) connection...

#3. Once your system is assembled, i.e, solar panels, solar charger, battery and (Optionally) the inverter , you can either use the power output from the charger (Globe Symbol) to power small devices, or you can simply connect an inverter directly to the battery(s) so that you can power household appliances. The completed system example (above) should basically look like the example below... pretty straight forward!

Basic 100 watt solar energy system

What can I power with this energy system?


With this basic energy system, you can run TVs, small fridges, computer and a whole range of other appliances. You can easily use a system like this one for camping or even on construction sites... For the HUGE benefit of not requiring fuel, the biggest con I guess, is probably finding the space to mount your solar panel(s) - Our system simply has the panels resting against the garage wall!


Here are the average costs?


  • Solar panels x 1: $120.00AU (Later upgraded to 3 x 200 watt solar panels)
  • Solar charge controller: $56.00AU
  • AGM Deep Cycle battery x 1: $550.00AU
  • Inverter: $250.00


Where to buy: Solar chargers, inverters and solar panels can be bought from either eBay or Alibaba for really cheap - we found these to be the best places on finding great deals. Take your time, if you want the best deal...

















Batteries, unfortunately need to be sourced locally as postage/delivery cost are excessive; this is due to the weight of the battery!

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