The first question that most people ask when they hear that I built my own solar panels is how do they work and are they easy to build. Ok, so first two questions, but they usually come together, so I’ll answer them here together. First…
How Do Solar Panels Work?
An easy explanation is that the panels are made up of a collection of solar cells. The cells are made up of silicon and when linked together, they capture the energy from the sun. It is then converted into electricity and this is the electricity you can use to run your home. This may seem a very simplified version, but depending on how you want to generate energy, where you live and how you want to integrate your system into the grid or have a stand alone system, you will have small variances on this basic principle.
The 3 systems you’ll want to think about.
Lets say you want to have a stand alone system where grid-tie is not an option, then you will need batteries to store your energy. You could also opt for a hybrid system where you have some energy produced from your own efforts and some from an external system or you can have a grid-tie system, which means that you sell your energy to the grid when you have excess and use it from the grid when you don’t.
This last option is the most popular and is actually the easiest to implement because you don’t have to worry about batteries and storage space.
So how easy are they to build?
Solar panels are very easy to build, but only if you have a clear set of instructions. There are so many different instruction manuals online, but the best step by step instruction will include video tutorials which allow you to actually see the work being done. This is like looking over the shoulder of a professional. It was also really helpful to have online support so that I could have my questions answered as soon as they cropped up.
The actual building was simple. Although I would consider myself to be a bit of a do it yourself enthusiast, I don’t think that anyone will have any problems with the instructions. I had some more technical questions that arose from wanting to use my solar panel energy to run my water pump from the well. I didn’t know if I should integrate it into the whole system or have a separate system for the pump.
For the average person who lives in the country or suberbs, these kinds of questions won’t pop up, but if they do, you have people there ready to help you.
Here are a few of the other questions that I keep getting asked and quick links to the pages where you’ll find the answers.
How To Calculate How Many Panels I’ll Need?
Where To Find Cheap Solar Cells?
How Much Energy Does An Average Home Use?