DIY Solar Panels - Build and Install Your Own Power System
For a DIY solar panels project, doing the necessary research for a system for the home will be more difficult than actually putting the system together and making the necessary electrical connections.
The do-it-yourself person can find excellent reference materials on-line that provide useful information on installing home projects. Do a Google Search, visit an on-line book store or consult with a professional to find sources of great information. Another source of information on do-it-yourself projects can be found at Family Handyman Questions Answered. Through this site, you can find out about other issues you will certainly encounter while installing a solar power system. Be armed with good information to make the best informed decision prior to spending any money on a DIY solar panel system and avoid expensive mistakes.
Here some great books:
Solar Power Your Home for Dummies [Paperback] by R. DeGunther Power from the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity by Daniel D. Chiras
This book is a good introduction for the beginner who is new to renewable energy. It explains things in layman's terms, is easy to follow and helps the reader avoid costly mistakes. The best part about this book is that it is understandable. However, the book is really a good primer to get started, but other materials will need to be referenced for more advanced solar applications.
Solar Electricity Handbook, 2010 Edition: A Simple Practical Guide to Solar Energy - Designing and Installing Photovoltaic Solar Electric Systems by Michael Boxwell
This is another good book to start with as a beginners guide to the basics of a DIY solar panel system for the home. It does not get real technical and presents things in a pretty straight forward way with step by step processes. The materials are pretty comprehensive and the writer seems to be very thoughtful in the way he presents things to the reader.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Solar Power for Your Home, 3rd Edition by Dan Ramsey and David Hughes
This book provides the basics in buying tips for equipment and some simple projects one can undertake at home pretty easily. It is loaded with a lot of great information that is presented to the non-technical person who doesn't know anything about renewable . There are check lists to follow, answers to frequently asked questions, definitions to terminologies used in renewable energy and warning materials on what not to do when buying and installing a DIY solar panel system.
Begin with the Proper Information
As mentioned in materials found via the energy conservation tips page of this site, one of the first things that should be done is to conduct an the energy audit of the home and find out how much energy electric energy is being used by appliances, electronics, and lighting. Estimated wattage of appliances and lamps can be found on the solar power calculator page. This information will be vital to sizing and purchasing equipment. It is also important to reiterate information from those pages that the home needs to be energy efficient before sizing a power system.
Find out if the roof of the home will support the additional weight of panels and framing/support system. The services of a building contractor, structural engineer or roofing company may be required to determine whether additional bracing may be required to support the additional weight. Additionally, they will be able to assist in addressing any necessary repairs that are required of the roof system.
A third important task to perform is to assess the building site. Building orientation to the sun and the slant of the roof are important factors to consider. Will the sun be available during those critical peak hours or will trees block the sun’s energy from your panels? Will there be any necessary tree trimming required? Are those trees on your neighbor’s property? Will the system have unobstructed sunlight?
And finally, here are some additional questions/issues that need to be answered before buying one product item or beginning construction on DIY solar panel system:
Will the DIY solar panel project suffice in meeting local building codes? Take a look at the
solar energy codes page on what you might need to investigate.
Are there any local zoning issues that restrict or prohibit the installation of one of these systems?
Will the installation of the system require permits from the local government? Be sure to obtain these before starting construction.
Are their available drawings for permitting requirements? Some localities will require a professional engineer’s stamp on them before issuing a permit.
Will the system be a
grid tie system; one connected to the local utility? Has
net metering with the utility been considered? Utilities have their own sets of interconnection standards. These standards must be satisfied in allowing a solar power system to tie into the utility’s grid.
Is there a homeowner’s association? Do the homeowner’s association rules prohibit or dictate the placement of the renewable energy system?
Is there a property line boundary set back requirement? This may impact the location of a ground mounted system.
Are there any easements on the property that may impede the installation of a ground mounted power system?
Have the neighbors been informed of the project? Some neighbors may object to the unsightliness of some power systems and perceive them as negatively impacting their property value.
Is there enough roof area for the project? The solar panel calculator will help you with this question. Is the home oriented in the correct compass direction?
Have the solar resources and climatic conditions for the locality been evaluated? The renewable resources page can help you out with this question.
Does the solar power system make economic sense? The solar energy economics page will provide information on what needs to be considered for the system's cost effectiveness.
Have incentives or rebates from the local utility been investigated? If so, what are the requirements to receive those monies? There may be some strings attached (i.e., the system must be installed by a contractor, warranties, certification of components, etc.).
Here's a Youtube video on some of the problems you can encounter by not doing the necessary research.
Before buying or installing one thing for a DIY solar panel system, make sure all the necessary homework has been done. Otherwise, a very expensive mistake can be made; a mistake you may not recover from on a financial standpoint.
Alternative Energy Concepts is a site on all forms of renewable energy and can provide guidance to the homeowner with “Do It Yourself” DIY-projects.
Finally, are you considering a DIY solar water heater for your home. If so, take a look at DIY Passive Solar Water Heater for more information on this topic.