How To Install Solar Panel Off Grid?

Do you want to design your own off-grid solar system? Here are the first six steps to help you get started.

#1) Figure out how much power you need

Planning a solar system without knowing how much power you’ll need is like to planning a road trip without knowing how far you’ll be going or what vehicle you’ll be driving. Now go get some gas for the trip. How much is it? That, of course, is dependent on your distance and gas mileage. Solar is the same way. You can’t just say, “I’m going to get two solar panels and a battery,” and expect it to suffice. Enter what you’ll be powering with your solar power system into our load calculator. You must remember everything that will be powered by your system – even seemingly minor adjustments might have a significant impact.

#2 Calculate the amount of batteries you need

After you’ve determined how much power you’ll need, you’ll need to determine how many batteries you’ll need to store it.

  • Do you only need enough batteries to last a day or two, or do you need enough to last three or four days, or perhaps longer?
  • Do you have a backup power source, such as a generator or turbine, in case the sun goes out?
  • Will the batteries be kept in a warm room or will they be kept in a cold place?

Batteries are designed to be stored at a temperature of roughly 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The larger the battery bank you require for sub freezing temperatures, the colder the space. The size and cost of your battery bank are influenced by each of these factors.

Which battery bank voltage do you require: 12V, 24V, or 48V? To keep the number of parallel strings to a minimum and limit the amount of current flowing between the battery bank and the inverter, higher voltage battery banks are employed in bigger systems. A basic 12V battery bank makes sense if you only have a small system and want to be able to charge your phone and run 12V DC gadgets in your RV. However, if you need to power more than 2000 watts at a time, 24 volt and 48 volt systems should be considered. It will also allow you to use thinner and less expensive copper wiring between the batteries and the inverter, decreasing the number of parallel strings of batteries.

Based on these answers, use our off-grid calculator to figure out what big battery bank you’ll need.

#3 Calculate the number of solar panels needed for your location and time of year

Our off-grid calculator’s second half can assist you in determining how many solar panels you’ll require for your solar system. After you’ve calculated how much energy you’ll need per day using the load calculator, you’ll need to tell it how much sunlight you’ll be able to harvest. The term “solar energy” refers to the amount of energy that is accessible from the sun at a given place “The hours of the sun.”

The total number of “The number of hours the sun shines at an angle on your solar panels throughout the day equals sunlight, as if it were shining straight on them when they generate the greatest power. Because the light isn’t as bright at 8 a.m. as it is at noon, an hour of morning sun can be considered as half an hour, but an hour from midday to 1 p.m. can be treated as a full hour. And, unless you live near the equator, the number of hours of sunlight in the winter is not the same as in the summer.

You should use the technique in the worst-case scenario for your locality, which is the season with the least quantity of sunshine. As a result, you won’t be short on solar energy for a portion of the year. You don’t need to plan for winter if it’s a summer camp, but if it’s a year-round home or a hunting cabin, you’ll need to tell it how many solar hours correlate to winter.

#4 Select a solar charge controller

So, now that we have batteries and solar, we need to figure out how to get the solar electricity into the batteries. Take the watts from the solar and split it by the battery bank voltage for a very rough estimate of what big solar charge controller you’ll need. To account for a safety factor, add extra 25%.

There’s a little more to think about now when choosing a charging controller. PWM and MPPT are the two main types of technologies used in charge controllers. In summary, a PWM charge controller can be used if the voltage of the solar panel array matches the voltage of the battery bank. PWM can be used if you have a 12V panel and a 12V battery bank. If the voltage of your solar panels differs from the voltage of your battery bank and you can’t link them in series to make them match, you’ll need to utilize an MPPT charge controller. If your solar panel is 20 volts and your battery bank is 12 volts, you’ll need an MPPT charge controller.

#5 Select an inverter

We need to make the power useful now that the batteries have been charged efficiently. You can skip this step if you’re simply using your battery bank to power DC loads. However, if you’re running any AC appliances, you’ll need to convert the direct current from the batteries to alternating current. It’s critical to understand what kind of AC power you’ll require. In North America, the standard voltage is 120/240V split phase, 60Hz. It is 230V single 50Hz in Europe, much of Africa, and a few nations in South America. It’s an interesting blend of both on certain islands. Some inverters can be adjusted for voltages and/or frequencies, while others are fixed. So make sure the specifications of the inverter you’re interested in match your requirements.

If you have the North American standard, you must determine whether you have any 240V appliances or if they are exclusively 120V. Some inverters can output 240V, and the output can be wired to use either 120V or 240V. Other inverters can be stacked, with each one producing 120V but generating 240V when coupled together or stacked. Others can only output 120V and cannot be stacked. To select which inverter is suitable for you, read the specifications once more.

You’ll also need to know how many watts your inverter can handle in total. Fortunately, you developed a loads list in step one that calculated both the constant watts and surge requirements of your loads. Please keep in mind that an inverter is built for a specific voltage battery bank, such as 12, 24, or 48 volts, thus you must first determine what voltage battery bank you will have before purchasing an inverter. If you plan on expanding your system in the future, keep this in mind. If you decide to upgrade to a higher voltage battery bank later, keep in mind that the lower voltage inverter will not work in the new larger system. So either plan ahead and start with the greater voltage, or expect to replace your inverter in the near future.

#6 Balance of system

Okay, we’re cheating a little by combining everything else into one final step for system balance, but there are a lot of other small components that are required, including:

After you’ve completed these six steps, you’ll be well on your way to building your own off-grid solar system.

Is it possible for me to install solar panels that are not connected to the grid?

When people think of going solar, off-grid solar systems in the middle of nowhere are frequently the first thing that comes to mind. While DIY off-grid solar isn’t for everyone, it can be a terrific solution for individuals who live in a remote place without reliable and affordable grid access, want to live a self-sufficient lifestyle without monthly utility bills, or need electricity during a blackout.

Batteries are used in off-grid solar systems to store energy generated by solar panels. Because you’ll be dependent exclusively on your own solar installation to meet all of your energy demands, systems must be sized and constructed to meet a wide range of requirements throughout the year, especially during the winter when sunlight hours are few. Because you are not linked to the grid, off-grid systems are ideal for people who wish to go the DIY path. However, you should obviously educate yourself before diving in. Solar panels, charge controllers, batteries, and inverters are essential components of any off-grid solar installation. We strongly advise that you read up on all of the various components, as well as how to plan and size your system to ensure that it is efficient for years to come.

How many solar panels are required to power an off-grid home?

Let’s pretend we have some 300 watt solar panels and you’re looking for a way to power your home. Because you don’t have access to the grid, off-grid solar is your best alternative for meeting your energy needs.

Assume that each panel on your rooftop receives about 8 hours of sunlight per day. A 300 watt panel exposed to the sun for 8 hours each day will create around 2.5 kilowatt-hours per day. We can acquire a solar output of roughly 900 kilowatt-hours per year if we multiply this by 365 days per year. In a nutshell, each solar panel will generate 900 kilowatt-hours each year.

How much electricity does your house consume? According to most estimates, a typical American home (2,000 square feet) uses about 11,000 kilowatt-hours each year. When we divide our entire consumption by the estimated production of one solar panel, we discover that around thirteen solar panels of this size would be sufficient to power a home of this size. Your energy consumption will be substantially lower if you have a smaller home or are running an RV, and you’ll need fewer panels.

Is it possible for me to purchase solar panels and install them myself?

If you’re interested in solar energy, you’re probably aware that it’s beneficial to the environment, national security, and the air we breathe, not to mention your utility cost. And that it’s one of the most effective strategies to lower your household’s carbon footprint. You’ve undoubtedly also heard that adopting solar is less expensive than paying for utility power, and you might be wondering if this is true. In most circumstances, this is correct. It only takes a short period of time for the additional savings to exceed the initial investment (after that, the solar power is free). You can reach this tipping point far faster if you install the solar system yourself in certain situations, in half the time.

That leads to the next big question: Can you truly put your own solar panels up? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yeah, yes You can install your own solar system if you can drive lag bolts and assemble prefabricated parts, and if you’re ready to spend a day or two on your roof (or not, if you’re mounting your panels on the ground). You don’t need to know how to connect the solar panels to your home’s power or the power grid. For the house hookup, you’ll hire an electrician, and the utility provider will take care of the rest, generally for free. The utility provider isn’t involved at all in an entirely off-grid setup.

Unfortunately, because all you need is a nice drill, this job isn’t even a good excuse to buy new power equipment.

So, why do most people hire professional installers if this is such a simple project? To begin with, many people have good reasons to hire out almost everything, from oil maintenance to grocery shopping. (This is unlikely to be you, but even if it is, our book can assist you in planning a solar installation and locating a reputable local contractor.) More than only the installation is handled by solar professionals. They design the system, apply for rebates and credits, place orders for all necessary parts, secure permissions, and pass all inspections. However, if you have a competent consultant and are prepared to obey the laws of the local building authority (where you’ll receive those permits), you can accomplish all of these things yourself.

Solar installations are becoming increasingly simple, and you may be surprised by the amount of do-it-yourself (DIY) assistance available. PVWatts and the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency are two good examples (DSIRE). PVWatts is an online calculator that may help you size a solar-electric system depending on your home’s location and orientation, as well as the angle of your roof. The same easy tool is used by solar professionals, but it is available to everyone for free. DSIRE maintains an up-to-date, complete list of renewable energy rebates, tax breaks, and other financial incentives available in every part of the country. It’s also completely free and simple to use.

Those two tools alone can assist homeowners answer the two most typical questions they have regarding solar power: How big of a system do I need? and What kind of system do I need? What will it cost, and how much will it cost? Solar equipment providers that specialize to DIYers and provide purchasing and technical help, as well as online groups like Build It Solar, are further alternatives. There’s also no law prohibiting homeowners from hiring a solar specialist to assist them with specific areas of their project, such as developing design requirements, selecting equipment, or filing permit applications.

We should also state up front that taking corners while installing solar panels is not a good idea. We don’t want you to install your system without first getting a permit and then hiring an electrician to finish the job. (Even experienced solar installers enlist the help of electricians.) Yes, the permission procedure is inconvenient, but it is in place to ensure that your system is safe, not just for you, but also for emergency responders who may need to operate around your little power plant. Working with the local building department also teaches you about important design considerations unique to your area, such as wind and snow loads.

What is the finest source of off-grid power?

The best off-grid power sources are listed below.

  • Propane. This is our enormous propane tank, which powers our off-grid boat access cabin at the moment.

Is it necessary for me to obtain authorization to install solar panels?

If your solar system will be put on your property but not attached to your home, follow these steps: Permitted Development applies to the first solo solar PV plant. Any extra units will need to be approved by the city.

Is it possible to power a house solely using solar panels?

You can definitely run a whole house entirely on solar power with a contemporary solar energy system that includes power storage. With today’s high-efficiency solar panels and solar batteries, powering a full home solely with solar energy is now more affordable than ever.

Since the widespread use of solar energy for domestic and commercial purposes two decades ago, the cost of solar panel systems and installation has continued to fall. This is despite the fact that local and federal government rebates and tax credits, as well as utility company incentives, are all declining year after year. The significant reduction in solar costs is due in part to the widespread adoption of solar energy on a national and global scale, and in part to quick developments in solar energy system technology.

Start with these fundamental analyses to determine the cost-effectiveness and other viability elements of maintaining a totally solar-powered home:

Calculate how much electricity you use per month.

To begin, calculate how much solar energy you’ll need to power your complete home entirely using solar energy. You’ll need to know how much electricity you use on a monthly basis to do so. This will allow your solar contractor to estimate how much energy your panels will need to generate each month to power your entire home.

Of course, monthly usage and solar power production potential are projected to fluctuate throughout the year. The reserve capacity of today’s state-of-the-art domestic solar battery storage is the solution to maintaining a consistent power supply for your home. Your solar batteries allow you to store the excess electricity generated by your solar panels on longer, sunnier days for use at a later time when the weather is less sunny.

Solar batteries ensure you have enough electricity to run your complete home during periods of less direct, bright sunlight, without the system automatically drawing from the public power grid.

Evaluate your climate region’s solar energy production capacity.

Whether you can expect to generate enough solar energy to power your entire house year-round depends entirely on the environment you reside in. Examine whether the climate in your area has the ability to produce enough solar energy to power your entire home on a continual basis.

Running a house fully on solar throughout the winter months may be more difficult for homeowners in colder, cloudier climates, such as those along the northwest Pacific coast. Residents may go weeks without seeing direct sunlight, while residents in the southwest may go weeks without seeing a gloomy day.

These climatic changes, combined with circumstances unique to your home and lifestyle, can mean the difference between being able to operate fully off the grid or continuing to rely on your utility company for at least some electricity.

Assess your solar production environment based on your home’s surroundings.

Consider the number and location of huge trees growing around and near your property, as well as the heights of nearby houses and other structures. Large trees and tall homes that are close enough to your home to create heavy shade across your roof for more than a third of the bright hours might impair the efficiency of your solar energy system significantly.

Is it possible to get 240 volts from solar panels?

Because solar radiation is intermittent, solar power generation can be supplemented with storage or other energy sources to provide continuous power, however net metering makes this visible to small dispersed electricity consumers. A combined power plant, which uses a combination of wind, biomass, hydropower, and solar power generation to produce 100 percent sustainable energy, has becoming popular on a bigger scale.

The use of solar power to generate electricity is not the same as the use of solar power to generate heat. To create hot fluids or air, solar thermal principles are used. Electricity is generated using photovoltaic principles. A solar panel (PV panel) is constructed of silicon, a natural element that becomes electrically charged when exposed to sunlight. Solar panels are angled at an angle required by the geographic location and latitude of where they are to be installed, facing solar south in the northern hemisphere and solar north in the southern hemisphere (these are slightly different than magnetic compass north-south directions).

Depending on whether a little winter or summer bias is desired in the system, the angle of the solar array is typically set between site-latitude plus 15 degrees and site-latitude minus 15 degrees. For seasonal times, many solar arrays are set at an angle equal to the site latitude with no bias.

This electrical charge is gathered in the PV panel and directed to the output terminals, resulting in low voltage (Direct Current) ranging from 6 to 24 volts. The most common output is designed for nominal 12 volts, but it can deliver up to 17 volts in practice. The reference voltage is 12 volts, but the operational voltage can be 17 volts or greater, similar to how your car alternator charges your 12 volt battery at far over 12 volts. As a result, the reference voltage and the actual operating voltage diverge.

The intensity of the Sun’s radiation varies depending on the time of day, the season, and the weather. The total amount of solar radiation energy is given in hours of full sunlight per m2, or Peak Sun Hours, in order to make calculations in system planning. Peak Sun Hours refers to the average quantity of sun accessible per day over the course of the year. At “peak sun,” 1000 W/m2 of power is thought to reach the earth’s surface. The solar energy received in one hour on a cloudless summer day on a one-square meter surface directed towards the sun is 1000 Wh per m2 = 1 kWh/m2.

To put it another way, according to the US Department of Energy, the quantity of solar energy that strikes the earth’s surface every +/- hour is higher than the whole amount of energy required by the entire human population in a year. Another viewpoint is that solar panels covering 100 miles square in the southern United States may provide enough energy to power the entire country. In the system’s architecture, the daily average of Peak Sun Hours is employed for calculating reasons, based on either full-year statistics or average worst month of the year statistics, for example. You can use our solar radiation map to see the average Peak Sun Hours for your area in the United States. For a decent approximation of your usual Peak Sun Hours, choose the area closest to your location.

As a result, depending on the planned geographical location, the power of a system varies. To produce the same amount of overall power as those in Arizona, homes in the northeastern United States will need more solar panels in their system. If you have any concerns regarding your region, we can help you with this.

Solar panels and an inverter are the key components for producing electricity using solar power for an on-grid application that offers standard 120 volt AC power for daily usage. Your solar electric system could incorporate a charge controller and battery for off-grid applications or on-grid with battery backup. The battery is charged by solar panels, and the charge regulator ensures that the battery is charged properly.

The inverter receives DC electricity from the solar panels or the batteries, and the inverter converts the DC voltage to conventional AC voltage for usage in the home. If 240 volts AC is required, a transformer or two identical inverters are stacked in series to produce the 240 volts.