A simple solar system that helps power your entire house and stores energy isn’t as easy to set up as you’d think. To ensure that you capture some of the sun’s energy while you save up enough for a whole-home solar system we’re offering a few DIY solar tips.
In our previous post, “DIY solar,” we walked everyone through the process of installing solar systems. Today we’re going more into detail about how you create a minimalist off-grid solar setup without spending too much. Let’s dive in!
How Solar Works
Solar panels are actually quite simple. Most people think that they’re extremely complex, but the technology has been around for decades now. To capture and absorb sunlight and then turn it into electricity that you can use throughout your home, even a simple solar system needs all of the basic components.
Basic Components of a Solar Energy System
The first thing you’ll need to start capturing and converting the sun’s energy is a solar panel! Solar panels are made up of 100’s of photovoltaic cells that capture solar energy as DC current, and then transfer that energy through DC wiring to an inverter.
From the inverter, AC energy can be used to power your TV or charge your electric car. When your solar energy system is set up and running, the AC current first goes to your fuse box, where it’s distributed throughout the house, and then to a battery or back to the electrical grid for your neighbors to use. There are far more moving pieces for more complex solar energy systems, but the concept is generally the same.
The Minimalist Solar Setup
If you want a simple solar setup that you can use to charge a battery when you go camping or to live out of your van, then here are the components you’ll need for a minimalist solar setup. In this post we’re covering the components of this system, in our previous post, DIY Solar Guide, you’ll find everything you need to start setting up your at-home or on the road solar system. Here’s what you need for a truly minimalist solar power system.
- 100 amp hour deep cycle battery
- 100-200 watt solar panel
- 20 amp MPPT charge controller
- 750-watt inverter
This specific system is pretty easy to expand if you need more power. All you’ll need to do is wire another solar panel in series and purchase a larger battery. When it comes to the overall cost of this system, you can expect to spend anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 depending on the battery you choose. Lead cell batteries will be significantly cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, but they likely won’t hold a charge for as long or last as long.
While batteries are an essential part of solar energy systems, you won’t have any power to fill the battery if you don’t first get a solar panel. For a rugged and on the go system, there are two options to choose from. The first is a glass solar panel and the second is a flexible solar panel.
Glass Solar Panel
Glass solar panels are the most common type of solar panels and they’re much cheaper than flexible solar panels. Glass panels can last quite a few years and typically provide the most return on investment. Some of the drawbacks of these panels include their weight and difficulty in mounting. If you were to try and mount them to the top of a car you’d definitely have a bit of a struggle, to say the least.
Flexible Solar Panel
Flexible solar panels are easier to mount, more lightweight, and can be mounted flush to the roof of a vehicle. The downside of a flexible panel is that it’s much more expensive and they don’t last nearly as long. So, while it’s not ideal when it comes to price point and longevity of life, flexible panels offer more versatility.
While we are solar experts, we did get a little help putting this post together and found mobile-solarpower.com to have some awesome resources, including their own guide to a minimalist setup.
If you’re looking for a more permanent solar setup for your home or business, we’d love to hear from you! At Sun Badger Solar we provide all things solar and can give you a free estimate for what it would cost to power your home with solar. Reach out to us today to learn more!