DIY Solar Panels – 5 Things to Consider
With the increasing cost of energy, more and more people are looking into alternative energy sources as a means to save money. The most popular way for people to do that today is DIY solar panels. You can build these yourself for $100-$200 each. Before you attempt building them, there are a few things to consider.
1. There are quite a few quality DIY solar panel guides available on the web. These guides come with illustrations, tips, and resources you need to build solar panels yourself and cost about $50. Like most information products , some of this knowledge can be found for free if you look long enough. However, it’s much easier and more time effective to buy one of the available guides. Having all the information and resources at your fingertips will save you a lot of time and help you to minimize mistakes.
2. If you take your time and follow the instructions, just about anyone can build DIY solar panels. Besides the basic knowledge of some tools, you will need to know how to solder and a bit about wiring. Most of these single panels are designed for connecting to large energy consuming appliances such as water heaters, freezers, pool heaters, well pumps, etc. An average sized 80 watt solar panel can produce enough energy to power the average sized water heater (around $800/yr). To do this, you will need to wire the solar panel into the appliance you choose. This is not overly difficult or dangerous if you follow the procedures.
You can also wire several of these solar panels together and connect them to your main power grid. Unless you are an electrician, I would have a certified contractor do this for you. Connecting several panels to your main grid can have huge benefits. When you produce more energy than you use, the surplus gets sent back to your power company for redistribution and you can get credited for the surplus. Not only could you eliminate your power bill, but you could actually get paid for any surplus. Currently this varies by power company and state or federal regulations.
3. You’ll be mounting these solar panels yourself, so you’ll want to consider the location before you decide on how large of a panel(s) to build. Things you will need to consider are: weight, design of your mounting bracket and angle, obstructions (trees, buildings, etc.), building codes, and any permits you may need.
4. Seasons are due to the earth tilting on it’s axis and in the winter the northern hemisphere tilts up and away from the sun. If you live in the northern hemisphere, you should try to face your solar panels to the south. Facing the solar panels to the south gives them the maximum average amount of exposure to the sun regardless of the season. This obviously will depend on what obstructions you have to deal with.
5. The U.S. government is encouraging residents to use alternative energy sources and giving them good reasons to do so. As of now, the U.S. government is offering grants, tax breaks, and exemptions. If you are interested in looking at state and federal incentive programs, there is a link in the resource box at the end of this article that will take you to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. The grants cover a certain percentage of the total cost, tax breaks can be in the form of a credit ($ amount varies by state), and the exemptions are on the increased property value due to your solar panel system. However, these are only applicable if you buy your solar panel system from a qualified manufacturer and have them installed by certified technicians. To give you an idea of what a professional system costs, I priced out a system large enough to power a 1500 square foot home at about $14,000.
Whether you build a single solar panel to help cut some energy cost or an entire array of solar panels that could eliminate your energy bill, you will be helping to reduce pollution by becoming eco friendly.
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