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Ultimate guide: DIY solar kit
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Ultimate guide: DIY solar kit

20 mins 04 Oct 2020
It might be quite challenging for a novice solar farmer to figure this whole solar mess out. Some give up on the first day and go for turn-key PV system solutions, which normally cost like a one way ticket to the Sun. Here is our ultimate guide on how to save money and DIY your own PV system in 5 easy steps.

Step 1.
Calculate your energy needs

To become truly energy independent with your new solar PV system, it is crucial to accurately calculate your daily load.
Decide what appliances (light, kettle, TV, etc.) you want to run and how much time (hour).
Check the specification chart in your appliances for power rating.
Multiply each power rating (Watt) by time (Hour) of the run and sum them up.
This is only a tiny part of energy we consume daily, so keep on calculating.

If calculations aren't your cup of tea and you are ok with approximate numbers, then check your past utility bills to figure out your average energy consumption per month and divide it by 30/31 days.
According to the EIA, the average electricity consumption for a U.S. residential home customer is 29.4 kWh per day.

Step 2.
Design your PV system

As you might already know, there are several types of solar power systems: grid-tie, off-grid and hybrid. A grid-tie system allows you to sell electricity to the grid and therefore become a prosumer. On the other hand, an off-grid solar panel system can make you fully independent. A hybrid system can do both, hence the name.

No matter which system you've decided to go for, you'll need four basic components for it:
Read article about solar systems to choose the right system for your needs.
Solar Panel (PV Panel)
Charge Controller
There are a lot of makes and modifications to choose from on the market, and you can't just buy the first item you've found. Sizing is extremely important, and that's why we have done the calculations above.

Step 3.
Size your PV system

Size the PV modules

Size the PV modules

If you want a solar PV system to cover all your energy needs, first you'll need the number you got in the previous step divided by the number of peak sun hours and panel wattage.
Meet Andrew, a new yorker who consumes the average 29.4 kWh per day. With 4.2 peak sun hours in NY City, he'll need a solar panel system with a total rated capacity of: 29.4 / 4.2 = 7kW

Such a system could be made up of 20 350-Watt panels or 18 400-Watt panels. Andrew may opt for panels of higher or lower wattage, depending on the space available on his roof or in the backyard.

Result of the calculation above is the minimum number of PV panels needed

Size the inverter

Size the inverter

An inverter is used for converting DC current to AC current needed to run most appliances. Therefore, the size of your inverter should be similar to the DC rating of your solar PV system.

Andrew is installing a 7 kilowatt (kW) system, so his inverter needs to be around 7000 W, plus or minus a small percentage. Inverter manufacturers usually specify sizing guidelines for the array capacity their inverters can be paired with on their product specification sheets.
If the size of the solar modules paired with the inverter doesn't meet the stated guidelines, manufacturers may void their warranty offering.

Size the batteries

Size the batteries

First, decide how many days worth of energy you want to store in your battery bank. The product of these 'independence days' and the watt-hours per day should represent a 50% depth of discharge on your batteries. Thus, multiply the result by 2 and convert the kwh result into amp hours (AH) by dividing it by the battery voltage.
Andrew wants the battery bank to last one day without recharging. As he consumes the average 29.4 kWh per day: 29.4 x 1 = 29.4 kWh

Since it represents only a 50% depth of discharge on the batteries, double this number: 29.4 x 2 = 58.8 kWh

This is the energy we need from the batteries. Finally, we need to convert this to Ah by dividing it by the system voltage (typically 12V, 24V, or 48V).
If we choose to use 48 V, the minimum Ah capacity is:
58 800/48 = 1225 Ah

So, Andrew needs 5 batteries of 265Ah.

Size charge controller

Size charge controller

Take the wattage of your solar system and divide it by the voltage of your battery bank. Finally, add 25% to allow for cold temperatures and as always, round up.

With Andrew's solar PV system is 7kW and the battery bank voltage of 48 V we get:
(7000 / 48) + 25% = 37 A ≈ 40 A

So, for the chosen solar power system, he needs a 40 A, 48 V charge controller.

Step 4.
Purchase your solar equipment

Now, as you have all the calculations done, it's the time to go to the nicest part: purchasing your solar equipment. A1 Solare Store supplies all types of solar equipment for residential and business needs, so you are sure to find everything you need in one place.
Wholesale prices
Shipment cost remains the same if you buy more items. So, as more items you have in your order as less the shipped item price will be.
You can easily get a quote by submitting a simple form on our website. Calculate the total cost of your PV system to choose the best option!
Trusted manufacturers
We cherry-pick the manufacturers we work with to ensure the highest quality and reliability of the products we offer to our customers.
Warehouses across USA
Our warehouses are located on both East and West coasts of the USA: California, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and Missouri.
4-7 business days delivery
Your order will be safely and promptly delivered by one of our trusted partners: FedEx, XPO, ODFL or ArcBest.
1-3 days processing
We process all orders within 24 hours and ship them within 48 hours to make solar dreams come true asap!
Easy payment
You can pay by credit card, PayPal, Wire Transfer and even Apple or Samsung Pay. Our Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts all your personal information, including credit card number, name, and address to make your online shopping safe.
Well, let's see if A1 Solar Store has everything Andrew needs.

Andrew doesn't have much space available on the rooftop of his house, so he's buying 18 Q CELLS 400W Solar Panel 144 cell G5.3 Q.PEAK DUO L. They are highly efficient monocrystalline panels, which are sure to cover 100% of Andrew's energy usage.

In A1 Solar Store he also found a suitable SMA Sunny Boy 7kw Inverter SB-7.0-1SP-US-41 of the right power output. It is one of the most versatile residential inverters available. Congrats, Andrew!

Our new yorker really values every inch of space, so he didn't want to buy 5 batteries. It was too much for him. Luckily, there is a better option: KiloVault HAB 7.5kWh Wall-Mount Battery Storage System. It is even bigger than he planned!

Finally, he found a nice MORNINGSTAR MPPT 45A Charge Controller compatible with his 48 V system.

Great job, Andrew! Now it's your turn to do some shopping.

Step 5.
Install your solar PV system

Installing solar panels may be quite challenging. If your mates can't come to help you out, you're unlikely to cope with it on your own. In this case, hiring professional installers is the only way out. However, if you're lucky to have somebody to give you a hand, check our articles on how to install solar panels on a roof and how to wire solar panels, charge controller and battery together.

Following these 5 steps you'll be able to make your solar panel system from scratch. It'll obviously take you some time to calculate your energy needs, decide on the system type, size every piece of equipment and choose them in our store. A1 Solar team is always ready to help you out at any point of your way to a new solar life. Per Aspera Ad Sol!
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