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The Ultimate Guide to Solar Power Energy
and Lower Bills

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Table of Contents
Book 1
Solar Power:
20 Hacks to Build Your Own Affordable Solar Power System
Chapter 1. Going Solar The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Chapter 2. Things to Know Before Going Solar
Chapter 3. What You Need to Build Your Own Solar System
Chapter 4. Finding the Right Location to Install Your New System

Chapter 5. Installing Your Solar System

Chapter 6. Solar Power and Your Meter
Chapter 7. Important Tips You Need to Know
Book 2
Solar Power:
Proven Methods To Build Your Own Solar Power System That You Can Afford
Introduction: The DIY Super Power!
Chapter 1: A few things to Understand before You get Started
Chapter 2: How to Construct your Own Solar Power System
Chapter 3: Some Extra Solar Power DIY Goodies!
Conclusion: Passing the Solar Powered Torch

Solar Power:
20 Hacks to Build Your Own Affordable
Solar Power System


It s truly amazing how fast technology has advanced over the years. With each passing
year, things continue to advance at a faster rate. Still, with all of the progress we ve
made, it has not been without cost.

It seems that with each advancement we make a little is taken away from our environment.
When scientists like Ben Franklin, Alessandro Volta, Michael Faraday, and Thomas
Edison made their contributions to the world of technology there was literally no way for
them to know the extent their discoveries would eventually reach.

Over the years, because of their contributions to the world of science, nearly every life on
the planet has been affected by electricity. According to the World Energy Outlook
Database, 83% of the planet is now reliant on electricity to get through their day. That
leaves only about 1.2 billion people still in the dark but projected estimates show that
number is being reduced each year by approximately 84 million.

It is clear, that electricity has become a very important part of life for the vast majority of
mankind. People rely on it to cook, to clean, for transportation, and to control the
temperature in their environment.

There is no question that the use of electricity has woven itself into the fabric of life in
general. Unless you live in sub-Saharan Africa or somewhere in the few remaining
developing countries of the world, chances are you flip a switch in your home several
times a day without giving it a second thought.

However, electricity comes at a cost. In some areas it can be very expensive to maintain,
in others it has proven to be extremely damaging to the environment. Still, with careful
research and study one quickly learns that it is not electricity itself that has been damaging

to our world; the power has been around for millennia. What poses a the real threat
therefore is not electricity as much as the means by which we acquire it.

Up until the last few generations, the fuel for electricity has come predominantly from
fossil fuels, which is available in limited supply. While it appears to be in abundant supply,
resources for fossil fuels are becoming more difficult to tap into.

According to the site, estimates predict that our current supply of fossil
fuels will run out by 2088 and perhaps even sooner if the current and steady increase in
production continues.

This knowledge has caused many of us to look at alternative resources for harnessing the
power of electricity and turning to solar power as an option. There are many reasons why
you might be considering setting up your own solar power source but the fact that you are
shows that you are definitely interested in protecting the environment and saving money.

By the time you finish this book you will have a basic understanding about what to do to
get solar energy in your home or office.

You will likely be surprised at how simple a project it can be, how affordable it actually is
and all while lowering your carbon footprint in the process. This book will be a valuable
resource in guiding you through each step needed to bring your home into the modern
world of technology through solar power.

Chapter 1. Going Solar The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly




question that solar

energy has been a
hot topic for
are quick to point
out its benefits
economically as well as environmentally. Unlike fossil fuels that will one day be depleted
from the earth s stores, solar power will be around for as long as the sun, which makes it
one of the most reliable resources for energy that we can have.

However, some have questioned whether the benefits are as good as claimed. In fact, there
are quite a few groups that have been actively opposing it.

Solar Energy: The Good

Fortune Magazine said it best when it predicted that solar energy would be the technology
to watch in the coming years. It s not just sweeping the nation but the world with
countries like
China and India making massive investments in it.Because so many are now getting on the
bandwagon, what was once an expensive investment and a privilege few people could
afford, the cost of solar power is steadily dropping into an affordable range for more

Economically, this is a windfall for everyone. Whether you re a homeowner, business, or
a corporation being able to lower the cost of electricity can have a positive impact on your
bottom line. A solar powered system can even generate free power to sell back to your

utility company. With an average 25 year lifespan for a system solar represents thousands
of dollars in savings every year.

To that end, you ll likely have a fixed rate when it comes to your power bills. Over the
past ten years, energy costs have increased by approximately 3% a year but with solar
power you can freeze your energy expenses and they need not go up any further. In fact, in
some cases you can even turn your meter backwards and earn a little cash in the process.

Solar can also increase your property value. With property appraisers taking a keen
interest in solar installations, your property will be that much more desirable to a

Solar Energy: The Bad

While having solar power seems like the answer both economically and environmentally,
it is still a business that is finding its balance. As of now, solar energy needs to be stored
so it can be used when the sun is not shining. However, as of today, there is no battery that
is designed specifically for solar energy.

The batteries you choose to store your energy will have to be adapted for use in your solar
home. According to Solar Trend, residential battery storage for solar power will not be
available until sometime in 2017 or later.

In most areas, solar energy is still marketed as a boutique product. This means that
while it is gaining in popularity over the years, there will still be a struggle for credibility
on the worldwide front. Those who go solar will often find themselves gaining
independence from energy companies but find in some areas they will still have to battle it
out in proving their viability.

Solar Energy: The Ugly

As more and more people turn towards solar energy, expect to get some flack from the
local utility companies. Just like in the auto industry, there is still a lot of push back from
energy companies against environmentally friendly cars. These large corporations rely on
our use of these more expensive fuels to survive. To that end, utility companies are
presently lobbying state regulators to impose additional fees for those who choose to use
solar energy in their homes.

Still, even with the negatives of solar energy, we are looking at a maturing industry that
looks to bring great opportunities to many people the world over. If you re new to the
solar movement, chances are you probably feel like many others who believe it is a viable
option but are just not sure how to get started.

The following chapters will help to clear up some of the confusion and lay some basic
groundwork on how to get your own solar system up and running.

Chapter 2. Things to Know Before Going Solar

The decision to
go solar can be
an exciting one
but it also means
that you ll have
differently about
your new energy

If you are new to
the solar world, you re probably thinking about the great savings you re going to have
and how you re reducing your carbon footprint. But there are a few other things you
should keep in mind that will be beneficial in smoothing out the bumps when you re
ready to make the big switch.

Your Roof

In most cases, your solar panels will be installed on your rooftop so you need to make sure
that your roof is in good condition. Make sure it will be strong enough to support not just
the panels but also the racking system needed to secure it in place. In some cases these
systems can weigh over a ton.

If your roof is a little old, chances are parts may be brittle and there may be some wear

and tear that will have to be taken care of first. When it is time to install the panels,
weaker areas may crack and break.

Once the roof is in good condition, it is a good idea to buy extra roofing material so that
you can quickly replace broken or weakening areas quickly in the future. Your solar panels
will only work well if the roof is able to support it.

Also important is the angle of the roof. If it is flat, you will have to factor in the cost of
installing an adjustable tilt frame to make sure that your panels will get maximum solar
exposure. This will give you optimal performance.


Your budget will probably be the single most important factor in determining which solar
options you will use. Decide ahead of time how much money you want to spend on your

Make sure that you allow for solar conversion costs in addition to the total cost of the
system. If budgeting is tight, you may be able to find some companies that will offer a
payment plan to cover the expense of materials.

Backup System

Solar power is good but during certain times of the year, getting enough energy to keep
your home running may be challenging. Depending on where you live, you will inevitably
come across a day when you may need more energy than your solar panels can produce.

Unless you plan on living completely off the grid, you ll need to make some
arrangements for a backup power system. That means keeping a generator or battery
powered system charged and ready to go or connecting into your local utility company for
the extra power you need.

Excess Power

In some cities, solar power systems work so well that you may generate an abundance of
power. In those locations, it may be possible to receive credit or to sell your excess power
to the local utility company. This arrangement varies from one location to the next so you
will have to discuss this with a local expert to find out your options.

Getting solar power in your home can open up exciting opportunities but there is a bit of
preparationinvolved. The more you re sure of these things before you start the fewer
delays and challenges you ll have in installing your system and making the transition to

Chapter 3. What You Need to Build Your Own Solar System

One of the biggest arguments to solar energy has little to do with how effective they are
but is more related to the cost. When purchasing the system from a solar energy company,
the cost of a good solar system could quickly become quite expensive. In fact, in many
cases the cost of the system was more than the savings on their electric bill.

However, depending on how much power you need and how much skill you have there are
quite a few that have learned to install a DIY solar system for as little as $1,000. It will
take an investment in your time and the necessary skills, but it is possible to get your
system up and running in a weekend without paying exorbitant fees to greedy

To get started, there are four basic components to every solar power system.

Solar Panels

Smaller systems will only need a single solar panel to get started. The panels you choose
should come equipped with a junction box and the necessary wires and conduit for
installation. You ll also need screws, nuts, and bolts for easy mounting.

A single panel runs around $140.00 and up give or take, so if you re working on a tight
budget, you can buy them one at a time until you have the number you need. Before you
start purchasing your solar panels, you need to know how much power you wish to
generate. This is called calculating your load.

The size of the panel you choose will be determined in terms of Watts, which refer to the
output each panel can generate. A 100-Watt panel will generate 100 Watt-hours of
electricity each hour. The amount of wattage produced will also have an impact on the
physical size of the panel. You will have to find a panel that will physically fit in the area
you plan to install it and still give you enough energy you want to generate.

There is however, a wide range of solar panels to choose from so make sure that you get
one that is best suited for the amount of power you want to generate because you re
going to be living with your decision for a very, very, very long time. There are three
factors to consider when choosing solar panels.

There are 3 levels of quality to consider in solar panels. Tier 1 is considered to be top
quality where every stage of the manufacturing is tightly controlled. Tier 2 panels are
considered well made but are built with less control.

There are several Tier 2 panels that can perform well but were not monitored well during
the construction phase. Tier 3 panels are basically components that have been assembled
by third parties with practically no specified guidelines. There is no way of knowing the
quality of materials used in the production of these panels and since they are usually put

together by human hands, quality can vary from panel to the next.

You also want to check the warranty to determine the longevity of your panels. Reputable
manufacturers will guarantee their panels for up to 25 years.

responsible for
amount of energy
that flows into
the battery. It has
a small LED
light that shows constantly displays how much charge the batter holds at any given time.
Some models have a red, yellow, or green light indicating how much of a charge the
battery is holding. If the light is green, everything is good but if it flashes yellow, you need
to cut back on power, and if it flashes red, it is almost out of electricity.

The Battery

Choosing the right battery is also important. As of now, there is no battery specifically
designed for storing solar power so choosing one that can be charged up, drained,
recharged, and drained (called cycles) again over years is not always easy. There are quite
a few to choose from but each has its own drawbacks. Here are some comments on just a

It is important to choose the right battery because upgrading your battery if it s not
storing enough power can not only be complicated but also expensive. It is best to make
the decision right the first time.

Capacity: Battery capacity is measured in amp hours. A battery will produce 100
amps/hour before being completely drained. The higher the amp hour, the longer the
battery will last before needing to be recharged.

You will need to convert the amp hours of a battery to wattage. This is done by
multiplying the AH by the voltage.

Battery Amp Hours X Battery Voltage = Total Watt Hours

Size: Once you know the wattage a battery can produce you can determine how much
energy you will need. Look at all of your appliances and check the wattage stickers. To
calculate exactly how much energy your solar system will need to produce simply total
how much energy consumption you will need per hour for each appliance and total all of
the figures together.

So, if you have a TV that requires 20W/hour and you plan to have it on for 2 hours/day,
the battery will need to supply 40WH/day. Once you ve done that for all the electrical
appliances you can determine the battery capacity you will need.

Other factors to consider are how much sunshine you get in your region, how much time
will you have without sunshine, other power sources you may also be using (wind, hydro,
etc.), and the availability of your backup system.

The 8D Battery: This is a large battery that can hold a lot of energybut for use in a solar
system, it doesn t hold consistent cycling over extended periods of time. These batteries
under solar power will usually burn out in less than a year.

Dual Purpose Gel Cells: Probably the favored option for storing solar power. They can last
for quite a few years before needing to be replaced. They have one negative; they cannot
stand overcharging.

Once they have been overcharged, their usefulness is spent and they will likely need
replacing. However, gel cells require no venting and can be placed in any position without
impacting their performance. So, they can be laid on their sides, upright, or even upside
down if needed.

6 Volt Batteries: Truly deep cycle batteries that can perform well for quite a few recharges.
These are often used in golf carts because they can be reloaded many times. The challenge
with 6 Volt batteries is that they can be quickly discharged.


Lastly, you will
need an inverter.
will convert the
power stored into
AC power. You
can find inverters
in a wide range
that will suit a
different systems. Just like with batteries, there are several factors to keep in mind when
choosing an inverter.

Aside from knowing the wattage and the amperage needed each day, you also need to plan
for power surges (or the maximum amount of energy the inverter will need to produce
during peak times).

Choose your inverter based on their size ratings. They will have two separate ratings.
Their surge rating specifies how much energy it can convert during peak periods and for
how long and a continuous rating, indicating how much energy it will produce on a
continuous basis.

Chapter 4. Finding the Right Location to Install Your New


Now that you
have gathered all
your necessary
equipment, it s
time to find the
best place to
you re making a
pretty significant
investment, which you re going to have to live with for some time so you want to make
sure that it is in a place where you can maximize the potential benefits to be gained.

You ve probably seen quite a few pictures of solar panels some located on rooftops,
others in fields, and some on the side of a home. How do you know which location is right
for you? When deciding on where your system should be located there are three factors
you need to keep in mind: position, placement, and orientation.


In general the direction you face your solar panels is also important. Most are of the
general opinion that the best direction to point your panels is facing south since that s
where most of the sunlight is coming from but others believe that facing west is the better

The key here is to match supply with demand so you can avoid a blackout at unexpected

times. You must think about the times when your demand for power is highest and try to
capture the most sun at that time. In general, power consumption follows an arc where the
demand begins to rise in the early morning and continues to increase until early afternoon
when it begins a gradual decrease with slight variations depending on the region of the
world you live in.

The general assumption is more sun means more energy. With that reasoning, you would
logically point your panels towards the east or the west. However, when you think of your
power arc, you need to know which angle the sun is at during your peak hours of the day.
For every home this will be different but by analyzing your power usage you can easily
determine the time and direction to position your panels.


In most cases, solar panels are mounted on the roof of buildings but that is not always the
ideal location for maximum efficiency. Rooftops are often preferred because they usually
get the most uninterrupted sunlight. They are also out of the way so they won t take up
valuable space that could be used for other things.

However, there are cases where rooftop mounting may not be the most practical choice.
The angle of the roof may be too steep or they may be too much shading from surrounding
trees or tall buildings.

When it comes to solar energy, even the slightest bit of shade can make a huge impact on
how much power you generate. The correct answer to this question as to where to place
your solar panels will depend on the area of your home that gets the most sunlight. This
may require you to spend time watching the sun and where it hits around your home to


Finally, orient your system by placing your solar panels for optimum tilt. This means
pointing them at an angle that will capture the most sunlight. It is a simple thing to mount
your panels at a fixed tilt and then just let them catch as many rays as they can but it
would be so much better if they could be adjusted throughout the year.

Because the sun is higher in the sky during the summer it stands to reason that a fixed
panel will only be efficient for part of the year.

By adjusting the angle of your panels with each season you can considerably boost the
amount of energy you generate. Below are some basic formulas you can use as a guide to
determine the optimum tilt for your home.

Fixed Tilt Panels

If your home is located below 25 latitude, multiply the latitude by 0.87
If your home is located between 25 and 50 latitude, multiply the latitude by 0.76 and
add 3.1 degrees.

Note: If you are located above 50 latitude the calculations become more

It may be best to consult a professional for the guidelines for adjusting your panels in
those areas.

Bi-Annual Tilts

If you plan to make your adjustment to the angle twice a year it is best to do it on or
around March 30th and September 12th if you live in the Northern hemisphere and on
September 29th and March 14th if you are located in the Southern hemisphere.

For homes located between 25 and 50 :

To calculate summer angles use latitude X 0.93 - 21 .
To calculate winter angles use latitude X 0.875 + 19.2

For Seasonal Tilts

For maximum efficiency you can adjust your tilt four times a year. Use the chart below to
get the best angles.





























As you can see, the angle at which you orientate your panels will have a heavy bearing on
how efficient your system is. These formulas and numbers are suggestions that can vary
depending on your exact location however, with a period of trial and error you ll
eventually come up with your own numbers that will maximize the efficiency of your
solar system.

Chapter 5. Installing Your Solar System

Now we get to the meat of the project. Installing a solar power system can be done quickly
and easily if you have purchased the right equipment and have the right tools on hand. For
the most part, the installation phase is pretty straightforward.

However, you will need to be very organized so that the process runs smoothly. Each area
has very specific guidelines and codes on the type of fasteners and rails you ll need. If
you don t have the right ones you can easily derail your project until you can get the right

The good news is that solar panels come with the manufacturer s exact instructions on
proper installation but below is a basic step-by-step guideline to follow.



When you receive your materials, make sure that you inspect them for any defects or
incorrect orders. They should come complete with any wiring and conduit required for

You want to measure the voltage for each of the panels in full sunlight to make sure that
you re getting the amount of power you re expecting. If not, return it for the right

panels. Once they are installed, you ll have a lot more trouble removing them and
making an exchange.

Make sure that all the required hardware is on hand. Most solar panels will come with the
needed hardware but all suppliers are different. Everything should be in place before you

Store the panels in its original packaging until ready for installation.

Create a safety plan to protect yourself from accidents while on the roof. You will be in
dangerous situations where anything can go wrong; even if you re working at home,
OSHA has very specific safety guidelines that must be followed.

Gather your tools. These are some of the things you might need:

Tape measure
Extension ladder
Chalk line
Ink marker

Roofing bar
Shingle ripper
Utility knife
Cordless drill
Impact driver
Ratchet set
Caulk gun
Lineman pliers
Crimping tool
Wire stripper
Conduit bender
A tool for pulling wire
Roofing sealant
Cap wire splices

Install the Mounts and Rails

Begin by measuring and marking the exact area where you need to drill holes for the
mounts. This will require a littlecalculating to make sure that your panels will fit in the
space you ve designated. You will need to mark the areas for the mid-clamps as well as
the ends of each of the rails. If calculated correctly, you ll know precisely where each rail
will begin and end and the exact length of each row.

You may need to adjust your layout to get maximum efficiency. Solar panels are very
sensitive and even the smallest amount of shade can affect its performance. Once the
mounts are marked off, install them according to the manufacturers directions.

After the mounts are marked off, do the same for the rails. These sit on top of the mounts.
Typically they will sit between 6 to 8 inches inward from one end of the module. You ll
have to refer to the product guidelines to know their exact placement.

Flashings are used to redirect water away from the screw holes made to mount the
railings. Because you will have to cut away some of the shingles to install the rafter,

roof from water
possible damage
later on.

Make sure that
you caulk the
back side of the flashing and around any holes you drilled.

Install the Racking and Grounding Wire

Next, splice the rails together to get your desired length. If the rails are too long, you can
cut them down to size with a hacksaw. There will be very specific manufacturer s
instructions on how to ensure that you get the exact measurements you need.

The grounding wire can then be connected from one rail to the next until you reach the
junction box.

Micro Inverters

Start by inserting the mid-clamps to hold the panels in place on the rails. Once these are
secured then you can install the wire clips. Make sure you use the right clamps and clips
so that there is no risk of the panels slipping out of place.

Inverter and Junction Box

Your inverter and junction box should be located somewhere between the solar panels and
the electrical panel for your home. Ideally, the junction box will be situated very close to
the panels and the inverter will be somewhere near the main power box. This is the time
when you will install any other electrical components that may come with your system.


In solar power systems, all the wiring runs from the panels to the junction box. Once they
leave the junction box on the way to the main service panel and the inverter, they need to
be inside a conduit. Conduit that runs along the rooftop needs to run several inches above
the roof so you will have to install lifts and mounts to carry it.


At this point, all the equipment and materials
are installed and you now need to run the
wiring and make all the electrical connections.
Start from the furthest point from the junction box. The best approach to this is to use fish
tape and a wire pulling device. Pass through all the panels and connect at either the central
inverter (for larger systems) and ending at the main service panel.

While you may be perfectly capable of connecting the wiring yourself, it is strongly
recommended that you use a qualified electrician to make sure everything is connected as
it should be.

Monitoring Gear

This step is needed when using micro-inverters or a monitoring system. It will allow you
to program it so you can monitor your solar system and its performance on a regular basis.


Your final step is to test your system to make sure there are no problems. You want to
open your power flow one area at a time. Powering your system up all at once could lead
to major problems if there is a mistake in wiring somewhere. It s worth paying the extra
money to have a professional electrician check each connection thoroughly before you put
your system into full force.

Chapter 6. Solar Power and Your Meter

Once your solar power system is up and running
you ll probably be checking your meter a lot (at
least in the beginning). Learning how to read your
meter is simple.

There are several types of meters to look at
depending on which utility company installed them.
The meter is designed to show exactly how much
electricity you re buying from the power company.
It also should indicate how much electricity your
system is generating on its own.

If you have a smart meter, it will likely have quite a few other functions as well.

How to Read Your Meter

In most western countries, if the bars in the meter are rolling from the left to the right, it
means that you re pulling power from the utility company. However, if you see the bars
running from right to left then you know you re on solar power. In fact, it indicates that
you re selling your power back to the utility company.

Chapter 7. Important Tips You Need to Know

When it comes to solar power systems it can be an exciting experience but it can also be a
completely new experience. From the time energy was introduced, it has always been a
useful commodity that we purchase from some elusive supplier. So, it is easy to be
distracted when learning about solar systems. Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind
that will help you to keep your focus on the more important issues concerning your new

Always Check the Warranty

On average, solar systems are guaranteed for about 25 years. However, make sure of what
the warranty covers. In some systems, it only covers the panels themselves. Odds are the
inverter, batteries, and other components of the system will be covered for less time. This
means when calculating the overall cost of the system, you ll need to calculate
repurchasing replacement parts for those parts not covered under the full 25 years.

Be Realistic

You get what you pay for. If you find a solar system that is considerably less than similar
systems, chances are you re going to get poorer quality materials or you ll be
purchasing from a company that either has no reputation or a poor track record when it
comes to solar systems. It pays to do your homework; sometimes paying more will pay off
in the end.


If you re planning on taking advantage of government rebates, look for solar power
systems that carry certifications on their panels. This gives evidence that the system has
been tested and has met very specific guidelines set out by the government. Be cautious.
Some companies will try to bypass this by offering their own certifications. Make sure the
certifications you get are those accepted by the agency offering the rebate.


Once your system is installed and in working order, it is important that you do regular
maintenance checks to make sure that it continues to run at optimum efficiency. This is
relatively easy to do since solar systems have no moving parts that need replacing.
However, panels need to be examined and cleaned on a regular basis. In colder climates,
snow and ice will need to be removed during the winter months and trimming trees in the
area can keep the panels from being blocked from the sun.


The sun sits 93,000,000 miles from the earth and provides all the energy we could
possibly need to live life. Learning how to harness that energy and direct it in a way that
can fuel our lives is one of the greatest advancements we have made in our recent past.

If you are serious about installing your own solar power system then this book is a great
place to start. No matter how you look at it, solar energy is a major change in the way we
do things. It is definitely a more reliable and efficient way to power our lives.

Still, it does require a major investment in time, energy, and money. Research needs to be
done, manufacturers verified, and materials need to be acquired. Keep in mind that the
each city government has very specific codes and guidelines in place that determine what
is acceptable for a solar system, so no matter which system you decide to use, make sure it
meets the local regulations issued in your area.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to install. However, in most areas, for final
approval, it will have to meet regulation standards, which will usually require a qualified
electrician to complete.

This book is meant to be a basic guideline for installing your own solar power system.
From its pages we hope you have been able to determine if this is a project you have the
skills, materials, and equipment required to do yourself. Whatever you decide, you re
already on the right track by thinking solar.

Solar Power:
Proven Methods To Build Your Own Solar
Power System That You Can Afford

Introduction: The DIY Super Power!

Grid based electric power was not built to last. The fact that most of the industrialized
world is still depending on infrastructure that is 50 some years past its original shelf life is

This lack of oversight is even more amazing considering the fact of just how much more
dependent we are today when it comes to plugging into the old electric grid.

For most of us, if we had to go one day without plugging in our phone it would be
absolute pandemonium, let alone having to survive for months on end without electricity.

But as these old means of electric conveyance continue to decline the day may come when
the grid fails us outright. If that day ever occurs, then we would have no choice but to look

Because floating just above our heads is the best power source we could ever hope for; our
very own sun. The sun can power all of our needs without costing us any money.

And as this book will demonstrate, when you learn how to install your own DIY solar
power system you can free yourself completely from the grasp of high priced electric bills
and Old World energy inefficiency! Making your own home a DIY Super Power!

Chapter 1: A few things to Understand before You get

How Does Solar Power Work?

Originating from the Greek word for light, these photovoltaic cells that are involved in
the process of creating solar energy are the best light collectors known to man. It is the
silicon based alloys within the traditional solar panel that makes it so good at absorbing
solar radiation.

Photovoltaic cells are arranged on the atomic level with one atom of silicon broken down
into 14 separate electrons that form a series of shells, which in turn is what constitutes the
crystalline silicon molecule that is necessary in order to collect sunlight so efficiently.
(You still with me?)

I know that these are all technical terms that many of you may not be familiar with, but all
you really need to know is that it is this silicon surface that absorbs photons of sunlight
which has an instantaneous reaction to the cells atoms that transfers energy into

The only limitation that this solar absorption has is that direct sunlight isnt always
available to us. During extended periods of night or cloud cover, your solar collection is of
course going to be quite a bit less than what a full brightly lit sunny day can offer.

Battery Basics for your Solar Power System

This brings us to the next great point about solar energy. Because in order to compensate
for this time spent without direct sunlight you will need to be able to store the energy you
get from the sun into batteries that can be stashed away until the day you need them.

The kind of batteries that you need to be able to do this are called, Deep Cycle batteries
which are built to be able to directly store energy in this fashion.

Regular batteries like car batteries just arent capable of storing that much energy and if
you tired to use them for this purpose you most likely would just end up ruining your

Because batteries for cars were really only meant to work in short bursts of power aimed
at starting the vehicle, and after that, it is your cars alternator that really supplies the juice
to your cars electric systems.

Deep Cycle batteries on the other hand benefit from their ability to be filled up completely
with energy, storing it all up until you wish to discharge it back into your apparatus.

Most of these types of batteries can discharge as much as 80% of their contents, but it is
recommended not to discharge more than 75%. The reason for this is to prevent your
batteries charge from becoming too weakbecause as anyone whose ever had an iPhone
no doubt knowsas soon as a battery dips below 25% its not long before it becomes as
dead as a doornail. So as a general rule, try to maintain at least a 25% charge on the
battery at all times.

Now that this basic concept of the Deep Cycled battery has been established, lets explore
the different types of Deep Cycled Batteries that are currently on the market.

The most common are the flooded batteries, second to this are the gel batteries, these
are then followed by lead batteries and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. Flooded
batteries are popular and quite ubiquitous due to their cheaper price and their usually fairly
tough constitution.

The biggest problem with this battery when it comes to solar power though, is the fact that
it must be kept outdoors. You see, the water that floods into these batteries (hence the
name flooded battery) will periodically release a specific chemical agent into the air as a

In small quantities this gas is harmless, but when you keep flooded batteries inside with
closed windows for a prolonged period of time, just like being closed in near exhaust from
a car, this trapped gas could eventually prove to be lethal.

So just remember, if you do use flooded batteries you must use them outside. But having
to keep the battery outside can present a whole new set of problems for you, because when

the weather is particularly cold or windy, leaving that battery out in the backyard could be

Because just as anyone who has went outside to start a car in the winter can contend, cold
weather does kill batteries! The same can be said for flooded batteries as well.

Since I live in the Northern United States, it is for this reason that I steer clear of flooded
batteries altogether and opt for more easily storable gel batteries or even AGM batteries.
But do your researchbecause in the end its your calland only you can decide this vital
foundation on which a solar power system is built.

But as important as they are, batteries are by no means the end of the conversation.
Because solar energy can not be utilized directly from a battery, first it must go through a
technological little middle man known as an inverter.

The Importance of Inverters

Inverters running on optimal capacity should be able to reach up to 120 volts of AC
(Alternating Current) for each 12 volts of DC (Direct Current) that it receives from the

You should be able to plug your battery right into a volt socket right on the side of your
inverter. And besides this design, there is another kind of inverter called a grid tie
inverter that actually uses your local electric grid as its storage bin.

Thats right, instead of sucking power out of the grid, this type of inverter allows you to
send it right back to them! Any extra power you have can be stored up right back into the
grid system.

You can then actually sell this energy to your local utility company. Amazingly, this little
DIY has you not only saving money, but also turning a profit, all because of solar power.
After you get your inverter and batteries taken care of the next thing that you are going to
want to look into is finding a good generator.

Running a Generator as Backup

Getting a generator may seem like it is somehow defeating the whole purpose of building
a solar power system in the first place, but hear me out. Even though you may get most of
your power from solar energy, you still need to have a backup plan just in case your
system temporarily fails, or just in case you run into a brief cloudy spell and need to
temporarily give your drained battery a break.

A quick emergency charge on your generator will at least keep your solar power system
from falling apart.

Just be careful. And if you do have to pick up a charge from your battery, dont leave it
connected for your battery for too long. Batteries can get maxed out very fast when being
juiced up direct on a generator.

To avoid over charging never charge your battery more than 95% of its capacity, by all
means a battery charged up to 95% is more than enough power and the sun can always
charge it up the rest of the way. These are just a few things for you to take into
consideration and understand before you get started on your own solar power system.

Chapter 2: How to Construct your Own Solar Power System

Solar Power System Ideas

Ok folks! This is the point in this book in which we get to the really fun part! We are
going to learn how to construct our own solar powered electric system! Im not going to
pretend that this isnt a major DIY but there are also a lot of options out there.

From using refurbished cells to using our own homemade solar power cells fashioned out
of otherlets just sayless than orthodox materials, nowadays there are a lot of DIY
solar designs and ideas.

It used to be that those old $1000 dollar double sided solar panels slapped on your roof
was the holy grail of environmental and energy efficient achievement.

But now weve found ways to leapfrog completely over this standard model with our own
DIY engineering, and it is fully attainable for you to create your own solar power system

for next to nothing at all. The first thing that we are going to look into in this, are rejected
and so-called blemished solar cells.

Buying Slightly Damaged and Second Hand Solar Cells

While new untouched cells may cost you a lot of money, these supposed damaged solar
cells can often enough be bought extremely cheap. And when we say damaged, please
note, that is just a disclaimer.

Because unless someone took a sledge hammer to these cells and then purposefully tried
to scrape all of the silicon off of its surface, even with chips and cracks these cells still
serve their fundamental purpose and absorb heat.

Its just that commercial sales demands the companies that make them to only deliver
pristine, absolutely perfect products without blemish, so even the most minor of flaws will
cause them to dump their product at a steep discount. At this point then, you must be
wondering, how do you buy solar cells?

The most likely place to look for solar cells, especially blemished or slightly damaged
cells, is always going to be online.

Evergreen Solar is a good company to look into, and so is wholesale dealer You can also get a hold of these discount solar cells at online
retail giants such as EBay and Amazon.

But to be honest guys, all you really have to do is search Google and you are bound to find
someone wanting to sell slightly damaged solar cells. Just make sure you buy whats right
for you and what it is that you want to do.

Personally, for most of my DIY solar power projects I resort to using the classic monocrystalline square cells and to make sure I have enough for a finished product I usually
make sure I get a hold of at least 30 solar cells. Because running at half a volt per solar
cell, even with just 30 of them, with this setup you will be averaging about 15 volts of
power to your DCB (Deep Cycle Battery).

Creating Your Solar Panel Housing

After obtaining your solar cells the next thing you should do is work on constructing your
solar panel itself. You see, this is the big distinction; between solar cells and solar panels.
Before I ever started building my own DIY solar power systems I didnt understand the
difference. I thought solar panels and cells were all the same thing; all the same shiny little
squares that collect sunshine right? And I am assuming that many of you out there are
under the same exact impression.

But as it turns out, the solar panel itself is not the solar cells; the solar panel is simply the
construct that houses them. At its most basic level a solar panel is just a large box shaped
platform on which you can affix your solar cells.

It is then these solar cells that absorb the solar radiation that is converted to energy. Solar
panels can be made out of metal, wood, and even plastic. The easiest (and most stress free)

kind of material to use for your solar panels however is always going to be a nice solid
piece of wood.

So get a hold of some plywood thats at least 1/8 of an inch thick with a raised border,
inside a 3/3 wooden base. Next, find yourself a good piece of pegboard to put down inside
this base.

Remember pegboard? Its the stuff that people used to actually peg stuff on? You know
with thumbtacks and sticky notesand all that? Basically the old fashioned version of a
message board! Not so much in vogue nowadays but the material works well for an
intermediate surface on which to place your panels.

So just get a big old fashioned piece of pegboard and cut out just enough of the material so
that it fits in nice and snug into your 3/3 base. Now just seal the deal with some wood
working glue and let your pegboard dry to the rest of the solar panel structure.

Once this is established you can then move on to your actual solar cells for the unit.
Carefully take out one of your solar sells and affix a good (heat resistant) glue to the back
of it.

Installing Solar Cells and Wiring

Now simply place this solar cell in the far left, bottom corner of your pegboard, inside
your solar panel. All you have to do is simply repeat this pattern until that row is finished
and then move on to the row directly above, and continue the process until the solar panel
is completely covered with your 30 solar cells.

Just let your glue dry and the main task of solar cell installation is complete.

With your solar cells firmly attached you will have to move on to the next major stage of
your DIY Solar Power System construction; the wiring. If any mention of having to wire
something electronically makes you run for the hills, dont worry.

I can assure you that wiring up your solar panel will not be that difficult for you to
achieve. Im by no means an electrician myself, yet certain basic, fundamental principles
are easily understood.

You can begin by drilling a hole in your panels side. Take your woodworking glue and

drop a small amount down into the bottom of the hole. Now you are going to take out your
first wire and guide it through this hole until it presses to the bottom and allow the other
end of your wiring to run up our panels base.

After you have done this, you can then take the other end of the wire and attach what is
called a two pin plug. This is the piece of the puzzle that will connect directly to your
DCB. Your solar panel is now ready to be put into the sunlight and begin charging.
Congratulations on constructing your very own DIY Solar Power System!

Chapter 3: Some Extra Solar Power DIY Goodies!

In this chapter I would like to discuss some other little known DIY solar power projects.
Lately there are several of these real and imagined projects floating around the internet. I
just wanted to take the time to separate some of the fact from the fiction.

Now compiled here in this chapter find some of the best (and wackiest) DIY solar
powered projects you could ever dream up! Experiment with these projects for some extra
bang for your buck as well as some extra firepower for your solar power DIY arsenal!

Flashlight Solar Power

We could always use a flashlight right? Well what about a solar powered flashlight? Its a
great bonus to have on hand in case you ever run out of illumination! If you have ever
found yourself fumbling for a flashlight only to find that its batteries were completely
dead, this DIY makes sure that you never have to worry about that anymore!

Bypassing batteries directly this flashlight maintains its power through a built in capacitor
which is instantly energized by one conveniently placed solar cell right on the bottom of
the flashlight.

To make this DIY all you have to do is gut a standard flashlight. In other words, take out

the battery and all of the material associated with battery power. Once you have done this
just connect the wiring to a solar receiving cell and affix your cell to the bottom of our
flashlight. This is a DIY that even MacGyver would appreciate!

Solar Powered Running Shoes

This one has been floating around in the blogosphere for a while now, but yes, you heard
right, thanks to this clever DIY you can now have solar powered sneakers.

The way it works is by taking two solar cells and strategically insert them right on top of
the toes of your shoes so that they can collect light, now run a wire from your solar cell
and then pull it back to a LED light positioned in the back of your sneakers.

Now you can light up the mean streets with an even meaner pair of solar powered shoes!
And thats not all! Just attach a small USB port and you can have folks charging up right
on your sneakers!

Solar Panel Picture Frame

This Solar Panel DIY is so simplistic that upon seeing it you cant help but say, Why
didnt I think of that? The natural design of a picture frame is perfectly suited just the
way it is to house our solar cells.

Obviously a picture frame constitutes a much smaller space however and you are not
going to be able to put a whole lot of them together. Just fit as many as you can and you
will have a great lower level power source for your home.

Next, take out a drill and start drilling into the frame until you have a small hole that goes
all the way through the side. This is where your USB port will go. After obtaining a
standard USB port and wiring from a computer store pop this little bit of hardware right
into your hole, seal it in place with glue, and you have yourself a solar powered USB port
for all of your phones and tablets!

Solar Panel Soda Pops

If you like your cans of soda pop then you are going to love this project! Because as it
turns out, all of those soda pop cans you toss out on in the trash can really serve a solar
powered purpose!

Believe it or not the surface of these soda cans can (pun fully intended) be transformed
into fully operational solar cells! Who would have thought right? Simply enoughto get
started on this one get some cans!

If you really like your soda you could always buy them. Just four 24 packs of soda would
get you 72 cans of soda. Thats certainly a start since our project requires 75 cans.

You could always pick up the three remaining stragglers somewhere else. If you dont like
the idea of buying and drinking 72 cans of soda however, and are seeking a much faster
pay off of cans you will have to go can hunting.

The best place to find cans are usually sporting events and state parks. I live in
Indianapolis, Indiana, where they hold the Indy 500 every summer. Its a major
extravaganza for Indiana and as the say, it really is the biggest racing spectacle in the
world. Its also one of the biggest messes.

And after nearly 1 million fans leave that race track, it usually looks like a small tornado
touched down leaving tons of garbage in its wake.

Anywayto make this long story a little shorterI signed on as part of the clean up crew
the next day and got enough cans for my project in less than 30 minutes. But you get my

If you need to collect your cans, just find some large outside setting where people drink a
lot of soda! Sanitize your cans once you get tem, besides the obvious health hazards, cans
with soda still caked to their surface lowers the cans ability to absorb solar radiation.

After cleaning your cans, take out a pair of wire cutters and putting its mouth into the
mouth of the can cut the can open on one side all the way to the bottom. Repeat this same
process again on the other side. You should now be able to flatten your can out into one
solid, flat piece of aluminum. I know it is time consuming, but do this with all 75 of your
cans. These will be your solar cells.

Once youve done this get a piece of peg board just like you did with the solar cell project
mentioned earlier in this book. Now with strong, heat resistant, wood working glue, begin
gluing these cans to the pegboard.

The method of actually distributing electricity for this Solar Power DIY is rather primitive,
but its effective. What you need to do is take a pair of jumper cables, and simply hook
one end to the panels and the other end to your batteries. Not exactly brilliantbut hey
it gets the job done!

Solar Powered Coffee Maker

Yes folks, it has arrived! The Solar Powered Coffee Maker! All you have to do is set it out
on your window sill and it will start brewing your coffee! This nifty little solar DIY was
created by attaching a couple of solar cells right on top of a coffee machine and running a
wire from the cells down to the coffee maker main combustion unit.

Just add water and this Solar Powered Coffee Maker is ready to start brewing its goods!
All you need for this project is one or two solar cells, some electrical wiring andwell
yes, you guessed itcoffee!

Solar Panel Shingles

I would love to see a roofer get a hold of these! I have friends in the construction business,
and I bet that they never imagined that someone would actually think to put solar
collecting shells right in the shingles of the home! But it really is that easy folks! Solar
Panel Shingles can be slapped right on your rooftop and start absorbing solar energy!

The design is ingenious, rather than large cumbersome solar panels, just fit some solar
cells right into your shingles! To be more precise these shingles are solar cells inserted
into small, individualized panels that can in the same place on your roof that your shingles
fit into. These shingles are small but they will save you at least 50% on your electric bill.

The hardest part of this solar power DIY is actually going to be the wiring. In order to
collect the energy that the shingles collect you are going to have to drill a small hole
through your roof so that can run wiring from the solar cell and on down into your house
most likely in the cornerand on down to a receiving battery.
Its not a big deal, and feats of wiring like this are done all the time. Just make sure that
your connections are good and your solar panel shingles are ready to go.

The DIY Solar Coaster

Just set your drink right down on a solar cell, and rest your beverage while this DIY
powers up everything else! To make this DIY yourself just take a standard coasterit
doesnt matter if it is made of wood or plasticand separate its two halves (most coasters
come apart for cleaning) and then insert the solar cell.

Next just attach a USB port to the cell and soon this power coaster will be up and running
as a great new external charger. Just keep your solar power coaster in a well let room and
it will routinely absorb enough energy to give a good charge to your phones and tablets.

Solar Powered Clock

With just one solar cell you can convert your clock to run on solar power. Just connect a
standard rechargeable battery to the clocks solar cell and it will begin absorbing light to
power the clocks own ticking. Just put this clock out in the sunshine and you will never
have to wonder what time it is ever again!

Conclusion: Passing the Solar Powered Torch

There are a lot of good things that can be said about a technology like solar panels that
allows us to take so much from so little. But yet every time tremendous gains are made in
any field it is proven time and time again that the easiest, most natural way, is the way that
works best.

This is fast proving to be the case with solar power as well. It is an energy source that does
not impact the environment while providing infinite power from the minimalistic effort of
utilizing solar cells to collect sunlight.

The sun has been consistently pumping out energy now for over 5 billion years. And the
energy service that the sun provides is uninterrupted with no blackouts! The sun comes up
and the sun goes down, never missing a beat.

With such a track record it would be a safe bet to say that we can count on the suns rays to
always be around. So why do you so many people and corporations avoid solar energy
like its the plague?

The main reason solar power has been overlooked for so long is the daunting price that is
usually attached to such solar power projects.

When a set of solar panels plus installation runs up a bill of nearly $2000 even big shot
companies that can afford it, say forget it. Most just arent willing to make that much of an
investment in a technology they have never even experienced before.

But if you could step away from the old model of solar technology and build your own for

a tiny fraction of that price? That my friends is an absolute game changer.

This book has went to great lengths to make that dream a reality. And as you can see from
the many examples shown here, you can take everyday materials and use them towards
constructing your very own affordable solar power system.

Every once in a while ideas and innovations come along that passes a torch of sorts from
one paradigm to another. One set of old ideas then receive an update and new ideas and
scopes of possibility emerge. I hope that this book has worked to expand what you thought
possible, as I pass this solar powered torch directly to you.

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