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A beginners guide to building a solar power system.
Sometimes you need to use electricity in an area where there is none. There are many options to fix this issue, but today we are going to look at the solar option. I will cover how to setup a system and what you can expect to do with that system.
When building a solar power system you need to consider what you want to do with this system. How much power do you need to produce, and what kind of things will you be running? Once you figure out what you will be running, you can start getting the items you need to build the system.
Lets take a look at solar panels, after all it is the part of the system that produces the power. For the sake of this article I will show you using a premade solar kit from coleman, you can purchase that kit here. The kit I am using is going to provide back up lighting, from a few led lights. Each light will only draw 1 or 2 watts so the 18 watt panel should be enough to recharge each day and keep me in light for a very long time. If you need a larger solar panel you can find some listed here on this page.
|After you get a solar panel picked out you will need to get a charge controller. The charge controller will keep you from destroying your batteries. It regulates how much power goes to your battery bank and when this will prevent over charging.|
The charge controller is only needed if you are going to run a battery bank. If you are homesteading then I highly recommend that you have a battery bank to store your power so you can use it whenever needed. There are grid connected solar systems that do not need a charge controller due to the fact that there are no batteries to worry about over charging. A typical solar panel can put out 16 to 20 volts but you are running a 12 volt system which means, to get to full charge you don’t want any more than 14 volts.
|That brings us to the next part of our system, the battery. Without a battery bank you will only have power generated when the sun is out. If there is a cloudy day you will get less power than if it is a clear, sunny day outside.|
You can use a standard marine deep cycle battery and it will work just fine, but ideally it would be better to get a hold of some golf cart batteries. Golf cart batteries are designed to be taken down to empty and charged back up a lot more times than any other battery that I know of. Your battery bank needs to be large enough to provide you all the power you need, your solar panel will charge it back up later but the battery bank will give you the power you need now.
|If you can, it is best to set up your stuff to run on DC current, it is a lot more effective than running an inverter. If you run an inverter there is about a 10 percent power loss in the conversion, but there are just some things you need the inverter for so I usually keep a few around.|
To sum things up we are going to do a quick review of how this all works, kind of a “solar for dummies” style of review. First you have your solar panel, which produces your power with the suns rays. The panel sends the power to the charge controller, which regulates the power so that your battery bank does not get damaged. After the charge controller the power goes into the battery bank where it waits for you to use it. From the batteries your power can either be used directly as DC current or you can use a power inverter to convert the power into AC current and use it that way.