Setting up a fully functional set of fairly portable solar panels with batteries is surprisingly easy. While there are hundreds of solar panel kits out there, you can get a much more powerful system using cheap solar panels by assembling the components yourself.
Its incredibly easy to build your own solar power system with just these components.
1) Solar Panel
The solar panel does most of the work. Solar panels are measured in Watts which is basically how quickly it can charge your battery. (Think if it as the size of the pipe, the higher the number, the wider the pipe, the more power you can push through.) If a light bulb is 50 watts, a 100watt solar panel can run two lights at once but no more. Rather than using basic camping solar panels, you can use solar panels for home use.
2) MC4 Connector (Optional)
3) 25 Feet of 12V DC Wire (Optional)
Without longer wires, your battery and other components will be sitting about 3 feet from your solar panel, that means they’ll be sitting in the sun. Buying 25 feet of cable allows you to put your solar panel in an area of optimum sunlight while keeping the rest of your setup safely in the shade.
4) Digital Charge Controller
The solar panel connects to the Digital Charge Controller. The Digital Charge Controller then connects to the battery. This device makes sure that the panel does not over-charge your battery. It also helps to make sure that the battery doesn’t loose power overnight and helps provide information about the status of your solar power system.
The battery stores the power generated by the solar panel. It is very important that you get a 12 Volt (12v) battery. A battery’s storage capacity is measured in Amp Hours (ah). A 7ah battery can run a 100 watt device for roughly 1 hour or a standard CFL light bulb for about 7 hours. The total wattage of what you want to power and how long you will want to run it, will determine how large of a battery you’ll want to buy.
6) DC AC Power Inverter
The Inverter allows you to plug in 3 prong 110v plugs for you to run any device you want from your battery. The inverter attaches to the batter posts at the same place where the cables from the controller do.
How The Components of a Solar Power System Connect:
Solar Panel > MC4 Connector > Cables > Controller > Battery > Inverter
This simple solar power setup will give you hours and hours of clean energy. Enjoy!
Struggling to figure out what size solar panel and battery you need?
The strength of your solar setup is determined by the capacity of your panel and your battery. During the day, while the solar panel is generating power, anytime the combined wattage of the devices you have turned on exceeds the wattage of your solar panel, you are drawing power from the battery, anytime the combined wattage of the devices you have turned on is less than the wattage of your solar panel, you are charging your battery. And of course when the solar panel is not receiving sun, any device you have turned on is drawing power from the battery.