Designing complete solar power systems isn’t as difficult to do as you might think. If you’re technically oriented and handy with a hammer, then it’s entirely possible to specify and build a complete solar energy setup for your home.
There has never been a better time to look at renewable energy. Fossil fuel is finite, and becoming more expensive all the time. Energy security is becoming more of an issue with instability in the Middle East and the Russian monopoly of gas. Pollution is moving from our cities and encroaching on our whole country. If you use a power company, you know how much your bills are increasing each month.
A complete solar power system includes solar panels, a power inverter, wiring, mounts and maybe a tracking system. How simple or complicated you make it depends on what you want to do with it. A small-scale setup to power a water pump or cabin in the woods won’t need to be as complicated as one for a family home.
Many guides on building complete solar power systems forget to mention checking the roof before installing it. If indeed you’re planning a roof-mounted one. Most residential roofs will be strong enough to handle the extra weight, or can be easily strengthened, but the roof itself needs to be in good condition.
There’s no point installing solar panels rated to last 25 years if your roof only has 5 years life left in it. It will only result in the whole array having to be removed while the roof is replaced. This is a significant investment so is something that you should definitely bear in mind if you’re planning to build or buy a solar power system.
While you’re looking at your roof, measure it. The average home system needs between 300 and 800 square feet of usable roof space for the panels. The more power you want to generate, the more space you’ll need. This roof space also has to have the right aspect, i.e. facing the sun, and be free of obstruction and shade. As long as these criteria have been met, you’re good to go.
The next thing to do is to measure your power needs. This can be as simple as using a power calculator which you can find online, or going round your house with a pen and paper and making a note of the wattage of each appliance. Each should have a label on it providing the wattage, then all you have to do is calculate how many times a day each it’s used, and multiply the wattage by that number.
Watts won’t do you much good when specifying complete solar power systems, as the batteries are measure in amps. To make the conversion use amps= watts/volts. We use 110 volt power in our homes, so an example calculation of a 60 watt light bulb, on for four hours a day. 4 hours x60 watts= 240 watts/110volts= 2.18 amps.
Only once you have the power requirements can you begin specifying the system. Hopefully, this post has shown you how to begin that process.