Another good solar kit is the 100W WindyNation. It features one of the best controllers of the products that we reviewed, with an LCD display that shows statistical data such as voltage and the solar state based on the panel output of this kit. Whether you are installing it on your roof, your motorhome or even an outhouse or barn, you will find that this unit produces good results with its high-quality panel.
While I think on a personal level, distributed solar/storage is great, it just doesn’t seem to scale on a system level, since there is a lot of economies of scale in terms of cost (compare $1/W utility PV vs. $2-3/W rooftop PV), and a lot of benefits from geographical diversity, both in terms of load (your load is way more spikey than CO’s average load), and renewables (while your solar array might be doing bad during a cloudy winter day, the wind could be howling at a wind farm in Iowa or it could be sunny in New Mexico). If we really want to go 100% carbon free, we will need all the geographical diversity and economies of scale that we can. A bunch of people with rooftop solar + a battery won’t cut it sadly.
Nice work! I’ve been looking at panels on craigslist, and almost considered picking up an inverter you can plug in to an outlet so I could create a quick DIY portable setup – maybe around 1KW. These cheap inverters do have island protection, but poor efficiency and are not UL certified. I do still like the concept of system that can just be plugged in with an extension cord to a structure in the backyard…
On-site data measurement adds a new layer of confidence to the techniques discussed above, but with substantial additional costs, effort, and time, especially when the preferred methodology is to match turbine hub height and collect data for a minimum of 1 year. Obtaining several years of data is better, or 1 year that can be referenced to a longer-term data set if there is good correlation with the on-site data. A number of small, affordable wind data collection systems are available for on-site measurement and are best run for at least 1 year. These systems include anemometers, wind vanes, and temperature sensors that are mounted as close to hub height as possible. Calculating the wind shear exponent requires collecting data at two different heights. Having wind shear data is essential for conducting an accurate analysis of the cost versus benefits of taller towers. In addition, analysis must be performed to determine wind speed averages and extremes, wind distribution, Weibull parameters, the wind direction rose, turbulence intensity, vertical wind shear exponent, and associated uncertainties.[28]
PV (photovoltaic) systems can be grouped into two categories, off-grid and grid tied. In off-grid systems the energy produced by the solar panels must match the daily demand of the home or cabin, and the power is stored in a set of batteries. With grid-tie solar systems, the local utility company functions essentially as the battery bank during the night. In America, most solar systems are grid-tied with all of the excess electricity generated being fed back to the utility grid hence the term NET metering.

Some photovoltaic systems, such as rooftop installations, can supply power directly to an electricity user. In these cases, the installation can be competitive when the output cost matches the price at which the user pays for his electricity consumption. This situation is sometimes called 'retail grid parity', 'socket parity' or 'dynamic grid parity'.[50] Research carried out by UN-Energy in 2012 suggests areas of sunny countries with high electricity prices, such as Italy, Spain and Australia, and areas using diesel generators, have reached retail grid parity.[4]
You need to make sure that all the tiny little lines in the negative side of the cells are interconnected (a way to gather all the electrons from the surface). This step is not necessary for all cells, only for the ones like in this picture, which don't have any connection between the lines on the surface. you can use the conductive pen to draw a thin line which connects all of them. Once you do that, you will immediately see the voltage rising for that specific cell.
Great article. We just signed a contract to have panels installed but I had done a little research on a DIY setup. In the end, I felt the personal risk – shutting off the breaker panel, connect new 2-way electric meter, climbing around 2-story roof with lots of heavy materials – wasn’t worth the potential savings compared to hiring a professional contractor. What prompted you to decide that you could complete this hi-voltage, rooftop project without professional help?
Another good solar kit is the 100W WindyNation. It features one of the best controllers of the products that we reviewed, with an LCD display that shows statistical data such as voltage and the solar state based on the panel output of this kit. Whether you are installing it on your roof, your motorhome or even an outhouse or barn, you will find that this unit produces good results with its high-quality panel.
Since wife is into historic preservation buy older homes to fix up and remodel for extra cash every few years so we have always been limited by the home as it was originally designed. Well we are finally considering doing one for ourselves and with the kids finishing high school it can be much smaller. Reading your blog has given inspiration for many aspects of our lives, working less, living more and enjoying simple things. Thank you!
If you mess something up during the installation, even something minor, you’ll bear the full weight of all the additional costs that result. Remember – this is about cost savings, and if solar panel kits actually deliver any. So, what happens if you make a minor mistake when you wire your panels to your inverter, and the inverter malfunctions a few years later?
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Let’s start off with the 10% savings this article starts off with. DIY will save thousands off the company prices! Salesman make thousands off selling you a system. It’s almost a joke. Purchased my system in 2010 first inverter went in 2012. 10 year warranty but by that time nobody wanted to fix them not enough money in warranty work. My system was backed by Home Depot but if you pay it off before the interest kicks in there’s no help there. Don’t be fooled by the article saying the bigger companies buy better and pass it on they don’t that’s how there bottom line improves. I now have replaced 4 inverters 3 for me and 2 for neighbors. Fronius is great with replacement units but sometimes I get them and they have issues with them already. My suggestion is if you live in a salt air environment think twice. If your halfway smart you can do it yourself if you know construction but in the end you better know a good electrician whose reasonable with his prices. Only customer service you will get is if you lease a system cause they keep the SREC’s another part of their profit they either don’t tell you about or brush off!

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