Wow, a lot of negative comments about this brief article!… but this isn’t one of them. I considered DIY solar before I started working at a solar EPC company, and being in finance, I often thought about the economics of the decision. Yes, there are a lot of factors to consider (geography, regional utility prices, etc..), but in the end I always came to the conclusion that this work is best done in the hands of the pros. This decision is relatively easy when you consider that the Fed ITC, or state incentives, cannot be applied to DIY labor; you’re essentially paying about $60/hr for an experienced installer that charges $90/hr.
Honestly, had I known my life as a supermom would involve these sophisticated equations and engineering concepts, I would have changed my Berkeley major from English to Engineering.  The way I see it, calculating my wind turbine’s kW requires the same intellect and imagination as conjuring the manifold meanings in “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”  C’mon, if I can do Wordsworth, surely I can do Watt times 1000.  “Wind turbine kW” will become my favorite metaphor for “dollars saved.”
deba168, I want to thank you so much for posting this article. I am not an electrical engineer so many of the articles already on Instructables on this subject or on the internet seemed incomplete to me because they did not explain many of the details that you did. Perhaps for the electrically inclinded those finer points are common knowledge and not necessary, but for me it exactly what I needed. The step-by-step approach with explanations and links to products was fantastic.

We powered all our electrical needs on a 40 ft boat we lived aboard for 11 yrs. We bought Kyrocera245 watt panels X 3 for $1.00 a watt delivered in 2010 and in 2014 they hd gone up in price because of demand. Our battery bank was 12 group 31 AGM batteries on a MPPT controller. We ran a chest freezer and full size refrigerator. plus regular stuff for daily life. For AC we had to have shore power. I don't think prices have come down in the 30 yrs I have been using solar. Nothing is free!
In rigid thin-film modules, the cell and the module are manufactured in the same production line. The cell is created on a glass substrate or superstrate, and the electrical connections are created in situ, a so-called "monolithic integration". The substrate or superstrate is laminated with an encapsulant to a front or back sheet, usually another sheet of glass. The main cell technologies in this category are CdTe, or a-Si, or a-Si+uc-Si tandem, or CIGS (or variant). Amorphous silicon has a sunlight conversion rate of 6–12%
Mind you, in the upper Midwest, it won't produce near the power it did in the southern desert. It produces 5-6 Amps in "full sunlight" which means no clouds, no trees, no buildings. Low angle sun in the north doesn't deliver near the illumination that high angle southern desert sun does. This is why solar doesn't pay back in Detroit, Chicago or Minneapolis. Not enough sun.

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deba168, I want to thank you so much for posting this article. I am not an electrical engineer so many of the articles already on Instructables on this subject or on the internet seemed incomplete to me because they did not explain many of the details that you did. Perhaps for the electrically inclinded those finer points are common knowledge and not necessary, but for me it exactly what I needed. The step-by-step approach with explanations and links to products was fantastic.
This Windmill 400 watt wind turbine for home use is ideal for off the grid use on land or at sea. It has been well designed to survive all that nature can throw at it. It has a UV coating and will not be corroded by salt water. Furthermore, it can withstand strong gusts and high winds. It also comes with an integrated breaking circuit that means it will “switch off” when the batteries are fully charged.
You need to better explain how the soldering/connection process goes. Between connecting the cells in series to increase voltage and then connecting the …buses in parallel to increase the amperage, the average, e.g. uninitiated DIYer will be confused. It’s commendable you want to share your knowledge but it has to be done in a way that even the …”lowest common denominator” will understand it.
Equipped with a 3-phase External Rectifier pigtail. This small black connector on the back of the unit allows you to run less costly 3-conductor wire to your battery location instead of large heavy battery cables in addition to lessening the voltage loss you get with DC power. Once at the battery location the 3-phase power is fed into the included Charge Controller and is converted to DC for connection to the battery.
Once you figure out where to put the long “lines” shown above, you measure them out and snap chalk lines right over top of your existing roof material. Then, use some sturdy 2.5″ lag bolts and washers to hold down the L-shaped brackets that come with the solar racking kit. Pre-drill each hole, and inject in some “Through the Roof” sealant with a normal caulk gun before driving in those bolts – this creates a permanent watertight seal. (There are also special brackets to accommodate different roof styles like tile and metal).
Once you figure out where to put the long “lines” shown above, you measure them out and snap chalk lines right over top of your existing roof material. Then, use some sturdy 2.5″ lag bolts and washers to hold down the L-shaped brackets that come with the solar racking kit. Pre-drill each hole, and inject in some “Through the Roof” sealant with a normal caulk gun before driving in those bolts – this creates a permanent watertight seal. (There are also special brackets to accommodate different roof styles like tile and metal).

It is unfortunate to see how well marketing for small wind turbines is working: I often see people post questions on forums, where they are looking for a wind turbine “with a low cut-in wind speed”. Depending on whom you ask, the cut-in wind speed is either the wind speed where the turbine starts turning, or the wind speed where it starts to produce some power. For most wind turbines it is around 2.5 – 3.5 m/s (5.5 – 8 mph), and it is an utterly meaningless parameter. 

Solar panels come in two types; monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Where home or cabin owner wants their solar installation to be grid tied, off-grid or emergency solar backup each of those systems starts with a solar panel selection. Monocrystalline solar panels are generally higher efficiency, but they tend to derate faster in hotter conditions. Polycrystalline are sometimes considered a better choice for warmer climates, but the truth is that either panel type is so similar the differences are relatively not worth comparing.

At the time of writing, I’ve had the system online for 27 mostly-January days, including a couple of writeoffs where the panels were covered in snow. It has still averaged about 10 kWh of electricity production per day, which is more than the average consumption of the whole facility. Put another way, the 265 kWh of electricity is enough to power an electric car for roughly 1000 miles of driving.


Protecting cover on it to resist the harmful effects of UV rays & other weather conditions is downright incredible. Regarding braking system, you’ll find it outstandingly versatile- both automatic and manual options are incorporated in it. So, overheating due to sudden fall of a few amps won’t burn your turbines out anymore. You can stop this system manually during a gale to lengthen its life. Necessary equipment is included and it carries a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
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!
9 Feb 2013 at 7:40am --> . . California Solar Panels in California Solar. Looking for California residential solar panels, california solar panel manufacturers, california solar shingles, california solar energy, california solar water heater, california wind power, california solar panels rebate, commercial solar panels, used solar panels california, solar panel manufa...
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