The electrical current generated by your solar array will be direct current, or DC electricity. Most electrical appliances run on alternating current, or AC electricity. A power inverter converts the DC power of your solar array into AC power that your appliances can actually use. DC electricity travels in only one direction but AC electricity alternates back and forth. Without a power inverter, you will be forced to rewire your home and to purchase expensive DC powered appliances over lower cost mass-produced appliances made for the conventional home power source. In some cases, DC powered appliances will not be available and you will have to do without certain appliances. If you intend to be off-grid, you should consider propane to power things like stoves and refrigerators. Heat with a pellet or wood burning stove but make sure they are highly efficient modules that use less fuel.
"I did a lot of research and Wholesale Solar kept coming up with the best reviews, plus local people that had worked with Wholesale Solar previously raved about them. I was paired up with Cheyenne as my contact. She ALWAYS treated me with respect and patiently answered all my questions (treated me with customer service rarely found in today’s world)."
Until very recently there were few options available to homeowner with grid-tied systems to utilize the energy from their solar panels when there is a utility blackout. On our backup solar page we offer a number of stand alone AC coupled emergency backup kits that use your existing solar system with our AC coupled system to provide power to your home in the event the utility goes down. The AC coupled system will take the energy from your solar panels and use it to charge a battery bank that will in turn power your essential loads. Additionally, SMA Sunny Boy 3000TL-US / 4000TL-US / 5000TL-US is a new innovative design and the next step in performance for UL certified inverters. A unique feature provides daytime power from your solar panels even in the event of a grid outage, without the need for batteries.
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Go-anywhere rechargeable battery pack keeps your handheld gear Go-anywhere rechargeable battery pack keeps your handheld gear going strong. Charge AA/AAA batteries from the sun or any USB port then power your phone MP3 GPS or perk up your tablet in a pinch. Kit included Nomad 7m v2 Solar Panel and Guide 10 Plus power pack. This ultra-lightweight kit ...  More + Product Details Close

So get ready to spend many hours and many months reading manuals, calling help lines, watching Youtube videos over and over to be sure you know which wire is which, reading blogs, talking to friends or family who know more than you about this, sitting on hold or standing in line waiting to get your permitting questions answered, figuring out what tools you need… shall we go on?

Carefully cut the top of the can in the form of a star, and then distort free parts using pliers (Image no. 1). It is important to do all this before gluing the cans together. We have marked three holes on each can with a nail, then drilled the bottom using tools shown on images 2 and 3. More details can be found on diy solar panels video tutorial page.

Another thing to double-check on DSIRE is the installation requirement for any incentive programs you may apply for. Although I'm sure that the most Instructables users will opt for a DIY solar installation, you may not be qualified for state or local grants if you don't hire a government-approved contractor to do it for you. That said, a do-it-yourself solar project is both fun and rewarding! Check out the further reading for some advice on DIY solar.

A typical home uses approximately 10,932 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year (about 911 kilowatt-hours per month). Depending on the average wind speed in the area, a wind turbine rated in the range of 5–15 kilowatts would be required to make a significant contribution to this demand. A 1.5-kilowatt wind turbine will meet the needs of a home requiring 300 kilowatt-hours per month in a location with a 14 mile-per-hour (6.26 meters-per-second) annual average wind speed.

A solar charge controller is a device which is placed between a solar panel and a battery. It regulates the voltage and current coming from your solar panels .It is used to maintain the proper charging voltage on the batteries. As the input voltage from the solar panel rises, the charge controller regulates the charge to the batteries preventing any over charging.
We currently have16 solar panels and 12 batteries with a 28kW system. We have a backup generator for cloudy or snowy days. I would like to see us get a wind turbine for nighttime power production. However, I do not want a 100 ft tower in my yard. Oh yeah, we are 14 acres at the top of Elk Wallow Mountain at 4,000 ft in North Carolina and can have winds up to 50mph. We are very remote and have been off the grid for 19 years. Isn;t there a smaller wind turbine available?
With that in mind it makes a great deal of sense to use a tilt-up tower for your turbine. It makes maintenance and repairs much safer (on the ground) and cheaper. Crane fees, or having turbine installers hang off the top of a tower for long periods of time, tend to get very expensive. You should also budget for repairs, they will happen. Parts may be free under warranty, your installer’s time is not.
Wafer thin lightweight and can mold to a Wafer thin lightweight and can mold to a curved surface. These Semi-Flexible Solar Panels are made of the high efficiency mono-crystalline solar cells and strong enough to be walked on. Semi-flexible Panels are weather water and corrosion resistant making them a perfect option for marine applications RVs camping and emergency ...  More + Product Details Close
A solar installation is a mini-power plant on your roof. It requires knowledge about how to work with DC electricity, wiring, inverters and battery banks. Home solar installations are optimal on rooftops, so there's the danger inherent in working at heights. In many cases, DIY projects are not permitted to be tied into the grid by the local utility, which means if your system is not producing enough electricity, there's no back-up. Many states do not allow DIY electrical systems to begin with. While there may be an initial cost-savings, the disadvantages of DIY solar installations include many factors.

Great article. I had solar panels fitted around 2 years ago here in the UK, costs are a lot higher and our panels are South-East facing. Even so our electricity bills are around a third lower than they were & this year has seen an improvement on that because we charge phones etc and run the washing machine / dishwasher during the daytime whenever possible. Payback is looking to be around 7 years. The only negative is that we had to pay for mesh around the panels because for the first two Summers we had a problem with jackdaws trying to nest under them causing an almightly racket, large (6+ feet) piles of twigs and attacking the wires.
As you can see from the picture above, I’ve started by building a relatively small solar array. There are twelve panels, each about 40 x 60 inches. Each one generates 300 watts of electricity when the sun shines, and when you run the numbers for my climate, the whole setup will crank out about 6100 kWh/year of electricity, a chunk which is worth about $732 per year at average US power prices.
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The fun part of this for me has always been the physics. Ever since I learned how much energy the Sun shines onto our planet’s surface (about 16,000 times more energy than all of humanity consumes, even with our current bloated habits), I have been certain that a mostly-solar-electric world was inevitable. The only obstructions were human inertia and politics, which are temporary. Physics is forever.

"I came across Wholesale Solar's website and found out that we could purchase a system and install it ourselves. I researched their products and called several times with questions. Wil was readily available to answer every question, spent time looking at pictures that I sent of our property, and gave us several options that he felt would work well.

Now that you know the pieces of the DIY solar power kit that you’ll need, don’t forget about the installation, permits, and regulations involved in residential solar energy systems. Even though you’re doing it yourself, you need backup from the professionals – electricians, roofers, engineers, and others to determine if the system you’re installing is functional, appropriate, and safe and whether your home is suitable for the installation of the solar system.
MMM, long time reader first time commenter. Excellent to see you finally got your array up and running and that you shared your DIY report for fellow folks not afraid to get their hands “dirty” in saving some cash for a great project. As a professional solar installer I must politely request you remove the photo of the L-foot lag screwed directly to the roof. National Electric Code and industry best-practices require and suggest a metal flashing that goes over the lag screwed and under your shingles to create a waterproof seal. Through-The-Roof sealant is added protection but not enough stand alone. I look forward to further DIY posts as well as a continued look at your solar power production over time as power prices continue to rise. Bike on, my good man! Cheers, Sam in SW Montana
Rural America has relied on wind power for decades. Even after the government completed rural electrification in 1964, far-flung communities continued generating much of their own power from hybrid diesel/wind systems. And the windmill remains a fixture on most American farms-not because it represents a cute and quaint testimonial to times past, but because it makes perfect economic sense. Many large farms connected to the grid only as a back-up for their own more ambitious wind turbine installations. Most American farmers and small manufacturers recognize the wisdom of buying wind turbines instead of paying for electricity. Soon, owners and operators of large industrial and office complexes ought to see a considerable financial advantage in buying wind turbines, too.
Some wind power statistics deceive: The United States, for example, currently ranks second among modern industrialized nations in wind power generation. Only Germany produces more electricity from wind power. Cause for celebration many Americans may imagine. Except wind farms produce less than 1% of America’s total electricity. Thanks to reasonably successful wind power initiatives in California and throughout New England, commercial wind farms will push that number above 1% by 2010, driving the United States to #1 among the world’s wind energy producers. But 99% of the country will continue relying on old technology, suffering the consequences of greenhouse gases for the sake of considerably lower electric utility costs.
Solar PV Project Financing: Regulatory and Legislative Challenges for Third-Party PPA System Owners– Third-party owned solar arrays allow a developer to build and own a PV system on a customer’s property and sell the power back to the customer. While this can eliminate many of the up-front costs of going solar, third-party electricity sales face regulatory and legislative challenges in some states and jurisdictions. This report details the challenges and explains alternatives.
Manufacturers often claim that their vertical axis turbine is better at extracting power from low speed winds. Unfortunately the laws of physics get in the way here: There is very little power in low speed winds. The blade of a vertical or horizontal type turbine is equally good at extracting that power, though with the vertical type the blades move at an angle to the wind where they do not extract energy for part of every rotation, adding drag and making a vertical type turbine just a little less efficient than a similar sized horizontal one. There is no advantage when it comes to low winds.
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One notable feature of our solar power system is that it uses the relatively new micro-inverter technology. With this system, each photovoltaic (PV) panel has its own grid-tied inverter that is mounted right by the panel. This kind of system is easier for do-it-yourselfers to install, and has other advantages, such as less sensitivity to partial shading, power output optimization for each PV panel, and the flexibility to start small and grow the system as time and budget allow.
Before you begin, you'll need to make sure that what you're doing is legal. Call your local government and find out what kind of building permit you need - often, for renewable energy, they will waive the permit fee. Also be sure to contact an electrician. Even if you are installing the entire system yourself, you'll need to have it inspected, just to be safe. An electrician can help with problems or opportunities you may have missed. Be sure to read DSIRE carefully - It has some information on state and local regulations.
This is great for those broken solar panels due to storms. Got a lot of people asking about how to salvage the scrap and I don't know how to before I came to this site.Great tutorial. But I have a question.. how much wattage does this "thing" produce? If anyone want to know more about solar panels feel free to visit my site: Solar panels for your home
Going solar has major financial benefits: it reduces your monthly electricity costs and can even increase the value of your home. Incentives like the federal tax credit for solar can reduce your net cost by 30 percent or more, but solar is still a big investment, and the price tag can result in sticker shock. To save money, it’s no surprise that many homeowners are considering DIY. Below, we break down the top pros and cons that you need to know about do it yourself solar energy before making a decision as well as the DIY solar process.
Now you have to connect the solar panel to the charge controller.At the back side of the Solar Panel there is a small junction box with 2 connected wires with positive(+) and negative (-) sign.The terminal wires are normally smaller in length.To connect the wire to the charge controller you need a special type connector which is commonly known as MC4 connector.See the picture.After connecting the solar panel to the charge controller the green led indicator will light if sunlight is present.
Easy to set up. Easy to use. Great for educational purposes. Can't be used without an household 120VAC electrical outlet available. This is a "grid-tied" solar kit, not for standalone applications. 230W is the "maximum" output power on a bright sunny day, but after conversion efficiency losses, this is only minimal output power, which won't make a big difference in saving electricity, not to mention it can only be used in the daytime. A bit pricey, but at only $2.69/watt not too shabby for a "starter kit" in solar energy.
This is a substantial piece of equipment for the entire residential solar energy system. Why? This is how you get to use the solar energy you capture in the solar panels to power your home energy needs. As stated above, the solar inverter is what converts DC power to AC power – the type of power of your home appliances, computers, and other residential power runs off of.
The new HO series system can run on the grid as a "Grid-Tie" or it can run in a rural setting with no grid power at all. The system is very versatile to be able to run as a Grid-Tie or an Off-Grid system. So, if you are interested in the new HO Series turbine here are some links to videos of the system in action, this is a grid tied system and we can still sell you any size that fits your budget in time to take that tax credit. 

VAWT type turbines have no inherent advantage over HAWT type turbines. There, we have said it! VAWTs do not do any better in turbulent wind than HAWTs. Leaving the Savonius type VAWTs out (the type that looks like an oil drum cut in half – they have very poor efficiency anyway), both horizontal and vertical type turbines rely on an airfoil, a wing, to produce power. Airfoils simply do not work well in turbulent air; the wind needs to hit them at just the right angle and eddies wreak havoc. Couple that with the insistence of vertical axis turbine manufacturers to install their devices on very short towers or rooftops, and you get the picture. It will not work.
That’s the case for Cam and Michelle Mather, who live on 150 forested acres in rural Ontario. The Mathers live in an off-grid home powered by solar panels and their micro wind turbine, a 1-kilowatt (kw) Bergey Excel 1. On such a large property, they’re nowhere near their closest neighbors, so there’s no one who might be upset about the noticeable — but not unpleasant — wind turbine noise or the very visible 100-foot tower in the couple’s yard.
An indemnity is an agreement between two parties in which one agrees to secure the other against loss or damage arising from some act or some assumed responsibility. In the context of customer-owned generating facilities, utilities often want customers to indemnify them for any potential liability arising from the operation of the customer's generating facility. Although the basic principle is sound—utilities should not be held responsible for property damage or personal injury attributable to someone else—indemnity provisions should not favor the utility but should be fair to both parties. Look for language that says, "each party shall indemnify the other . . ." rather than "the customer shall indemnify the utility . . ."
Flexible thin film cells and modules are created on the same production line by depositing the photoactive layer and other necessary layers on a flexible substrate. If the substrate is an insulator (e.g. polyester or polyimide film) then monolithic integration can be used. If it is a conductor then another technique for electrical connection must be used. The cells are assembled into modules by laminating them to a transparent colourless fluoropolymer on the front side (typically ETFE or FEP) and a polymer suitable for bonding to the final substrate on the other side.
How high is your tower? Hands down, the biggest mistake a homeowner can make with a small wind turbine is putting the turbine on too short of a tower. Like solar in the full sun with no shade, any renewable energy source must have good access to the fuel that drives the electricity. There is nearly 100% more power available in 10 MPH winds than 8 MPH winds.
Thin-film comes on a roll of flexible material. Though crystalline modules are more popular, thin-film is gaining a strong foothold in the market due to its ease of use. The two biggest advantages of thin-film are cost and convenience, since installation is as simple as slapping the module onto a smooth surface. One major drawback of thin-film, however, is durability - Thin-film usually only lasts around 25 years. Compared to crystalline, thin-film is usually more efficient in the dark, but less efficient in general.

The Wind Energy Payback Period Workbook is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet tool that can help you analyze the economics of a small wind electric system and decide whether wind energy will work for you. It asks you to provide information about how you will finance the system, the characteristics of your site, and the properties of the system you're considering. It then provides you with a simple payback estimation (assumes no increase in electricity rates) in years. If the number of years required to regain your capital investment is greater than or almost equal to the life of the system, then wind energy will not be practical for you.

Most utilities will have an information package and a person who specializes in the utility requirements. We found our local utility and code inspectors helpful and friendly. We didn’t pick up a hint of resistance from them regarding the idea of a homeowner-installed PV system. Permit costs and turnaround times were small. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for information on rebates in your state.

After the cells are attached so the substrate, finish the wiring by using extra tabbing or wires to attach the 4 columns of 9 cells in series.  To know what to attach to what, visualize all of the columns connected together in one big column.  Remember which tabs would be connected together in this arrangement and make the same connections in the 4 columns of 9.
Along with the turbine comes a unit of MPPT charge controller that ensures maximum output from the winds and safeguards your batteries from overcharging and other issues. Of course, the blades are built stronger. Further, they are coated with weather-tolerant protection spray. That would make the turbine work finely in rough outdoor, marine, and rainy conditions superbly well.
“I don’t live in Colorado. How much juice will I get out of it where I live?” This part is fun: The National Renewable Energy Lab runs a great, free calculator called PVWatts that does it all for you: factoring in average weather and solar angles in your area, even allowing you to specify solar panels placed at any crazy angle you like. (In other words, your house doesn’t have to have a perfect South-facing roof).
The key to making it all work cost effectively is a really cost-effective system to bolt together over the existing parking spaces. If you can minimize the engineering, steel, concrete and building permit aspects, then things start looking much better. (The same argument applies to choosing small, lightweight bike infrastructure over the massive stuff we need to build to support cars!)
Here’s the deal: For a home wind turbine to be worth your investment, you really need to live on an acre or more. That’s the guideline from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guide to Small Wind Electric Systems, a free publication for homeowners. Living in a rural area helps, because if you’re in a residential neighborhood, you’re likely to run into conflicts with zoning and local homeowners associations. Additionally, you’re more likely to find a high average wind speed in wide open spaces far from windbreaks such as buildings and trees. Altogether, while installing a small wind turbine in a city or suburb is certainly possible, you’re much more likely to have the right conditions for home wind power if you live well outside city limits.
In fact, that list covers everything you actually need to make a fully functional solar panel using DIY solar panel kits. However, if you want your DIY solar panel to look like a real solar panel…the kind you’ll see from a professional installer, then you will need some additional materials, and some additional time and work constructing your solar panel.
This solar kit is ideal for running items like small pumps and lights, and can be used for charging up your battery pack. There are 4 x 100w polycrystalline solar panels that connect up to a two diode junction for better performance. The charge controller that comes with the kit is also one of the better units that we have reviewed. The charger includes a 3 stage control, multi colored status LED, temperature compensation and a manual or automatic charge equalization feature. This kit is more expensive than the 400W Renogy as it comes with an inverter.

Solar panels are no longer just for hippies. If you’re just as interested in saving money as you are in saving the planet, solar panels can help you do that. Their price has come down, their effectiveness has gone up, and Congress extended a 30 percent federal tax credit for installing them until the end of 2019. All of this means solar panels can now pay for themselves in as little as five years, depending where you live. But are they right for your particular home? That’s a question that raises more questions. Ask yourself these things before making a decision.

Solar Power Rocks provides free comprehensive guides to solar policy and incentives for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with hundreds of helpful and informative articles about recent solar news and general information related to home solar power. For media inquiries, general questions, or to report an error, you can reach us here.
Even in my neighborhood in a small town, where once nice homes are now rentals, I have noticed by flying kites that there are very specific 'wind tunnels' in my back yard, on the side of my house (between properties) and around the corners of my house. I think putting vertical spiraled panels at each corner of my house from ground to roof, along with a horizontal turbine in the middle of my backyard between the trees where there is a permanent opening would provide alot of wind power. I also think each each person needs to start testing the winds that belong to their house every month of the year with kites: big ones, little ones, heavy and light ones. If you have kids, dogs, or especially Kitty cats, you will have a blast doing your "wind study". I sure did. I had a yard full of cats grabbing kite tails and running off with them! I found optimal wind lift at 15 feet in some areas. It has alot to do with the building that has taken place around you, and the very specific currents produced from that design. It's likje your very own wind footprint.
Thanks for the sharing your thoughts Brian! I live in IL and wondering if the numbers would make more sense if I installed a system with a small battery backup like you suggest. Would you mind sharing a typical system that you would install for a 1000 sq ft ranch house.. maybe with the with/without option to charge a Chevy Volt at night? Also, what is the typical payback that you have seen with this style of setup?

Home wind energy systems generally comprise a rotor, a generator or alternator mounted on a frame, a tail (usually), a tower, wiring, and the "balance of system" components: controllers, inverters, and/or batteries. Through the spinning blades, the rotor captures the kinetic energy of the wind and converts it into rotary motion to drive the generator, which produces either AC or wild AC (variable frequency, variable voltage), which is typically converted to grid-compatible AC electricity.
Your goal is to expose the solar panel to as much sunlight as possible. First and foremost, this means you need to avoid shade - one panel in the shade can affect the efficiency of the entire system. Be sure to keep details in mind: Will the neighbor's big oak tree grow in the next ten years? Will something that's out of the way at this very second be casting a shadow later in the day? You also need to consider the qualities of your roof. In order to get the most direct sunlight, your panels should point towards the equator (South, in the Northern hemisphere) - will your roof accommodate this? And is the roof big enough to hold your panels? Another, more obscure consideration is your homeowner's association. Some people think solar panels are an eyesore (personally, I think they make your house look great) and may have banned them in your neighborhood.
Wind power can be used in off-grid systems, also called stand-alone systems, not connected to an electric distribution system or grid. In these applications, small wind electric systems can be used in combination with other components -- including a small solar electric system -- to create hybrid power systems. Hybrid power systems can provide reliable off-grid power for homes, farms, or even entire communities (a co-housing project, for example) that are far from the nearest utility lines.
On a side note I was reading one of your articles last month where you casually mentioned that you use like 250kW/month! How the hell can he do that I thought. We average 1800kW in sunny Florida in our 2 story 3200 sqft 1969 home. So digging even farther through your blog I discovered some hacks….no dryer, no lights (unless needed), etc….and actually measure where it is going. So I did, we did an experiment…killed the dryers (one upstairs and one down ….architect wife remember) and hunted for loss. Well we found a ton! Water heater set too hot, 2 amps. Old dishwasher 12 amps, and the list goes on. Making a few easy changes we dropped the used (not counting the solar) to less than 900kW. Still too high, but on the right track. We keep the air at 80 in summer and 63 in winter so not that :)
The key to making it all work cost effectively is a really cost-effective system to bolt together over the existing parking spaces. If you can minimize the engineering, steel, concrete and building permit aspects, then things start looking much better. (The same argument applies to choosing small, lightweight bike infrastructure over the massive stuff we need to build to support cars!)
DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy in the United States. It is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. By entering your zip code, DSIRE provides you with a comprehensive list of financial incentives and regulatory policies that apply to your home. Additionally, an experienced local installer should be able to assist you in claiming any state and local incentives, as well as the ITC. 
A couple years later….Have costs gone down. NO! They are outragiously high. I recieved quotes for my house and they want 54000 to 64000 dollars. I have checked and I know the equipment costs are under 20000. However they all tell me…no worries you get a 30% refund from the gov. That is Crap! You only get to claim the rebate up until the amount of taxes you paid in. If you have a job that doesn’t pay that much you will never get the money back. But wait. Why should that matter. It only does because they have added the amount on top of what they would usually charge. Forget the rebates. It was cheaper before the gov. offered them. Sec of all what if you can’t claim the rebate? Like me. You are already collecting another rebate- well then nothing. You pay all of it out of pocket. I’m sorry but I do not believe when they can give me a quote in two minutes based on my address and a power bill I don’t think you have to be an expert to do it. They even show you a little picture of your house with the panels on it. Tell me do you think that and a two day install is worth the other 34 to 44 thousand dollars extra they want to charge me.
Turbine A has a steady output of 250 watts constant therefore in 4 hours it produces 1 kilo watt hour. Over the period of a day the same wind generator in this example would produce 6 killo watt hours of the course of the day. 24 hours divided by 4 is 6 KWH. Estimating at this rate we can presume that at this average turbine A would generator about 180 KWH per month
Use this worksheet to determine what size battery bank is required for your system. Battery size, or capacity, is measured in amp-hours. Battery voltage is determined by the number of "cells" in series. All lead-acid battery cells have a nominal output of 2 VDC. Actual cell voltage varies from about 1.7 VDC at full discharge to 2.4 VDC at full charge. 12 VDC lead-acid batteries are made of 6 separate cells in one case. 6 VDC batteries are made of 3 cells in one case. Putting battery cells in parallel increases amp-hour capacity, but does not change voltage.
"I did a lot of research and Wholesale Solar kept coming up with the best reviews, plus local people that had worked with Wholesale Solar previously raved about them. I was paired up with Cheyenne as my contact. She ALWAYS treated me with respect and patiently answered all my questions (treated me with customer service rarely found in today’s world)."