In the face of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions that are hurting our ecosystem immensely, clean energy is gaining ground. In the past 150 years, our activities have culminated in damage to the atmosphere in numerous ways. These include ozone depletion, global warming, and so on.
A report by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency revealed that India’s greenhouse emissions had upped by 4.7% in 2016. On top of this, India witnessed the highest number of deaths due to poor air quality in 2015. About 2.5 million people lost their lives to pollution. This sets the urgency of switching from using harmful sources of non-renewable energy to a clean energy source, such as solar power.
Worldwide, two-thirds of solar PV capacity have been installed since 2011. Fortunately, India has kept pace with the development and growth of clean solar power. Reports indicate that solar power generation in the country increased by a whopping 86% in 2017. In the light of these factors, it is ideal to use solar power not only in commercial units but also residential ones.
Although the costs of a solar power unit have steadily dropped, you can always try the DIY option to keep your budget afloat. Initiatives like scoop.solar are helping professionals with solar installations. However, you can save money by setting up a PV system yourself.
Here is an in-depth look at how you can build and install a solar power unit for your home:
Step 1: Gathering the basic components
It all begins with gathering the basic ingredients of a solar unit. You will need four major items. These include solar panels, charge controller, inverter, and a battery. In addition to these items, you will require a breaker, meter, MC4 connector, and fuses among other things. Keep in mind that it is essential to read the module instructions.
Step 2: Calculating your power usage load
Before getting to the heavy part of the solar installation task, it is crucial to sum up the power that you use at your home. This isn’t rocket science. All you have to do is to note down the home appliances that you use on a daily basis. These include the television, lights, fan, and so on.
Next, add the time for which these appliances run in a day. Moreover, go through the specification chart in your appliances to dig out their power rating. By now, you have a list of all the appliances used daily, their usage duration or run time, and power rating.
In the subsequent step, calculate the Watt-Hour. You can get this by multiplying the run time of an appliance with its power rating. Follow this step for each electrical device, then sum the individual Watt Hour numbers up to learn the grand Watt Hour. You can also simplify this calculation by using an online off-grid load calculator.
Step 3: Selecting and charging the battery
A small hiccup with the solar power is that it doesn’t provide electricity when the sun goes down. The reason behind this is pretty simple- there’s no sun at night. However, you can easily crack this problem by using a battery.
A battery stores solar power generated during the daytime to use it at night. This provides a steady supply of energy. You will need a solar power controller to monitor your battery’s charging. These come between the panels and the battery.
Such controllers are typically armed with a small LED light that announces the charging state of the battery. Plus, it adjusts the power that runs into the battery.
Step 4: Setting up the inverter
Your solar arrays will produce electricity in direct current (DC). However, electrical appliances use power in the form of alternating current (AC). In this context, a device that saves the day is called an inverter. It allows you to use electrical devices without using adaptors.
Inverters come in varying wattages and types including square wave, modified sine wave, and pure sine wave inverters. Of these, a pure sine wave inverter is the best for your solar system. Square waves are not compatible for all devices.
Similarly, the output of modified sine wave is not suitable for certain appliances such as a fridge. This makes a pure sine wave inverter the best choice that is efficient too.
Step 5: Fixing the solar panels
Once the battery, controller, and the inverter are ready, you will have to get started with mounting the solar panels. Select the best spot for the panels on the roof or the ground that receives an unhindered supply of the sun’s radiation.
You can either make a mounting stand yourself or get it from the market. The tilt of the stand should almost be equal to the latitude angle of your location. The setting of the solar panels is critical for the solar operation and maintenance. Hence, it is essential to ensure that the panels face the sun throughout the day.
Once your mounting stand and panels are ready, set them up. Place the panels on the stand and match the holes in the solar panel with the standing platform’s holes. Screw them together to a perfect fit.
In the last phase of this step, wire the solar panels. To this end, you can trace a small junction box at the back of the solar panel. The junction box boasts negative and positive signs of polarity. In a large sized-panel, the junction box has terminal wires too with an MC4 connector.
However, you will have to align the junction box with external wires yourself if you use small solar panels. Use the black and red wire for negative and positive terminal connections, respectively.
Step 6: Wiring the solar panels with the battery
In this step, you need to connect the solar panels with the battery. In certain PV systems, these come paired together, so you don’t have to put in the additional effort. In cases that are not given as a single unit, you need to make series and parallel connections.
You can make a series connection by connecting a device’s positive terminal with another device’s negative terminal. For a parallel connection, you need to connect one device’s negative terminal with another device’s negative terminal and so on.
Step 7: Stands for the inverter and battery and their wiring
Your residential solar unit is incomplete without stands for the battery and inverter. Again, you have the option of building the stands or getting them. Once the allocated positions for the inverter and battery are ready, you can start working on the wiring.
Start with wiring the controller. The first connection from the left is for connecting the controller with the solar panels. The second connection is for pairing the battery with the controller. The last connection is for connecting the controller to the direct DC load connection.
For connecting the solar panel with the charge controller, you will need a separate connector called an MC4 connector. Once the controller is connected to the battery, its LED lights should light up. Moving on, you will have to connect the inverter terminal with the battery’s terminal.
In this regard, join the corresponding negative and positive terminals in the inverter and battery terminals. Be careful with the plus and minus signs though. Confusing these up can result in equipment failure. It may even catch fire.
Following these steps can help you set up a solar power unit at your home. Any costs incurred at this stage can be reaped later on as solar energy is not only clean but also a cost-effective investment.
Evie harrison is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Find her on Twitter:@iamevieharrison