Are you thinking about installing batteries to go with your solar panels? No matter if it's an off-grid mountain cabin or a battery back-up for your grid-connected homes, the basic process for planning designing your own DIY battery bank is fairly straightforward. Still, it can be a bit confusing the first time around.
Renewable energy sources are becoming more and more affordable for consumers, but most people might still find it quite expensive to afford solar panels. The problem here is that the commercial panels are expensive to produce and maintain, but if you are adventurous or skilled enough, you may want to try and build a solar panel yourself. While it might sound impossible, it is an exciting and challenging project to embark upon and let me tell you, and it is more than possible to DIY solar battery storage at home.
Homemade solar panels are becoming a thing right now, and many people make it to either experiment and have fun or save money by using cheap solar energy. Students make solar panels as a part of their projects, and adults do it to save money; some do it just for the fun of it. So, if you are reading this essay, then you are probably considering making your own solar panel, which is really brave. So, if you want to learn how to build your own solar panel, go ahead. Here is a step by step instruction on how to do it.
A battery bank is an energy storage solution for solar panels. Solar power systems need to store the electricity generated during the day and release it at night when there's no sunlight. This article will teach you how to build a DIY battery bank that is cheaper than most commercial options!
What kinds of batteries are available?
You could use either lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries in your battery bank. Lead-acid batteries are cheaper and more common than lithium-ion batteries, but lithium-ion batteries have longer lifespans, higher efficiencies, and higher energy density than their lead-acid counterparts.
Should I buy or build a battery bank?
Buying or building a battery bank will both add cost to your home solar energy system, but you'll probably pay more for your battery bank if you hire an installer to set it up for you. On the other hand, putting a battery bank together yourself can take time. So if you doubt your ability to accurately calculate your energy needs or work safely with electrical wiring and equipment, or if you just want to save yourself some time, it's best to have a solar installer set up your battery bank.
What Is A DIY Solar Generator?
A solar generator is a device that converts sunlight into electricity usable by our appliances at any time.
DIY means Do It Yourself. This means buying a ready-made product you assemble by yourself. Thanks to DIY, you can select the best parts and build your device according to your needs while saving money! The beauty of DIY is how much you actually learn throughout the process.
The DIY solar kit has 3 main functions:
- Harvest solar energy
- Store energy
- Convert solar energy into usable electricity
It's portable, plug and play, durable and maintenance-free. Furthermore, it is scalable to any power and size.
Calculate Your Load
The first step in designing your DIY battery bank is calculating how much electricity you typically use -known as your electricity load. There are two methods to calculate your load:
- First, you can look at your previous electricity usage. If you are already connected to the grid, simply look at your total electricity use for the last 12 months and divide by 365 to get your daily average.
- If you aren't connected to the grid, you probably don't have any data on your previous energy use. In this case, you'll need to calculate how much electricity you need by adding up the wattage of all the electrical devices in the home and estimating how many hours you'll use them each day.
- 5 LED light bulbs*8 watts (the wattage of each light bulb)*3 hours per day = 120 watt-hours/day
- 1500 watt blender*.05 hours per day = 75 watt-hours/day (I can't go without my morning smoothies!)
- 50 watt laptop*6 hours per day = 300 watt-hours/day
As you can imagine, this process takes time, and there are a lot of numbers to keep track of, so be sure not to rush this step! The size of your entire battery bank will be based on these calculations, so you need to make sure they are as accurate as possible!
To help you keep track, use a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets (which is free with Gmail!). There are also many online tools to help you in this process, including calculators from websites like Wholesale Solar and Affordable Solar.
The Parts And Components To Build A DIY Solar Generator
Solar generators are simple machines that need only 6 main components to function correctly.
Portable Solar Panels
The solar panel is an essential part of your DIY solar generator kit. It will convert sunlight into DC (Direct Current) electricity. Choose portable or foldable solar panels. They have a special, compact, and tough design suitable for the outdoors.
Solar Charge Controller
To get the most out of your solar panel, you need an MPPT solar charge controller. It is the best at following the sun variable power and will deliver a reliable and clean output current to charge your battery.
To enjoy power at any time from your DIY solar generator, you need a battery. It will store your solar energy and release power on demand. There are 2 battery technologies available: lead-acid and lithium-ion.
Lead-acid batteries are found under the following names: GEL and AGM. They are cheap to buy and maintenance-free. With that being said, we highly recommend that you purchase a lithium battery instead.
Lithium-Ion batteries are found under the name LiFePO4 and are far superior to GEL or AGM batteries when it comes to storing solar energy. Their upfront cost is higher, but their life duration, reliability, and energy density (lightweight) are better than lead-acid technology. You won't regret your choice.
Protecting your DIY solar generator from dust and humidity is important to ensure the lifespan of your system. Furthermore, it unites all the components in one easy-to-carry casing to bring on all your trips. We have selected 3 quality cases from the smallest size for camping trips to the larger size for home backup systems.
The battery and inverter are the heaviest parts. On average, the total weight of your DIY solar generator for a camping trip will be less than 14kg (30.8 lbs), for RV less than 20kg (44 lbs), and for home backup systems less than 30kg (66 lbs)
Steps in DIY-ing
Step 1: Create a Template and Build a Frame
First, you need to decide what size and shape your panel is going to be. It might depend on where you plan to place your panel, but overall you are only limited to your ambition. The frame of your panel can be made of plywood or other sturdy and light material of your choice. This is the easiest part of the project, and on this stage, you only have to work with the planning part. Write down the proportions of your panel and define how many materials you will need to make the panel. Next, apply deck and siding paint to your plywood panel to make it less vulnerable to UV rays.
Step 2: Solar Cells
The next thing you've got to do is assemble your solar cells. After that, you've got to buy solar cells, and that is like the most expensive part of the project, but it will still be much cheaper than buying the entire solar panel from a retailer and paying for the installation service. So, search your local stores and online retailers for solar panels, choose the ones that suit you best, and proceed with the following instructions. You can also find some essay writing services as their templates often focus on this subject, which is now quite popular among students. Writing a plan for building a solar panel is also essential, so keep up with your plan.
As you can see from articles written by writing service StudyMoose, it is nearly impossible to create solar cells at home, so that it is one of the things you'll need to buy. However, in this essay, all of the things we mention are available for purchase in most online stores, so no need to worry. You'll be able to lay your hands on all of the necessary equipment.
Step 3: Size Your Inverter
Inverters are an integral part of any solar and storage installation, as they convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by your solar panels and housed in the batteries to alternating current (AC) required by all our electronic devices.
Inverters convert electricity from DC to AC in real-time. Unfortunately, inverters have no storage capacity – as your devices use electricity, that electricity flows from the batteries through the inverter to the device. Because of this, your inverter needs to be large enough to handle the biggest load you'll put on it at any single instance.
The easiest way to calculate this is to add up the wattage of all your devices that could be operating simultaneously.
Step 4: Solder the Wire
So, after you finish placing your strings of solar cells on the frame, it is time to solder the wires. Writing about it is easier than actually doing it, but you've got to be patient. Ideally, you'll end up with an equal number of wires for each cell's positive and negative sides. Put wires in the holes you previously drilled in the frame and connect them to the negative and positive contacts, respectively. Check the current after each connection is made. This is a challenging process, so that you might need help from a friend.
Step 5: It's Electric
That is where the fun begins. After writing several essays and building a solar panel based on this knowledge, you start to understand that electricity is the most exciting part of the process. At this stage of the project, you'll need to purchase or find somewhere the following three items: inverter, deep cycle battery, and the charge controller. These three are essential here, so don't skip anything. First, hook your panel to the charge controller, then hook your battery to the other side of the controller. Hook the battery to the inverter, and you are ready to power up your system.
Step 6: Junction Box Installation
After you finish assembling everything, it is time to install a junction box. It is recommended that you use the junction box that blocks the backflow of current. If you know how to make solar panels, then you probably know that the backflow of energy is undesirable in the case of solar panels. If you use a modern charge controller, as we did, then you don't need an additional backflow blocker because the charge controller already has it. If there's no backflow blocker in your charge controller, then do yourself a service and buy one — it is essential. Install it on the outside of the junction box because they break from time to time, and you'll need to access it easily.
Next thing you know, check the current again, just like you do after each assembly step so that you know everything goes well. Then, once the junction box is on and the backflow blocker is on, you are set and ready to install your panel on the rooftop or wherever you want to install it.
Do I need a charge controller?
Yes, you'll probably need a charge controller (sometimes called a charge regulator) to regulate the charge from your solar system to your battery. Without a charge controller, your battery could become damaged due to overcharging.
There are two types of charge controllers: maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and pulse width modulated (PWM). Most charge controllers are of the PWM variety, but they charge batteries less efficiently than MPPT controllers. On the other hand, PWM controllers also cost less than MPPT controllers.
The easiest way to choose the right charge controller for your battery bank and the solar array is to use the sizing tools offered on manufacturer websites. But if you want to size your charge controller yourself, you'll need to account for both the voltage of your battery bank and the wattage of your solar array. Dividing the array's wattage into the voltage of your battery bank will yield an amperage figure that you can use to size the charge controller.
For instance, if you have a four-kilowatt (4,000-watt) array and your battery bank is 48 volts, you'd divide 4,000 by 48, yielding a quotient of 83.3 amps. Since most charge controllers should have an amperage 20 to 25 per cent larger than the existing system you're planning around, you'd want a charge controller rated at approximately 100 amps.
You are now ready to produce green energy anywhere without noise or smoke. Your portable homemade power station is compact, easy to handle, safe, maintenance-free, and will last for years.
To get the most out of your DIY solar generator, we recommend that you expose your solar panels in full to the sun and add a small ventilator inside the case for cooling purposes.
It is not an easy task, of course, but the result is more than rewarding. It is possible to assemble a fully operational solar panel at home, and not just possible, but highly recommended that you do it too. Try it out, follow the instruction, improvise, and the result will leave your stunned. Solar energy is the future, so why won't you take it?
FAQs About Solar Panels
The four main types of solar batteries are lead-acid, lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and flow batteries. Lead-acid batteries have been around for the longest and are known for their low prices and reliability, but they require regular maintenance.
A 400 amp-hour 6-volt battery can provide around 2.4-kilowatt-hours of power. A three-day battery bank planned to provide 90 kilowatt-hours of electricity to an average American household. The previous example battery can provide2,4 kilowatt-hours, while 38 batteries would be needed.
A solar panel can be connected directly to a 12-volt car battery but must be monitored if it's more than 5 watts. Solar panels rated higher than 5 watts must not be connected directly to a battery but only through a solar charge controller to protect against over-charging.
You will need at least one 450-500 12V battery or two 210 12V batteries to supply 5000 watts of power for 30-45 minutes. If you'd like an hour of 5000 water of power, you'll need a 750ah 12V battery.