The DIY Solar Energy Learning Curve

A sure-fire formula for guessing.

E=mc/2 + 100 volts/230X67 + 6 batteries +8 solar panels, times the total amount of appliances you have divided by 50 percent of the watts needed to power Las Vegas – 10,000 liters and cubits divided by the number of hours in a typical day in Antarctica; Divide that number by whatever parallel you live at and reduce that by another 50 percent and add in the number of teeth your dog has and that’s the formula to follow to estimate how much power you’re going to need from your DIY solar power system.

Unless you want to use the washer/dryer on Tuesdays rather than Wednesdays and in the spring and not winter. If your preference is winter, redo your calculations and add one.

My head would start to spin when I cruised the websites searching for information on setting up a solar power system.

I looked at charts of average watts and amps used by various appliances and read about how many watts a solar panel produces and tried my damnedest to figure out how many batteries we should have (depending on what size) and how configuring them differently would produce more volts or amps or something and less of something else.

I finally gave up and ordered the basic four-panel starter kit from Windy Nation, a wind and solar power company.  Of course it wasn’t enough so we ordered four more panels and I redid the calculations. This time I came up with a number that clearly showed we were now at about a third of what we would need to produce one-hundred percent of our own power.

Progress.

learning curve

Regardless of the math involved to start, I love having solar power. After the initial cost it’s free! I’m chomping at the bit for more panels although I have yet to figure out for certain, how many batteries we need for the number of panels we have. I think we’ll need a larger inverter, also. For the time being, we have a solid compliment to our generator.

You really do learn as you go. The best calculations can’t teach you what real world experience can, like if something has moving parts, it uses more electricity.

To cut down on energy usage, we switched out all of the regular light bulbs with LEDs and replaced the electric water heater with a propane model. We need to get a propane fridge.

So initially setting up is a pain in the ass but I totally recommend solar.

Hopefully your learning curve won’t twist into knots like ours did.

Author: ldinlove

I live with my family, two cats, and at any given moment: ten dear, two turkeys, ten chicks, ten billion ants, ten thousand bees and wasps, two white rabbits, twenty angry squirrels, one occasional bear ( occasional works for me), a couple of snakes, the neighbor's stray dogs, and one very friendly skunk.

7 thoughts on “The DIY Solar Energy Learning Curve”

  1. The reality:you really don’t NEED batteries – except to store your power. If the sun is shining, you are producing power.
    However, without batteries, you won’t have power at night… so there is that to consider.

      1. Yeah, batteries don’t like that. 🙁
        Years ago, I had a Harbor Freight system (it was only 45 watt) and I had 4 12 volt batteries hooked in. I ended up ruining my batteries as well. ***too much demand and not enough supply***
        My batteries were deep cell (marine type) so they could handle a deeper discharge but my supply wasn’t quite enough. Every few days I had to put the batteries in the back of my car and hook them to my aux battery cables and drive around to get them charged back up. – I don’t recommend doing that. I think THAT ruined my alternator AND didn’t help the batteries either.
        Live and learn

      2. Absolutely. Live and learn. You hit the nail on the head…too much demand not enough supply. My husband and I have been discussing whether or not to buy more panels and batteries now rather than later. We’re trying to watch our budget but the pay off…

      3. You might want to get some good reading materials online.
        You can learn a lot from a “dummies” book (not that you’re a dummy)

        I download lots of free ebooks in pdf format

      4. I imagine you have a cellphone (nearly everyone does) I downloaded an app called “solar wiring diagram”, from the google play store (it’s free); it might come in handy to you.

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