Even if a traditional solar PV system is outside of your budget, or your state has no incentives or big market barriers to solar, you can still take advantage of solar energy with a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solar project. Creative people are using solar to tackle problems large and small across the globe!
DIYing a solar system can be a chance to learn more about how the technology works, experiment with a new design, or go solar for a fraction of the cost. There are hundreds of DIY solar project options, ranging from putting together a simple DIY solar charger to installing a complete system, or even building a solar panel from scratch!
There are also groups of solar enthusiasts all over the country that are building their own solar systems. Some groups partner with solar installers, offer discounts on materials, and loans on tools and equipment for members to use while installing their systems.
DIY projects are also a great way to build an organization, educate students and engage your neighbors about solar. It is a great tool for building the renewable energy movement from the ground up!
For Ex: Solar space and Water Heating System
This DIY system is a system that provides both solar space and water heating in a single system.
The Solar Space Heating section has solar water and air heating systems with and without storage -- some 87 projects.
The Solar Water Heating section provides many DIY builds for solar water heating systems including batch, thermosyphon, drain back, and closed loop systems, solar showers, solar stock tanks, kits, ... 117 projects and ideas.
Planning the Solar Electric System
The first step to planning your system is to evaluate rebate options and obtain permits. Your local power utility has rules you must follow when you hook the finished system to the grid, and building codes may also apply. In addition to federal incentives, states (and even some cities) offer rebates to help with the cost of the system. Understanding the local rules before you start will save you frustration later.
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 Renewable and Efficiency (DSIRE) for information on rebates in your state.
Deciding the size of your system is the next step. With a grid-tied system, size is less critical, because the grid supplies power when your PV system falls short. Systems as small as a couple hundred watts are practical, but you can also install panels that will produce enough electricity for all your needs. Review how much electricity you use now, and then estimate what you will be able to save by applying conservation and efficiency measures throughout your home. This will give you an idea of how big a system you’ll want to build. You certainly can build a system smaller than this, but it may not pay to install a larger one. Look up your state on DSIRE to learn about net metering rules where you live, including how much you can get paid for generating excess power.
Figuring out ways to use less energy in your home is almost always more cost effective than putting up a larger PV array. We started with a monthly usage of 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh), which is about average for a U.S. household. We got this down to about 500 kwh by spending a bit more than $1,000 on efficient lights, power strips with switches, a new fridge and a few other strategies (see 8 Easy Projects for Instant Energy Savings). Compare that with the PV system, which saves us 250 kwh per month but costs $6,000 — it’s clear where the best return is. Take the efficiency measures first, then buy the PV system.
What this all does is that it makes your cost cutting a lot easier that it will surely make you happy. Many of the people in the world are going green so Go Green by using the most abundant energy on earth and also by doing so you will surely make mother earth somewhat happy!!!!