How do you install an off grid solar kit?
A handy guide to off grid solar kit installations
Are you thinking of going off grid with solar? An off grid solar system will help you reduce your carbon footprint and eliminate those dreaded utility bills, but choosing and installing your off grid panels can be intimidating. That’s what we’re here for.
In this blog, we begin with what an off grid solar kit is and how to choose the right one. Then we get into the ins and outs of the fun DIY part of going off grid: installing a solar power kit. You heard us. It’s a lot more fun and rewarding than assembling a piece of furniture from IKEA, and easier too! Let’s begin.
What is a solar kit?
A solar kit contains all the components you'll need to go off grid with a solar power system. The kits can handle the power needs of your entire house, but they are also handy if you want to hook up your shed, recreational vehicle, or camper.
It's a great option for newcomers who want to switch to renewable energy because it removes the middleman and guesswork from choosing and assembling your off grid system. The only thing an off grid solar power kit doesn't include is installation. That’s where you come in!
Solar kit vs. solar company?
You have two options for getting a solar power system: hire a solar company or buy a solar kit. We're here to say that the solar kit is the best option. Above and beyond the control it gives you over your system, you'll save about 50% from the cost of going with a solar company.
The only thing a solar company offers that a solar kit doesn't is installation. And so what? Installing an off grid solar power system isn't that hard.
Most people don't even realize they can install their own off grid solar system. While it's not without its challenges, there are quite a few benefits to DIY off grid solar installation:
- It's cheaper. Using a solar kit and installing your own off grid system is cheaper than hiring a solar power company. Like, a lot cheaper. A system you’d pay $25,000 for from a solar company would only cost you half as much with a kit. That’s right: save 50% just by doing it yourself.
- It's faster. You can buy your own system online or at a hardware store, eliminating the wait time associated with scheduling a professional installer and getting the required equipment.
- It's fun to do it yourself. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t technical. If you’ve ever sat down with some Legos or a model, you’ll love assembling your own system.
- It gives you peace of mind that it was done right. Remember what your dad said: if you want something done right, do it yourself. There are plenty of bad reviews out there that should tell you solar companies don’t always get the job done right, so why leave it in someone else’s hands?
- It gives you the knowledge and skills to troubleshoot your system yourself. What do you do when the power goes out? You can sit in the dark and wait for the solar company to send someone over when they have time, or you can fix it yourself because you know how.
What's in an off grid solar kit?
We've already mentioned that an off grid solar kit contains everything you need to operate independently from the electric grid. This means five main components: solar panels, a charge controller, an inverter, a battery bank, and all the cables and connectors to put it together. Off grid solar systems may contain several additional components, depending on your selected kit.
Off grid solar kit installation
Off grid solar kits are a great way to harness the power of the sun and generate electricity without the need for grid power. Choosing the right kit is always the first step. You'll need to determine how much energy you'll need to power your home before deciding how many solar panels you'll need, the solar panel voltage requirements, and the battery capacity to store and utilize the energy you've generated. (This handy quiz can give you a personalized recommendation.) Next, evaluate your site's potential and the best location for the panels.
Then it’s a matter of rolling up your sleeves and having some fun with your off grid solar kit installation.
You'll prepare the location for your panels, secure the solar panel racking, and attach the panels themselves. Afterward, you'll need to run cables from the panels into your building and connect the charge controller to the battery bank. Finally, you'll connect the battery bank to the inverter, then from there to the electrical panel.
It really is as simple as that. Once it's all done you can sever your ties with the utility company and enjoy clean, reliable energy for many years to come. Now, how are you going to spend that truckload of money you’ve saved?
What else do you need to install an off grid solar kit?
Many off grid solar kits do not require a permit, but you may need permission from your Homeowners Association or Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in some locations.
Who can install an off grid solar kit?
You can install your own solar system or elicit the help of a local handyman if you don't want to hire a solar company to do the installation.
How do I install an off grid solar kit?
If you're considering installing an off grid solar kit yourself, it's important to ensure you have all the necessary equipment and knowledge before beginning the process. Follow these steps to ensure a successful installation.
Make sure you have all the necessary equipment
Before starting the installation, it's essential to gather all the necessary equipment and tools. This includes the panels, racking, batteries, inverter, charge controller, wiring, and any necessary mounting hardware.
Prepare solar panel location
Choose a location for your solar panels that is unobstructed by shade and has optimal exposure to sunlight. Position the panels to face south in the northern hemisphere or north in the southern hemisphere.
Secure solar panel racking
The racking system is responsible for holding the solar panels in place. It's crucial to ensure that the racking is securely attached to the roof or ground and can withstand extreme weather conditions.
Attach solar panels
Once the racking is in place, you can begin attaching the solar panels to the racking. Follow the detailed instructions included with your solar kit carefully and use the appropriate hardware to secure the panels in place.
Run the cables from panels into the building
Next, you'll need to run the cables from the solar panels into your building. It's important to ensure the cables are properly secured and protected from damage.
Connect the charge controller
The charge controller is responsible for regulating the power coming from the solar panels and directing it to the batteries. Connect the charge controller to the solar panels according to the instructions.
Connect the batteries
The batteries store the energy generated by the solar panels. Connect the batteries to the charge controller. It’s all very simple wiring and easy to do with the clear and detailed wiring diagrams that come with your kit.
The inverter converts the DC power generated by the solar panels and stored in the batteries to AC power used in your home. Connect the inverter to the batteries with more simple wiring.
Connect to the electrical panel
Finally, you must connect your solar system to your electrical panel. This involves installing a transfer switch that can switch between grid power and solar power as needed.
This is the most complicated part of the process but well within the abilities of most homeowners. If you aren't confident you can do it, you may want to hire an electrician for a couple of hours to do this part.
Bask in your awesomeness
Crack a cold beverage of your choice, sit back, and raise your glass to never having to pay a utility bill again!
Installing an off grid solar kit requires careful planning and attention to detail, but with the clear instructions and support offered by a reputable solar kit provider, anyone can do it.
Installing an off grid solar kit may seem daunting, but it's not as complicated as you might think. It can be a perfect DIY project for those who want to reduce their reliance on the grid and take control of their energy usage. However, if you're not confident in your DIY skills, it's important to know that you can always enlist the help of a professional to do just the installation and still save a ton of money over having a solar company do everything. Either way, you’ll get the off grid solar system of your dreams and end your reliance on unreliable grid service forever.
What to know more? Check out our off grid solar power guide.