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The Fun and Exciting World of DIY Solar Power

So you’ve decided that by constructing DIY solar power panels and other products you want to finally take that step towards energy independence? Or maybe you’d like to do your part to reduce the level of pollution being produced? You can quickly achieve these goals. 

Harnessing the sun’s energy through solar power is one of the easiest options for producing your own eco-friendly energy. The sun can help power and heat your home. It can also help cook your food and heat your water, and the best part is that it does all of this for free, every day of the year. 

Everyone has the ability to use the sun’s energy to help provide for themselves and for the needs of their families. With a little patience and knowledge, you can put your DIY skills into action and produce a fully functioning unit for your solar house.

Things to Consider Before Building any Solar Unit

The first thing you need to consider before installing any solar powered product is the sun itself. Solar panels, as well as heaters, cookers, and any other solar products, need adequate exposure to the sun’s rays for a certain amount of time each day in order to function properly. So it is necessary to carefully choose the site where you are going to install any solar unit in order to maximize its usefulness, whether you DIY ideas encompass small solar equipment, or larger projects such as a solar sauna, a solar greenhouse or even solar home plans to go green entirely.

Of course you probably won't be building your passive solar home yourself, but a quality set of plans will help your architect and builders along the way nicely! If you're looking for experienced house plan designers, we recommend checking out Sun Plans or Silverwood Design!

The location is even more crucial for solar water heaters and solar cookers, which require a great deal of direct sunlight to work correctly. If you don’t have any areas on your property which will be able to sustain your solar needs sufficiently, then perhaps it’s time to consider other green options.

diy solar powerIf you are installing solar panels, it’s important to keep them at the correct angle to the sun, which normally requires several adjustments each year. It’s also extremely important to ensure that all of your solar devices are adjusted as the sun changes position through the year, as this will make them more efficient. The panels will be at less of an angle during the summer months and at a much more acute angle during the winter. The closer you live to the equator, the fewer adjustments you will have to make during the year, but solar panels nearer to the poles will require much more adjustment due to the changes in the angle of the sun.

It’s okay if you don’t have time to readjust your panels monthly:  just make sure to adjust your solar panel angle at least quarterly (four times a year). It’s also important to note the number of sunny days per year in your area to determine if using solar energy will be cost effective for your home.

DIY Solar Power Projects

Solar Water Heater

One of the easiest solar powered products for you to make is a simple solar powered water heater - maybe with the help of some solar pool heater plans. Different sizes and types of solar water heaters can be manufactured at home, which will fit just about any budget and skill level. Building a simple solar water heater is one of the easiest DIY solar power devices you can build, however for the person who likes a challenge, there are many other, much more complicated designs available.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to passive solar heating is that the more difficult the construction is, the more effective the end product will be. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that building a very simple solar system is a waste of time, as it can still help you reduce your energy costs and help you reduce your impact on the environment.

DIY Solar Panels

You can build your own solar energy system for your home by either building your own solar panels from scratch or buy finding and/or purchasing used ones. One of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether or not to install new or used solar panels, is their cost effectiveness. If you live in an area that is normally quite cloudy, then maybe it’s best for you to invest in used solar panels instead of the more expensive new ones, as your total energy output will be on the low side due to the lack of constant sun.

This makes building your own panels from scratch or repairing used panels a great option for those who are still unsure about a large initial investment. If you search online or in your town, you may be able to find used, slightly damaged solar panels for free or cheap. With a few minor repairs , these panels will usually be able to produce a considerable amount of power over the years, although usually their capacity is diminished by 20-50% due to the damage. Using a homemade solar cell to build your own solar panel can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and your utility bills for a fraction of the cost of a new solar panel.

Cook Your Food with Solar Power

One of the other great devices you can build yourself is a solar oven or a solar food dehydrator. These handy inventions let you lower your utility bills even further by allowing you to cook or dry food for storage by simply harnessing the heat from the sun’s rays. Many of the designs are rather simple, but also quite effective, provided you have adequate sunlight while using the device. Solar cookers are also a great way to boil and sanitize water if no other heat source is available. This makes them a great option for camping trips or for people looking to become completely independent and going off-grid. There are hundreds of designs and plans online  to build your own simple, yet very effective solar cooker.

diy solar powerNo matter what type of solar device you decide to try your hand at building, you can be confident in knowing that your DIY solar energy efforts will be rewarded. Solar energy has unlimited, and as of yet, untapped potential for providing more than enough energy for all of human consumption.

While the research in this area is still somewhat lacking, the idea of a solar powered future may become a reality sooner than you think. Of course we will have to find other natural ways of producing power so as to not become completely over-reliant on only one technology.

Solar Panel Kits

If you have absolutely no prior knowlegde about DIY solar power, the easiest way to start off on your journey, is through the use of a solar panel kit. Sharp and Mitsubishi both produce some excellent solar power kits, which come with clear instructions, and are easy to install. Be careful with the wiring though. It's the final step for installing your own solar panels, but unless you have experience with installing them yourself, it's best to let a certified installer come and take a look at them. Most companies that produce solar kits, also give you the option of hiring one of their licensed technicians to come and help you out.

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