DIY Photovoltaic Power

Reader Contribution by Doug And Jennie Ostgaard
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In mid-2012, we avid do-it-yourselfers cast a lustful eye on photovoltaic solar for our home. We reasoned that the sun was there every day – why not capture its free, clean and renewable energy? The thought enticed us not unlike Ralphie in A Christmas Story

Just like Ralphie, was enticed by the Red Rider BB gun, but held at bay by the threats of shooting his eye out, we were enticed by shiny solar possibilities with the threats of failing and being made a laughing stock (at best) or becoming a pile of incinerated ash (at worst). Danger does lurk around every corner for the novice and/or the careless, and extreme caution should be the rule. Being aware of this, we still decided the take the plunge and build the system ourselves. We began the build in January 2013. Six months later, we completed the project successfully and were up and running.

Here is a picture of our finished system in front our home. We built an on-ground system for ease of maintenance and the ability to rotate the frames and capture more solar energy at different times of the year.

Advantages of DIY Home Solar Power

By taking on the project ourselves we were able to:

  • Capture more electricity by designing (manually-driven) automated rotated frames, which incorporate full tilt angle variation to track the sun all year.
  • Have on-grid/off-grid capability with the flip of a switch.
  • Capture free renewable energy and help keep the Earth clean.

By designing and building the system ourselves, we estimate we saved over 70 percent. Our payback (with incentives included) is a mere 6.2 years. We realized that almost anyone, anywhere will benefit from photovoltaic solar energy. (See NASA charts at this link.)

We are delighted with our photovoltaic system and have written a book entitled DIY Photovoltaic Solar Power for Homeowners. In our book, we’ve included our detailed charts, wiring diagrams, parts lists, and energy analysis. We’re looking forward to sharing details of our system build and design in future blog posts.