ExtremeTech has posted an article detailing the process of adding solar power to a house. The author included some interesting detail about his personal power consumption, and details about the process of selecting his contractor too. The total cost of the installation came to about $36,000 after state and federal rebates for going solar.
It’s not a homebrew setup, but it’s good to see an article detailing all that is involved. We’ll take you through the tech side of it after the break.
The first thing to discuss is the overall architecture of a home solar power source. Power is collected by the panels as DC power, which is converted to AC by an inverter. The inverter feeds the AC power to the main circuit box, which distributes it to the house.
The panels themselves are not installed until a few steps later; first, the mounting racks, the inverter, and a safety cutoff switch are installed. Once that has been completed, the wiring that would connect to the panels was installed into the racks. After installing grounding wires, the wiring is connected to the conduit that links it to the inverter. Then it is possible to install the panels themselves. The safety switch can then be flipped on, allowing the juice to flow into the main circuit box. Bear in mind that although the process is well-detailed in the article, you still need municipal permits to have an alternative energy source (even if it’s something other than solar panels, like this wind turbine we featured earlier), so self-installation should be considered carefully.
Even if you can’t afford such an extreme home mod, it’s interesting to note that the company that did the installation, ReGrid Power, claimed that the solar setup would cover 75% of the user’s energy needs, cutting down about 90% of the monthly cost. The author also mentions that the cost can be recouped in nine years. Not bad numbers, and it’ll make your life greener. Still, if you’re eager to start now, try these instructions on how to build a solar panel using common household items.