Is one of your dreams to make your own electricity and not have to depend on a utility company? Then your ideal goal is to live “off grid.” Many of those who live off grid are in rural areas where electric utility service is either not available or very expensive to connect. But more and more people are looking at it as a personal lifestyle choice. Some even learn how to make solar cells and build their own solar panels (see the video).
There are a couple of important considerations involved in living off-grid. First, you’ll need to become very mindful of when and how you use electricity. You won’t have to live without it, but you don’t want to waste it, either.
It’s also important that you become familiar with your solar power system – how it functions and what type of maintanence is required. It would be best if you become an expert on your particular system, so you can fix any problem that arises. Becoming an “pro” won’t be too difficult considering you will have already learned how to make solar cells together with the readily available information on solar energy. However, it does require some time commitment on your part.
Typically, an off-grid system consists of nine components
1. The photovoltaic array and mounting rack. Wikipedia describes the array as “a linked collection of photovoltaic modules, which are in turn made of multiple interconnected solar cells”. The mounting rack is what attaches the array to the roof.
2.The array DC disconnect. This is basically a breaker between the array and the rest of the system. It allows you to disconnect from the system in order to fix any problems with the array.
3.The charge controller prevents the batteries from overcharging.
4. The battery bank. The battery bank stores excess electricity. You will typically need enough batteries for 2-3 days worth of stored electricity in case of a cloudy period.
5. The system meter. The system meter is like your car dashboard. It reports how the various components in your system are functioning.
6. The main DC disconnect. This is a breaker between the storage batteries and the inverter.
7. The inverter. This is the component that transforms the DC (direct current) electricity, which is generated by the array and stored in the batteries, into the AC (alternating current) electricity that can power your household appliances.
8. The breaker panel. This is the same kind of breaker panel that the power company uses to connect your house wiring to its electrical source.
9. The backup generator. This is in case you have a stretch of overcast days and use up the electricity stored in the batteries. You can use traditional fossil fuels, but you may want to use biodiesel to support your green lifestyle.
As you can see, each component is relatively simple in and of itself. The only motorized parts are in the backup generator (which you hopefully won’t have to use much). Now that you’ve examined the components of the photovoltaic system and how to make solar cells, you can see why it’s not too complicated to become your own expert.