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One of the best ways to be self-sufficient on your homestead is to use solar panels. If you’re on the energy grid, they’re a great way to save money in the long term; if you’re off-grid, they ensure survival!

Solar panels can feel a little overwhelming to a newcomer, but once you know what you need, it’s a breeze! Use this quick start guide to produce your own energy in no time.

Solar panel basics

Before you plan your off-grid solar system, it’s important to remember that this the system will supply all of your energy needs. It’s best to overestimate energy usage so you build a system that can last decades. Although DIY is a popular option, it’s usually safest to have a professional to install your solar system for safety and efficiency.

When looking at a solar system, you’ll need:

Solar panels
This is the fun part! Choose a middle-road, reasonable solar panel in the 24 to 48 volt range. Know what voltage you want before you buy. If you’re providing power to your entire property with solar, you’ll want 24 volts or higher.

Combiner box
The wiring for your solar panels needs to connect in one place: that’s what the combiner box is for. The solar panels terminate into the combiner box, which then runs to your controller.

Make sure you buy a charge controller with the correct voltage for your system setup. The charge controller regulates the voltage and current in the solar system. This keeps the batteries from overcharging, ensuring the system runs smoothly.

The battery is the brains of the solar operation, converting sunlight energy into stored electricity. Go for quality when setting up your battery system: this is what will supply power to your home on overcast days!

DC to AC inverter
The electricity in a battery can’t always be used in a home. For that reason, you’ll need a DC to AC inverter, which changes direct current to alternating current.

Solar panels can be complex to set up at first, but they’re a phenomenal way to be self-reliant when you’re roughing it in the wilderness. When in doubt, partner up with a reliable solar energy company to get your system set up.

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