Solar/Wind System

During the summer of 2009, I embarked on a serious mission. I was going put together a renewable energy system sponsored by my dad. As soon as he bought the solar cells, I made every ounce of effort to make sure the project didn’t go down. I had set a date when I needed to have the panels completed and reached that goal.

Next was the expensive purchase of the charge controller, grid tie inverter, and wind turbines. Before the summer was up, we had a renewable energy system, (solar system and wind system). My dad had paid for all the parts and helped mount the panels, charge controller, DC box, and raise up the wind turbines. The system was finally… started. I estimated about 7.5% savings off our bill, but it seems more like 10% based on my dad’s observations of the bill. It may not seem like much, but it’s a start. The wind turbines have been giving us the most advantage during fall and winter since our solar panels aren’t all that great, but they work. (Just learn from my lesson and don’t build your own.) The next step is to add more solar panels and wind turbines.

Building the Solar Panels

It was a long process and I sure did use a lot of solder! The moral of this part of the project is don’t build your own solar panels! It’s just not very economically efficient, unless you have no job (time on your hands) and can acquire the parts for dirt. You’ll probably get about half of what you expected because everything isn’t pristine. Nevertheless, this was the starting motivation, and they do work.

Building the DC Junction Box

All the wires have to go somewhere, and I believe this was indeed economically cheaper. Some of those DC junction boxes get crazy expensive! What seemed strange is there seems to be a distinction made between AC circuit breakers and DC circuit breakers. I assume it’s probably how far the breaker actually opens, and the DC breakers probably have to open much farther to break the circuit because of the unchanging direct current. Then I thought of a simple, old fashioned, and cheap replacement: fuses! After all, it’s not like they’re going to be failing all the time.

Wiring the System

Once the panels were up, everything else had to be mounted and wired up as well. It’s really fairly simple. Tie all the grounds and negatives together and tie all the positive 48VDC together with a breaker/fuse between common positive (as seen in my DC box). Tie all the solar positive to the charge controller. Connect the AC from the breaker box to the AC in of the inverter, and you’re done. I suppose another step would be to set the charger controller to grid tie mode.

Counting the Cost

Nearly everything was taken into account if there was something we didn’t already have. The project cost was about $6,700 as of August 14, 2009. We then later added subsequent solar panels and 2x4 frames in the months of September 2010 and May 2011. We also added another wind generator in May 2011. So far, its already been paying for itself. You can download the spreadsheets of these projects with the cost and labor breakdown here.

You can see our latest developments on YouTube


Here are some articles I’ve written about renewable energy: Some related articles: