Q:

What do you need for a DIY solar panel project?

A:

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The materials needed for a DIY solar panel installation project are enough solar panels to generate the desired wattage, a charge controller, batteries and a power inverter. The number of solar panels connected to the system determines the speed at which the batteries recharge, while the batteries themselves determine the amount of power the system is able to store.

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Choose the appropriate solar panels for the project based on your energy needs. Lighting for a small shed requires little energy, for instance, and a lower wattage panel would suffice. To light a home, though, requires more power at peak hours and higher wattage panels to replace used electricity more quickly and prolong battery life.

The batteries used in a home solar energy system are flooded lead acid batteries, gel batteries and absorbed glass mat batteries. Deep cycle batteries, such as those found on boats and in recreational vehicles, and car batteries are not suitable. The batteries store power collected from the solar panel array as 12-volt DC power and discharge it through the power inverter as usable 120-volt AC electricity. A charge controller manages the incoming current from all of the solar panels and ensures the batteries are safely topped off.

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