Solar power cost is now cheaper than grid power and it can power your studio in an RV or through power outages.
The complete solar power kit ingredients list
- Deep cycle battery stores the power
- Solar panel collects the power
- Solar charge controller distributes power from panel to battery to inverter
- AC Power inverter turns battery power into AC outlets
- AC Power meter measures your usage
- Power connectors and fuses to connect everything to charger
- Backup generator in case the sun goes away for a long time
Recommended: 100 watt upgradeable to 1500 watt
You can build a 100 watt system to get started with enough power for light or brief uses and upgrade it to 1500 watt later as solar prices continue to drop or your off-grid needs increase.
To do that, you start with a 100 watt panel, 100 amp hour battery, 1500 watt pure sine inverter and 30 amp PWM charge controller. When you upgrade to higher capacity panels and batteries, you can add a stronger MPPT charge controller to take full advantage of it.
Deep Cycle Battery
You need batteries to store the power you gather. If you’re not doing solar and just want power backup, you can get computer UPS systems with built-in inverters instead.
UB12350: The cheapest deep cycle marine battery
The Universal UB12350 battery is a powerful 12 volts sealed lead acid battery with capacity of 35AH. Costing only around $60, it’s the cheapest and most affordable deep cycle battery available in the competition. UB12350 works right when you need it to. This deep cycle marine battery is one of the most powerful, reliable and durable 12V batteries. It comes with many exceptions like thicker plates, corrosion resistant terminals and optimal performance ability. Most importantly, this unit is quite small in size and light in weight, also making it one of the most portable marine batteries.
UB121000: The cheapest 100W deep cycle marine battery $155
If you’re building a larger amount of power, you can do so with a series of 100W batteries connected to each other.
Solar panel prices are dropping fast and it may be best to get a small 100W system to start before prices fall further, making a larger capacity 1000W+ system much more cost effective.
Flexible solar panels
Thin flexible solar panels take up less space and are easier to mount and rearrange. They are priced at a premium of about 50% more than rigid panels.
Rigid solar panels
Rigid panels are medium priced, but require sturdy mounting brackets.
DIY solar panels
DIY solar panels are the cheapest but you have to wire each little section together.
You’ll have to learn how to assemble the DIY kit, but for large installs it saves money.
Solar Charge Controller
The charge controller connects the solar panels to the batteries to charge them efficiently and outputs the power from the batteries to your AC Inverter power supply outlets without letting them run all the way down till they’re ruined.
The Mohoo 30A is a good starting charge controller. When you go beyond 100 watts of solar and batteries, you can consider more expensive MPPT controllers that charge more efficiently than PWM charge controllers do.
AC Power Inverter
Your solar charge controller outputs power from the battery into an inverter which turns 12V battery power into 115V AC outlet power for your devices.
Basic modified sine inverter
A basic inverter can supply enough power for laptops and low-power devices, but the power is too little and too dirty for larger and more sensitive gear.
High capacity pure sine inverter
A high-capacity inverter has enough power to drive desktop computers with multiple monitors plus appliances.
A 1500 watt pure sine power inverter will give you clean power for sensitive electronics and motors and expand up to a large 1500 watt solar array as you upgrade your capacity.
It is useful to be able to track how much power you consume with a power meter to learn how to reduce your usage and to know what portion of a home or office’s utility bill you should pay for your usage. Read the power meter usage reviews guide. It is useful to have two meters so you can run two different devices or chains of devices and compare them as well.
A basic power meter that tells you how much power you use over time. Electricity bills are rising. Now you can cut down on costs and find out what appliances are actually worth keeping plugged in. Simply connect these appliances to the Kill A Watt, and it will assess how efficient they really are. The large LCD display counts consumption by the kilowatt-hour, the same as your local utility. You can calculate your electrical expenses by the day, week, month, even an entire year. Also check the quality of your power by monitoring voltage, line frequency, and power factor. Now you will know if it is time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is still saving you money. Kill A Watt can help you reduce your power bill and will help find power-wasting appliances so you are able to decide whether it is worth keeping them plugged in. For standard 115 VAC appliances only, 15 amps maximum, 125 VAC maximum.
Connector cables and fuses
You’ll need some solar power cables and fuses to connect your components to your charge controller safely.
Calculating how powerful your fuses need to be
Your fuses need to be sized based on how much power you will be producing to and from your battery. Google for a guide to the math, we’ll add instructions soon.
Complete solar power kits
If you don’t want to select your own components and wiring, you can buy a complete kit with everything combined.
WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit: 4pcs 100W Solar Panels + P30L LCD PWM Charge Controller + Mounting Hardware + Cable + MC4 Connectors + AGM Battery for RV, Boat, Cabin, Off-Grid 12 Volt System
- Complete kit includes: (4pcs) 100 Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel, 30-amp P30L Solar Charge Controller (w/ LCD Display and user adjustable settings), 40 feet of UL Listed 12 AWG Solar Cable, all necessary MC4 Connectors, all necessary solar mounting hardware + 3pcs BattaMax 100Ah (300ah total) AGM, Maintenance Free, Deep Cycle 12V Batteries with 2/0 AWG Interconnect Battery Cables.
- Designed for RVs, cabins, homes, boats, back-up and remote power use
- PWM Solar Charge Controller has user adjustable settings! LCD Screen shows system amperage, voltage, amp-hours, temperature and DC load draw. See Image in photo gallery for all LCD Screen readouts.
- Solar panels will provide on average 1700 Watt Hours (Wh) or 150 Amp hours of charge per day (depends on sunlight availability)
- 5 year solar panel warranty. 25 year power output warranty. 1 year warranty on all other included components.
Assembling the solar power kit components
If you buy all the ingredients in the list with appropriate power capacities to work well together, you have to connect it all up to the charge controller.