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Home Forums General Discussion Most efficient and inexpensive way to do sufficient solar

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    What I am wanting to do is rig up my house entirely off grid, using solar panels. I want to make sure I have more than enough panels, batteries, and an inverter with a high-enough wattage, but with the absolute least expense.

    What tips do you have, where can I go for step-by-step on how to rig up my house, and about how much do you think it would cost minimum to do just what I was mentioning?

    ALL tips and assistance appreciated!

    Nick Rosen

    Downsize.. Downsize.. Downsize!

    The most frugal way to do it is to plan to operate direct from a battery. The most commom voltage is 12 volts D.C.

    I have around 6k (U.S.) in my system and I live very comfortable.

    512 watts of panel.. 4-Golf cart batteries..



    let the sun grow trees, use them to build a cabin and burn wood for heat :)



    My advice is not to take on the whole thing at once if financing is a concern. You don’t have to . The idea is to gather power and store it in your batteries, turn that power from dc to ac with an inverter. Figure up your wattage use…..Do you conserve? I started a small system with an inverter I got on ebay that was used for a car stereo…. ya know the kind of system heard for blocks and blocks…

    Get what panels you can afford. Start small, in a few months, hopefully, new technology and great pricing will make them more affordable.

    I’d had, at one time, bookmarked my research with grids and graphs and such, but I’ve lost it. You need a diagram for wiring together your storage batteries. Golf cart batteries can work. Bad batteries , no matter what the kind are just a pain. I got really great batteries from an electric company. They were used and I trusted my salesperson and they are the best. 2 volt blast cells…1280 watts worth. I felt like I was driving armament home in the back of my dodge!

    So, I hope some of this helps.


    Mary Ann


    “How To Make a Solar Generator for Less than $300,” hope it helps


    Don’t forget that this isn’t something you do to “be green” or save money right now unless you really are using minimal amounts of electricity.

    Solar PV is extremely inefficient (<15%) and the storage batteries (and regular maintenance with all their rare metals, lead, acid etc) will eat up more carbon than you will ever save at that size.

    The CAT (Wales) put a showpiece £75,000 solar roof in.

    10 years later, it’s falling to bits, and notwithstanding the maximum rated life of a panel at 25 years, it will take £75 years to pay for itself.

    Just bear all that in mind – and this:

    “Paint-on solar panels could boost current energy efficiency by 50 percent while making new solar panel installations virtually invisible by painting organic dyes onto windows.

    By absorbing light and transporting energy to panel edges, developers of the paint-on solar panels said they could lower cost by only requiring active solar cells around a panel edges”

    One THEY become available (4 years or so), that will change everything.

    I’d wait and do your hot water first – 90% efficiency, cheaper, SAVES carbon etc.


    Biomass is a decent way to harness solar energy on the cheap. Don’t just “burn” it like most folks will tell you. Make wood gas with it, and run a generator, furnace or water heater.

    First things first, though. Conserve, conserve, conserve. Get your need way down, and your cost will be lower. You don’t need electricity for a lot of things, especially heating. Lighting (CFL), computers, and communication equipment are the major ones you will need. Our house only has 100 watts of solar and 300 watts of wind, and we run everything we need. It is all about living within your means.


    We have 185 watts of solar and as the poster above said, conserve. We add little by little to our system. When we first started out we were charging our batteries with an old car. Now we have more componets and have spent maybe $3000. so far. Now we have a good charge controller, a meter, 24 locomotive batteries (used….traded a website design for them) and an excellent DC generator.

    But……we do not have all the conveniences that most people cannot live without. Our 2 laptops and some lights (which we use VERY conservedly!!!) are the only things we use every day. When we buy an appliance it will be only very energy efficient one. Someday, our house will have all the normal conveniences, but not all at once.


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