Going off-grid with solar power used to be seen as something only for survivalists or people living in remote areas. However, with the rising costs of electricity and improvements in solar technology, a DIY solar panel system is now a viable option for any homeowner looking to gain energy independence. I decided to build my own solar panel system to power my home despite warnings from experts that it would be too complex. In this article, I'll walk through the entire process to show you how accessible and affordable a home solar system can be.

Charging Components

The two main components you need to generate and store power are solar panels and batteries.

Solar Panels

After researching different solar panel options, I decided to go with a set of 4 250-watt polycrystalline panels. These strike a good balance between efficiency and cost. I purchased them individually from an online retailer for $170 each, for a total of $680. This gave me a total solar array output of 1000 watts.

Key things to look for when selecting panels are:


To store the electricity generated, I used four 6-volt 225 amp-hour deep cycle AGM lead-acid batteries. I connected them together to create a 24-volt 315 amp-hour bank. These were about $150 each for a total cost of $600.

For batteries, focus on:

Additional Components

To connect, regulate, and monitor the system, I also used:

Having the right supporting gear makes the system work safely and efficiently. Don't cheap out on these.

Installation Process

With my components acquired, it was time for installation. This involved:

1. Mounting the Solar Panels

I installed pole mounts in my backyard for the panels which allow easy angle adjustments. Each panel was then wired into a combiner box that merges the output into one circuit.

2. Setting Up the Battery Bank

The batteries were installed on a sturdy metal rack in my basement. I used an insulated #4 AWG copper wire to connect them together. For safety, this is all situated in a vented room.

3. Connecting the System Components

I used 6 AWG copper wire to run circuits from the panels and batteries to the charge controller and inverter mounted on my utility room wall. I also wired in all the safety components at this stage.

4. Programming the Charge Controller

This involves setting the proper charge rates and inputting the battery bank details. I can monitor the state of charging through the controller display and my battery monitor.

With all the wiring and programming complete, I flipped the switches and the system came online!

Usage and Improvements

My DIY solar setup reliably produces 4-5 kWh per day, easily covering my home's basic needs. I'm considering adding more panels in the future to power larger loads like an electric vehicle charger.

Some lessons learned:

Overall, building my own solar power system was very satisfying and I now have zero electric bill! It just takes research, patience, and attention to detail. Let me know if you have any other questions.