How to Convert Your Home to 100% Solar Power for Under 0

How to Convert Your Home to 100% Solar Power for Under $500

Assess Your Energy Usage

The first step is to analyze your current energy usage to determine the size of solar system you will need. Track your daily kWh usage for a full month by reading your electric meter. Calculate the average daily usage - this is the size system you will need to fully power your home. If your usage is high, first focus on energy efficiency upgrades like LED lights, smart thermostats, and updated appliances to reduce your usage and solar system size.

Buy Used Solar Panels

Once you know the size solar array you need, look for used solar panels on Craigslist, eBay, or from solar installers removing old systems. Quality used panels can be found for around $0.25/watt. For a small home needing a 2kW system, that is just $500 for the panels. Compare that to $2-4/watt for new panels. Prioritize monocrystalline silicon panels made by top brands for longest life. Inspect carefully for cracks, warped backing, and output.

Get a Solar Charge Controller

Next, you need a solar charge controller to regulate power from the solar panels to your batteries. $50 can buy a simple PWM charge controller sized for your system. MPPT controllers are more advanced and efficient, but cost $150+. Make sure your controller can handle your total solar wattage.

Wire the Solar Array

Connect your solar panels together in series to produce the necessary voltage to charge batteries. Most systems use 12V or 24V batteries. Follow the manufacturer wiring diagrams closely. Use appropriate gauge copper wire rated for outdoor use. Mount a breaker box on your array to safely disconnect it.

Set Up Off-Grid Battery Bank

To store your solar energy for nighttime and cloudy days, set up a bank of deep cycle lead acid batteries. These are different than car batteries. You will need many batteries to store sufficient energy. Look for used golf cart batteries which can be cheaper. Wire in series to achieve your necessary voltage. Include battery disconnects and fuses in your design. Maintain your batteries according to manufacturer guidelines for long life.

Safety and Code Considerations

Any home solar project requires following certain safety practices and codes:

Live Sustainably with Solar

With proper research and component selection, you can convert to solar power for under $500 with used equipment. This allows you to generate your own renewable electricity, get off the grid, and reduce your environmental footprint. Home solar also saves money long-term by eliminating electric bills. With solar, you can live a green, sustainable lifestyle.