Solar Energy

When I decided to build a small off-grid house, I was most excited about having a solar system. The thought of creating your own clean energy is very appealing.  I found a complete kit that fell within my budget, and I bought it.  I was really excited the week before it arrived at my house.  I knew it would be a technical setup, but nonetheless I wasn't too scared.  When the system arrived I setup all the gear on my workbench; I was in awe with all my cool new equipment.  When it was time to set up the gear; I was very lucky to have help from a very capable friend.  It was because of his knowledge and experience that we got through the setup without any hiccups.  I had a few skills regarding electrical systems - basically I could wire a house.  I would recommend having that skill if you are trying to setup a solar system.  Other than that, I think you could puzzle the rest together.

The solar system arrived with many cool parts.  The system starts off with the panels, followed by a charge controller, batteries, and an inverter.  All of the DC wires and cables are joined in a dedicated combiner box.  It consists of a few terminals and breakers to protect and disconnect the DC components.  The system setup took about three days for us, which includes puzzling everything together and building few needed parts as we went along.  I added a separate AC breaker box to the system, and ran two 120V circuits to the house loads.  

When I was planning the system, I was debating whether I was going to use the inverter for the entire system, or run most appliances off of 12V DC.  I went with the inverter option, and I'm happy I did.  It's much simpler, and I don't have much experience with 12V systems.