The question that seems to be on everybody’s mind (or at least everybody paying attention) revolves around figuring out how to reduce your own carbon footprint.
Some people recycle and use a compost bin, while others go completely 0 waste and find ways to conserve as much energy as possible.
For some, this still isn’t quite enough, and want to find a renewable energy source for their home in order to really do their bit for the environment.
That’s where solar panels come in.
|EcoFlow Delta 1800 Complete Solar Panel Kit||
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|Renology 3600-Watt Solar Cabin Kit||
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|ALLPOWERS Portable Solar Panel 100W||
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|Lion Safari ME GOLD Kit||
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How Do Solar Panels Work?
Developed initially in the 1980s, solar panels have long been the easiest, most accessible way to provide a clean energy source to your home.
They work by absorbing sunlight through photovoltaic (PV) cells, which then makes the electrons within start moving so quickly that it generates an electric current that can be picked up by special wires. The energy is then converted into direct current (DC) energy.
This DC energy then passes through an inverter which changes the DC energy into an alternating current (AC) which is the kind of electricity used by most home appliances.
This AC energy then makes its way around your home, powering everything that needs to be powered, and the excess goes back into the grid to be used another time.
There is so much energy in even indirect sunlight that it does take much for a solar panel to be able to power your home, you’d still be able to rely on solar power, even in states that see less sun on average.
What Are The Benefits Of Solar Power
Well, for one thing, you get the moral satisfaction of knowing that you’re pretty much doing everything that you can to help not just your children’s future, but your children’s children’s and so forth.
Whilst one person getting solar power in their homes is not going to eliminate the climate crisis around the world, sometimes it can be enough just to know that you’ve done what you can.
Another reason that people have been switching to solar is that, although the upfront cost can be pretty hefty depending on your location and house size, using solar energy will significantly lower your energy bills in the long run.
You can even make money by selling any excess electricity that you make back to the grid. Eventually, these panels will start paying for themselves!
Well, maybe not, but you’ll definitely start to see the difference in your bill.
The last major benefit that I can think of is how low-maintenance solar panels are. So long as you clean them a couple of times every year they should be fine. After 10 years the inverter will need replacing, but that’s the only routine maintenance needed.
The only issue that you might have is if you live in an area that sees severely bad weather with any frequency, like tornadoes for example.
However, you should still be covered as most solar panels come with a 20-25 year warranty which should see you through any storms you may come across (literally or figuratively)
What About DIY Solar Panels?
If you’re just about sold on solar panels but the admittedly high price of hiring a company to come out, design the style and size that you need, then install the panels is putting you off, then you might be considering a DIY approach.
You wouldn’t be the only person, and in fact, there are several kits that you can purchase to set up your own solar panels at home.
The main benefit to a DIY solar panel is the cut in cost. It is significantly cheaper to buy and build your own panels than it is to hire a company to do it all for you.
If you’re wanting to go green but on a lower budget, then a DIY kit might be for you, especially if you love the idea of a maintenance project that will really impress your friends and family the next time that they visit.
The Cons of DIY Solar Panels
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that you won’t really get any kind of warranty with a DIY solar panel, and the maintenance would all be up to you.
Not only would you not be entitled to any kind of warranty, but you would also miss out on any of the incentives that the government might be offering to people that switch to renewable energy.
This is because the government typically requires a certificate of authenticity from a licensed electrician/company to confirm that your solar panels are up to code.
In fact, if you were hoping to install a solar panel kit in your home, you’re going to be doing a lot of dangerous manual labor and messing with a lot of hazardous materials and wires, and so most people recommend either hiring a professional team for a home installation or hiring general contractors that would be able to install this to your electrical grid and on your roof.
This is why the majority of solar panel DIY kits are made for off-the-grid homes or RV/Motor home situations.
The materials used in a DIY solar panel kit are also likely to be a lot lower in quality than ones installed by contractors, and so they may not have as long of a life span as you might have been hoping for. But if the panels do happen to die on you, at least you’ll know how to replace them.
There are several different kinds of solar panel kits that you can get, depending on your situation and what you want the kit to be used for.
For example, if you live in a fully functional off-the-grid home you’re going to need a different kit than someone who lives in a minivan.
With that in mind, this article will break down the best kits for each scenario, give you all the pros and cons, and help you figure out which solar panel solution is the best for you – and in fact whether DIY solar panels are the right option for you.
1. EcoFlow Delta 1800 Complete Solar Panel Kit
Item Dimensions LxWxH:15.7 x 8.3 x 10.6 inches
When it comes to the overall best solar panel kit, you can’t do much better than the EcoFlow Delta 1800. This is a complete solar panel kit which means that it has absolutely everything that you need from it straight out of the box, with the potential to add to it if you want to upgrade.
This kit requires minimal maintenance, the installation process is pretty straightforward, and you’ll see that the panels are particularly durable. This kit can boast an exceptional performance right out of the box, and all of this comes with a surprisingly affordable price point.
The EcoFlow Delta 1800 kit features 6 AC power outlets so you can plug into several different ports. It also has a USB port for maximum convenience as well as versatility.
From first installing this kit, you should be able to get roughly 2,370 watts of energy a day which should be more than enough for the average household. However, if you feel as though you need more power, you’re able to easily buy more panels or batteries from EcoFlow and install them straight into your kit.
This standard kit comes with 4 Rich Solar 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels that are housed within impressively durable aluminum frames and are connected to a sealed and weatherproof junction box.
This entire kit is able to endure exposure to water, and basically all weather conditions so you don’t even have to worry about covering the panels during storms or during the winter.
As well as the high-performance solar panels, this kit also includes an MPPT charge controller that can be used for efficient, fast solar panel charging. This means that it’s great for those who are using the kit as an additional power source for their RV or Motorhome.
Purchasing this kit would also give you access to EcoFlow’s outstanding customer service, as well as their warranty which, although not 20-25 years like you might get with a fixed professional company, is still better than nothing.
If you want a durable, high-efficiency, and most importantly affordable DIY solar panel kit then you should seriously look into the EcoFlow Delta 1800 complete solar panel kit.
2. Renology 3600-Watt Solar Cabin Kit
Wattage: 100 watts
Input Voltage: 12 Volts
If you live off the grid, or you’re planning to move to a more remote location, then you need to ensure that you’re still going to have enough electricity to power a modern-day life.
Just because you’re living sustainably doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy certain luxuries like the internet and television. With that in mind, the best “off-the-grid” solar power kit that we’ve come across would have to be the Renology 3600-Watt Solar Cabin Kit.
As the name suggests, this kit should be able to generate roughly 3600 watts, which should be enough to completely power a small household or work as a backup for larger homes. The kit comes with twelve 300 watt monocrystalline solar panels that use PERC solar cells, which are super-efficient.
The advanced panels and the multiple high-quality pieces of equipment make this kit perfect for remote cabins and off-the-grid residences.
As well as the panels themselves, this kit also includes a MidNite Classic MPPT charge controller and a MidNite Solar MNPV6 Combiner box to streamline the control you have over your energy.
That said, you will need to buy a 48V battery bank separately as this is not included within the kit. Luckily these are pretty easy to source and buy.
Similar to the EcoFlow Delta 1800, the Renology 3600 is a durable bit of kit, able to withstand particularly high wind speeds of up to 2400Pa, and strong snow loads (5400Pa) with no problems, so you don’t have to worry if you happen to live in a climate with frequent inclement weather.
This level of durability means that you can mount the panels on your rooftop with confidence. The panels also boast that they have the ability to perform well even in low-light environments.
Renlogy absolutely guarantees a positive output tolerance (0-3%), and also offers a 25-year power output warranty on the panels, a 5-year material warranty, and a 1-year accessories warranty.
This is an absolutely great offer that should put your mind to ease and let you buy in confidence. Especially if you consider the upfront cost of this kit, which is pretty high when compared to other DIY kits.
However, the price is more than justified by the sheer amount of output that you get with this kit.
You do need to bear in mind that this kit doesn’t come with any instructions on how to put it together, therefore you may need to do a bit of research before you attempt to build it.
However, the Renology customer service team is always on hand to give you any support that you might need during the building process.
With its superior durability and particularly impressive output, the Renology 3600 Watt Solar Cabin Kit is a fantastic choice to power a small off-grid home, or as backup for a larger home.
3. ALLPOWERS 100 Watt Solar Panel Charger
Compatible Devices: Tablets, Laptops, Cellular Phones
Connectivity Technology: USB
Special Feature: Travel, Waterproof, Short Circuit Protection
If you’re new to the world of solar panel DIY or if you’re only looking to power small devices, then the ALLPOWERS 100 Watt Solar Panel Charger could be a great place to start. The panels offer a unique and flexible design for a particularly low price point.
Whilst there are still cheaper 100 Watt panels on the market, these ALLPOWERS panels rise to the top of that list because of their quality and features.
That said, you will have to buy a battery bank and charge controller separately which will significantly increase your upfront cost. This kit is still pretty cheap for the quality that you get.
The flexibility and simple mounting design allow you to put the panel almost anywhere, and it’s lightweight enough that you could, if you wanted, move the panel around during the day to maximize its output.
The SunPower panel can be bent up to 30-degrees, which means that it can be mounted to irregular surfaces, like cars, trailers, or boats.
As it stands, the ALLPOWERS panel is able to achieve an 18V output and can boast a 21% panel efficiency rating which is pretty high compared to the standard 15% that you find with most other panels.
Once again, these panels use monocrystalline solar cells, which are highly efficient and have a high conversion rating. This kit could be used for charging appliances, water pumps, small refrigerators, and even powering tiny homes.
The wide range of possibilities that you can get out of this kit makes it a great option for first-time, budget-conscious buyers.
However, you do need to bear in mind that ALLPOWERS reccomends that you don’t use more than 2 panels in parallel with a PWM controller, or 4 panels in a series connection with an MPPT controller.
This means that the total wattage available is limited to what you can get out of potentially just 2 panels. So whilst this kit is great, it really is only suitable for small appliances and as a backup or secondary power source.
If you’re just wanting to reduce your power usage in an RV or motorboat, then this kit is going to be great for small appliances and is decently cheap. However, it can’t be used for anything bigger than small appliances due to the limited amount of panels that you can connect.
4. Lion Safari ME GOLD Kit
Brand: Lion Energy
Item Dimensions LxWxH: 19 x 13 x 13 inches
Item Weight: 44 Pounds
If you’re a natural nomad, always living life on the go, then you need to pick up the Lion Safari ME GOLD Kit because it has absolutely everything that you could possibly need to make the most solar energy wherever you end up.
This kit combines four 100 Watt folding solar panels with its popular 2,000-watt pure sine wave power inverter. The result is an economical and convenient way to access green electricity wherever you go.
It has a built-in digital pulse width modulated solar controlled so that it’s able to regulate the battery charging system and prevent it from over-charging. This is good because over-charging could potentially cause permanent damage to the lithium battery.
The kit has two 120V AC outlets which allow you to run multiple devices at the same time! You are even able to purchase a 30V adapter that would allow you to plug your RV directly into the Lion ME solar panel kit.
This would mean that you potentially don’t need anything but this kit to power your RV, and you can go totally green. However this pretty much entirely depends on how much power you’re going to be using in the RV.
The entire is able to be assembled and disassembled with speed and ease, which is a fantastic advantage if you’re going to be on the move frequently, and don’t want to have to faff around with a bunch of complicated wires every time you set up camp.
The quick and straightforward assembly is one of the reasons that this particular kit is so popular amongst many different RV enthusiasts and campers.
That said, you do want to bear in mind that this kit doesn’t come with any mounting hardware, so if you were looking to get it set up on the roof of your RV or anywhere semi-permanent, then you’ll need to purchase separate solar z-brackets.
The best part about this kit is that if you decide that you want to plant more roots, then you can purchase additional compatible solar panels, as this kit can support up to 600-Watts right out of the box.
If you’re traveling frequently and need an efficient solar panel kit that will be able to easily travel right along with you without taking up too much space or causing any additional hassle once you’ve stopped for the day, then the Lion Safari ME GOLD Kit could be the perfect kit for you. It even comes with a helpful warranty from Lion Energy.
There are plenty of options when it comes to finding the right DIY solar power kit for you and your needs.
Before you look at buying one you need to be sure that you both know exactly what it is you need out of a solar panel kit and also know how confident you are in your DIY electrical skills.
Whatever your needs and skills are, you’ll be able to find equipment to suit you, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find one that’s also within a reasonable budget.
As previously mentioned, it is overall much cheaper to install your own solar panel kit, but it’s also a lot more labor-intensive, so you really have to toss up what is more important to you in your journey to becoming more energy efficient.