In this video, I’ll do an Introduction Guide to building your own DIY solar setup. If you’re trying to understand learn this for the very first time, this video is for you. I’m not going to overburden you with technical terms, but rather provide a high level overview, while still showing the step by step process of assembling everything that I believe anyone can perform. The advantage of learning how to build one of these is that you easily can customize your setup, modifying the future as your needs change, and most importantly, develop an important skill set.
So let me start off by giving you a quick overview to explain how this system works. There are four primary components, solar panels collect energy from the sun, and then pass the energy via cables to what’s called a charge controller. A charge controller regulates the energy from the solar panels, that it then passes to the batteries where the energy is stored. In order to get the energy out of the battery, we need to convert it to usable electricity through a device called an inverter. This is the device that we plug in the items that we want to power such as your phones, laptops or refrigerator. As far as connecting all of these components.
There are three primary sets of cables that you can purchase that already have the proper connectors on the ends and are set up to be using the system cables to connect the charge controller to the battery cables to connect the battery to the inverter cables that connect the solar panel to the charge controller. We will cover a few other miscellaneous items throughout this video. But at the core, that’s it. As far as tools go. Here’s what you’ll need. Phillips screwdriver large and small crescent wrench or socket wrenches. needlenose pliers will also come in handy. Step one, connecting the charge controller to the battery.
Let’s grab our battery charge controller cables to connect our battery and our small phillips screwdriver. Please do this step before connecting the solar panels. So the charge controller as it will damage the charge controller without first connecting to the battery. If you look at this charge controller, and this is common amongst most of these devices, you’ll have six places to plug in cables. And this one you’ll see two holes with PV plus and pV minus PV simply means photovoltaic. This is where we’ll connect solar later. The next two holes are what we’re interested in at this step, bat plus and bat minus.
This is where we’ll connect the cables from the charge controller to you guessed it the battery. The last two holes are load which we don’t cover in this video. Let’s grab our cables connect the charge controller to the battery. These particular cables have lugs on one end that will connect to the battery and the other ends are stripped which will connect to the charge controller. You will notice that these cables are both black so you need to pay special attention to these when connecting them to the battery in order to keep the positive and negative connections Correct. Okay, let’s connect our two cables to the charge controller.
By inserting the stripped ends of the cables into the charge controller. Use your Phillips screwdriver and turn counterclockwise and both the bat plus and bat minus terminals which opens a connector then we’ll take our two cable ends which are stripped and slide them in one at a time to the terminal as we slightly chin will tighten the screw down turning clockwise. You want to tighten these firmly to avoid the cables coming out. Be sure to test by giving a light pole in the cables to ensure that they do not slip out.
Next we’ll connect the cables to the battery. To do this first we’ll unscrew the bolts and our batteries Next we’ll take the negative cable and connect it to the first battery. Now before you do this double and triple check that your negative cables connected to the bat minus connector on your charge controller. I then place a negative cable lug to the negative battery posts and insert the bolt tightening it down. I won’t tighten it overly tight at this point as we’re going to add the inverter cable later. Finger tight at this point is fine. Now I’ll connect the positive cable to the battery using the same approach as with the negative cable. Again, let’s just finger tighten down the nut.
Now that we have the charge controller connected, you’ll notice a charge controller screen is turned on. You can go through it at this time and configure settings based on your model. I found this particular model is easier to configure with their app than using the interface options on the charge controller itself. But do whatever is easiest for you. There are two primary settings that you’re going to want to configure. You’ll want to find the battery type that you’re connected to. In this case we’re connected to a lithium battery. Next we want to define whether we’re connected to a 12 or 24 volt battery. In this case we can added to a 12 volt battery.
This charge controller comes with a temperature sensor which can easily be plugged in. If you buy a charge controller without one, it is highly recommended that you purchase this to monitor the temperature of where you store your batteries. Additionally, this charge controller has an optional Bluetooth module that you can connect that allows you to observe the information for the charge controller through your app.
This completes step one, step two, connecting the charge controller to a solar panel. For this step, we’re going to grab our 100 watt solar panel, you can add more panels but for simplicity sake, we’re going to stick with one panel in this video, and extension cables with MC four connectors on one end that are stripped on the other end. For this step, you’ll need just a small phillips screwdriver.
During the process of connecting the cables, it is important to observe the plus and minus signs on these cables that come off the solar panels when connecting to the charge controller. In order to go from the cables on the solar panels to your charge controller. You’ll need the extension cables with them see poor connectors on one end and are stripped on the other end. Okay, I’ll keep the solar panel out of the sun for now connect our extension cables to the cables coming off the solar panels that will run to the charge controller. I have two black cables and that’s fine. But just be careful to keep track of which is positive and which is negative.
Even adding a small piece of tape on one end or writing a plus or minus sign might help a bit to keep things straight. Now with the strip din of the cables, I’ll start with the negative end and insert it into my charge controller. Give it a slight tug to ensure it does not come out. Next, insert the positive cable into the PV plus connection and tighten it down. Remember, we have two holes in our charge controller Mark pV minus and PV plus. Again, PV is short for photovoltaic power, which is the power is coming in from our solar panel. Now let’s put our solar panel into the sun and see what happens.
So now our solar panels in the sun and we’re connected. As you can see on the front of the charge controller we’re showing a charge coming in. And now we’re officially charging our battery. With this setup, I can view this information on my app as well along with information on how charged the battery is. So now we’re harvesting power from the sun and storing it in a battery to be used later to power appliances and devices.
That’s pretty cool, right. So up to this point the video we have confirmed our solar panel, our charge controller and battery setup work. Now we’re going to move forward in our final step to pulling power from the battery. This completes step two. Step three connecting the battery to an inverter. Before we proceed to this step, we need to bring in the solar panel disconnected and working with this system we don’t want to interact with our setup when actively pulling power from the solar panels. To do this, we’ll simply disconnect the cables from the solar panels connected to the PV plus and pV minus connections on the charge controller.
We’re also going to disconnect our charge controller from the battery. To do this, unscrew the positive bolt first on the battery and remove the positive charge controller table. Next, unscrew the negative bolt on the battery and also remove the negative charge controller cable. Now that we’ve disconnected our solar panel and charge controller from the battery, let’s connect our inverter to the battery. To do this, let’s first connect our cable to the inverter first, not the battery first. To do this, connect the positive inverter cable to the positive inverter posts and then connect the negative inverter cable to the negative posts on the inverter.
Now we’re ready to connect the inverter to the battery. But before we do this, it is recommended that we put a fuse on our positive inverter cable. I have a 2000 watt inverter, so 175 to a 200 amp fuse works just fine. I’ll post the link below where I purchase mine. When connecting the fuse to the positive inverter cable, be sure that the fuse is flush with the lug. Make sure that there’s no washer in between the inverter cable and the fuse.
Now bring the negative have cable from the inverter and connected to the battery
then, using the bolt on the cable that connects the fuse the cable, place it on the positive battery terminal, it’s going to spark but this is to be expected. Now let’s finger tighten these bolts down to allow us to test this out. We’ll tiny much tighter momentarily when we add the charge controller back on. We have completed the connection of the inverter to the battery, we can plug in devices and appliances and power them as shown here.
Earlier we disconnected the charge controller but we’re headed back now we’re basically just repeating step one at this point. I’ll begin by removing the inverter from the positive terminal negative terminal the battery bring the negative cable from the charge controller and connect it to the negative posts of the battery along with a lug connecting the negative cable to the inverter and tighten down the boat with a wrench.
Next, I’ll bring the positive cable from the charge controller and add it to the positive post on the battery along with a lug from the cable connecting to the inverter.
Again, I’ll tighten this down with a wrench. It’s important to note that when tightening the lugs on cables to the batteries that there’s no washer in between the battery posts in the lugs on the end of the cables. You want these lugs flush on the battery post. We do want the washers on top of the lugs pushing them down to the battery post. So finally, we’ll connect the solar panel back to the charge controller connected negative cable first.
Then the positive cable. Step four, testing our setup. All right, it’s a moment of truth, we got solar charging the battery so let’s turn on the inverter and power some devices. Excellent. Everything is operating as expected. I’ve got a pure sine wave coming off the inverter which means we can safely power our electronics and appliances. We can power most devices that you can normally power through a typical wall socket in your home, such as a TV or refrigerator.
One important detail about discharging the battery, there’s a level of charge that you don’t want to exceed when drawing power with the inverter, you can safely discharged down to 20% of the battery’s capacity under load with the inverter powering devices. If you go under 20% of the battery’s capacity while you have a load on it, you can damage the battery. You can add a battery monitor to the battery to keep track of that.
But this battery does come with a Bluetooth and I can monitor that information in the app. Hopefully this video gave you enough information to get you started on your first DIY solar setup. It’s really not as challenging as you may think. If you follow the steps outlined here, you’ll have everything that you need. Again, I’ll post links to everything that we’ve covered in the description and comment section below. I’ll pin a comment to link all the items. If you have any thoughts, any feedback, any questions again, feel free to post those below. As always, stay safe out there.
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