When our family first started living off the grid we learned how to build a solar panel in order to make our venture successful.
We needed a way to power our home with renewable energy, but every avenue we explored was just so expensive. After building our home we just did not have a lot of money left over.
We first went through a cycle of buying solar panels and batteries to power our off grid home.
Living Off The Grid does not have to cost a lot, but our first taste of off grid was a learning experience. We knew it would be a challenge, because we did not have someone helping us as you do here.
We soon discovered that it was going to take a long time and a few more thousand dollars of investment before we could power our home properly.
So we started looking at other options...
Jane even suggested that we buy a wind generator to help power our home. After doing some preliminary investigating it was soon obvious that this option, along with the $5000 we would need, was not available to us. What to do?
The answer showed up one day in the shoes of our good friend Bill. He wanted us to help do the maintenance on his wind generator the next day.
We discussed what we had been trying to do and he suggested that we investigate how they are made and perhaps we could learn how to build a solar panel instead.
That sounded promising, as we had never considered building our own so we took Bill up on his offer and helped him do the annual maintenance on his machine. Bill and his wife had been off the grid for over 5 years before we moved to the area and our mutual interests brought us together as friends rather quickly.
Once we had Bill's wind generator on the ground using his tilt-up tower assembly we were able to remove it from the tower and have a look. After taking off the cover we soon discovered there wasn't hardly anything to the assembly.
A DC motor, some wires, a hub, the body and mount, and the blades, and of course the tower. We could build this we thought, but it would be much easier to build solar panels.
After getting the specifications of the DC motor we set to work to find one of those first and develop some serious plans for assembly. We finally settled on a treadmill motor that we could make work that we found on Ebay. It was very inexpensive.
The hub was a bit trickier, but after finding just the right shaft material we made one from some old metal we had.
The blades we were not sure of at first, and ended up trying many formulas from PVC pipe to wood, to even bought fiberglass blades (Windmax Blades), each worked well, with us giving the nod to the wooden ones because we figured that anyone could build them at home.
Since we were putting together plans for ourselves we figured that it made sense to try and help others do the same, so we took pictures and made diagrams and explained everything in great detail. Sign up for our living off the grid newsletter above for more details.
How difficult is this, and what do we need to succeed?
- need to find the parts needed
- use the very best wind plans you can find
- make sure you explore all the options for living off the grid you only need simple tools found in any home
- a spare room, garage or even outside will work for a workspace
In order to get started first you need to locate all of the parts. When we began, since we were short of money and of the diy mindset we set to work to work to find low cost solutions.
During the early years on our property we were also working as renewable energy installers and that helped us to design the proper set up when learning how to build a wind generator or solar panels.
We knew what it needed to accomplish and when one of our shipments arrived and the generators were not assembled (we had to do the job ourselves) we knew that we were onto something. Anyone could learn how to do this.
For a low cost tower we used pipe that we had salvaged and traded our neighbor some carpentry work and he helped us with fabrication. We came up with an even better tower idea that you can find in the wind generator plans.
Our biggest problem was figuring out where the guy wires should go on the pipe. He suggested that at each joint of pipe that a guy wire should be placed. From a physical strength standpoint he was right on.
For the most part we used material we had on hand and figured our first model cost us less than $100 in total and produced over 1000 watts of power, much more than if we had built up our solar panel array.
With Bill's help we perfected a simple method that anyone could use to learn how to build a solar panel and make living off the grid so much simpler to accomplish.