Solar Power Kits

Grape Solar 400W Off-Grid KitSolar power kits come in all different sizes and configurations, and can be very helpful for providing the major components needed while eliminating much of the guess work. It is common to find kits for both off-grid and grid-tied applications.

For example, the picture to the left and above shows a Grape Solar 400-Watt Off-Grid kit, which includes four 100-watt solar panels, a 2,000-Watt pure sine inverter, a 30 amp charge controller and cabling. At least one 12 volt deep cycle battery is necessary for this kit, but is purchased separately. When assembled and installed, this solar power system will provide approximately 1200-watt hours of electricity per day.  Find more details from Amazon here:

Grape Solar GS-400-KIT 400-Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit

Grape Solar is based in Oregon and they provide a wide range of solar power kits that are reasonably priced and come with good warranties. Here is another Grape Solar power kit that is designed for a grid-tied application.

Grape Solar 1000W Expandable Grid-Tied KitThis kit includes four 250-Watt solar panels, and four microinverters making it easily expandable and ideal for areas with intermittent shading issues.  Since this is a grid-tied application there would not be batteries or a charge controller.

When assembled and installed, this solar power system can generate between 720kWh and 1,680kWh of electricity per year.  Find more details from Amazon here:

Grape Solar GS-1000-KIT 1000-Watt Expandable Monocrystalline PV Grid-Tied Solar Power Kit

This post has talked mainly about kits and mentioned a couple of examples, but keep in mind that there are many reputable companies that can do it all for you and provide you with an installed, turn-key system. Also,  you can go to the opposite extreme and design and piece together everything on your own. However, for many, purchasing a solar power kit that fits their needs may be a happy medium and more to their liking.

Note: Professional installation by a licensed electrician or a knowledgeable solar installer is highly recommended and may be required. Always check local building and zoning codes, along with homeowner associations prior to purchasing or installing a solar system.

What are Solar Panels?

Solar PV Panels are probably the most recognizable component of a home solar power system. They consist of many PV cells and are typically rectangular in shape and mounted on the roof of your home or a free standing support structure. Solar panels are rated in watts. Normally, this rating represents the maximum power they can generate under ideal conditions. Some of these may be rated for 100 Watts, 210 Watts or other amounts of power output.

Not all solar panels are created equal, so be sure to make note of several pieces of information when comparing solar panels for your energy needs. Some common measurements include:  1) efficiency, 2) rated power at Standard Test Conditions (STC), and 3) rated power per square foot. Be aware of these metrics when comparing solar panels, so that you can make a fair comparison between different panels.

Solar PV panels are made up of multiple PV cells. These are wired together and mounted on a backing with a frame and protective cover. Multiple PV panels can then be arranged together to form a solar array. These can be set up on free-standing frames or on top of roofs or other structures to collect sunlight and generate electricity. The diagram above shows examples of each of these different solar energy items.

There are currently a wide range of manufacturers that produce solar power panels. These can be purchased individually or as entire kits, which include inverters and other key elements that make up a home PV power system. For those who are handy or good at following detailed instructions, there are a number of good resources to help you construct your own PV panels, and quite possibly save a significant amount of money in the process.

Stay tuned for future posts with more information on solar panels and particularly on DIY solar panel projects and resources.