solar energy

Do It Yourself Solar Power

Getting started with some Do It Yourself Solar Power projects? Find tips and safety precautions here.

do it yourself solar power
Do it yourself solar power covers many different types of projects from garden lights to building solar panels, making your own solar cells to creating a complete home solar system. There is some basic information you need to consider before you begin any solar power project.

The one element that is common to any solar power project is electricity. You will have to work with electricity on some level to complete any solar power project so lets talk a little more in depth about electricity and what you really need to know to tackle a do it yourself solar power project.

Without a clear understaning of the electricity part of your solar energy project, you really shouldn't deal with any such projects at all. The risk of serious injury may be high.

We will also talk a bit about safety precautions when dealing with electricity below, as well as provide suggetions for possible do it yourself solar energy projects to start with for a beginner.

At the bottom of the article you will also find links to several more DIY solar projects to start working on once you've learned the basics.

Do It Yourself Tips Solar Power Tips And Precautions

Electricity risks

Electrical currents in a regular home or business office have enough power to kill a person. Electrocution is a real hazard. You are even at risk for electrocution if you change a light bulb if you do not unplug the lamp because there is the danger of coming in contact with the "hot" or live part of the socket.

There are four main types of injuries that can occur from electrical contact:

  • electrocution (fatal)
  • electric shock
  • burns
  • falls

These injuries can happen in various ways:

  • direct contact with electrical energy
  • when electricity jumps (called arcing) through a gas (ie air) directly to a person who is grounded. This means instead of using the gas as a method for the electricity to reach ground it would use the person resulting in severe burns or death.
  • Burns:
    - flash burns occur when heat is generated by an electric arc
    - flame burns that are caused from materials that catch on fire from heat or ignition by electrical currents.
  • Falls
    - electrical shocks or contact can cause muscle contractions or a startle reaction. That "jerk" reaction can cause a person to fall from a ladder, scaffold or aerial bucket. The fall can cause serious injuries.

Note: High voltage contact burns can severely burn internal organs and tissues while leaving only very small injuries on the outside of the skin.

Safety tips when dealing with electricity

  • Wear rubber soled work shoes, leather gloves and eye goggles

  • Turn off electricity at the breaker box. Even then, there still may be "hot" wires coming into the house. Use an electricity tester before you cut any wiring. Even though a circuit may be off, electricity can still be coming through the circuit.

  • Never work around water and electricity at the same time. Water and electricity absolutely do not mix.

  • Always check your equipment for wear or damage before each use.

  • Repair or replace damaged equipment immediately.

  • Use cords or equipment that is rated for the level of amperage or wattage that you are using.

  • Always use the correct size fuse. Improperly sized fuses can cause excessive currents in the wiring and possibly start a fire.

  • Outlets that become very warm or hot may be a sign that the wiring is unsafe. Unplug any cords in these outlets and do not use the outlet again until a qualified electrician has checked the wiring.

  • Always use ladders made of wood or other non-conductive materials when working with or near electricity or power lines. No metal ladders!

  • Wet or damp areas increase the risk of electric shock. Installing Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are a great safety tool because they will interrupt the electrical circuit before a current strong enough to cause death or serious injury occurs.

  • Any exposed receptacle box should be made of non-conductive materials.

  • Know where your breakers and panel boxes are located in case of an emergency.

  • Label all of your circuit breakers and fuse boxes clearly. Each switch should be positively matched to the outlet or appliance it provides energy to.

  • Never use outlets or cords that have exposed wiring.

  • Only use power tools with the guards provided.

  • Ensure free access to all circuit breakers or fuse boxes.

  • In the event of an electrical accident always disconnect the current first before you touch a person or any electrical equipment.

Do It Yourself solar power projects to start with

If you have never worked with electricity before it is advisable to begin with a very simple do it yourself solar power project that limit your exposure to electricity and then as you gain some experience you can move on to more demanding projects with more electricial connections and wiring.

  • Photovoltaic garden lights are a great starter project for those who have no knowledge about electricity whatsoever.

  • If you know how to use some basic power tools then a good next project would be a solar heating unit.

  • Once you are comfortable working with electricity and wiring then you can begin to plan and build a solar electric panel that will power one or two of your electrical appliances. Start a small panel project and then grow your system once you know how to do it.

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