Custom and DIY Solar
SolSolutions offers custom solar power systems and setups and design consulting, as well as full solar kits, for the Do-It-Yourself customer. Perfect for mobile and off-grid needs like RVs and trailers, our custom or DIY solar products and expertise can be your ticket to self sufficiency.
We can design, build and install a complete system for you if you are in the Nor Cal region. For other areas we can design and walk you through the setup. For the DIYers, we can order specific parts for your solar project based on a consulting and layout fee. We can also build something in shop that can be sent to you on-location and put together easily. Or, if you are looking for something ready to go, Zamp Solar is our main offering for the complete kit market.
Call (800) 828 - 2965 or E-Mail for a free Custom Solar consultation!
One of the key factors in setting up your own solar power system is to ensure you have quality components that fit well together and work for you when needed. SolSolutions can recommend specific products for you, as well as source those items for competitive rates.
Have a look at our What to Look for in Solar Generators section for an overview of what you should look for in system design.
Keep in mind, at SolSolutions we like to use high quality, mostly American-made components in all of our units and suggest that our do-it yourself customers do the same. The better the quality, the more durable, reliable and powerful your system will be.
The main components needed for a solar power system are solar PV panels, batteries, inverters and solar controllers. You can find a little info about each in this section.
Solar PV Panels
Solar PV panels are the actual items that capture the sun's energy. They can be attached to a roof or placed on the ground, depending on your needs. For a lot of our custom design units, we build folding solar panel kits that can be placed on location, separate from the main unit.
The higher the PV panel rating, the more average hourly watts you generate. This is especially true in days or times without full sun, as a more efficient panel will bring in a larger percentage of its wattage rating.
Some quality panels we recommend include Panasonic HIT, Kyocera and Dasol.
In off grid, emergency backup and temporary power situations, the component that really complements the solar panel and makes it a viable source of power is the battery. Batteries allow you to store the energy you capture from the sun with your solar PV panels. This ability then gives you the power to use electricity at night or during periods of limited sun, when you can't go direct from your solar panels. Batteries exponentially increase the power of solar.
We like to rate battery storage capacity in usable watt hours. This is the actual amount of wattage you have available to you before it is recommended you recharge the battery. However, batteries are usually rated in amp hours, leaving you to do a bit of quick calculation to find its watt hours. To do this, simply multiply amps times volts. For example, a 100 amp hour 12-volt battery contains 1200 watt hours of storage capacity.
This is not the end of the calculation though. To figure out your actual usable watt hours, you should look at your battery manufacturer recommended usage, or depth of discharge (DOD). Most batteries should not be pounded till dead, as it kills their life-span and usability. Instead batteries should only be drained of a certain percentage of their capacity, depending on the battery type.
The standard choice for energy storage and solar batteries is lead-acid deep cycle. The types of lead acid batteries include open wet cell type batteries, generally used in trailers, off grid and RV solar, which require distilled water filling, fume ventilation and are subject to spillage. The other form is the gel or AGM sealed batteries, which are more low-maintenance. Lead acid batteries are pretty bulky and heavy, like car batteries. These types of batteries should typically be only drained of 50-60% of their capacity. For example, if your above 100 amp hour battery is lead acid, it should only have a maximum of 60% of its total storage used. Therefore, you really have about 800 usable watt hours of battery storage capacity.
Fortunately, there are some exciting new battery possibilities that extend your usage capabilities.
Lithium Iron Phosphate is the new battery technology everybody raves about. It is lighter and more power dense than traditional lead-acid batteries. It can also be pulled on to 10% capacity, increasing its amp to usable watt hours ratio. Theses batteries are used in all new consumer electronics, as well as electric cars and vehicles. We use this battery type in our premium solar power units like the SolMan Lithium Deluxe and the SolMan Tower of Power Eagle.
Traditional lead-acid batteries also continue to be upgraded, with increased life spans, less self-discharge and more usable capacity. We are a dealer for the best batteries you could want for your solar power system, including Firefly, Full River and Centennial.
Inverters, or inverter/chargers, are the products that convert the DC power your solar PV panels bring in, which is stored in your batteries, to the typical AC power most people use for standard electronics. Their rating (ie, 1000 watt inverter) determines the maximum watts you can pull from your solar power system at any one time. In addition, most good inverters have surge protection, which allows for an extra couple hundred watts to come throuh in short bursts.
Inverters also allow you to charge your batteries via an external power source like the grid or a gas generator. This ability increases the overall capability of your solar power system by ensuring you have electricity available to you at all times. Specifically, when your do-it-yourself solar power system is paired with a gas generator, you will have 24/7 off-grid power with significantly reduced gas usage and generator run times.
The top rated inverters we utilize in our units and suggest for our do-it-yourself solar customers include Magnum, Outback and Samlex.
The last major components for do-it-yourself solar power systems we will touch on are solar controllers. These products regulate the charge coming in from the solar PV panels and the charge going to the battery. They also monitor the state of your batteries. Solar controllers then provide real-time readouts of what amps or watts are coming into your system via the solar PV panels, as well as the voltage of your batteries.
Once again, top quality solar controllers keep your solar power system well maintained and regulated. We recommend Blue Sky, Magnum, Morningstar and Outback solar controllers.
Beyond just recommending and/or ordering components for your do-it-yourself solar power system. We can consult with you on the designs for your desired system. This could include putting together parts of the system, like folding solar PV panel kits or inverter and controller boards, here in our shop. Once the basic pieces are assembled here, we can send them onsite for you to put the finishing touches on.
Our ready-to-go solar power kits are made by Zamp Solar. They are portable and easy to move, ready to be placed on location for micro to mid sized solar power. Zamp Solar kits do not come with batteries, but we have a network of battery suppliers ready to hook you up with your needed storage capacity at a location near you.
We have a range of sizes and options to fit your needs, ranging from gate kits to RV and cabin kits. Pricing ranges up from $67.60 for a 5 watt gate kit, $310.70 for a 40 watt portable solar kit, $323.70 for 60 watt RV/marine kit and $4,147 for a cabin kit (the smallest available kit in each range is listed here).
Looking for a fully installed, grid-tied solar power system for your home?
Contact our partners at Simply Solar.
Simply Solar is a local, Sonoma County based solar company that offers all the home solar setups you need to reduce your energy bill.
Just like SolSolutions, they strive to use the best quality components. Furthermore, they have a mission to help make the community a better place through renewable energy usage, as well as local sponsorship and events.
For more information, visit their website http://www.simplysolarcalifornia.com or call (707) 285-7037. Make sure to mention you heard about them from SolSolutions!