DIY Solar Wiring Diagrams
With today’s affordable components and online resources, building your own DIY Solar System has never been easier. In this article, you will learn how to get started and we’ll explore different options for solar systems that can meet your specific needs.
You’ll also find free wiring diagrams and useful information about installing the components. So whether you’re looking to power an RV, an off-grid cabin, or a garden shed, it’s me to bring some electricity to remote locations. Let’s dive in and get started!
Benefits of building your own solar system
Be prepared for blackouts
Power your devices far off grid
Use less gas or propane
Make a positive impact on the environment
How many solar panels do I need?
People often ask “How many solar panels do I need?“, when in reality they should be asking “How much wattage do I need?“
Solar panels are measured in wattage, and there are many different wattage solar panels on the market today. There are 50, 100, 175, 200, all the way up to 500 watt panels. Here is a list of Solar Panels for Campervans.
If you’re building a campervan or RV solar system, you’ll need to know how much wattage you’ll install. Thankfully finding the answer to this question is pretty straight forward.
You can either do a power audit, which is figure out your exact needs, or take a look at our free solar plans and choose a size that fits your needs.
How to do a power audit
To do a power audit, simply add up the power consumption of all of your devices over a 24-hour period. Once you have this number, you’ll need a solar system that can produce atleast that much power.
That’s the jist of doing a power audit, in a coming article we’ll go into more depth on doing this more accurately.
Or estimate and use our free plans
Another method is to estimate your needs and choose one of our free solar designs. There is very limited space on a van or RV, so most systems are no larger than 600 Watts.
100 to 200 Watts – Light usage | Vacationers | Part-time Vanlife
This size system is best for vacationers and part-time vanlife. If you’re not worried about cooking with electricity, a small system will cover your needs.
300 to 400 Watts – Medium usage | Full-time Vanlife
These systems are for more serious travelers. two people can easily live full-time with these systems, as long as they’re mindful of their energy consumption.
500 Watts and up – Heavy usage | Boondocking | Staying Off-grid
These large systems can go off-grid and stay there. You’ll be able to cook, heat water for showering, and power all of your devices like at home.
Solar Options – DIY | Solar kits | Solar Generators
If you’ve decided that you want to install a solar system yourself, you have three general directions you could go. The 100% DIY method, the 50% DIY method (Solar kit), or the 0% DIY method which is to buy a solar generator.
The Easy Method | Solar Generator
Easiest method yet highest cost
50% DIY | Buy a premade Solar Kit
Good balance between cost and effort required
100% DIY | Install your own solar system
Affordable yet labor intensive
The Easy Method – Buy a Solar Generator
DIY isn’t for everyone. Some people just need a system that works so they can hit the road THIS season, and not spend weeks learning how to be a solar technician.
If that sounds like you, you might be better off purchasing a solar generator. By going this route your solar system is ready to go the day the mailman drops it off at your doorstep.
You won’t need any tools or special skills and everything that you need comes with the generator. All you need to do is plug the panels into the generator and turn it on.
Find more information about Solar Generators Here.
The 50% DIY Method – Buy a Solar Kit
By purchasing a premade solar kit you’ll save that hassle of having to gather all the necessary
components for your project. You’ll also have a system that is more powerful than a solar generator, with the benefit of being upgradeable.
Solar kits still require you to do the installation, so when you install a solar kit you’ll still walk away with a solid understanding of how a solar system works.
Here are a few popular Solar Kit options:
The 100% DIY Method
If you decide to build the system yourself, you’ll save a ton of money. You’ll also walk away knowing how the system actually works. That means if you ever have a problem, you can count on yourself to make the repair.
Building your system from scratch also gives you more flexibility in size or power. Need more storage? Buy more batteries. Want to charge faster? Install more panels and a larger charge controller.
Take a look at our Free Solar System Plans Here
Free Wiring Diagrams for Solar Systems
12 volt solar systems
12 volt systems are the most common system and are very beginner friendly. If you’re just looking
for a simple setup and you don’t plan to use an inverter that is over 2000 Watts, build a 12 volt
24 volt solar systems
24 volt systems are a bit more complex but they offer more efficiency than 12 volt systems. If you
are planning to power an inverter that is over 2000 Watts, or you would like to benefit from using
smaller cables, build a 24 volt system.
24 Volt Systems coming soon…
Hybrid Inverter systems
Hybrid Inverters combine a solar charge controller, power inverter, and transfer switch into one convenient package.
Read more about Hybrid Inverters here.
Installing a Solar System
If you’re ready to install you’re solar system, head on over to our Installation Guide for step by step
instructions on how to build your project.
Solar system components
Every off-grid solar system, no matter what size, is made up of the same basic components. You’ll
find solar panels, a solar charge controller, a battery, and an optional power inverter.
The Solar Panels collect sunlight and convert it into DC electricity.
The Solar Charge Controller regulates this DC electricity so you can safely charge your batteries.
The Battery or Battery Bank stores this DC electricity to power your devices and appliances.
The Power Inverter, which is optional, converts DC electrity into AC electricity to power household appliances.
Skills needed to build a Solar Power System
To tackle a DIY solar project you’ll need to have basic electrical/handy skills or the help of someone
who is.Working with electricity can be dangerous, so always make sure you either know what
you’re doing or you have help from someone who does.
Here are a few practical skills that will get you started
- Cutting, stripping, and crimping wires properly
- Understand wire and fuse sizes (Link Link)
- Basic woodworking or handyman skills
Keep in mind, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of a DIY build, take a look at Solar
Generators. With a solar generator you’ll be up and running on day 1 without ever needing any
Along with the skills listed above, you’ll also need the appropriate tools for the job. Check out our Shop page to find everything needed to install your solar system.