Even if a traditional solar PV system is outside of your budget, or your state has no incentives or big market barriers to solar, you can still take advantage of solar energy with a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solar project. Creative people are using solar to tackle problems large and small across the globe!
Do-It-Yourself Solar Projects
- Advances in solar technology have made many DIY-friendly products available to consumers, several of which will be hitting the market for the first time in 2011
- These include solar water heaters, solar battery charging stations, solar powered lights, photovoltaic shingles that provide supplementary electricity, solar heat pumps, and solar panel kits that generate primary home electrical service
- Among the step-by-step projects is a solar water heating system you can build and install yourself; simple thermosyphon solar heat collectors for barns and outbuildings
- Heat grabbers that you can fabricate and position below a south-facing window to provide auxiliary winter heat
DIYing a solar system can be a chance to learn more about how the technology works, experiment with a new design, or go solar for a fraction of the cost. There are hundreds of DIY solar project options, ranging from putting together a simple DIY solar charger to installing a complete system, or even building a solar panel from scratch!
There are also groups of solar enthusiasts all over the country that are building their own solar systems. New Vision Renewable Energy in Philippi, West Virginia is helping community members build panels for their homes using a timebank approach. Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative uses a barn-raising model where members help each other with the installation process. Some groups partner with solar installers, offer discounts on materials, and loans on tools and equipment for members to use while installing their systems.
DIY projects are also a great way to build an organization, educate students and engage your neighbors about solar. It is a great tool for building the renewable energy movement from the ground up!