How To Build Solar Panels For Cheap (And Save Hundreds Of Dollars)
Wanting to Experiment With Solar Panels But Don’t Want To Spend So Much?
I hear you! Buying solar panels at retail prices and having them professionally installed can be really expensive.
Just looking around Google for typical prices shows that even for a small “starter” solar installation (around 50-100W), you can expect to be paying between $2-4/watt for the panels (so around $100-400). And that’s just for the solar panels! Then you have to pay for mounting kits and for someone to install them. AND THEN in order to get them to work in your camper, you’ll also need to pay for cables, electronics, and a battery bank to store all the power. By the time you hit the checkout counter, your bill is up to $1000 to $2000, even if you just went with a “basic” RV setup from a solar energy dealer.
But the great news is... If you're handy, you can save a ton! The more skill you have with basic installation and electronics assembly, the more you can save. In fact, if you're able and willing to go the total DIY route and invest some of your own workshop time, you can build your own panels for just $1/watt or even much less.
TIP: Look For DIY Solar Panel Kits
If you are willing to do some assembly and soldering, the best tip to purchase your panels in "kit" form. DIY solar kits come in a lot of different combinations, but you're essentially looking at a boxed kit with panels, cables, mounts, and possibly a charge controller, which you'll hook up to your own batteries using their instructions. To find these kits, just Google "RV solar energy kit" or better, "diy solar kit".
Assembling your panels from a kit is a great idea if you like building things and would enjoy learning how the whole system works. You'll save a bit of money in the process, in exchange for your own time and effort.
Really the best part, though, is that once you learn for yourself how a solar energy system works, you'll be in an even better position to save a lot more on your upgrade. Once you're comfortable with how the whole thing works, you'll begin to figure out which of the modular parts are easy to upgrade and you can be on the lookout for deals on panels, cables, and electronics. In fact, if you buy a good kit, it probably has suggestions for upgrading.