DIY Solar Power – Part 1

Feature | Blue solar panels | DIY Solar Power - Part 1

Solar power is a viable source of electricity when the grid goes down. Read and know your options as a prepper.

RELATED: 9 DIY Solar Power Projects For Survival And Self-Sufficiency

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Electricity in Today's World

“So, what happens if and when the grid goes down for an extended period of time? Aside from the aggravation of not being able to determine what is happening through traditional media channels, for the Average Joe, his problems have only just begun.

Our dependency on the grid doesn’t just stop at lack of electricity in our homes to power our appliances or an inability to charge our cell phones; it is much broader and affects every aspect of our lives.”

Oh, how true that statement is; most people could not survive a day without computers, refrigeration, cell phones, and TV. Most people have never had to live off the grid unless they were primitive camping, and even then it was probably only for a weekend.

But for some of us people planning to use our yachts as a refuge for when the SHTF, using solar energy systems are already a practice. Some of us have already taken the steps necessary to keep the power flowing; we have built our own power grid.

We have tested it in the actual real-world environment and have been using it when we are away from the dock for pleasure, so we know the application and technology works.

Solar panels have been successfully used since the mid-1950s, originally used in manned space exploration. They have been dropping in price since about 2004 when their popularity really took off.

And now with the Green movement afoot, solar panels are as popular as ever. After evaluating my yacht’s energy consumption, it was obvious that we must make some changes to be able to survive during and after the SHTF.

So a couple of years ago, I set out to research them and determine how to buy and install one; boy was I was in for a shock.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Generate Electricity At Home

You can find many retail suppliers online that will sell you a solar panel, but nowhere could I find a detailed description of how to determine what to buy and how to install it; much less aboard a yacht. So these articles were born as I made my way through the process, thus, was a truly a learn-as-you-go article.

If you are thinking about installing one at your home versus on a boat, the principles are still the same.

What Is a Solar Panel, and How Do They Work?

Solar panels are, in theory, any panel that uses the sun’s thermal energy to produce electricity. A solar panel can be a photovoltaic panel, the industry term for a panel design that produces electricity from the rays of the sun.

Despite the category of solar panels being discussed, almost all solar panels are flat. This is because the face of the panel needs to be at a 90-degree angle from the sun’s rays for the most favorable angle to absorb the sun’s rays.

Black and silver solar panels | DIY Solar Power - Part 1

Solar panels are able to take in energy from the sun through an array of solar cells on their surface. Much like how a plant is able to soak up energy from the sun for photosynthesis, solar cells perform comparably.

As the sun’s rays hit the solar cells on a photovoltaic panel, the power transfers to a silicon semiconductor.

What is a silicon semiconductor? One of the most common semiconductors. A material that partly conducts current in electronic devices.

The power is then changed into (dc) direct current electricity and then passed through connecting wires to finally enter a storage battery.

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Electricity can be a problem when disaster strikes. You'll never know how bad things can turn out, so it's up to you how prepared you want to be when SHTF. Investing in solar panels will be a great help if the power grid goes down.

Do you have any experience in using solar power to generate electricity? Tell us about it in the comments section below!


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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 9, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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DIY Solar Power – Part 1

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