Living in rural areas can be challenging when you don’t have access to a proper on-grid system. To survive in these places, you need to choose a reliable energy source.
All thanks to solar power and its use which is becoming increasingly popular for off-grid living. Do you know what the best part is? You can install the system yourself! However, installation requires a basic understanding of system design and electrical knowledge.
If not, then check out this guide. Here, we’ll explore all you need to know to build your off-grid solar system in Kenya.
So, keep reading and light up your world with this clean and cost-effective power source!
Off-Grid Solar System & Its Advantages
Before jumping into the guide to building an off-grid solar system, let’s take a look at what it is and what it offers.
As the cost of necessities like energy, food, and fuel rises, people are searching for alternative power sources for their homes. That’s where the off-grid solar system comes in. An off-grid solar system is a self-sustaining energy system that operates independently from the power grid.
It generates electricity using solar panels, stores the power in solar batteries, and utilizes an inverter to convert the stored energy into usable electricity for your home. Additionally, investing in an off-grid solar system comes with lots of advantages, such as:
- No electricity bills
- Energy independence
- No more power outages
- Reliable electricity in remote or rural areas
- Eco-friendly and sustainable
- Low maintenance cost
For the best solar panels and other lighting systems, you can also explore Lumitek’s website. We also suggest you to compare the solar inverter price in Kenya to get the best deals before installing the system at your home or workplace.
Main Components You Need to Install an Off-Grid Solar System
Okay, installing an off-grid solar system has perks. But what are the key elements of it?
You’re in the right place if your objective is to install or build an off-grid solar system. We assure you that after this section, you will become a pro in deciding which components a solar system installation process would require.
To produce electricity with an off-grid solar system, solar panels are the main components that you need. These panels, also known as modules, capture sunlight and convert it into electric current. This process of converting sunlight into electricity is called “photovoltaic.”
Also, there are two types of solar panels available– one is polycrystalline, and the other is monocrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are cheaper, and monocrystalline panels are a little more costly but more efficient.
As the price of solar panels has been decreasing significantly in recent years, we recommend you choose monocrystalline panels for better efficiency.
Another important component that you need while installing an off-grid solar system is an inverter. Its main role is to convert the direct current (DC) generated by the panels into the alternating current (AC) that most appliances need. The inverter is very important for the system to function properly and is often referred to as its heart.
While it’s possible to set up a solar system without an inverter if you only use DC loads, it strictly restricts your ability to power your everyday household appliances. Therefore we recommend using an inverter for most of your household applications.
These inverters are available in different varieties. You must go for an inverter with a pure sine wave output. Also, remember to check out solar inverter prices in Kenya for optimal efficiency and reliability.
Batteries are the most important pieces of equipment in your off-grid system because they store electrical energy for later use. These are specially designed to access electricity from grid power during cloudy weather or at night.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most advanced type of battery available today. They are more efficient because they can store more energy per unit volume than other types of batteries. Additionally, they are safer and more reliable than other options.
Solar Charge Controller
A solar charge controller is also an electrical part of an off-grid solar system in Kenya. It keeps checking the flow of electric current from the panels to the batteries. Not just that, it also ensures whether solar panels are effectively working.
Other Necessary Tools for Off-Grid Solar Systems:
Apart from the four main components, you may also need these essential tools to build an off-grid solar power system. You can also call these components a “balance of system” (BOS) and include:
- Solar cables
- Terminal lugs
- Cable ties
- DIN rails
- DC busbars/fuse box
- Wire stripper
- MC4 connectors
- MC4 spanner
- Metering device
- Crimping tool
Steps to Build an Off-Grid Solar System
Now, let’s look at the basic steps to building an off-grid solar system.
Step 1: Calculate the load to select the size of the solar system:
To get the right components for your off-grid solar system, you must first calculate the load you will require based on your energy usage. Make a list of all your electrical appliances, their power consumption, and how long you use them. Once you’ve got a rough estimate, you can calculate the battery capacity and solar panel size you will need.
For example, if you need to store 3000 Wh of energy, you will need a 3 kWh or higher battery bank. If you are in an area with four hours of average daily sunshine, you’ll need a 750-watt solar panel to generate that amount of energy.
Also, you can use online calculators or consult a solar power professional for accurate load analysis and system design for off-grid setups. This will help ensure that your solar system is properly sized and efficient for your needs.
Step 2: Battery Installation:
Now that you have determined the specifications of the solar system components, the very first step in the installation is to purchase and install the batteries. You can check out the best solar battery from Lumitek. Also, you must remember that most batteries available on the market have a default rating of 12 volts.
However, your solar power system may require a different voltage. So, to match the inverter’s input voltage, you may need to connect the batteries in series or parallel.
Step 3: Connect the Solar Charge Controller
The next step is to connect the charge controller. It helps you in monitoring the performance of your battery. It’ll also automatically switch on or off the power supply to your appliances accordingly.
If a circuit breaker trips or a short circuit occurs in your system, it will shut down the power supply to appliances also. Thus, it will help your system to provide backup power in case of a blackout or extended power outage. We suggest that it’s a good idea to use a large-capacity fused distribution box (type FGB) from Lumitek.
Step 4: Install the Inverter
After connecting the charge controller, you can install the inverter now. To use the power generated by these panels or batteries, you will need an inverter to convert it into a usable form called AC. Unless you are running a purely DC setup, you cannot do it without an inverter, as it limits the loads.
Inverters come with a predefined voltage rating, usually 12 volts or 24 volts for smaller sizes. So, when setting up your solar power system, ensure your solar panels, charge controller, and batteries are compatible with this rating. While selecting an inverter, choose one with a slightly higher power rating than your calculated system size.
Step 5: Solar Panel Installation:
After installing the inverters, it’s time to install Solar Panels on a suitable surface. Solar panels produce more power when facing directly toward the sun with minimal shadows from nearby objects or buildings. Thus, its orientation will affect how efficiently they convert sunlight into energy.
The best way to set up a solar panel grid is to mount your panels on the rooftop with access to direct sunlight. This will help you get the most out of your investment, as you can use the sun’s energy all day long.
Step 6: The Final Step: Connect Everything!
Now it’s time to connect all the components together. You must connect the positive terminals of one component to the positive terminals of another and the same for the negative ones. To avoid confusion, you can use different colored wires, such as red and black.
Furthermore, while connecting the solar panels to the controller, we recommend you keep the panels covered with a dark cloth. This is because it will prevent a sudden incoming current that could potentially damage your other components.
Isn’t it simple and easy to build your off-grid solar system in Kenya? Of course, it is! It may take some time and patience to install a solar system for the first time, but if you take one step at a time, you will have access to your off-grid solar system in no time.
Therefore, the key to successfully setting up an off-grid solar system is proper planning, research, and review of safety measures. You can also choose the best LED lights in Kenya from Lumitek that will work wonderfully with your off-grid solar system.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and install one today!