Video: How to Choose Solar Panel System

Use the sun to charge your batteries and power your electrical devices. Learn how to power your cottage, shed, boat or RV with a basic DIY solar panel system using these helpful steps.
 

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[MUSIC PLAYING] A solar panel system is a rewarding, sustainable, long-term investment. With several factors to consider, you may be wondering where to start. Don't worry-- you've got this. First, consider how you use your solar system. Systems can be either off-grid or grid-tied. A grid-tied system connects to your town's energy grid and powers your home through the use of an inverter. An off-grid system uses batteries to store power captured by the solar panels, ideal for a backyard shed, RV, boat, or camp site. Canadian Tire has everything you'll need to set up this type of system. There are three main components you'll need. Panels turn sunlight into energy. A charge controller regulates voltage and current, protecting the batteries from being damaged or overcharged. A 12-volt battery then stores the energy for you to use. The amount of electricity a solar panel produces depends on size, cell efficiency, and available sunlight. Our solar panels come in two varieties. Crystalline panels are the more common and efficient option. These panels are typically bluish in color and designed for direct outdoor sunlight. Amorphous panels, though less efficient, can conduct electricity in direct or indirect sunlight. Even artificial light can maintain a vehicle battery. To find the right panel for you, consider access to direct sunlight, size, and power requirements. As a rule of thumb, to determine the overall wattage you'll need, add up the wattage of the devices you intend to use and double it. A charge controller may or may not be included with your panel. If you need to choose one, pay attention to total amperage and the wattage it can handle. Solar panels connect via strip wire or quick connect wiring. Match your controller to the panel connection type. To monitor panel performance or battery charge, choose a controller with a digital readout. This feature allows you to observe and potentially improve battery life span. Batteries are rated in amp-hours, indicating the ability to hold and release charge. The higher the amp-hour rating, the more power available. Always select rechargeable 12-volt batteries. SLA, GEL, and AGM batteries are recommended. Deep cycle or marine batteries are ideal for solar charging because they allow for discharge and recharge beyond a standard vehicle battery. Weather can affect battery performance, especially when it comes to Canadian winters. If this is a concern, AGM batteries tend to handle the cold weather better than other types. A hub connects several panels together, allowing you to increase amperage and wattage. Ensure that your charge controller can handle the increase. If you need to power items that require AC as opposed to DC, you'll need an inverter. Add up the wattage of the devices you wish to run, and consider the technology you are powering. Basic devices, like a water pump, will work on a modified sine wave. Items with sophisticated circuitry, like a stereo or television, require a pure sine wave inverter. Keep these tips in mind and harness the power of the sun to power all sorts of things around your cottage, shed, or RV. Don't worry-- you got this.

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