Firstly you need a solar panel to start. Recommended are the monocrystaline as they're the most advanced atm they have quite a long life(15-25 years). Monocrystaline panels are made of little square cells about 5x5cm each, connected in series. Monocrystaline panels can be found anywhere from 1W to 280W at the moment at 12V or 24V. It is very important to place the panels in a good spot where they will get the most sun on them and and a safe and strong mounting is required as well.
Next you need some wire which recommended is the solar cable/wire with double insulation and uv protected, outdoor ready. Depending on how big you want the system to be, the more advanced equipment you find available and the more expensive it is, but we`re talking about a basic system to start with. For one of these systems you can use just a power gardening wire hidden from the sun, it will do the job.
At this point we have the panel, firmly installed with a good positioning twards the sun and wired. That`s all what you need to produce power.
There are 3 options:
1-use the power that is getting produced straight from the panels (during the day only)
2-store the power in a battery bank and use it when needed
3-export the power produced straight to your home grid (again during the day only)
Generally a power inverter transforms the current from DC to AC and from a lower wattage to a higher wattage. E.g. 12v DC to 240v AC, 12v DC to 110v AC, 24v DC to 220v AC...
They have an input and one or multiple outputs. To their input is generally connected a battery or a battery bank and their outputs are just like a regular house power point where you can connect almost any electronic device that requires to be plugged into a power point, we're talking about a medium to a large capacity inverter. E.g.: TV, radio, lamp, vacuum cleaner, toaster, hair dryer... depending on the size of your inverter which can vary from a few watts to a few KWs output.
There are two types of power inverters: modified sine or pure sine.
Modified sine power inverter is an inverter which transforms the current from a DC to AC and puts out a certain voltage based on the product you bought for example if you live in Australia you would buy a 240v, in Europe 220v in Asia 230v, in US 110v whatever power you have in your power point in your household. The current produced by this standard power inverter will be similar but not perfectly identical with the one you use at home. You can notice the difference in some fine electronics like TV, radio, some lighting, etc. If you intend to use it for this fine electronics I would not suggest this product as it can do some damage in a long term, but I would suggest a pure sine inverter.
Pure sine power inverter is an inverter which transforms the current still same from DC to AC but imitates PERFECTLY the power from your grid or household, in a pure way. They are more advanced electronically but more expensive as well, about double the price on the market.
Note! None of the above two inverters are to be used if you intend to export power from a power supply (battery, solar panel, wind turbine) to your house grid as they are not electronically ready to export power. If you connect it to a power point, instead of the current that you produced to export to the grid, the actual current from your power point will try to travel into your inverter and will without a doubt blow up. In order to export to the grid the power that you produce, there is a Grid Tie Inverter (GTI) made for this process.
GTI is a new technology inverter which gets either wired directly to your house grid (by a certified electrician only) usually they are larger capacity units and there are some smaller units which get plugged into a power point (power outlet) DIY.
How they work: GTI reads and analyses your grid/power point current and when connected to a battery, battery bank, solar panel or wind turbine as an input, it takes the power from this sources, transforms it perfectly into the type of power it has read and analyzed from your grid/power outlet and exports it to your grid.
If you intend to make your own solar panel power system or a wind turbine system this smaller units are very handy to use, as you don't need to do any wiring to your main power circuit it is just a plug and play unit. Another great feature is that a grid tie inverter has the capability to turn itself on as soon as there is power coming in and turning itself off when there is none and also, turning itself off when it doesn't read any power in your grid/power point and turning itself on when it does read some power in order to export. This feature is called Islanding protection and was created so if there is a power problem on your street or has been intentionally turned off by the electrical company in order to fix it or do some maintenance, your GTI will stop working so it will not continue to export power to the grid otherwise the electricians can get electrocuted when working with the main street grid unit knowing that there is no power on the lines as they turned it off but your GTI was still exporting it.
A power charge controller is a smart piece of electronic device which have been designed to do a few tasks.
They have the capability to receive the power that you produce with a solar panel or a wind turbine and charge a battery or a battery bank. A second feature is that it will only allow the current to travel one way from to panels or wind turbine to the batteries and not the other way so your solar panels or wind turbine doesn't get damaged. A third handy feature is that it stops the power from going in to the batteries once they are full so will not overcharge or damage them. Some power charge controllers have some extra features. Some have the capability, once the battery bank is full, to send the power to a load not to waste it by turning itself off. Another feature some have is a temperature control. Some have an accessory which gets plugged into the charge controller with a long wire and a temperature sensor at the other end. The sensor must be attached to the side of your battery or between batteries in within your battery bank. What this does from here, it reads your battery temperature and keeps your charge controller updated about it. If the temperature goes above a factory set temperature point, the charge controller will turn itself off to protect the batteries in case there is a fault in within your battery bank. Another little feature can be an LCD which can tell your battery bank's voltage, the amount of watts or amps being sent to your battery. I tried a few different brands in the past but most advanced brand that I had in hand and I'm currently using in Xantrex. It has all the above mentioned features. Some other people's favorite brand is Sunnyboy. There are lots of brands to choose from.
-1x 12V 100W solar panel
-1x 24V 120W solar panel
-4x 4.5kA fuses
-1x C60(60A) Xantrex Power charge controller (12V or 24V settings)
-1x 300w grid tie inverter Power Jack - China 20V -> 240v
-1x 250w grid tie inverter Masspower - USA 20V -> 240v
-2x Power Meter UK
-2x 30A fuses
-1x BitMB Power inverter 3000w continous and 6000w peak 24V->240V DC->AC (modified sine)
-4x 150Ah 12V Deep Cycle batteries, connected in series and parallel so they work as 24V 300Ah
-1x DC 4 way switch
-14x battery cables
-2x pairs PV plug
-20m outdoor electric wire