Battery bank with metering, solar regulator and inverter. This is the “breadboard” to confirm proper operation before installing the system in a permanent home.

Alternative Energy Project—overview

The project is to build a renewable energy generation system consisting of solar panels and a wind turbine. I want to show how it is possible to build a small, inexpensive, system that will reduce the amount of grid power we consume. This is not an expansive system that will satisfy all our power requirements but it will power the TV, satellite receiver, two lights and two laptops. The wind turbine will be made with an inexpensive DC motor and a fabricated mount. The blades are made from PVC and with the exception of the motor, I will try to utilize everything from home depot so it can be replicated.


The solar panels are made from cells purchased on e-bay and the frames are simple plywood. Not very high technology but inexpensive to make.


The plywood board for attaching all the components is the “bread Board”. However, the system, once completed and tested will be housed in a separate storage box. The bread board allows me to easily mount new components or test configurations. The analogue meters will be augmented with a monitoring system that sends data every 15 minutes to my office computer.


The first part was to build a solar panel and then to do an energy audit once I understood what I could get for an output from the solar panel.


I got my batteries for free as they were cast-off from a solar project in the oil fields around Dallas and were acquired from service companies that maintain the battery systems or the radio telemetry systems.  While this source is not available to everyone, I feel sure that surplus batteries can be acquired if you put a bit of effort into it.


Note: I have found several sites that discuss sources for batteries that are either free or almost free. Many discussed marine batteries that can be recovered using a similar technique to what I have done. Others discuss using recovered cells from cellular sites that must change out batteries every few years.


Recovering The batteries and making them functional again was an effort. The details of the process I used will be added later as they are unique to the batteries I am using and will be of doubtful value to anyone else.



Herb & Barbara our interests and family