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DIY Advice Blog

Get the latest information on new tools, trends and ideas for your DIY projects from The Family Handyman experts.

DIY solar power projects

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In researching my article about solar power for the October issue of the magazine, I’ve been running into some really interesting websites chock-full of everything you could possibly want to know about installing a photovoltaic (PV) system for your home. 

Obviously, powering a home with solar energy is a huge undertaking in terms of time and resources. But there are a lot of folks doing interesting things with PV systems on a much smaller scale. These smaller DIY projects can be a great way to learn about PV. They include things like a solar-powered model car (check out the kits at hobbyplace.com), solar phone and battery chargers, solar pool heaters, solar attic vent fans and solar fountains (all of these can be found at solar-for-energy.com).

One of my favorite websites is builditsolar.com, a renewable energy site for DIYers. It's an excellent source of information about large grid-tied and off-grid PV systems. And it's a fascinating compendium of links to articles, free plans and Web sites of DIYers who are using smaller-scale PV systems to power their imaginations along with many other things such as:


— A solar scooter that’s street legal
solar scooter

— DIY solar panels

DIY solar panels



— Solar trash compactor
— Solar streetlights
— Solar electric boat
— Solar DIY workshop (portable and stationary)
— PV systems for RVs
— Truck- and trailer-mounted PV systems

There are a few fringier projects on the site (wood-fired clothes dryer, anyone?), but mostly it’s a very well researched site that includes a diverse group of PV-powered projects that are definitely worth checking out.

— Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor

Interested in improving your energy efficiency and saving money on your electric bills? Check out these great articles:
- Energy Vampires

- 10 Tips on Saving Electricity and Lowering Your Electricity Bill
- Save Money with a High-Tech Thermostat

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  • Comments
    • by posted on

      Elisa thank you for these smaller, easier projects. They can still help save money but wont take a lot of time.

    • by posted on

      I love solar energy or the whole concept of it but unfortunately I don't have the funds nor resources to built my own solar powered systems.

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