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This article is published in collaboration with Solar Man Dan your guide to the world of DIY solar systems.

Greetings, my name is Dan. I am a Licensed Solar contractor with a NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certification, and a degree in electronic technology.

Over the course of the next weeks Open4Energy and I will be publishing a series of informative tutorials to guide you (the consumer) through the ins and outs of the solar cyber world.

The purpose of this introductory article is to arm you with professional unbiased information so that you can make educated investment decisions in regards to a home Solar Electricity (Photovoltaic) project.

O.K. So you woke up this morning and began to seriously consider your options for installing a solar electric system of some description in your home. We hope that you have found this article, and not been led a dance by some scam DIY plan, and you’re wondering where to begin. Let’s start with the basics.

There are 3 types of solar electric systems available for residential use. They are; Stand Alone Systems, Bimodal Systems, and Grid Tied Systems.

A stand alone system is intended to be independent of the utility grid. The design provides for you to sever your ties with the electric company and rely solely on the power your solar system generates. Because the sun is not always shining the solution requires you to include a bank of batteries that will get you through the nights and overcast days. A system of this type takes a lot of planning and a commitment to live within its energy means.

A bimodal system is a grid tied system with a battery backup. With a system of this type you keep your connection to the utility grid which continues to supply power above and beyond what your solar system can generate. In addition you have a battery bank on standby ready to deliver energy when the utility company fails to meet its obligations. A system of this type sounds great but can be most expensive to install.

A grid tied system has no batteries. As your solar system generates electricity, its first job is to supply the demands of your home. If in that moment it is generating more electricity than your home requires, the balance is then sent out on the grid (for which you get paid) for others to use. Conversely if your home requires more energy than your solar system can provide, the balance is provided by your utility company. A bidirectional meter keeps track of the energy coming and going out. At month end both are tallied, and you are either billed or credited the difference. A system of this type is by far the simplest and cheapest to install.

By having a licensed electrician do the design you can have your solar energy system connected to your utility supplier. As an added benefits for homes with solar installations, EcoDog's FIDO system shows savings (or earnings) from solar input at a glance, monitors loads for maximum return on investment, tracks energy generation over time in KWHr and actual dollars and compares consumption versus monitoring.

In this article and the many to follow we will be focusing on DIY solar systems. It is in this arena that there is a great deal of misinformation being published on the web. It seems that everybody is an expert on solar installations. Youtube is flooded with videos of home solar projects. The majority of them are incomplete (to say the least) and if you follow their paths you may find your self frustrated and on the wrong side of a building inspector.

There are hundreds if not thousands of ads wanting to sell you plans for DIY solar panels. WARNING! most are scams. They sound good but it’s what they don’t say that can cost you.

However, if you are patient and are willing to stay tuned, we will be providing you with good sound advice that can guide you step by step through your solar energy project.

Next week we will be discussing how to size your DIY solar system.

Thanks for following along. My name is Dan and I am a solar man.

Get Smart about Energy™