Installing solar panels is one of the easiest ways of reducing your carbon footprint. While it is an effective method and will pay for itself over time, the initial investment is still pretty substantial. If, however, you are hoping to just offset some of your electrical expenses then you could consider installing a small system yourself and saving on labor cost. Here are some things you will need for your solar installation in NJ or your area.
Obviously, the first thing you will need is your solar panels themselves. You can find them online, and they usually come in panels rated between 100 and 250 watts. You will need to figure out how much you want to offset your electrical cost to determine how many to purchase. While buying more will save you more money, it is a larger initial investment and will require a more powerful charge controller.
The next thing you will need is a charge controller. This prevents your backup batteries from getting overcharged and being damaged. If the panels were simply connected straight to the batteries, then it would overcharge them and damage both your batteries and solar panels and could potentially start a fire. Charge controllers are rated for how many watts they can handle, so the larger your system, the larger a charge controller you will need.
Solar power is great, but what about when it is cloudy, or at night? This is when you will rely on your battery backup system. These are simply either 6v or 12v batteries that are charged by the charge controller with electricity from the solar panels. Do not go cheap on your batteries, be sure to get deep cycle batteries. Deep cycles batteries are designed to be drained and charged more than standard batteries and will last longer.