Let there be light (and/or power)
Do you have a shed or other outbuilding that could use light and/or power? In many cases, running an underground cable from your house to the building is the most economical way to go. But if the building is a fair distance from the house, so that wiring it would be a hassle or a large expense, consider a solar-powered system.
If you just need some light for putting away yard tools, you can get by with a simple system costing $100 or less. But if you want AC power for tools or charging batteries, you’ll need to spend more than $3,000 for a high-end system.
Solar kits eliminate guesswork
You can cobble together your own system with individual parts, but that can be dicey. Matching the right collectors, charge controller and battery takes some know-how. If you want AC power, you’ll also need an inverter that converts DC voltage to AC for outlets. All those components must be compatible and work together flawlessly or you’ll have big issues. Plus, the components have to be suited to the climate you live in. Some can handle extreme heat, cold or dampness while others can’t. So unless you just want occasional short-term lighting, we recommend buying a kit.
You can find local or online companies by searching for “solar kits.” Most companies will help you pick a kit or design one for you to exactly suit your needs. Shopping locally can save you big on shipping; this stuff is bulky and heavy. The kits listed below are from earthtechproducts.com.
You’ll find many low-priced solar shed kits, and most of them work fine—for a while. But cheap kits often fail in about a year. So check the manufacturer’s warranty and replacement terms before you buy, and try to find online reviews from long-term owners.