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Are DIY Solar Panels Worth it?

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  • I thought it would have been spam if I post unrelated information, but it seems that people are paranoid these days.

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    • Originally posted by HannahSmith View Post
      I thought it would have been spam if I post unrelated information, but it seems that people are paranoid these days.
      You have been busted.
      MSEE, PE

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      • Originally posted by HannahSmith View Post
        I thought it would have been spam if I post unrelated information, but it seems that people are paranoid these days.
        English is not your first language? Links posted for your gain are advertising - you can pay to advertise.
        [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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        • Funny how you can tell someone for whom English is not their first language in one sentence or less.
          And the spammers come with one liners.
          NABCEP certified Technical Sales Professional

          [URL="http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showthread.php?5334-Solar-Off-Grid-Battery-Design"]http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showth...Battery-Design[/URL]

          [URL]http://www.calculator.net/voltage-drop-calculator.html[/URL] (Voltage drop Calculator among others)

          [URL="http://www.gaisma.com"]www.gaisma.com[/URL]

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          • Originally posted by Bob View Post
            Hi there,

            Just to re-assure readers that quality DIY is not dead:

            I AM the kind of person that WOULD build my own car to save money, or an MP3 player (been there, done that), or whatever else. It's all a matter of circumstance and scale.

            As has been argued, turning low volume DIY into a saleable item is tricky, if extremely difficult. Probably. I've come across lots of rubbish and scam solar sites out there that do not add real value.

            [U]It has been argued that the time and even only the material expense required to implement a reasonable DIY PV panel makes it un-economical. Not so in my opinion[/U]. At least if you live outside the 'States. Read on.

            I am a 35 year old mechanical engineer residing in South Africa, with 15+ yrs of design experience, specialising in hydraulics and thermodynamics. Some electrical, some electronics and lots of hands-on tinkering and prototyping experience in many engineering fields. Not much solar experience. I am fairly confident that with mostly basic tools I CAN design and build a moderately sized system (1.3kW) to power a variety of household appliances (a pool pump in the day, lights, microwave at night, fridge, for 18hrs a day). We get zero rebates on solar panels here.

            DIY seems an extremely foolish approach to many, but not to me. I am confident that a minimum life of 10 years trouble-free life is possible (talking specifically about the panels). While I have yet to experiment with and actually build a panel and wait 10 years to find out if it lasts, I can't exactly preach to the unconverted. But the point is that I am in the process of trying, which is pretty much in the spirit of this website. DIY is all about taking pride in building something, potentially leading a social technology wave and feeling smug that you may have saved a buck in the long run. Key to effective DIY is SHARING YOUR SUCCESS. There
            Good for you Bob!
            All these high end Solar installers should pollute a different forum. If people are set on making their own panels then they will do it no matter what. UL certification is a joke. Did the UL approved microwave oven that caught fire at 4 AM not make it catch fire? No. Did UL come and put my house back together? No
            It reminds me of Unions that want money so they can strong arm those that don't want to joint them.
            I am building my own panels too- not hundreds of them. I am going to use good materials and have already started tabbing many cells. I would like to know how these dangerous DIY panel catch fire when they are built in the same design as the higher priced panels. Why would these panel not be able to be used for ones own purpose- I am sure a lot of people are doing it without anyone's OK or UL approval. If they have an accident as will always happen at one time or another that is what fuses and diodes are for. My system will be completely independent of the power company and will have it's own distribution. I will make use of LED lighting fixtures. It is mean for the big outage. No one with a willingness to hook up and charge their device will be asking me if the system is UL approved.

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            • Originally posted by SkywaveTDR View Post
              All these high end Solar installers should pollute a different forum. If people are set on making their own panels then they will do it no matter what. UL certification is a joke. Did the UL approved microwave oven that caught fire at 4 AM not make it catch fire? No. Did UL come and put my house back together? No
              It reminds me of Unions that want money so they can strong arm those that don't want to joint them.
              I am building my own panels too- not hundreds of them. I am going to use good materials and have already started tabbing many cells. I would like to know how these dangerous DIY panel catch fire when they are built in the same design as the higher priced panels. Why would these panel not be able to be used for ones own purpose- I am sure a lot of people are doing it without anyone's OK or UL approval. If they have an accident as will always happen at one time or another that is what fuses and diodes are for. My system will be completely independent of the power company and will have it's own distribution. I will make use of LED lighting fixtures. It is mean for the big outage. No one with a willingness to hook up and charge their device will be asking me if the system is UL approved.
              You are 18 maybe - You obviously are smarter than anyone else - you just told us so.

              It is NOT even cost effective to build panels in the US - You can buy them cheaper than you can possibly make them.

              Now what justification can you offer for ignoring electrical codes, safety standards etc?

              Learn what you are into before accusing others fellow. You have no idea except for having read a couple of incorrect and silly green sites.
              [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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              • Originally posted by russ View Post
                You are 18 maybe - You obviously are smarter than anyone else - you just told us so.

                It is NOT even cost effective to build panels in the US - You can buy them cheaper than you can possibly make them.

                Now what justification can you offer for ignoring electrical codes, safety standards etc?

                Learn what you are into before accusing others fellow. You have no idea except for having read a couple of incorrect and silly green sites.
                At least he feels independent, smart and justified like most teenagers. Having that drive is good to a point but it will cost him in the end.

                He, like most of us older folks did, will learn through trial and many many errors what needs to be done correctly so that it is safe for everyone around. I just hope he doesn't hurt anyone in the process.

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                • Originally posted by SunEagle View Post
                  At least he feels independent, smart and justified like most teenagers. Having that drive is good to a point but it will cost him in the end.

                  He, like most of us older folks did, will learn through trial and many many errors what needs to be done correctly so that it is safe for everyone around. I just hope he doesn't hurt anyone in the process.
                  One feeling independent, justified without experience can be dangerous at any age. Seems he is more hung up on the thought of DIY panels being dangerous rather than the FACT that factory made panels at today's prices are a much better route to go for a reliable system, cheaper in the long run.
                  "My system will be completely independent of the power company and will have it's own distribution. I will make use of LED lighting fixtures. It is mean for the big outage."
                  hahaha, the 'big outage'... being prepared for a little outage can be expensive. A big outage, one that might take the grid down for months on end? ...best to learn to be as stable as possible without electricity. Prepping to live any kind of 'normal' lifestyle (one based in today's consumerism) is useless.

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                  • Originally posted by SkywaveTDR View Post
                    All these high end Solar installers should pollute a different forum. If people are set on making their own panels then they will do it no matter what. UL certification is a joke.
                    You will find out soon enough what the joke is, and it will be on you.

                    Assuming you will use the panels as part of your homes premisses wiring system or in a grid tied application will require you to file a building permit and pass inspection. As part of that process you wil have to file a permit application. In that application you are required to provide a list of materials. DIY panels or any non listed material will be rejected. You would never get a permit to pass go. That is called society we live in.

                    Now if you want to build a panel for something like a tool shed to charge batteries. No problem as no one really cares if you only hurt yourself. That is your problem, not ours. But once you cross the line putting something in your house that affects public safety, there are rules and guidelines. At that point you have put the public at risk. That we care about.
                    MSEE, PE

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                    • Originally posted by SkywaveTDR View Post
                      Did the UL approved microwave oven that caught fire at 4 AM not make it catch fire? No. Did UL come and put my house back together? No
                      Wrong again my firend. That microwave will have had a UL listing. As part of that listing the manufacture is required to have liability insurance. If the microwave started the fire, the manufacture is liable for all damages. So yes in effect the UL would rebuild your house.

                      Turn that around now and let's say a panel you built started a fire and burnt down your house. Your insurance company would not pay a dime, making you responsible for all damages and liability. That is what happens when you break the rules of society. So you can stick your head in the sand all you want. It will not change a thing.

                      Real life application. You install a grid tied system for your home or even an off-grid system. You play by the rules, pull the permit, pass inspection, notify your insurance company of the construction. Then sometime down the road something happens and your house burns down. Fire marshal determines faulty panels or wiring. You are covered. Your insurance company pay soff and rebuilds. In the back ground your insurance company files a claim against the manufacture and gets their money back. Life is good.
                      MSEE, PE

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                      • OK, Maybe I am wrong in proceeding without electrical codes but I never said that you guys are throwing in stuff that was never mentioned. I just indicated that UL is not always needed and in a lot of stuff it is not there.
                        Where are all these cheap panels you talk about and I have seen that are 300 W types are $300 to $400 price range and that is certainly not cheap.
                        Also you guys state about panels catching fire. But don't site any examples or any technical reasons that this should happen- these things don't contain gasoline. Why would such a thing catch fire if upon testing when it was built that it did not do so at that time? Any error upon building these panels should make itself know rather quickly. My major concern is water getting in. I would be very happy to buy pre-made panels but I don't see any of them that are cheap enough to consider.
                        I don't want 220W panels, I don't want Harbor Freight panels, I don't want low grade Amazon panels they are all too low power and you have to by a lot of them to make up 1KW. I am aiming at 3-4 panels total to start. I don't have a tractor shed to put a small panel on. If a panel is garbage like you say, then why would it's application such as a tractor shed have anything to do with the reasoning?
                        I am not trying to be argumentative but looking for the answers. If all I get is have an installer put a $20,000 system on the house which probably will not fit my house anyway, this is not an answer but avoiding the answer I am looking for which is a smaller system.
                        I have already been through the power4home plans scam and got my money back and still have the plans. However, just like all these great plans that come to me, I find out that there really is no proof that anyone has built a real large system using them (referring to the Hendershot Generator) and that when you ask questions to the people that sold you the plans as to where to get certain transformers that they can not come up with an answer- this then means fraud has been committed as they do not have or really know of a working model. I have the plans but have not paid for any of these things in the end. Same was done with the solar panel plans- no source of a cell supplier and what to buy and so forth. That then means they never really have any information of what they say they did or built. Fraud again.
                        I am still looking for answers that is all and I am not 18.

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                        • Originally posted by SkywaveTDR View Post
                          Where are all these cheap panels you talk about and I have seen that are 300 W types are $300 to $400 price range and that is certainly not cheap.
                          Less expensive than you can build one for. So what is your point?
                          MSEE, PE

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by SkywaveTDR View Post
                            Where are all these cheap panels you talk about and I have seen that are 300 W types are $300 to $400 price range and that is certainly not cheap.
                            I don't want 220W panels, I don't want Harbor Freight panels, I don't want low grade Amazon panels they are all too low power and you have to by a lot of them to make up 1KW. I am aiming at 3-4 panels total to start.
                            It's a bit confusing to know what your goal is. You want a 1KW system but don't want to use 'large' 220W panels?? A dollar or so a watt is not an unreasonable price to pay tho they can be found cheaper. The panel cost is only a part of the system. Charge controller, batteries, inverter, generator, charger and a sheetload of smaller items (cable, wire, fuses, etc) is what it takes to build a reliable, decent lasting off grid system for that grid outage you may have. Seriously consider if you want to invest all that and have panels you might not be able to depend on in the future.

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                            • Thank you Florida for this comment,
                              I know of the other infrastructure to be used I am approaching this one step at a time learning while I go along. I know a whole system design at first would be preferable but as in any electronics system exchange of parts should be possible. If my made panels are not up to par, I should be able to sub in commercial panels of the same power level and go from there. I come from a electronics repair background not being 18 so I am experienced with part changing and substitution.
                              Solar and it's parts are a bit unfamiliar but I am picking up on it. It is hard to know where to get the good information rather than some of these idiots on U tube that use soldering irons that look like came from Radio Shack and then they burn their fingers picking up the wrong end- was this suppose to be comical?
                              Maybe so but I think these people make these video just to be noticed. What do you know about this new solar cell that has been discovered that increases the output ?

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by SkywaveTDR View Post
                                Thank you Florida for this comment,
                                I know of the other infrastructure to be used I am approaching this one step at a time learning while I go along. I know a whole system design at first would be preferable but as in any electronics system exchange of parts should be possible. If my made panels are not up to par, I should be able to sub in commercial panels of the same power level and go from there. I come from a electronics repair background not being 18 so I am experienced with part changing and substitution.
                                Solar and it's parts are a bit unfamiliar but I am picking up on it. It is hard to know where to get the good information rather than some of these idiots on U tube that use soldering irons that look like came from Radio Shack and then they burn their fingers picking up the wrong end- was this suppose to be comical?
                                Maybe so but I think these people make these video just to be noticed. What do you know about this new solar cell that has been discovered that increases the output ?
                                Most of the commercial grade solar cells are 17 to 19% efficient. There are better ones out there made for the Military but they are very expensive even if you could get your hands on them.

                                If DIY panels only needed to wire the cells together then they would be much cheaper than manufactured panels. But the cells are only a part of the panel. There is the backing, the frame and most important the glass topping. Then to keep the moisture out from behind the glass you have to create a vacuum and then seal it against the moisture. All that adds cost to the panels and if you don't get it right you have spent a lot of time, effort and money creating something that doesn't work but can now be purchased ready to go at $1/watt.

                                I understand your desire to make something by yourself that will help you maintain a lifestyle should the grid go down. All we are saying is that the need to perform this accomplishment is not cost effective now that PV prices have come down. When (and they will) go back up in price to more than $4/watt maybe a DIY will be a better path to follow.

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