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Are DIY Solar Panels Worth it?

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  • 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 ?
    ok, one step at a time. You would not go out and buy a new set of tires, then go find a car to fit them if want to drive would you? Figure out what you want to accomplish in a solar system design before even thinking about panels.
    All the info you need is right here in the stickies of solarpaneltalk and many pros here seem to have unending patience repeating the same info. U tube is worse than the boob tube. There may be some good info there somewhere but it's not worth sifting thru all the crap to find it and there is not nuff space in a u tube clip to include the complexity of complete solar design. Even many other forums that include solar system use can have some very misleading statements that you will not find here. These guys are serious professionals, not looking to sell you anything but full of knowledge and experience and willing to share.

    Now if you could find some 40% efficient solar cells that may be a worthwhile DIY project but as those cells are not even available in home built panels yet it'll be awhile before there is scrap to sell separately. Snot important anyway if you have the space for 15-20% panels. It's the $ per watt figure and longevity that counts for a home system. 40% cells are priced for military/space programs.

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    • Originally posted by FloridaSun View Post
      40% cells are priced for military/space programs.
      Roughly $100/watt
      MSEE, PE

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      • The 40% cells are not new either - just no market except for NASA and the military.

        Search the net - you can easily find panels for less than 1$ per watt DC
        [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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        • There is only one thing that could possibly make DIY panels cost effective and that's if you have a very cheap supply of one of the major components. Lets say you stumble into a situation with thousands of feet of extruded aluminum or a dozen pieces of tempered glass or somehow a decent encapsulation product. Other than that DIY is just for small projects IMO

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          • Is DIY a money-saver?

            My boyfriend is intent on making DIY panels, but I am for purchasing or leasing panels instead. Not that I think he's incapable of undertaking the project alone, but from all that I have read it seems to me that there is no real advantage to DIY panels. I've even read mixed opinions on whether DIY makes financial sense.

            So my question is, can someone say definitely whether making your own solar panels is cheaper than buying them? Is there actual data out there to back up either argument?

            If DIY is a money-saver or about the same price I guess I'm willing to let him run with it, but I just don't see how DIY is better from a financial perspective.

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            • Originally posted by JillC View Post
              My boyfriend is intent on making DIY panels, but I am for purchasing or leasing panels instead. Not that I think he's incapable of undertaking the project alone, but from all that I have read it seems to me that there is no real advantage to DIY panels. I've even read mixed opinions on whether DIY makes financial sense.

              So my question is, can someone say definitely whether making your own solar panels is cheaper than buying them? Is there actual data out there to back up either argument?

              If DIY is a money-saver or about the same price I guess I'm willing to let him run with it, but I just don't see how DIY is better from a financial perspective.
              Would you build your own dishwasher to save money? If so, would you be surprised if it leaked? If you're a handyman that enjoys science experiments build your own. You can charge batteries with them, but you can't connect them to a household electric circuit because they don't meet the code.
              -
              Ken Oatman
              [Please no urls in signatures.]

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              • Originally posted by JillC View Post
                ... but I just don't see how DIY is better from a financial perspective.
                Correct - the key factor being that even if you had the skills, tools, and finances to produce commercial quality panels on your own, the actual cells you'd be able to obtain are factory rejects, ie not grade-A. Those go to commercial manufacturers. Long-term, you'd lose even under the best of circumstances. But of course there are other reasons to go DIY, which I understand.

                Of course there are those that might *claim* grade-A loose cells when in fact they are not, but there are no regulatory agencies shutting them down from making those claims.

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                • DIY Solar Panels

                  MAny people try it but with time, some are successful and some are not. So, According to me choose a company for solar panels. May be at initial level they are costly but at long period time, it will always beneficial for you for sure.

                  Jamie - Before you just posted nonsense - now you post nonsense and a link - next time you are gone.
                  Last edited by russ; 01-20-2014, 07:35 AM.
                  [url]http://www.theadvancedgroup.co.uk[/url]

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                  • Originally posted by freeenergy View Post
                    Is DIY worth it? The encapsulant, frame and glass seem to be economically prohibitive relative to cell tech. Update please.
                    I found that it was not. By the time you buy the cells, the TEMPERED glass, the aluminium frame, the encapsulant, the tabbing wire, your time to put it all together, you are at (or have exceeded) the cost of a commercial panel with warranty and certification. I found that it also was dangerous to use untempered glass because it can easily break and cut you badly (or even fatally depending on where the cut occurred)
                    Last edited by labtek; 03-31-2014, 08:16 AM. Reason: clarity

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                    • ...an interesting thread to be sure. I followed it through it's various twists and turns.

                      May I respectfully sum it up thusly...

                      1- Humans will always attempt to DIY except certain things...a nuclear bomb comes to mind...and thankfully so. It probably has something to do with the human "tinkering" gene- I'm not sure which chromosome it's located on- probably the Y chromosome...
                      2- In a perfect world, we should be able to disagree with each other and not be subject to ridicule or name calling. That accomplishes nothing.
                      3- Solar panel DIY may very well be cost effective in it's own right and valuable depending on where you are and it's proposed use (Cambodia and Australia) where safety is trumped by necessity. If you continue with solar panel DIY and it's use, you accept the consequences.
                      4- Each poster brings a specific and unique skill-set to the table; it's the responsibility of the moderaters to bring that out in a respectful manner. The moderators should hold themselves to a higher standard.

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                      • Originally posted by labtek View Post
                        I found that it was not. By the time you buy the cells, the TEMPERED glass, the aluminium frame, the encapsulant, the tabbing wire, your time to put it all together, you are at (or have exceeded) the cost of a commercial panel with warranty and certification. I found that it also was dangerous to use untempered glass because it can easily break and cut you badly (or even fatally depending on where the cut occurred)
                        Let us know how they are working after a few years. Sealing properly on a DIY project is almost impossible.

                        Your costs for factory panels must be very high due to local taxes etc?
                        [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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                        • Originally posted by russ View Post
                          Let us know how they are working after a few years. Sealing properly on a DIY project is almost impossible.

                          Your costs for factory panels must be very high due to local taxes etc?
                          I agree that sealing the panel would be next to impossible. Also, my cost for a DIY solar panel=
                          1- 36x3x6 inch cells= $50.00 assuming free shipping from point of origin usually China
                          2- tempered glass= $100.00 plus tax obtained locally (special order from glass dealer since no demand other than me)
                          3- aluminium frame= $60.00 plus tax obtained locally
                          4- solar encapsulant (Sylgard or equivalent)= $70.00 EBay (no local supplier)
                          5- associated bits and pieces (tabbing, bus wire, wire,silicone sealant)= $10.00
                          6- Output under full sun and no load= Approximately 20 V DC @ 70 watts

                          Total cost= $290.00 Cdn plus tax- no warranty and no UL/CSA listing.

                          Even if the commercial panel is a bit more expensive, take the $290.00 and top it up for a good commercial panel.

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                          • You can buy a 225 watt panel for 68 cents US per watt - no UL listing - just use google
                            [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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                            • Originally posted by russ View Post
                              You can buy a 225 watt panel for 68 cents US per watt - no UL listing - just use google
                              I enjoyed building the panels myself but quickly discovered that for me, taking everything into account, it was not worth the effort. Factory panel(s) were the better value. Having said that however, it was worthwhile to understand how they functioned.

                              Thanks for the heads up Russ.

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                              • While none of us here (or few) advocate building your own panels to generate any amount of power we all support people doing so as fun or educational projects. We have seen a few that came out quite well.

                                A couple of years back it was more attractive until panel prices dropped to their present levels.

                                The ability to get 1st grade cells, decent prices on sealant materials (in bulk) and having all the proper equipment give the manufacturers a real advantage.
                                [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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