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Are DIY Solar Panels Worth it?

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  • Are DIY Solar Panels Worth it?

    Building solar panels can be a fun and interesting project, however, it's important to understand what you are dealing with. The homemade built panels should mostly be used for smaller applications such as providing light for a shed, powering small electronics etc. If you are wanting to build high wattage/current solar panels in attempt to provide electricity into your home or a bigger project, this is not recommended. Here is why:

    First, homemade solar panels are said to not last as long and you will see the efficiency decrease in a shorter period of time. Manufactured solar panels usually come with a 25 year warranty and last considerably longer than homemade panels (25+ years).

    Homemade solar panels do not have the proper certifications to qualify for the state and federal tax rebates. Without these certifications, you wouldn't be compliant with the building/electrical code or insurance companies. It would take thousands of dollars and several months to get your panels listed by a NRTL(Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories).

    It could be a fire hazard. You should never put high powered, homemade panels consisting of wood and/or plastic over your home or flammable material. You would want to mount them on bare ground, a concrete surface, etc.

    An alternative for off grid or other solar projects is getting blemished solar panels. (www.sunelec.com) These type of panels have small blemishes that don't really affect the output of the panels. You can get these type of panels for $2.50/w up to $4/w including a 25 year warranty. These types of panels are not UL listed. The prices of commercial, UL listed solar panels are currently going for $4-5 per watt.

    Lastly, don't pay for those DIY Solar Panel Guides you see polluting the Internet, such as Earth4Energy.

    See Here: Earth4Energy Scam

    These guides are nothing more then a bunch of information gathered from the Internet that you can get for free anyway. Your better off just coming here to Solar Panel Talk and learn for free.

    This thread is intended to shed some reality on what your getting into, not to tell you it's not possible!

    Any other input is welcome and encouraged. Thanks for reading!

  • #2
    very nice and important post.

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    • #3
      I don't know why people sneer at DIY's. Why should only the big manufacturers be the only people able to make and sell solar panels to only the weathly that can afford them? If the average joe puts something with quality materials in it and it gets UL listed, what is the problem with that person selling to others at a much lower price? Would a UL listing be enough for a person to make a business out of it?

      Comment


      • #4
        An aluminum panel covered with Lexan (which can sustain temp of up to 400 degrees) are good materials... what is wrong with it?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by go_solar View Post
          I don't know why people sneer at DIY's. Why should only the big manufacturers be the only people able to make and sell solar panels to only the weathly that can afford them? If the average joe puts something with quality materials in it and it gets UL listed, what is the problem with that person selling to others at a much lower price? Would a UL listing be enough for a person to make a business out of it?
          How do you plan on vacuum sealing these panels? Also, Lexan is a plastic. Plastic leaks air over time.

          Have you made a homemade panel and tested your product over years? What happens if your panel malfunctions and burns somebodies house down? Would you offer 25 year warranties like commercial panels?

          Are you aware of the process to getting UL listed products that you make from home?

          Comment


          • #6
            I think DIY solar panels make for a great DIY project, and one day I'll build one or two for that, but as a serious power supply, nope. I wanted to build my own wind turbine, but after weeks of collecting information online, I decided to spend $350.00 and buy one, although one day I'd like to have a crack at building a turbine too. I think DIY has its place, but you just have to know where that place is.

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            • #7
              Yes, Real DIY Windmill and Solar Panels Do Exist

              Most of us here realize that commercially-available solar panels, or windmills, are the only viable option for 99.998% of the situations we encounter.

              Of course, there's room for people who might build their own equipment. Those people are darned rare.

              What's not rare are the proliferating scammers out there (masquerading as informative solar or wind money savers) who sell completely worthless "build your own solar panels" or "windmills" ebooks.

              Below is a freely-available alternative, if you're really the type who likes to get down and dirty with very elaborate science projects.

              You also have to have the tools, workshop, talent, drive and budget to follow through to the bitter end on these projects. And honestly, you won't be displacing that much real electricity for your household, unless you have several free months or years to throw away.

              Make Magazine is, really, the real thing. Nowhere near a scam, on the complete up-and-up, posting free and useful information for every last person with an internet connection. Nothing misleading whatsoever, no credit card needed: Authentic people using their real names, freely sharing their full biographies that you can easily investigate with a quick, simple Google search.

              Here's the link to their REAL WORLD windmill project for hardcore electrical hardware enthusiasts www.MakeMagazine/windmill. The full address is http://blog.makezine.com/archive/200...d_turbine.html

              You'll find links to other windmill and solar panel projects on their site as well. These highly-involved projects are a labor of love for people who are passionate about deconstructing the inner workings of complex technology.

              Definitely NOT for casual backyard frugalistas who want to save a few hundred/thousand dollars instead of buying a professionally-manufactured wind turbine; or weatherproof, warranted solar panels. If you don't already have the tools, you'll be spending a lot more than $1000.

              These people are hardcore Do-It-Yourselfers, who attend trade shows like Maker's Faire to share difficult insider information with each other. Have you seen "Mythbusters" on Discovery Channel? THOSE are the class of people who would want to build this
              Last edited by GoodDaySolar; 06-12-2009, 02:05 AM.
              -
              Ken Oatman
              [Please no urls in signatures.]

              Comment


              • #8
                great informative post Ken. thanks.

                i edited the url of the website. no need to give this guy a free link from our forum. hope you don't mind.

                also, i would like the email addy if you wouldn't mind pming it to me

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                • #9
                  Why bother. Do it yourself can be a disaster. To me; wiring each cell on a solar panel is not fun. Making solar cells is the more fun.

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                  • #10
                    If that is what he or she wants to do, then so be it. Please be careful, you are dealing with electricity.

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                    • #11
                      Be careful, you are dealing with electricity

                      Originally posted by Off Grid Solar View Post
                      Please be careful, you are dealing with electricity.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Has anyone tried the idea of storing the energy from
                        the solar panels into battery systems and selling it back
                        to the power company? Does this really work?
                        Last edited by Aussie Bob; 07-19-2009, 05:03 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by earth4ever View Post
                          Has anyone tried the idea of storing the energy from
                          the solar panels into battery systems and selling it back
                          to the power company? Does this really work?
                          It can be done but simple grid tie install will sell much more power back.
                          spreadsheet based voltage drop calculator:
                          http://www.solar-guppy.com/download/...calculator.zip
                          http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showth...oss-calculator

                          http://www.mike-burgess.org/PVinfo_2.html

                          solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
                          gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,
                          battery lugs http://tinyurl.com/LMR-BigLug
                          Setting up batteries http://tinyurl.com/LMR-NiFe

                          gear :
                          Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||

                          || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||

                          || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            selling power from batteries

                            If it worked and made money I expect the power companies would have been doing it long back.

                            On some green sites this is a big topic and always guaranteed to get lots of comments like - wonderful idea! Some people want to use car batteries to shift power from night to day rates. OK I guess if your batteries are free.
                            sigpic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              To shift power from night to day rates

                              Originally posted by russ View Post
                              On some green sites this is a big topic and always guaranteed to get lots of comments like - wonderful idea! Some people want to use car batteries to shift power from night to day rates. OK I guess if your batteries are free.

                              Comment

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