Are homemade solar panels possible, economical and useful?
With energy prices rising steadily over the past few decades and with no reason to believe they will fall anytime soon, many homeowners are exploring the option of powering their homes with renewable or “green” energy systems. The two most common green energy systems at home are wind turbines and solar panels. Of these two, solar panels have proven to be the most popular due to their solid-state nature – meaning they require less maintenance over the years with fewer moving parts.
Unfortunately, installing a solar power system in your home can be prohibitively expensive. Prefab solar panels cost at least $3000 to professionally install—and the price only goes up quickly from there. To reduce these huge costs, many homeowners are exploring the option of building and installing their own homemade solar panels. You can be one of them.
If so, you probably have many questions. Can the average person really build a do-it-yourself (DIY) solar power system in their garage or basement? Lepanneausolaire.fr If they could, would it really be a lot cheaper than having it professionally installed? And finally, would homemade solar panels provide enough power to be worth all the time and effort? This article attempts to answer these questions.
What are the advantages of a home solar power system?
- You can reduce or even eliminate your electricity bill.
- If you generate excess electricity, you can sell it to your local energy supplier.
- You can increase the real estate value of your house.
- You can get tax deductions for using green home power systems.
- You no longer have to worry about power outages.
- You protect the environment – solar energy produces no greenhouse gases.
What are the advantages of building homemade solar panels?
oh money. More than half of a contractor’s installation fee is time and labor. By providing these yourself, you can drastically reduce the cost of building and installing your own solar power system.
oh time. You can gradually build your homemade solar panels, add new panels and produce more electricity at your own pace.
o Education. By building your own solar power system for your home, you will learn how solar power technology works. You can carry out your own maintenance and repair work, further reducing your costs.
Where can I find the materials to build a DIY solar panel?
Almost all of the materials you’ll need to build a DIY solar panel (like copper wire, plywood, glass, silicone, etc.) can be found at either your local hardware store (like Home Depot) or an electronics store (like Funkraum). The same goes for the tools and equipment you need to build your homemade solar panels. Any tool that you don’t already have in your garage or basement (such as a voltmeter) can be purchased at your local hardware or electronics store.
The only exception to this rule is the photovoltaic solar panels, which you need to assemble into DIY solar panels. Unless you live in a very large city with a specialty solar hardware store, you will likely need to order these online or you can make them yourself.
Where should I place my homemade solar panels?
The two most common places to install DIY solar panels are either on the roof of your house or on the ground in your yard.
The rooftop has become the most popular location for two reasons. First, in order to convert sunlight into electricity, solar panels need a direct line of sight between them and the sun. Trees, other buildings, or other obstacles that provide shade or otherwise get in the way will block the sun from your homemade solar panels. The easiest way to solve this problem is to raise the solar panels higher than the obstacles. For this you should of course place the DIY solar panels on the roof.
Second, solar panels are large and take up a lot of space. Additionally, you probably need more than one to power your entire home. If you mount your homemade solar panels on the ground, you can quickly fill your entire garden. Mounting DIY solar panels on the roof instead has the benefit of being out of the way and taking the stress out of your yard.
However, ground-mounted solar systems have one major advantage: accessibility. It is much easier and safer to go to your garden than to the roof of your house to do maintenance and repair work on your homemade solar panels. If you live in a part of the country where there are few trees, such as mounted solar panels are the way to go.
In which direction should I point my homemade solar panels?
It is the best option to place your DIY solar panels perfectly flat and straight up. This way, no matter where the sun is in the sky or at what angle, the sunlight will still hit the solar panel somewhere. Unfortunately, however, many homes have angled rather than flat roofs, making the “point straight up” option impractical. If so, mount your DIY solar panels on the south side of your roof to collect the most sunlight. In the continental United States, the sun is mostly in the southern part of the sky.
How can I build homemade solar panels?
The answer to this question is well beyond the scope of this short article. However, what we can do is point you in the right direction. The easiest and most efficient way for you is to purchase a step-by-step guide on how to build DIY solar panels from one of the many websites that sell them. These usually cost $50 or less and are well worth the money.
However, not all DIY solar panel instruction manuals are created equal. Here are some things to look out for when looking for a good owner’s manual online:
- Clear step-by-step instructions (instead of just overviews)
- Plain, plain English (rather than confusing technical terms and slang)
- Multiple, clear illustrations (instead of just text)
- Demonstration videos (although not necessary, but very very helpful)
- Shopping tips (for solar panels, deep cycle batteries and other hard-to-find items)
- Good reviews (from previous customers)
- Price (more than $60 is too much)
If you can find a quality manual, you will start enjoying the benefits of DIY solar panels within 2 weeks because the manual should be able to teach you to build DIY solar panels in just a weekend.
What are solar panels?
The sun is the primary source of energy on earth and sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using solar panels. Life without electricity is unimaginable. It powers the machines that most of us use every day.
So what are solar panels? What if you could create your own?
In this article we will show you an easy way to build your own working solar panel.
A solar panel is typically made up of six (6) components, namely the PV (photovoltaic) cell or solar cell that generates the electricity, the glass that covers and protects the solar cells, the frame that provides rigidity, the backsheet, and the backsheet where the solar cells are located, the junction box in which the cables are enclosed and connected, and the potting compound that serves as an adhesive.
Since most people don’t have access to equipment to make solar panels, it’s important to note and understand these six components so anyone is able to plan for the materials needed to make a do-it-yourself one – or homemade solar panel are required.
The materials needed to make a solar panel must be available locally or online and shouldn’t exceed the cost of a brand new solar panel or it won’t take long to build.
1.) PV cell
The first thing to consider when building your own solar panel is the solar cell.
Photovoltaic (PV) cell or solar cell converts visible light into electricity. However, one (1) solar cell is not enough to generate a usable amount of electricity, similar to the microbot in Baymax (Hero 6) which only becomes useful as a group. This base unit produces a DC (direct current) voltage of 0.5 to 1 volt, and while this is adequate, the voltage is still too small for most applications. To generate a usable DC voltage, the solar cells are connected in series and then encapsulated in modules that form the solar panel. If a cell produces 0.5 volts and is placed in series with another cell, those two cells should then be able to produce 1 volt and can then be called a module. A typical module usually consists of 28 to 36 cells in series. A 28 cell module should be able to produce around 14 volts (28 x 0.5 = 14 VDC), which is enough to charge a 12V battery or power 12V devices.
Connecting two or more solar cells requires a basic understanding of series and parallel connection, similar to connecting batteries to build a battery storage system.
There are two most common solar cells that can be bought in the market; a monocrystalline cell and a polycrystalline cell. These two may be the same size, 156mm x 156mm, but the main difference would be efficiency. It is important to purchase extra cells to act as a backup in case you fail on some of the cells e.g. B. bad solder, broken cell, scratched etc.
Monocrystalline solar cells are usually black and octagonal. This type of solar cell is made from the highest quality and purest silicon, making them expensive. But they are the most efficient of all types of solar cells and are almost always the choice of solar companies when space is an important factor in getting the performance they want based on their solar system design.
Polycrystalline PV cells are characterized by their bluish color and rectangular shape. These cells are made using a much simpler process that reduces the purity of the silicon content and also reduces the efficiency of the end product.
In general, monocrystalline cells are more efficient than polycrystalline cells, but that doesn’t mean that monocrystalline cells produce and output more power than polycrystalline cells. The efficiency of solar cells has something to do with the size of the cells, and each solar panel or cell has an efficiency rating based on standard tests when they were manufactured. This rating is usually given as a percentage, and common values range from 15% to 20%.
The glass protects the PV cells while allowing optimal sunlight through. These are usually made of anti-reflective materials. Tempered glass is the material of choice even for unknown and new manufacturers these days, although there are still those who use flat glass for their solar panels. Tempered glass is made by chemical or thermal means and is many times stronger than flat glass, making it more expensive to manufacture, but today’s manufacturing price is reasonable and inexpensive. Flat glass produces sharp and long shards when broken, unlike tempered glass which is sure to shatter into small pieces on impact, which is why it is also called safety glass. It should be noted here that most amorphous solar panels use flat glass due to the way the panel is constructed.
Manufacturers use tempered glass in the mass production of their solar modules. In our DIY project, we recommend using plexiglass, also known as acrylic glass, which is safer than the regular plain glass you can find at your local hardware store. It’s a little more expensive than regular glass, but it’s weather resistant and doesn’t break easily. The Plexiglas can also be easily screwed or glued to the frame.
A frame is usually made of anodized aluminum, which provides structure and rigidity to the solar panel. These aluminum frames are also designed to be compatible with most solar mounting systems and grounding devices for easy and secure installation on a roof or on the ground.
The frame in a factory made solar panel is typically the piece of aluminum into which all four sides of the solar panel sheet are inserted. Think of it as a skeletal rectangular frame. Incidentally, the solar panel film consists of the other 4 components and is layered and laminated in the following order from top to bottom; the tempered glass, the top encapsulation, the solar cells, the bottom encapsulation, then the backsheet. In our DIY solar panel we are using a wooden frame and the end result would be something analogous to a picture frame where the picture consists of the solar cells glued onto a non-conductive plate, the glass for the top cover is plexiglass and etc. The wooden part is used as the frame and backsheet .
4.) back sheet
The back sheet is the plastic sheet layer on the back of the module. This is the only layer that protects the module from unsafe DC voltage. The main function of the backsheet is to insulate and protect the handler from impact and to provide the safest, most efficient and reliable electrical conductivity possible.
The back is made of plywood onto which the frame is screwed at the top and sides. It should be noted here that a perforated hardboard (pegboard) is used to place and align the PV cells and this pegboard will sit on top of the wooden backsheet and fit into the wooden frame.
5.) Junction box
The connecting wires and bypass diodes are housed and hidden in the junction box. The connection wires are essentially the positive and negative wires based on the series connections of the PV cells and can be connected to another solar panel, a charge controller, a battery system or an inverter depending on the system design. The bypass diode is a protective mechanism that prevents power from getting back to the solar panel when it is not producing power, such as at night.
There are junction boxes for factory made solar panels that are now available online, especially from China. If you don’t have time you can order online and wait for delivery, otherwise you can just buy a regular electrical junction box at your local hardware store. The purpose of the junction box is to protect the terminals (positive and negative terminals) from water, dust and other elements. This is also where the two wires (red for positive and black for negative) come from. The other end of these two wires can also be protected with a PV accessory called MC4, which can also be purchased online along with the PV junction box.
Encapsulation films prevent water and dirt from entering the solar panels and act as shock absorbers to protect the PV cells. They have that adhesiveness to the glass, the PV cells, and the backsheet, similar to an adhesive but stronger. Encapsulations are typically made of ethylene vinyl acetate or EVA and are applied using laminating machines and processes. Solar panel manufacturers use a vacuum and large oven to properly seal and cure the EVA film onto the solar panels. Most of us are unable to do this, but many have tried anyway and failed, while others have had varying degrees of success.
Encapsulation materials are thin plastic sheets that are typically laminated to the top and bottom portions of the solar cell sheet. The bottom encapsulation is the layer on the backsheet where the solar cells are actually placed and supported. In our project we will use a latex acrylic paint instead. This paint is not applied to the PV cells because, when tested, it does not result in even distribution or application of the liquid to the surface of the cells, which can affect performance. The paint is applied to the wooden frame, wooden back panel and pegboard. This latex acrylic paint should be able to protect the wooden parts from UV rays and better resist blistering and cracking over time. Although this paint is water soluble, it can dry quickly and become waterproof.