Quite a number of individuals have raised a plethora of questions that border around building their solar panels from solar cells, and also laying claims to some websites that build solar panels to power homes for around $200.They wanted to know my take on this.
I must confess, I admire the ingenuity of people that have the technical know-how to build their own equipment. There is usually a great deal of satisfaction attached when you can accomplish feat such as this. These groups of individuals should be encouraged so they do more in future. I will, however, advise you thread with caution if you intend to build your own solar panels.
It is no longer news that so many websites now claim that you can build your own solar panels and run your entire home from these panels for just $200 or even less. It doesn’t end there: you can sell power that comes as excess from your generation to the utility grid and make an income out of it.
A large chunk of these claims are either false or non-existence. These are what you get when you subscribe to these services:
- Instructions on how to setup your solar panels, which is not different from the ones available at instructables.com
- Tax credits information and rebates for the installation of PV in the United States, which are only applicable for home -built equipment. These websites will never disclosure such information.
- A detail list of individuals and companies which you can purchase solar cells from.
As you have read earlier, with $200, you can have your home run on solar panels as claimed by the so called websites. But in reality, what your $200 can fetch you is enough solar cells that will help you with your solar panels and can only generates 60-120 watts, which is definitely inadequate to run your home on solar power.
If the truth must be told, you can get a professionally built 60-100 watt solar panel with 25-year lifespan and five-year warranty for between $80-140 if you do your shopping properly. There are ample reasons why you should never rely on this information (as provided by the websites) to build your solar panels:
- A solar was designed with precision in mind and also to survive unfavorable weather conditions and high temperature variations— and even intent heat.
- Highly specialized components are incorporated in the professionally manufactured ones to very high standards in a clean atmosphere. For instance, the glass is designed to withstand intense temperatures, owing to the fact that it is a specially tempered product, with well optimized light penetration that has zero refraction.
- Solar panels available on eBay are factory seconds, which are rejected by the factory. Most of them are not in good shape—chipped or blemished and damaged. They are very thin and in a high fragile state– and also brittle like glass, which makes them prone to breakages.
- There is a high tendency to create a cold solder joint between one or more solar cells, except you are an expert at soldering techniques. And if this is not the case, the cold solder joints are likely to result into a fire because of the high temperature arc.
- It is not advisable to use plexiglass for the covering of your homemade solar panels. Light refractions may be experienced because of the tiny imperfections in plexiglass. Furthermore, intense heat build up on the element may also come into play. These light refractions can increase over the course of time when plexiglass distorts under high temperature.
- According to most instruction recommendations, building of the frame and backing out of wood is necessary. However, from the perspectives of those with vast experience in this field, it is usually a dangerous thing to do because of the heat buildup which could be very intense in a solar panel. The surface temperature of the panel can exceed 90°C (175°F) on a very sunny day. This temperature could be as high as 800°C (1472°F) in the presence of any additional localized heat buildup within the panel.
- There are several documented cases where homemade solar panels gutted with fire and extensive damage done to homes. These are results of poor quality soldering, or use of substandard or wrong materials.
- Most of these websites lay claims to powering of your homes with solar panels, but in actual fact, you are violating the National Electric Code in the United State and would therefore not be allowed to do so.
- These websites, also by inference put forward the idea that you can sell the excess power generated to utility companies. If you must know, installing non-approved power generation equipment to the utility grid is actually illegal in so any countries, with the United State and United Kingdom inclusive.
- Home built solar panels do not have tax credits and rebates available for the installation of solar PV on your home.
Failure of solar panels after a few months, days or weeks have been largely due to moisture penetration, high temperature arcing and panel failure experienced by those who make their own solar panels.
If you really want to catch fun building your small solar panel just to gain more experience and learn more about the technology, free instructions are available at sites such as instructables.com. There is so much to learn if you indulge yourself.
But you must know:
- That this is a learning curve for you, not a real attempt to generate electricity.
- Don’t build a solar panel using wood frame.
- Always treat your homemade solar panel like a fire hazard.
- Never mount fully completed homemade solar as a permanent fixture.
- Make sure your homemade solar panel is utilized under special supervision, with constant check for the presence of heat build-up of the frame or panel. Never forget that the front could become extremely hot on sunny days. Never touch the solar panel with your bare fingers.
- Avoid moisture penetration by visually checking your homemade solar panel when it is plugged. Stop as soon as you spot a moisture penetration.
- Make use of the most cost effective solar charge controller for your project. If you use a homemade panel, the warranty would be rendered invalid on the controller. But if an inexpensive or cost effective controller is damaged, it wouldn’t be much of a loss.
- Don’t charge batteries with your homemade solar panel. And if you must do, ensure you use with a solar charge controller.
- Do not run an inverter from your homemade solar panel directly.