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Step 8: In Production

If I see that voltage wise the maximum output has been reached, I can say that the panels are working fine and do the give so far an average of 500Wh per week. Now the critics among us will say that this is nothing, but given that the panels have the potential to produce more as if I only change the facing/angle, the panels are smaller than a standard panel plus it are only 3 panels they do fine. Plus my aim was to overcome the standby appliances in the house so you can say that I succeeded. Apart from the durability (this test is currently on going), I can say that a home made panel is working just as good as a panel bought in a shop.
<p>Good information. I am motivated to build my own system now. Thanks!</p>
<p>I used to have big problem finding effective ways to build my solar panels and maximizing my solar power.But I am getting better result now, after I stumbled upon this excellent guide I found <a href="http://the-natural-treatment.com/Solarpanel.php" rel="nofollow">HERE</a>. It was a godsend. It gave me great Solar Panel tips and showed me what I was doing wrong before.</p>
<p>For those new to solar:</p><p>-Your battery bank is the very heart of an off-grid system. All the panels do are recharge the batteries.</p><p>-You need a charge controller between your battery bank and the panels. If you buy a PWM controller, you MUST match the panel voltage to your battery bank voltage. If you want to pay more you can get an MPPT controller and mix/match voltages.</p><p>-You need TRUE deep cycle batteries, NOT Marine batteries, which are a compromise and a waste of money as they will not last. Golf Cart batteries have long been the best bang for the buck.</p><p>-For an Inverter, don't waste your money on MSW (modified sine wave) as you will encounter all kinds of problems down the line. Some TV's will have shorter lifespans, motors run hotter, digital clocks and timers won't work right, fans will make funny noises and run hotter, things like that. Bite the bullet and get a good pure sign wave inverter. </p><p>-Don't try to use AC switches and circuit breakers with DC current. Arcing is a real problem with DC and you need switches and breakers designed for DC. Not kidding! (As AC cycles it reaches a 0 voltage point. With DC, it stays 'ON' and will arc when trying to switch it off. With high enough DC power, it may never turn off and just keep arcing until something burns/melts.)</p>
<p>I encourage everyone to get 1-3 panels, a great charge controller and two golf cart batteries. Enjoy running any one item you choose off the sun.</p>
<p>Although I'm all for self build, this doesn't seem to be economically viable. Your self assembled panels cost 211 euros (&pound;160) for an 87W array, but fully finished encapsulated 100W panels cost from about 105 euros (&pound;80) and you can get 2x100W panels for the same price as this diy version panel or a 100W panel with controller box for the same price. (all quickly sourced from Amazon).</p>
<p>Just noting, when this instructable was published 7 years ago, the cost of commercial solar panels per Watt was MUCH higher than it is today. So yes, the economics have changed substantially and cost information is out of date. It might still be a worthwhile exercise for those who enjoy making something themselves, or want a custom size/shape, or have a supply of materials on hand.</p>
<p>Apologies and thanks for your considered reply. I didn't realise how old this instructable actually was. I'll leave my reply, firstly to show I was an idiot and secondly because it does point out how quickly the market is changing. Your instructable popped up now when I wrote the comment under some other feature page, so tit must still be relevant! I can see how cheap this would have been 7 years ago! It also shows how cheap solar will eventually become once the production in China ramps up to world wide market penetration and newer and better technologies become available.</p>
<p>Running solar panels without any sunlight is easy with the help of radium chloride. Paint both sides of a sheet of paper with radium chloride, sandwich both sides with a pair of solar panels facing inwards, and hook them up to your electrical system.</p>
<p>Don't forget to factor in the lead sheeting to stop you getting radiation poisoning.</p>
<p>But if somebody else's disapproval is not an &quot;issue&quot;, then why not create a battery pack for an electric car out of alternating layers of solar panels and these replaceable painted sheets? Then this starts to sound like one of the varieties of Tesla legends involving an electric car whose non-rechargeable battery pack only required changing out its (radium?) plates once every few hundred miles (300-500 depending on whose version of this story is retold). And the process of exchanging the old plates for the newer replacements was so easy that a child could do it in a matter of minutes! Golly, gosh!</p>
<p>And a whole year's supply of these plates could fit into the trunk of the car! Wow!</p>
<p>One note about the glass one uses, you have to make sure that it is just plain clear glass, most window glass is low E made to block allot of the ultra violet rays, etc., the panels need to produce power. A NON yellowing acrylic sheet would also be better, because it is not low E, and it will take things like Hail better without shattering.</p><p>But as far as your build goes, great job at saving money twice!!</p>
<p>You may have made a vital mistake in your construction . You have sandwiched the cells between two sheets of glass but you made no reference to creating a vacuum. The air left behind between the glass will heat up during the day and turn into moisture when the panel cools down this will damage the panel in the end. The encapsulating with using EVA film costs less and you can suck all the air out with a hoover. </p>
Have you thought of using some bypass diodes? They are pretty cheap and will increase power production when the panel is partially shaded.
I do agree that solar energy is a great alternative energy source that not only will create a dent in your electric bill, but also it is environmentally friendly. Being someone that knows every little on this subject, I was extremely intrigued on how it would be possible on building a home made solar panel. I feel like a lot of the details were left out of the building process. I do believe that building your own solar panels could potentially be extremely risky if you don't know exactly what you are doing. I recently ran into this website in where you can purchase solar panels around the same price that you spent in purchasing the materials to build your home made solar panels. I do believe that purchasing a solar panel could be a better route to take if you don't have any experience in building mechanics. Here is the website if you are interested in checking it out. Siliconsolar.com
Solar is almost always a good idea. Within certain logical constraints. The investment here for a trial and error configuration is considerable. From what I am seeing the possibility for a total loss is high. You need much more detail on this panels wiring configuration, mounting, etc. This is reads like an overview of your entire project. You seem to have put a lot of time into this but 90% focus on the panel itself would have been nice brother. <br> <br>One day you might want to get back into a panel for a repair. If it we're my panel I'd want to be able to get back into it. Might I suggest 1&quot; foam weather stripping between the glass instead of silicone. It's waterproof, flexible, easily sandwiched, and possibly reusable. <br> <br>For safety's sake if you are mounting a DIY solar panel look at the hardware used on a real installers work. These panels can literally fly away in a very strong wind if not securely mounted. Imagine your cash spinning through the air heading towards who knows what. <br> <br>I had ten panels installed about 6 years ago. I am on the grid. And yes, Edison pays &quot;Me&quot; for the juice as my meter runs backwards often. I get one bill a year and it is about half of what my neighbor pays in just one month. The installation has paid for itself. Now I'm changing out CFLs for LEDs and checking out making a small inconspicuous wind addition to the panels. But yeah without batteries... <br> <br>
You don't need a payback period for solar panels. That is a myth.<br /> <br /> What is the payback period of a $20,000 automobile?<br /> What is the payback period of your hot water heater?<br /> What is the payback period of your home furnace?<br /> <br /> When he has a power outage, he can hook the panels to some batteries and run a laptop. He can charge power tool batteries and flashlight batteries.<br /> <br /> You can run a single super efficient fridge off these three panels easily. FOREVER (or until the fridge breaks) This will work even a cloudy climate. <br /> What price can you put on that?<br /> <br /> Why not invest in solar panels. They last 20+ years...and counting.<br /> <br /> What is a $20,000 car going to look like in 20 years?<br /> Like a trash heap. You will barely be able to get scrap value for that car.<br /> Oh yeah, what about all the repair parts you bought all those years.<br /> <br /> I encourage everyone to get 1-3 panels, a great charge controller and two golf cart batteries. Enjoy running any one item you choose off the sun.<br /> <br /> It's called progress!<br /> <br /> <br />
Forget the payback, the simple fact that if the grid goes down he will still have usable power makes it worth it. If chit hits the fan try cooking some food with your cd. Keep trucking, i hope to start making my first panel soon.
I think that might be a bit of whimsy asking about the payback on a car. There is, in fact a pay back on a car. You balance the cost of the car, insurance and gas against the cost of taxis or buses or trains, the cost of shoe soles, wear and tear on knee and ankle and hip joints, lost work do to being late and sweaty all the time and just plain convenience (it has a value, too). The payback on a water heater is balanced against burning cords of wood under big metal tubs to have clean drinking and bathing water and the medical cost to you and your family for not having such a system and the cost to the environment of burning all that wood (or coal) to heat the water. (Yes I know that the electric company burns coal to make electricity and the plumes of smoke are horrible, but the efficiency factor for one large centralized place burning it as economically as possible to make a profit as compared to everybody in every neighborhood of every city in every state burning a bucket or twelve of coal a day is an enormous difference and part of the payback computation. So, solar panels cost X and not using solar panels cost Y. X and Y are not equal and how much of a difference between X and Y is acceptable is a calculation that everybody makes. There is an economic argument to every green project. There is also the argument about how does this change my life and am I willing to do that. Lastly, there is the SPECS argument (South Park Electric Car Smugness) in which some people will choose to do a thing just so that they can enjoy the smell of their own farts. Bottom line is that there are lots of alternatives. Solar is one and it comes with a cost (including the environmental cost of producing solar cells). There are lower tech ways to spend less and save more and they don't require changing lifestyles (which we are never going to do anyway). Cost is a factor,... ALWAYS. Payback is balanced between cost and benefit and it is an empty argument to say it doesn't exist as a factor.
What an awesome comment ! I never thought of it that way before, :) You Sir or madam, are a genius. I still can't afford the panels yet, but I definitely will remember what you said, when I'm ready to plunk down the lettuce, Thanks, Joe
Definitely per day, as he was saying about 65w per panel times 3 panels is 195w, times X hours of sun per day on average. Where I live it's 14 cents per KWh, so he saves 7 cents a day (optimally set up maybe 10 cents), and $25.55 a year, so about a 25 year payback on the $600+ cost to set up, not including the interest which could be earned if you invested that $600 up front. Add the fact that cell performance degrades over time (warranties on commercial ones allow for performance loss over time) and it'll more likely be 30-35 years, or never if you allow 2-3% interest earned on say a $600 CD investment. <br> <br>I'd love to use such a system if it were viable, but that's only true if you start off the grid and would have to pay up front to get tied to the grid, matching the cost of a PV install. If you're already on the grid, conserving power and being more efficient is the best money saving option. <br> <br>Attach those phantom load appliances to power strips that you can switch off, or to outlets which are controlled by a wall switch, to eliminate that load.
Ok so i know Solar panels are not very cost effective but can you use them in conjunction with a hydrogen dry cell. The combo of a wind turbine with solar panels (one with mirrors on side) to make enough hydrogen to power a small generator is feasible isn't it?
Your panels are clean and professional looking.&nbsp; Nicely done.<br /> <br /> Since you mentioned reaching a break-even point, where you would have saved enough to pay for the panels, I couldn't help but do the math to see how long this would take to reach.<br /> <br /> Given your measurement of about 500 Wh per week and given an average cost of 11.63 cents per kWh for grid power in the US (2009) (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_b.html) you are saving 5.815 cents per week.<br /> <br /> For 3 panels I came up with a total cost of $653.08 using your bill of materials.<br /> It will take 11,230.95 weeks to save $653.08 This translates to about 215 years.<br /> If the price of electricity goes up then these numbers would become more favorable.&nbsp; Also perhaps you could improve these numbers by repossitioning your cells as you mentioned.<br /> <br /> I understand that there is more to a project like this than saving money and I am not telling you that the project is a bad idea.&nbsp; In fact I have thought it would be cool to do something like this as well.&nbsp; I just want to make sure that the reality of a break-even point is understood before people jump into this expecting to save money.<br /> <br /> Hopefully in a couple of years there will be cheaper high efficiency cells.<br /> <br /> Happy building.<br />
Sorry, I just have to add this in here as a useless piece of info.... In Manitoba, Canada, our hydro (Electricity) costs 6.3 cents per kW\h. I do however believe this is largely due to the fact we produce a LARGE chunk of Canada's electricity, and we even sell a portion to the US, guess your government has to make their money off it too in the process....<br><br>Either way, I think that price is outrageous, but I live up here were a lot of things tend to be less expensive, however not necessarily &quot;cheap&quot;.
lucky person you are<br>I am living in Belgium, next to the German border, and we pay about 21Euro-Cent(about 28 Cent) per kWh. Also fuel prices are much higher here. One gallon gas is about 7,80 US Dollar. Mind that if you say they aren't cheap;-)
Yeah, our gas is 1.18 per liter, so times that by 3.85 I think for a US gallon... it's not the almost 8 dollars you spend, but for us Canadians, it's still a jump at the pump.<br><br>I'm sure if we had to generate our power like a majority of the USA does, our fuel charge would be as astronomical as yours...lol, exaggerating a bit, but you get it. <br><br>Is the german government doing anything with wind energy yet? With prices that high, I don't see why it isn't actually economical to invest in that technology for their people, for you.
well, as far as I know thez are building some giant 5++MW windmills in the East Sea, because there is a constant high stream of wind. The problem right know is just, that the main mower consumers are living in the west and south, so there are 2500 new km of electrical power lines required. They are not a beauty and many people complain that they are going to spoil their view. One thing I personally like is the power company grean peace energy, which are going to produce methane out of windpower(h2o to H2 and H2+ Co2=CH4) which is transported through pipelines and can easily be stored in former caves in the ground. If electricity is needed, it can be used in a gas power plant.
dont forget to ad the $.10 - $.20 per Kwh fuel surcharge that gets added to every bill. Also I think his math is wrong. (sorry HBSS)<br><br>My homemade panel is 65w @ 6hours a day = 390 watt hours a day (not a week)<br><br>390 x 20 (days of good sun a month) = 7,000 = 7.8Kwh @ .12 = $0.94 a month<br><br>I got 20 of them. Usually average $20-30 off my bill each month because of fuel surcharges. I have about $1600 in my system including grid tie inverters and wire.<br><br>
Where solar panels really become cost effective is when your house isn't already tied into the power grid, and you are faced with either building up a solar panel system with deep cycle batteries, or paying the utility to trench their cables to your home. I've seen estimates of $10-15 per foot to bring their lines in, so if your home is back a bit you could spend thousands to get a grid connection, then pay monthly. This is where solar comes in and makes you some major savings. After tax incentives it tends to take little time to break even, and you also aren't relying on the grid for your power.<br /> <br /> Little projects like this are fun too, especially if the utility has net metering and pays you back for excess power.<br />
I think it was supposed to by 500 Wh per day. &nbsp;The chart shows about 3.5 kWh per week (500x 7days).&nbsp; Roughly, that would make the break even point 31 years. &nbsp;A FAR more reasonable conclusion.&nbsp; Not cost effective, by any means, but still interesting.<br />
Good information. I am motivated to build my own system now. Thanks!
What about battery storage?
I think 500Wh per week is a mistake, maybe 500Wh per day (500Whx7=3500Wh).<br>Very good and useful instructable anyway. Thanks
My worry is what happens to the solar panels when those nasty hailstorms we get come by? How do you protect them from being shattered? That's the one thing I seldom see mentioned but worry about the most.
Plexiglass won't shatter. That's what I use.
How have these been with moisture?
Hi, I love the idea of solar panels and I'm always keen to see when they're going to be a viable option for me, but can I just ask you what appliances you have that you can't switch off?? I have the usual electrical appliances in my house, and once I go to bed they are ALL switched off overnight, or even when there's no-one in the house. A few years back I used to leave everything on standby, computers, TV, etc. The microwave was only powering the bloody clock after all! With the exception of a mains powered alarm clock, and fridge (although we even tried having the fridge off for a few weeks, altering our diet accordingly!) I honestly can't see what you need to leave switched on. Obviously if you have any medical needs which require electricity that's another matter, but perhaps you could re-think whether these appliances are actually doing you any service whilst in 'standby' mode, and what would you lose if you switched them off (Do you really need a clock on your microwave??). Food for thought....
I would think at the very least you'd leave on the fridge and the environmental system. We also have an air quality monitoring system (smoke, CO2, etc that is wired into the house rather than battery power,) I also use my computer at all hours of the night and my main working computer has been on nearly continuously for the past 8.5 years. (I don't even turn it off when I vacuum the dust out). We also charge all of our rechargable items overnight at off peak times, so,.. cells phones (5 in this house), ipods (2 more) and a small bank of AAs and AAAs for use in toothbrushes, TV remotes and whatever else. So really, there's a lot of stuff left on in our house even after consciously choosing to turn most stuff off.
I like the idea of sandwiching the cells between the glass! Hadn't thought of that.
&nbsp;there is no store like that in my area can they be home made&nbsp;
So, let me get this right, you're using a DC&nbsp;to AC&nbsp;converter that you directly plug into the wall?&nbsp;Are you sure this is giving power back to your grid since usually you need a gridtied- inverter?<br />

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