Step 5: The BIG panel!!!!

After a few months of toying with solar, I decided to get serious. One of the top loads I wanted the system to run was a backup sump pump which ran off of 12v. This, of course, can easily draw over 100 watts at a time. The system wouldn't be able to keep up with the pump and would eventually stop altogether, flooding the basement. The solution to all my problems was to get a bigger panel. This one is made by UL Solar and is rated for 100 watts.

Mounting the panel proved to be difficult. Instead of on the ground where I could easily monitor and maintain the panels, I decided to install this one on the roof for better solar exposure. As you can see in the third pic, it is conveniently right on the edge of the roof,  reducing my wire run and potential losses. The 12 gauge wire is specifically made for low (10 - 30) voltage, so my 12 volt system fit right into that, even with the panel producing 23 volts open circuit.
<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>Hi there, i'm considering about building my own panel like you do by purchasing cells one by one. which one do you suggest, building from scratch or purchasing an commercial panel? is cost makes a difference?</p>
<p>I have made something similar, but with more solar power 245w and 140ah of batteries. The difference is I am powering the sump pump directly via inverter to the sump pump all the time 24/7. </p><p>You need to keep an eye on battery voltages as mine will drop down to 12.4v even on the rainy days. I would like to see battery voltages to be maintained at 12.7v or above. Our sump pump draws 560w every times it runs, which usually runs for a bout 7 seconds.</p><p>I must of spent over $500 for everything on mine, and will be adding at least another 200w of panels shortly</p>
Very well done. I too am going to move my toolbox solar generator to a wall mount system as it grows. I'm planning to go from a single 100 watt panel to four. I'd also like (2) 125ah batteries.
<p>great to see that </p>
<p>Nice set-up for a home made DIY solar energy kit. I know some people aren't big on building the parts themselves, there are some good tier 1 products you can get and use for a plug n' play solar power system. </p><p>http://www.solaris-shop.com/blog/building-a-quality-and-affordable-solar-power-system/</p>
<p>Battery on concrete? Actually its more to do with temperature <br>differences during charging and discharging I think . Concrete is cold <br>and stays that way holding the base of the battery cold too. The heat <br>though moves to the top by convection and during charging the top gets <br>hotter. Stress cracks and warps the plates. It protects your battery too if you sit it on a plastic tray on top of a sheet of some sort of insulation. You will need to hose off battery tops from time to time and a tray catches spent/spilt acid . Try leaving a gal nail or two on top and you well see what I mean.</p>
<p>And use copper impregnated anti sieze grease all over the terminals if you want them trouble free. If corroded then pour boiling water over the tops to clean up terminals and connectors then grease.</p>
<p>hi please tell me which cells i've to use and how?</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>I have a solar panel of 12watt. 16v DC. I am using it with PWM invertor of 55watt to charge the battery of 12v 7ah. But it cannot run a fan with AC motor. Please suggest what needs to be done.</p><p>Fan is of 45-50watt.</p>
<p>Impressive system! I'm curious how much is the total cost? This is nice for off the grid, but I'm thinking about buying a simple on-grid plug-in system. It seems to be the easiest way to offset your usage with solar. Lots of info here: <a href="http://www.pluginsolar.org/" rel="nofollow">http://www.pluginsolar.org/</a></p>
<p>this setup is impressive!</p>
I was wondering I am looking to build a solar charger to charge maybe my devices while also having a little bit of battery storage so far I have about 20-30 .518 volt at 4.01 amp solar cells what would I need to complete this project?
<p>If you are interested in learning exactly how to generate power and reduce your bill then this is the perfect resource for you! With the ever increasing costs of living, there is no better time than right now to stop throwing money out the window and start generating our own electricity. Check http://inplix.com</p>
<p>I think you'll find that it is better for a sump pump to be run less frequently, for a longer time... In other words, rather than 15 seconds per minute, 45 seconds for 3 minutes would be less damaging to the pump.... The constant starting/stopping is what's really bad for the motor..... I have one pump that usually runs (as is rated to run) continuously, because it recirculates a fish pond in the yard... But, if it's just for de-watering (drainage) in order for your pump to run longer, either the sump pit needs to be wider (but not necessarily deeper), or to have a separate long-interval float (and maybe a deeper sump).... In the last option, the pump goes into the water deeper, but the float actuates where you want it to (usually several inches or more below the floor), and the float keeps pump on until it reaches the either the top of the pump (kept submerged), or less as long as the pump stays on longer.... In any case, 15 seconds is a pretty short cycle-on time....</p>
<p>Very nicely done. I didn't know at first that this is much simpler to build a solar power system. thank you very much for posting. God bless</p>
<p>I lived off the grid for 26 years, using a similar setup (just a bit bigger). Now I am on the grid, and I use a small grid-tie inverter rather than voltage controllers, batteries, and inverters. It seems to be a great savings if you are on the grid. Of course, I still use my solar panels !</p>
I like this solar stuff allot. You keep updating your systems and for us novices it would be help if you placed a price tage on the new stuff you add. Doesn't have to be exact just what you paid would give us all a better idea of the cost. Thanks Grandpablabe
In your drawing on the last slide, you show two negative wires - or circuits - with a fuse in them. Why is the negative side fused and the positive side only has the one fuse at the battery positive? Shouldn't all these fuses be in the positive run?
I seem to be the only one to know this(no one else seems to comment on it). But a 3 stage charger is not good for a loaded system. If you are drawing power from the battery while its in absorbtion it will confuse the charge controller into thinking that the battery isnt charged. Absorbtion hold voltage constant and watchs the amperage until it falls low indicating full charge. If the system is loaded it senses that alot of current is still flowing and its not fully charged. This will lead to boiling and overcharging. In a loaded solar system it should always be a 2 stage charger with just bulk and float. This protects the battery. Although as you stated before a 2 stage charger would waste a little more power when its in float but it will prevent accidental overcharge. In an unloaded system such as for emergencies only a 3 stage system would work best but that is not the case here. By using a 3 stage charger you will have to fill it with water more often and drastically shorten the life of your battery.
I have just favorited you. your work is very interesting. Have ever played with gell cell sealed batteries? They have the advantage of being able to be taken down to zero and come back quickly. I have rolled dune buggies with these as back ups and with 30 watts of solar got the winch working well enough to right it and start.
This space is really about experimenting ,learning, and having conversations for new possibilties. there may be some waste in the learning curve but it keep others from making the same mistakes over again.
Yes let's please put this one to rest once and for all,in the 1910s to the 30s Battery bodies were made out of hardwood. especially Henry Ford's model Ts and tractors. His thinking, It's on rubber tires so who cares it's insulated anyway. Remember electric start was a bonus because these vehicles all had handcrank starters.
Thanks for the post. Home made solar panel is an amazing and important thing.....<br> I want to make one like that and for that searched over the internet<br> And then find a<em><strong> <a href="http://topdiysolarpanels.com/" rel="nofollow">Homemade Solar Panels Blog</a></strong></em> ...<br> Where an engineer gives tips how to make homemade solar panels..<br>
Everyone who is reading this, I just want to say from my own personal experience (which you can see in my instructable) that websites like the homemade solar panels blog mentioned in Paul Janes' post are PURE LIES!!! Being that I made a solar panel myself, I will tell you straight out that it's work. Working every evening in my free time, it took me 2 WEEKS to build a 15 watt panel. This is a minuscule amount of power compared to what an extremely energy efficient home uses. Now imagine building 3000 watts worth of panels? Sure, it is cheaper, but who really has that kind of time? <br> <br>There are many benefits to buying panels. The most important is being that they typically have a nice 20 to 25 year warranty that protects just about everything. Home made panels? They can't possibly survive that long because they aren't sealed in a vacuum in 99.9% dust free conditions with zero moisture. Not to say that you can't build a very nice solar panel that will last for a very long time, but for the amount of time and energy it takes to make them, it's just not economical. <br> <br>Companies like the one mentioned are scams. They get you to invest big bucks into their cells only for you to find out that youll never complete all the panels. <br> <br>So, to end this ramble, I would suggest to all of you that want to build solar panels (and I'd encourage anyone to build one in order to fully understand how these things work, or if they need a very small amount of power), but be aware that building them yourself is not the way to lower your electric bill. <br> <br>For some REAL information about building solar panels, take a look at http://mdpub.com/solar/index.html . This was the general template I used to build mine, and its still running after two years in the sun!
Good instructable! <br>I have that same volt meter! Got it for 12 dollars, my favorite tool too.
Where did you get that volt meter? What is the make/model? I really like it. Seems like a simple way to monitor things passively.
I got mine at my local Walmart, in the automotive section.
I got it from Northern tool I think. It was only about 10 bucks. It has a nice rubber casing over it (because we all know it's going to be dropped from time to time). I tried looking for it on their website, but I couldn't find it... I wonder if its discontinued...
Yea, I love that meter. Only thing is the amp meter part just broke. Checked the fuse and it was fine. But for the price, who cares?
Did you test over 10 amps? <br />The DC 10 amp part is not fused, only the miliamp part is fused.

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