How to Start Building a Solar Panel
When it comes to easy-to-harness and freely available energy sources, they do not come any better than solar energy. However, it is one thing to walk into a department store and buy a complete ready-for-install solar panel off the shelf. It is entirely another to try constructing a solar panel yourself from scratch. Of the two alternatives, the latter may take longer but it is more fun, cheaper and equips you with useful practical knowledge just in case the solar panel requires repair. Here’s how to build a solar panel from scratch.
- Location – Identify the preferred location for the solar panels. The principal consideration is the maximum amount and duration of sunlight. Obstructions you may want to consider in this regard include trees, tall nearby buildings, billboards and hanging lines. Naturally, the roof will usually be the most ideal place for the panels. This is not always the case though – the obstruction/shade from some of the objects listed above could in certain cases render the roof a less efficient location than say the backyard.
- Get Organised – Develop a plan and prepare the tools – When it comes to building a solar panel from scratch, you will need an electric drill, acrylic cutter, caulking gun, soldering iron, fine pliers, screwdriver, carpenters square, eye protection and a pencil.
- Raw Materials – The raw materials will depend on the approach you take. You can either purchase the elements from a store or you could improvise using recycled items. If the former, your raw material will include solar cells, liquid silicone, plastic acrylic sheets, flux solder and pen, double terminal strip, bus wire, J-Box, nipple, chase and aluminium frame. For the latter, the type of materials used will vary from case to case depending on what is available.
- Assembly & Installation – Connect the cells in series (as opposed to parallel connection). Serial connections deliver a significantly higher power output all other factors constant. Join the cells with bus/tabbing wire. You will need to do some soldering to each cell. Smear the soldered joints with liquid silicon to curtail corrosion. To hold the cells in position, smear liquid silicon around the cells.
If you are keen on saving time, purchase pre-tabbed solar cells. Pre-tabbed means the cells have already been pre-soldered with the wire connections necessary to make the panel work. Without pre-tabbed cells, you would have to do the soldering yourself – one of the more time consuming activities in the entire process of how to build a solar panel from scratch.
The actual assembly can be completed in a matter of hours or days depending on the size and complexity of the solar panel. Planning, measuring and ordering can take anything from a couple of days to several weeks depending on the place you buy the raw materials from, material availability and where you live.
The Stirling Solar Power Plant
Most people have never heard of a Stirling Engine. Strange sometimes how the best ideas seem to be the least well known.
The Stirling Engine was originally invented by Robert Stirling in 1816 as a rival to the steam engine but has had only limited use since then.
Part of the reason for the lack of success was due to the nature of the materials used to build the engines in those days. Modern materials have brought the invention to the front line again. As the price of conventional fuels increases more attention has now been given to this surprisingly simple concept.
How a Solar Stirling System Works
The principle involves alternatively heating and cooling a gas in a turbine. High temperatures are needed to get the best efficiency.
This engine requires a temperature differential to convert to mechanical work, this can then be used to generate electric current. A heat source is therefore needed. The suns rays focused on the engine will do well. The higher the temperature the better, this provides a wider temperature differential.The Stirling engine is highly efficient and quiet compared to steam engines.
It is possible to generate up to 12 times the power of normal solar panels for the same surface area. Traditional panels have a large surface area. A parabolic reflector dish focuses the suns rays on the stirling engine which creates the high temperatures needed for efficiency.
You can Build one Yourself
A Stirling solar power system is cheap to build, is low maintenance, eco-friendly and works well in all weather conditions. It is quick and easy to build compared to conventional solar panel. No special tools are needed and you don’t need to spend a fortune getting one built.
Ideally what you will need are a good set of instructions and full technical support.
Several units can be connected together to provide lots more power, and provide more than enough for your complete energy requirements.
You can get connected to the grid and eventually become completely independent from the power companies. Get a check from your power company and not a bill.
Generate Your Own Electric Power
In this modern world where so much operates on electricity there has occurred a shortage of energy sources, resulting in a greater consumption of fossil fuels and non renewable energy.
There is an ever increasing demand for energy and we constantly hear daily warnings about the environment. There are enough signals to tell us that it is long overdue to do something.
How about generating your own electricity from natural sources and not using energy from power companies. This is often known as living off the grid.
Take a Closer Look at the Advantages of Getting off the Grid
Be independent of the big power companies and the utility grids.
Do you really want to depend on public utilities all the time? Living off the grid enables you to be independent and rely on your own energy supplies and not the ones supplied by power companies.
Being without hot water or heating is not funny when you have to wait for somebody else to fix power lines. It is not pleasant to sit indoors with no lights in winter.
Will the grid always be there? If a natural or man made natural disaster destroys the electricity supplies there may be no grid power for weeks or even months.
Save Money on Energy
what a great feeling when you do not have to pay for the power you use. You can enjoy using as much power as you want without worrying about the electricity meter. You can make use of the abundant power available from nature to light up your home, power all your gadgets and cook your food. Solar and wind power solutions could well be the answers to your power problems.
What a great feeling when those electricity bills stop coming in your letterbox. Home generated power systems can give you a return on investment very shortly, therefore making the energy to your home eventually free of any regular costs.
Helping the environment and the Planet
Make the future of your future generations secure by giving them a greener, healthier world. Making way for a healthier environment Cut down on the usage of non renewable sources of energy.
Is it really possible to Get off the Grid?
Maybe you have been thinking that is not very realistic to live off the grid. If you take a good look at many of the alternative power solutions and you may be surprised to learn that they are cost effective but when you get yourself organised and make the effort you may find that it was not as difficult as you thought it would be.
Take a look at some of the benefits:
- Save money, no more utility bills. The utility company may even pay you for your power
- Help the environment and future generations. Get closer to nature
- Be energy independent. Rely on yourself and not on a power company
- An interesting pastime – away from the television
It is entirely possible to generate most of your electricity requirements, and possible for you to generate so much that you can give some back to your electric company. The power companies could end up paying you for the electricity that you generate.
How You Connect the Components of a Domestic Solar Power System
There are various pieces of equipment needed but the main components of a Homemade Solar Power System are listed with a brief explanation of what they are for.
Homemade Solar Requirements
This converts the sun’s rays into DC electric current, which is stored in the batteries. You can build one yourself or buy one direct. They can also be connected together to form a larger more powerful system called an array.
Battery Charge controller
This regulates the amount of current that goes to the batteries so they get a consistent supply of current and that the batteries are not overcharged and thus damaged.
Batteries – Deep Cycle Storage Batteries
These are the types of batteries that are in Fork Lift trucks and other electric vehicles. They are heavy duty and much more robust than normal car batteries. You may be able to get second hand or reconditioned ones. You can also recondition old batteries that can be picked up for free.
This converts the DC electric current to AC for the domestic supply. An inverter is a piece of kit that converts DC to AC. They are standard pieces of kit that come in all shapes and sizes in addition, is readily available.
Detailed Instructions and Plans
You will need a guide with good instructions to show how to obtain the parts needed, building and installing all the components of a home solar power system.
You will need wiring instructions and plans to connect your supply to the home wiring system.
Connecting your system to your existing electrical panel, this should be done by a qualified electrician.
It is possible to generate your own electricity and power a percentage of your home at the beginning. When you are satisfied all is running smoothly and you feel more confident you can add more solar panels to completely power your home. It would also be advisable to get back up systems such as wind power or geothermal systems in case of a long period of dull days.
Getting on the Grid
Even better, you may have so much spare capacity you can sell your electricity back to your power company. This is known as being on the grid. The electric company will work out how much electricity they have provided to you, how much you have provided to them and work out the difference. They may end up paying you for your electricity. Many people have already done this. This would effectively be an additional income.
Being off the Grid
In remote areas where there is no utility company your solar power system will be a standalone system, known as off grid.
A Homemade Solar Power setup can save you money and even earn you money if you are on the grid. If you get several types of energy inputting energy into the power grid it could be an extra income, and no more energy bills.
To find out more on how to build a Homemade Solar Power System then go to the Earth4Energy main site for a short video presentation which explains in plain English how it all works
How an Evacuated Tube Solar Collector System Works
There are two ways to use solar energy to heat water in your hot water cylinder, evacuated tubes collectors and solar panels. The evacuated tube systems are not as well known as PV panels but are an interesting and simple design.
You can use the solar energy to heat the water in your hot water tank, but use the immersion heater to top up when not enough solar power is available.
What are Evacuated Solar Tubes
The tubes are made of special material to obtain the maximum absorbency of sunlight.
Some tubes are made with one layer of glass fused to the metal heat pipe and others have a double layer of glass fused together with a vacuum between like a vacuum flask. Glass to metal tubes allow more light through to the heat absorber and are less prone to problems.
The evacuated glass tube traps the suns energies. The round shape of the tubes enable energy to be collected for a longer part of the day morning and evening. The glass vacuum reduces the heat loss through conduction and convection, thereby achieving greater efficiency than flat plate collectors.
Evacuated tubes require a smaller surface area for the same amount of energy collected than flat solar panels, so the panel size on your roof can be reduced. This provides maximum hot water output for the minimum roof space.
Evacuated tubes maintain their efficiency over a wider ambient temperature range than flat plates. They work well in cold temperatures and low sunshine. When the sun is low in the sky in the morning and evening flat solar plates collect little solar energy.
The Solar Evacuated Tubes Concept Explained
The panels are bolted to the roof and push-fit connections should be used to make installation and maintenance easier.
A fluid is circulated through the tubes and through a coil in your hot water tank. A pump circulates the fluid to the panels and back to the cylinder coil in the hot water tank. The fluid is usually water or water with anti-freeze added.
An electronic control unit will monitor the temperature of the panel outside and the temperature of the water in the tank. If if is warmer outside it will pump. If the water in the hot water tank is warmer than outside the pump will stop pumping.
There are some variations on the design of the above method.
Don’t believe the myths that you need really sunny days to get solar energy. Your hot water tank will be continually topped up during the day even with low sunshine levels.
The costs – grants or rebates form government departments are available in many counties. This could make installing solar power much more cost effective than you might have initially thought.
How the Components of a Home Built Solar Power System are put together
The short video below explains the layout of a homemade solar power setup and how it fits together.
Learn more from the experts - Go to the Earth 4 Energy Website
The Amazing Benefits of a
Homemade Solar Power System
Stop paying for overpriced electricity and reduce your electric bill.Just trying to conserve energy by switching off lights and turning down your thermostat will only produce limited results. Homemade solar powered energy could possibly be the answer you have been looking for.
If you keep giving your cash to sources outside of your control then you will always be short of money. Paying out money for bills is so emotionally draining. Who wants to depend on public utilities all the time.
Energy prices in the whole world are rising and we need sustainable energy sources to obtain savings.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to use as much power as you want without worrying about the electric meter? You could make use of the abundant power offered by mother nature to light up your home and cook your food.
The Solar power and wind power solutions on this site could be the answer to your search for cheap power. No more worrying bout those bills coming through the letter-box.
A complete solar power system has different components. Most people implement a few of these components depending on their needs. Let’s look at the various solar power components. Read More…
Getting Off The Grid – Things You Need To Do Before You Start
Discussions on renewable energy are fairly commonplace nowadays. However, such conversions will usually go a notch higher whenever gas prices spiral out of control. It is during such times that ‘getting off the grid’ momentarily becomes all the rage. Geting off the power grid means a situation where the entire electricity needs of a home are met by means other than the power grid.
At one time, getting off the power grid was considered the preserve of green nerds and hermits. Not anymore. With the proliferation and advancement of solar power technology, dependency on the grid is no longer an inevitability we all have to live with for life. But letting go of the grid requires careful deliberation.
The following are some important tips: Read More…
Five Must Dos Before Getting Solar Power Installed in Your Home
Home made solar power can significantly reduce your power bill, shield you from the soaring cost of electricity, provide the environmental benefits of clean power and be a solution that is sustainable in the long term. However, do not make the mistake of jumping in without developing a well thought out plan. So what should you do?
1) Lower your current power consumption – Home made solar power is fantastic. But make no mistake – it is not free. By lowering your current energy consumption, the solar power you do produce will effectively offset a greater proportion of your overall usage. By using less power, your shift to solar power will be saving you more.