Introduction and How-To Guide
There has been a lot of information and attention lately about building your own solar panels. So we decided to investigate it and try to help our readers understand the different options available that one could implement. We mention in the February article Install Solar Hot Water and Save that the cost of purchasing a manufactured solar system be it water or electricity are quite expensive. Of course depending on the project we can be talking $5,000 to $10 or $20,000 of course directly related to quality, brand and how much wattage is needed. We illustrated in the previous article how with a little work, some basic carpentry skills and materials available both at the scrap yard or from Homedepot.com. Here we will attempt to show the some sort of introduction only with solar panels rather than a solar hot water heating system. Which of course work in harmony with one another. Solar panels are normally thought of by most as something you have to buy new and cannot make yourself. This is actually not really the case, in fact you can order the basic materials needed to build your own solar panels off the web for under a $100.00 for a about 80 solar cells. When your cells arrive get out the soldering gun and plenty of solder and your on your way. You will need a few other things.
- Soldering Gun
- Screw Gun
- Skill Saw
- Tape Measure
- Solar Cells
- Light-Gauge Wire - for wiring together your cells
- Plywood - for making a box to hold the cells or the "panel".
- Plexiglas - for protecting the cells from the elements.
- Aluminum Roof Flashing - for waterproofing around the plexglas and sides of your panel box.
- Romex wire - enough to wire your panels together and to your battery pack.
- Battery Pack - this is where you will store the power you generate.
- Inverter - this will change your stored power from DC to AC.
This is the most basic system if you would like to connect to the grid and sell power back to your power company at times when you have excess power that will require a change of electrical panel and a larger investment. Here we will stick to the basic plan creating solar panels that connect to a battery-bank.
There are also a number of very comprehensive step-by-step guides out there. So we took a look at them and really found two to be more than worth the price. If your going to do this investing in one of these would be a very good idea we highly recommend Earth4Energy, as they have a full unconditional money back guarantee and have been consistently rated the number one product. The package is actually amazing if you have any design/build experience. Both of the kits we recommend include full video instructions, transcripts of the videos, blueprints, and even a list of the cheapest and best sources to get the supplies you will need. The other very good and a bit less expensive option was The DIY Energy Guide. They also offer a full money back guarantee if your not satisfied, and they will even teach you how to build them for others as a home-business, which we thought was a great idea. For a detailed overview of how to build your own panels - continue on to the next page.