Making Homemade Solar Panels

Building homemade solar panels offers an alternative to buying solar panels for anyone interested in do-it-yourself solar power on a small budget. If you're at all handy with tools and enjoy taking on home building projects, a DIY energy project might interest you. But, it's not for everybody. There are potential problems.

In this article, we'll look at what you need to know BEFORE you begin.


Are DIY Panels Right for You?

Making Homemade Solar Panels

As utility costs continue to rise, renewable energy is becoming more important for the homeowner. When you build your own photovoltaic (PV) panels, you become less dependent on the grid and take a step to lowering your electrical bills.

A small residential PV panel can be built for less than the cost of a name-brand module. Several homemade panels and several hundred dollars later, you can have the beginnings of a small, fully operational solar power system generating enough Watts of electricity to power lights or even a small appliance or two for your home.

Commercial or Homemade Solar PanelsChoose Between Commercial or Homemade Solar Panels
Source: ©123rf/Elena Elisseeva

However, building a residential PV power system is not like building a small PV panel to charge your iPod or to light up a backyard garden shed. It's a much larger project and there are some important things you need to consider before you decide to start.

Calculate How Many PV Panels Are Needed

Do you know how many homemade PV panels you'll need to power your household? An average size home might require 30, 40, 50, or more to achieve complete electrical independence off grid.

Let's do simple math. Say your 1200 square foot home requires a minimum of 10 kilowatts (kW) of power to function. Therefore, you would need 50 200-Watt PV panels to produce 10 kW under ideal conditions (10 kW divided by 200 Watts equals 50).

Download my Free Solar Panel Calculator to get a good ballpark estimate of how many modules you'll be needing.

Of course, performance conditions are never ideal. Far from it. There are cloudy days and there are leaves and dust on the panel surfaces to contend with at times, so it pays to install extra PV panels to ensure receiving your hoped-for wattage. This will increase the total number of homemade photovoltaic panels you'll have to make.

While it is possible to build a PV system of that size using homemade solar panels, you must consider the materials, tools, electrical skills, and time that you would need to complete it.

Do you really have the time and resources and workspace to take on such a large project? Most people don't, so you need to be realistic.

Consider Buying Quality Solar Power Cells

High efficiency, tabbed solar power cells are the most important component that you need when making PV panels, and it pays to know where to buy solar cells that are of good quality.

Used, bargain priced cells cannot produce the most cost efficient power output. And don't even consider using broken solar cells, as they won't provide near the power you're wanting!

You'll also need other components such as copper wiring and solder, and then you'll need time to assemble it together. When it comes to photovoltaic cells, buy them and look for quality!

Consider Your Homeowner's Insurance

Be aware that your homemade solar panels will NOT be approved by any Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) in the U.S. or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) if you reside in Canada. Therefore, your panels won't comply to IEC, TUV, ISO, CE, or UL testing standards.

For determined people who don't care about traditional safety resources and who want to distance themselves from any form of governmental control, this won't present an issue.

However, for those who want their homeowner's insurance to cover any loss to their house and its contents from an electrical fire, or to cover wind damage to their PV panel array, you need to be aware that if you install homemade solar panels, your house may no longer qualify for insurance coverage.

Be safe instead of sorry! Double check with your insurance company before you begin building DIY PV panels.

Consider Product Warranty

Also, your homemade solar panels will NOT carry a manufacturer's warranty if something goes wrong, and the odds are something will. Major PV panel manufacturers offer at least a 5 year warranty on materials and workmanship, and up to a 25 year limited warranty on power output.

Your troubleshooting and repair costs will be significantly higher as you'll have to pay for the replacement of your DIY PV panels out of your own pocket.

Consider Buying Solar Panel Kits to Begin

Before building your own PV panels, I would suggest assembling a solar kit to see whether it's something you enjoy doing. Affordably priced kits are available that often include in-depth instruction manuals to help you get started.

A home solar power kit will cost you more than building PV panels from scratch, but a kit is something that almost anyone can do given the time and determination.

Even if the assembled kit supplies less power than you hoped and you're still needing to rely heavily on the grid, the electricity you generate will help to lower your electricity bills a little, so over time you'll save money and be doing your part to help the environment.

Start by shopping on the Internet for DIY solar panel kits from reputable companies such as GE Energy, Sanyo, and Sharp. Amazon.com is a good source for solar kits.

Once the kit arrives and you've examined all the components, take time to carefully read through your instruction manual and study how to assemble them. On YouTube.com, you can often find homemade videos of people demonstrating the step-by-step kit assembly process.

Afterwards, if you decide to build your own solar panels in quantity, then buy a popular how-to guide to solar power that explains the steps involved and seek out a qualified electrician who can offer helpful advice when needed.

Finally...

These are the things you must consider before building PV panels for a homemade solar power system. Otherwise, your installation might end up costing more than you ever imagined. And you want no surprises.

For most homeowners, choosing to use commercial PV panels proves the best option; however, if you're handy with tools and if you still want to do it yourself, the following pages will outline the steps involved in assembling homemade solar panels:

How to Build Solar Panels — A Detailed Look At What's Involved

See More Information about DIY Solar Panels




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