Live A Greener Life

– Solar Power Project for $250 – make your own solar panels

Many people would like to know what it takes to use to energy of the sun to produce electricity. Well, here I will show how to build your own solar panels. Lots of people discover websites that offer this information, understandably, they assume that this is a from scratch-process. This presentation is actually somewhat deceiving and sounds like “building your own computer”. Manufacturing solar cells is an interesting but complex activity utilizing a form of silicon, and can be compared the process of making an Intel Processor. This is not something you will DIY in your garage or backyard. But I tell you that making a “solar panel” is more like “building a computer”. Pre-manufactured components like a processor are combined with a custom ready-to-install hard drive and so on.

If you would like to build your own solar panels, you could buy pre-fabricated solar cells via internet, purchase a ribbon to hook them in unison, include a safety diode, seal them behind glass and perhaps save 20 cents per watt. Although several people became very happy with this sort of results, I think putting your own panels together has hardly any advantage over factory sealed solar panels, so the term “DYI Solar” is targeted on the process of installation.

The most appropriate set is the Harbor Freight Model. This is a 45 watt system that comes with everything you will need to get going, and costs about $200, and is absolutely worth the expense to get started. This system is developed to charge 12 volt electric batteries and includes a charging regulator, two 12 volt small florescent bulbs, and a stand for your roof or yard. All the standard wiring is enclosed. This system is robust and generates enough electric power to charge electric batteries at an acceptable rate and is strong enough to directly power mid-sized DC motors for demonstrations.

Now the question is how do you secure the electric power to your home. Our houses run on Alternating Current or AC power, so you require an inverter that converts DC to AC. The whole process is pretty simple. You connect the solar panels to the controller and then the controller to a deep cycle marine battery. You now have 12 volt DC ready to go. After that, you take the inverter and connect it to your battery. For simple installations you can use an extension cord no more than 50 feet in length. This installation is usually suitable for purposes requiring 200-500 watts or less. You can find 12 volt inverters that can generate over 3000 watts, but these will drain one battery within one hour. The 45 watt model from Harbor Freight charges an empty mid-range deep cycle battery to near full capacity in some 12 hours. So if you want to have more power, you will need more solar panels, and for extended charge, you will require more batteries.

The installation of solar power straight into your home’s electrical circuit breaker demands sophisticated and professional electrical assistance and installation. Qualified electricians can use their expertise to carry out the project providing a solar-only single outlet by combining two Harbor Freight Models. Bear in mind that this type of installation will require an experienced electrician.
Even in case you are only using a simple extension cord for a small application, don’t forget that you are working with electricity, and the danger of getting electrical shocks or a fire risk definitely exists if done incorrectly. You should read all the instructions that are included in the system you acquire, and try to get professional assistance if you are uncertain. This product provides a low cost entry level solar power alternative that generates usable power without emptying your wallet.

J.S.