Solar Heating: Single Versus Double Glazing And Other Surprises
We wondered just how much better our collector would work with two layers of plastic on its front instead of only one. So we operated the solar heating system with its collector enclosed by a single sheet of film for about a week before we applied the second. Surprisingly enough, the double glazing of plastic raised the temperature inside the collector by only about ten degrees . . . which wasnt nearly as much as we had anticipated. There was, however, relatively little wind during the test of the single layer , and this undoubtedly made some difference. The single sheet would almost certainly lose far more heat on windy days than the double layer of film.
We were also surprised to learn that temperatures inside our collector did not directly reflect the differences in outside air temperature. In the middle of the winter, with the blower turned off, it didnt seem to matter much whether it was five or 40 degrees above zero outside. The temperature inside the double glazed collector usually hit 140 degrees by about 10:00 a.m., rose to 150 or 160 somewhere between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and then fell back to 140 by 4:00 p.m. With the blower running, these figures all dropped about 30 degrees right across the board.
A vertically mounted collector, then, works just the way wed all like a solar energy trap to work. It catches a lot of the suns rays in the winter , and absorbs increasingly less of those rays as Ole Sol rises higher in the sky and the weather warms .
Design And Determine The Size Of Your System Based On Your Energy Needs
To determine how many solar panels you will need, you need to know how much energy you plan to use on average per month, and how much sun exposure you can expect throughout the year. Once you know that, you can pick out which brand and model of solar panel will make sense for you.
If you are building panels for a small project or appliance, you will need fewer panels. Simply determine the kWh the appliance will require, then figure out how many panels to build from there.
Assess Your Solar Potential
Before deciding on the best way to use solar electricity at home, assess the potential solar energy that can be produced at your address. Because PV technologies use both direct and scattered sunlight to create electricity, the solar resource across the United States is ample for home solar electric systems.
However, the amount of power generated by a solar energy system at a particular site depends on how much of the sun’s energy reaches it, and the size of the system itself.
Several mapping services and tools are available to help you determine your homes solar energy potential. Some of the services also offer information on the estimated system size, potential costs and savings, and local contractors.
These tools are an excellent starting point and can help you determine whether your home is suitable for solar, and if not, the best path forward for still benefiting from solar. While these tools are helpful, they don’t account for all of the variables that need to be considered for your particular system. For that, you will need to work directly with a solar installer who can provide an accurate assessment of your solar potential as well as detailed recommendations, estimates, and equipment expertise.
Consider the following:
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Build A Solar Power Generator For Under $300
To most of us, solar power still seems like a thing of the future. Yeah, we know some people live off the grid with them, and some folks can afford to line their roofs and heat their pools with them. Not most of us.
But it turns out that you can generate real, usable solar power in your very own home , and it’ll cost you less than $300. What’s the catch? Oh, nothing. You just have to build the generator yourself.
And however am I supposed to do that, you might ask? Well, by following this handy 8 step guide from rain.org, of course.
Get ready for solar power.
Connecting The Bus Wires
Once you have tabbed all of you cells, you need to connect them together. The front of each cell is negative and the back of the cell positive. These need to be connected like batteries in series to form a string of cells back to front. Solder the tabbing wires from the back of one cell to the front of the adjacent cell until you have completed each line. You then use the bus wire to connect the lines. The end layout should look like the attached diagram.
Remember when connecting the lines that they too need to be connected positive to negative so the adjacent lines should run in opposite directions.
When you are done connecting your lines together, you should have one positive bus and one negative bus which will be your solar panel outputs. These can be terminated in a special solar panel box or soldered directly onto wires for smaller panels.
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Build An Inexpensive Solar Heating System
See the solar heating system diagrams in the Image Gallery.
For a super-simple and super-inexpensive solar heating system that really works, say Don R. and George Waterman of Springfield, Missouri, you only have to follow four rules. One, glaze with low-cost plastic film instead of glass or plexiglass . . . two, use a structures existing south-facing wall for the back of your collector . . . three, forget about trying to store the heat you collect . . . and, four, scrounge!
If you really want to put solar energy to work for you right now on a minimum-cash-investment basis, you can. I know, because last winter my father, George Waterman, and I supplied a 30 by 40 insulated workshop with almost all of the heat needed to keep the buildings interior comfortable throughout near-zero days . . . and we did it with a solar heating setup that cost us a total, out-of-pocket, of only $30.
We accomplished this feat with a four-fold secret of low-cost construction: We glazed our 8 foot by 30 foot solar collector with inexpensive plastic film instead of glass or plexiglass, we used our workshops existing south-facing wall for the back of the collector, we did not build any heat storage into our design, and we scrounged a great deal of the material that went into the solar heating system.
Invest In An Inverter
If you want to run AC appliances, you will have to invest in an inverter. This will convert the stored DC power in the battery into AC power for most of your household appliances. I bought a 115 volt 140 watt inverter made by Power-to-Go at Pep Boys for $50. Count up the number of watts you’ll be using with a VCR, you’ll need 82 watts). A variety of cheap inverters from 100 watts to 3000 watts can be had from Lane’s Professional Car Products. Type “inverters” into his search bar.
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Why Would You Build Your Own Solar Panel System
Forewarning: were not a solar panel installer, and we cant speak to exact amounts of how much installations cost and how much the market price of solar panels is at the time of this article. However, as a solar energy company, we can speak to the feasibility of installing solar systems and whether we think you should dive into building your own.
Having a professional install something costs money. If youre considering DIYing your solar panels, this clearly isnt your first rodeo. However, home solar panels arent your typical set of IKEA furniture where you can essentially furnish and build an entire house.
Solar panels are intricate and require a certain amount of trade knowledge to install them correctly. Therefore, to save money, you must spend time researching and carefully following the directions on your solar installation kit. What you save in cash might not be worth the time it takes to accrue the knowledge you need to do the job right.
That said, if youre installing a panel system on, lets say, your RV, boat or tiny house, then the process is much less complex than in a multi-panel system that must be wired into the electricity grid. Therefore, it might be worth looking into.
Build Your Own Inexpensive Solar Panel
Commercially built solar panels are still quite expensive however they dont need to be. Solar cells are available from a range of suppliers all over the world and can be easily assembled into your own custom built solar panel. You may have even found some broken or cracked cells for sale somewhere, these will still work and enable you to make a panel for next to nothing.
In this instructable, we will make a small 36W panel although the methodology to create a larger 200W or 300W panel is the same. Read on for the selection of solar cell voltage and power output for different size panels.
What You Will Need For One Panel
- 9 Solar Cells Buy Here
- 2 Sheets of 3mm Safety/Shatterproof Glass 0.5m x 0.6m Buy Here
- Soldering Iron Buy Here
The glass can be substituted for a fibre board, plywood or thick card backing to save costs further although the panel will be the most weather proof with a glass backing as well.
If you enjoyed this Instructable, please vote for it in the competitions. Thank you.
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Connecting Batteries In Parallel Vs In Series
Now that you know the voltage of your installation and the battery capacity you need, its almost time to start looking at batteries! In your battery system, there are two ways to connect multiple batteries together in parallel or in series:
- In Parallel: Connecting batteries in parallel simply means that each batterys positive terminal is connected to the next batterys positive terminal . Batteries that are connected in parallel add up all their amp-hours together, allowing you to increase the total capacity of your battery bank.
- In Series: Connecting batteries in series means connecting the positive terminal of the first battery to the negative terminal of the next, and so on. When connecting in series, amp-hours dont increase, but voltage adds up amongst all the batteries. Its also possible to create a system where batteries are connected both in parallel and in series to both increase voltage and amp-hours!
We need 768 amp-hours for our 12 volt solar installation. If we connect in parallel, we could have two 12-volt 400 amp-hour batteries, giving us 800 amp-hours but keeping our 12 volt system. If we connect in series, we could have 2 6-volt 800 amp-hour, giving us a 12 volt battery system with 800 amp-hour capacity. Whether to connect in series or in parallel is a matter of what batteries are available and the structure of your solar and storage installation.
Where To Find Cheap Solar Cells
Firstly, for any solar arrangement, solar cells in one form or another are required. Solar cells can be purchased from stores, such as ebay, for less than $1 per Watt. Second hand or damaged cells can be found at reduced prices from second-hand stores or electronic recycling dumps. Some of the cells may be damaged but some might be salvageable.
If you want to go even cheaper, you can even built a solar thermal system with an array of soda cans instead of solar cells.
The cells will require a large board on which to be mounted. This can be pegboard or a piece of wood. It’s best to cover the cells with a sheet of glass or Plexiglas in order to shield them from the elements and to extend their lifespan.
After deciding on how to arrange the cells, the next step is to solder the cells in series. This is done by connecting the positive wire of the first cell to the negative wire of the next and so on. While doing that continually measure the voltage over the first and last cell. With enough cells in direct sunlight, the voltmeter should read either 12 V or 24 V. Do not exceed this voltage as this is required for most inverters.
Once the cells are connected, they can be mounted on to the board and covered with the protective glass.
That is all it takes to build your own solar panel. Once you have the basic requirement for the system, you can charge batteries up to 12 V or 24 V and run some LEDs or any DC appliance that fits your voltage source.
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Diy Solar: How To Build Your Own Solar Panel System
Reader Contribution By Vikram Aggarwal and Energysage
When you install solar panels, your home produces its own clean, zero-emissions electricity. If youre DIY-minded, you can build your own solar power system. In some cases, you can even build your own solar panels, although the amount that you can effectively DIY home solar depends on how much you want to power.
Are You Skilled Enough
You may already have expert directions with you and even controller automation that incorporates instructions given for the equipment.
They may give you the confidence to install the PV panel system on your own, but they do not guarantee the life and efficiency of the solar module you have built. It is possible that within a few months, youll end up with a panel that no longer works because of extreme temperature changes, moisture inside the panels, or flaws in its design or installation.
It is not enough that you have the needed instructions for building the panels you also require the skills required for solar cell installation. These panels are sturdy, allowing them to survive several years even under harsh weather conditions.
So if you want to build your own without professional help or at least minimal assistance from a solar home company, you need to spend lots of time researching and gaining experience. In particular, you will need to become familiar with soldering and electrical wiring. This way, you can match the manufactured products with the right components that optimize sunlight gathering even during harsh weather conditions. DIY solar installation is hard work, but building your PV cells means matching solar panel manufacturers installation abilities.
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Planning Your Panel Layout
First you need to start by planning your panel layout. This is usually done according to the space you have available for the panel, you may be restricted by length or width of the panel and you can adjust the other dimensions to suite. For the 9 solar cells, a sheet of glass 0.5m x 6m was used and the cells were laid out as shown in the attached diagram.
The panel is usually laid out in rows and columns, it doesn’t matter how many of each but it does make life easier if you make longer strings of cells in the direction of the tabbing wires and then connect them together with bus wire along the top and bottom.
Which Solar Energy Equipment And Materials Do You Need
In a rapidly expanding renewable energy supplies market, you have many choices for every component you must integrate to make your DIY solar system work efficiently during its entire operational life. Heres a list of the major parts for most solar systems.
After all the headwork and logistics are done, you move on to the legwork: installation of PV panels on racks or poles somewhere on your property, then connecting them to your home electric panel. Depending on whether you opt for grid-tie, off-grid, or a hybrid system, further electrical connections may be needed to get everything up and running.
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How To Build Your Own Off
Is going off-grid worth it?
How to use solar kits to go off-grid at home or in your RV
Years ago when people imagined going solar, they may have envisioned a hermit living in the desert with a solar array on the roof of their off-grid home. Although that image has shifted over the years and more and more average Americans are adding solar to their homes, RVs, vans, or cabins, going off-grid is often the first thing people think of when it comes to solar.
Off-grid solar can be a great solution for a lot of people and with easy-to-use solar kits, its never been easier. However, its not for everyone. Heres a breakdown of small off-grid solar projects, from pros and cons of being off-grid to what you need to get started.
What is off grid solar?
Off-grid solar systems, or stand-alone power systems, produce enough energy through the usage of solar panels and battery storage without having to tap into the electric grid. Historically, off-grid systems have been out of reach most people because of the high costs of inverters and batteries. However, prices continue to drop and technologies continue to improve, making it more financially feasible for more people.
Off-grid vs. on-grid
Off-grid solar systems
One important thing to consider is on-grid systems do not function during a blackout. This is because it would be a safety concern for a system to push power into the grid when utility workers may be out making repairs to the network.