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DIY Solar Panel Thread - BOVs, BOLs and just small project work.

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posted on Jan, 18 2011 @ 05:43 AM
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Something that's very handy is if you can put together your own solar panel, preferably before any SITX event.

It's not as difficult as you imagine but you'll need the skills for soldering, some basic woodworking knowhow.
Then it's just a case of having appliances that can run off it.

Unless you live in the land of perpetual light you're gonna need something that can store all that energy from the suns solar rays.
Lead Acid Battery's remain the best method.
Marine Battery's that don't spill any acid if you're in a boat are another option.

I recommend Trojan battery's they cost a bit more but you can get some honking great Amp Hours off those baby's.

Having said that you can have some solar set-ups where small fans can be driven directly off the suns rays with no battery. This is good for day-time use when there's little or no cloud.
Ideally you could do with a battery though.

One Method for DIYing a solar panel:





Recharging a 12 volt battery with a solar panel can take a while, especially if you've only got a small panel. Yet as a trickle charger these can work great. Especially if it's on your cars dashboard.

For a BOV you'll need something to secure them to the roof-rack and of course wiring to go inside your vehicle.
Getting the wiring inside your BOV can be the tricky part, but there are devices available (glands etc) that you can fit for this to work.
An easier method for fitting solar panels is to buy the prebuilt - roll-up-type. Be warned though these cost many times more than the cheapo panels that are flimsy and need encasing. Some of them are also designed for a boat and means that your BOV may not be big enough to fit them on the roof.

That's enough of me rambling, has anyone else done work on DIYing Solar Panels?
edit on 18-1-2011 by WatchRider because: Editing video url




posted on Jan, 18 2011 @ 06:11 AM
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I havent watched yet but I thank you in advance.

This is exactly what I've been looking for. I got quoted over $4,500 for a system to run a couple of aquariums. When I adjusted it (online quote) for just the barfridge outside, same price.

My power bill went from $200 to over $650 for 3 months in just 18 months. I have turned so much off its not funny, fish in the dark, no lights at night, just the TV glow, even my alarm clock is unplugged now.

The good news is, the prices are only going up another 40-60% this year. There goes my fortnightly trip to the pub. Australia is surrounded by oceans & battered by the sun. Rather than a broadband network, how about spending the (minimum) $43B on reneweable energy & help get this monkey off the nations back.

Thanks again.



posted on Jan, 18 2011 @ 06:47 AM
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I think you'll find the monkey on your back is holding a set of reins and wearing spurs.



posted on Jan, 18 2011 @ 01:18 PM
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reply to post by WatchRider
 


nice thread
i have successfully built several solar pv systems in isolated areas for friends. once you get your head around the components and desired usage with an added meccano mind, basically it's as easy as wiping ones rear
regards f

btw didn't watch the links. sincerely didn't need to.



posted on Jan, 18 2011 @ 08:06 PM
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Originally posted by fakedirt
reply to post by WatchRider
 


nice thread
i have successfully built several solar pv systems in isolated areas for friends. once you get your head around the components and desired usage with an added meccano mind, basically it's as easy as wiping ones rear
regards f

btw didn't watch the links. sincerely didn't need to.

Sure thing, the links are a guide on how to make the panel components and cases that they go into.



posted on Jan, 19 2011 @ 04:20 AM
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reply to post by WatchRider
 


last system i built was a double set of 125w sharp polycrystalline pv panels. combined output of 16amps per hour. 3 gel leisure batteries handling 330 amps and a solar controller in between. the cherry on the cake was a 2000w inverter pure sine wave giving 240volts for demand. it worked a dream.
a word of caution. when working on connecting the batteries, check several times on the correct wirings before bringing the system live. also a copper earth rod driven into the ground at least 700mm.
the beauty of these systems is you can have a 12volt lighting circuit (led's are more efficient and not as hungry as incandescents like tungsten or halogen) split at the controller with in-line spade fuse.
about four years ago i came across a skip at the ports (know the guys down there). they were throwing out all the pv panels from the buoys along the channel. after a word with top dog sparky, i took them all home. 14 of them. due to the extreme weather these puppies endured they had corroded on the terminals and showed no voltages. a weekend in the garden with a soldering iron and sealant i brought them all back to life. these will be deployed when i've got the pennies for the batteries. total potential output is around 30 amps per hour.
just before christmas (in the uk) we had a power cut. the amount of neighbours commenting on their gas boilers not working was ridiculous. my intention is to feed a wire to the electrical connection of the boiler so in the event of another outage, i simply throw a switch and the boiler will continue. another neighbour has the same intentions.
regards f



posted on Jan, 19 2011 @ 07:53 PM
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Nice work!
I'm impressed!

Do you have any ideas on battery longevity for lead acid / Gel ones?
I've been hearing as long as 10 years + down to three years...



posted on Jan, 20 2011 @ 04:36 AM
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reply to post by WatchRider
 

hello watchrider.
battery life depends on a number of factors. for lead acid batts you have to consider as follows
1) demand on battery. if demand is very heavy on a constant basis the more batts connected together the better.
otherwise heavy current draw can buckle the lead plates inside and reduce performance until they eventually cannot hold a charge.
2) environment. with extreme temerature batteries capacity is reduced. this can cause symptoms as in 1).
lead acid batts should be stored away from any habitable area. i advise them to be stored in an insulated box with wheels if situated outside. if stored inside they shoud be in a sealed cupboard with adequate venting.
3) a regular check of acid levels helps keep them in good condition.
4) as in 1) the more batts the better to satisfy the demand/capacity factor.
lead acid batts can last many many years if treated with care. ten years plus is possible.
5) leisure batteries of gel based medium are very good but note the above for care purposes. the upside is there is no gass off. again 10 years plus is possible. very heavy as well as expensive.
6) carbon fibre coated lead acid batts are very good but again the above steps should be considered.
7) when connecting the batteries together there should be an inline fuse (depends on demand) as well as an isolator in case of wrong connections. never bridge the terminals. i always treat them with the respect one would give to a uxb!
all in all consider the total daily demand you are going to put on the system then multipy it by a factor of 2.5. that should be enough capacity to ensure no outage.
hope this helps.
regards f



posted on Jan, 21 2011 @ 03:35 AM
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On average, deep cycle batteries have a lifespan of 10-15 years. However, if they are constantly overcharged, undercharged, or fluid levels are not maintained, the lifespan is dramatically lowered.

Solar cells, on average, have an active lifespan of 25-30 years. That is the amount of time they can be left in the sun to produce electricity before they stop producing and need to be replaced.

Now if you plan on using solar panels for anything, I strongly suggest that you buy a box of cells for around $50 and build your own. It will save you about $150 or more per panel.

And also keep in mind that you will need a power inverter in order to use your appliances. And you will also need a battery bank if you plan on having power at night.



posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 08:29 AM
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Thank you for this thread and everyone contributing. This is exactly what I've been looking for (that and making an electro-mag generator). Haven't been able to watch the links but I'll be working on making some panels right away, maybe next paycheck.
If anyone has any helpful links or information to get a bit more acquainted, I would so greatly appreciate a PM.

Also, I was thinking in the possibility of total energy crisis for extended time...
It would be important to be able to get new batteries fresh somehow. Is this something somebody could make? I imagine getting the lead and acid might be difficult, but is this a possibility that can be prepared for once the 10-15 yr life was over of the batteries?

Thanks!



posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 09:18 AM
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The Renewable Energy site for Do-It-Yourselfers

Build It Solar

Solar Buzz

Home Power Magazine



posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 10:21 AM
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reply to post by The Utopian Penguin
 


Thank you!



posted on Jan, 26 2011 @ 04:31 AM
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reply to post by skylightsintheillions
 


Another one here:

Solar DIY!

I will add that something that bugs me about battery's (12 volt lead acid ones) is that you CANNOT buy them 'dry'.
The manufacturers will only sell them 'live', that is to say, with the acid already added.
Unless you have a laboratory or wish to make a real mess with full PPE on you cannot 'store' battery's for decades at a time and then 'activate' them for use.
The big, powerful battery's will last longer, but even they come with the battery 'live.'



posted on Jan, 26 2011 @ 09:03 AM
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I'm working on my first panel right now using 1.5"x1.5"x1/8" aluminum angle for the frame. I'm still looking for appropriate glass, if I can get it free (from a commercial remodel job,etc) I'll have just over $100 in each 130w panel. Ultimately I plan to have a grid tie inverter to reduce my bill and a regular inverter to provide limited backup if the grid is down. I;ll use my diesel generator very sparingly for the heavy lifting (table saw, furnace fan etc)

I was given a small UPS with a dead battery so I hooked it to a 12v deep cycle battery I already had, I check occasionally but so far it has been working flawlessly. I also had "Malibu" lights installed so I got LED bulbs for them and hooked them to the battery with a 12v DC 10amp photo eye (I'm using around 1amp, maybe a bit less) so they are on @ dusk / off @ dawn. I will have some separate 12V circuits for lighting and will get the Malibu lights switched over to running on solar but I figure I'll wait until I have at least 2-3 panels up.

On a side note, with the grid down some outside lighting should enhance my security. In a SHTF scenario I assume it would draw undue attention as would an internal combustion generator. I understand grounding is important, and should be a separate grounding system from the ac system. With all the talk of magnetic pole shifting and increased solar activity does anyone know what if any effect that might have on a solar power system?



posted on Jan, 26 2011 @ 03:04 PM
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reply to post by KaiserSoze
 


hello ks
may i suggest a grounding rod (copper) at least 700mm (28''ish) to 1m in length. if you are not wanting to purchase a solid length then a lenght of tube 15mm diameter 5/8ths blanked at one end and filled with old lead melted of course. earth rod should be placed where it cannot be stood on or snagged. (hammered if possible or if you are on rocky terrain, excavate and backfill and add water to backfill. this will greatly compress dirt and allow current fault to disperse efficiently) earth wire (insulated) from rod to rear of inverter should be a minimum of 10mm squared section securely clamped to both ends. this is if you are using an inverter of less than 2000w. if in doubt read manufacturers spec sheet.
regarding solar activity or electromagnetic issues, there is a ton of info on the effects on electronics and current build up in circuits. it may be said that sensitive electronics suffer the most but i suppose it depends on the intensity. the cases of inverters are ground to the earth outlet due to handling ac anyway so this may be of benefit in shielding any electronics in the case.
btw it may be of benefit to acquire toughened glass for your panels and airseal to baseboard with lashings of good quality mastic. if condensation occurs within the panel it will corrode your connections.
regards f



posted on Feb, 1 2011 @ 09:00 AM
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reply to post by WatchRider
 


Thank you thank you all! I was once directionless and now I have an idea.
Good news is, I'm good at soldering. I need to start gathering materials now.

Do any of you have an idea of how many panels one would want for say, a household. Of course using sparing electricity, but just baseline, how many panels, and then of course are the electrical equipment to break and control and convert current. Approximately how much money would you recommend having ready for this project?



posted on Feb, 1 2011 @ 10:48 AM
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reply to post by skylightsintheillions
 


you need to add up all the appliances and their consumption in amps per hour in use. factor in another 50%. i say this because if you have high power equipment it will drain your capacity quickly. i think you want to avoid any equipment that is a high drain but add up your total consumption in amps and as a rule of thumb a 125 watt panel will give you roughly 8 amps per hour. assume you will get a total of 8 hours sunlight (taking into consideration cloudy days etc). this gives you 64 amp hours per day from a 125 w solar panel.
regards f



posted on Feb, 2 2011 @ 10:53 PM
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Originally posted by skylightsintheillions
reply to post by WatchRider
 


Thank you thank you all! I was once directionless and now I have an idea.
Good news is, I'm good at soldering. I need to start gathering materials now.

Do any of you have an idea of how many panels one would want for say, a household. Of course using sparing electricity, but just baseline, how many panels, and then of course are the electrical equipment to break and control and convert current. Approximately how much money would you recommend having ready for this project?


Well lets work some numbers...

My solar cell that I built was 0.5 volts x 3.6 Ams per cell (that's a factory rating, it can vary a little bit when in 'action').
There were 16 Cells and we were getting about 10 volts+ at peak sunlight efficiency.
Now that roughly gives just under 30 Watts of power:
(16 x 0.5 x 3.6)

Now, I've just assessed your Gross household demand (assuming you run everything at once!) as:

!!!
Now that's something you obviously are unlikely to do so here's a rough breakdown:

550 Watt Computer system (includes monitor and router)
Shower
500 Watt for Fridge
300 Watt per TV
600 - 850 Watts for the Microwave
1200 - 1500 Watts for the hotplate
Assuming two lights are on at a time :
160 Watts Lights
50 Watts per ceiling fan
20 Watts per table fan


The materials would be:

400 Solar cells

40 meters of EVA

50 sheets of pre-cut perspex from the plastic people

+

5 Deep-Cell battery's.

I did do a cost analysis, to completely take their houes as close to off-the-grid as possible it was about £2000 for the materials you'd need for 25 panels to be constructed and 5 deep-cell battery's.
Putting it all together would take you a month or so but would be a great project for someone with time to kill.



posted on Feb, 3 2011 @ 04:37 AM
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reply to post by WatchRider
 

hello watchrider.
if i may i would like to add the need for at least two 30 amp solar controllers to the shopping cart.
when panels go dark (no sunlight), without the controllers between the panels and batteries, 'backwash' of current will occur and will eventually degrade the panels efficiency (a kind of reverse flow) until they burn out. the controllers will ensure no current is allowed to flow back into the panels and will also safely regulate the voltage and current flow into the storage bank. another consideration is the inverters. pure sine wave inverters will be required for equipment like a fridge where an electric motor requires a good ac current. these inverters cost around £250 for a 1000w setup. i would also recommend buying multiples of 1000w instead of buying the mother of. this will be handy in case an internal fuse pops. at least only part of the supply system will be offline and you'll be able to fix the culprit whilst still enjoying the benefit of the others.
regards fakedirt




posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 02:46 AM
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Well said.

I think on the solar controllers it's more for protecting your battery's from excess voltage/charging when fully charged already.

On the 'backwash' most solar panels have this built-in to them on the commerically built panels, but for the DIY ones like mine they would be essential!
I should of included that one the price assessment...



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