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Customer Discussions > Solar forum

How to make DIY Solar Panels last 25 years

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Showing 1-13 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 28, 2009, 1:26:48 PM PDT
Tony Grix says:
I have read many do it yourself solar panel instructions, watched the YouTube videos and even purchased a few of DIY manuals that sounded like there were written from experience.
I want to build my own solar cell panels that will last as long as the best quality commercial panels. Why spend all time and effort if it is going to be junk in 3-5 years on my roof?
It would appear that the key to long panel life is to completely encapsulate the cells to the glass front panel using EVA and use a good Tedlar backing sheet to keep out the weather.
The problem is how do you get an effective sandwich lamination at home without a $750,000 solar panel vacuum/pressure lamination oven. One manual I purchased suggested using a heat gun moving in rows across the array from the center outwards. Marginal results at best.
I am trying to design and built a DIY vacuum laminator that would have heating element (from old dishwasher) to heat the glass from below and 500w halogen work lamps above to heat the layers of laminate.
Has anyone been able to get good solar panel laminations (glass/eva/cells/eva/tedlar) at home? What did you use?
Any thoughts on a DIY solar panel laminator?

Tony Grix
Solar Michigan

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2009, 11:50:31 AM PDT
V S says:
Doesnt make a difference. Anything you have permanently installed needs to be UL listed.

The price is coming down, and if you are able to get federal, state, local money and buying at a discount and get your solar survey of your site you'll be eligible for rebates. THAT is the only way you'll break even in the next 20 years or so (but with obama taxing the heck out of energy, expect that number to shrink.

If you're in the midwest, I suggest joining the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and take the 8-hour intro course. WeEnergies has a $55 rebate on the $100-ish class for their customers that take the class (no prerequisite needed). You'll learn a lot about solar energy and HOW to use it correctly.

I have not heard of any homemade panels worth a darned, other than glass tube systems to heat water with the sun's rays, and using a 200+ watt solar panel set up, battery, and pump to move the water (or house power).

Spending $50000 on panels to replace a house full of inefficient appliances and halogen floodlights is dumb. Not doing anything and pending $15000 on cold cathode & LED lighting, white indoor paint, sun windows, triple-pane glass windows, better insulation and programmable thermostats is PROBABLY better.

In Chicago/Milwaukee area, we get 4.4 usable sunlight hours per day. Take your total average daily kWh and divide by 4.4 (or however many you have in your area). THAT is the total wattage of panels you need. AND an inverter that will handle it. AND batteries to store the power. Forget wind, its useless unless its 40MPH and 30+ feet up here. Now you need to check and maintain these batteries.

RULE: If you're connected to the grid at all, your solar system is NOT ALLOWED to operate if the utility electric is down. Thats so your solar panels dont cause problems in their lines or kill people servicing the equipment.

Its a great feeling to be involved in saving and even producing 'free' energy. It must be taken in perspective, though.

BTW, solar panels are reaching 19% efficiency, and ones made even 40+ years ago are still operating in Arizona. I'd hold off as long as possible, maybe until theres a Republican president who will let companies invest in R&D instead of taxing them to death on social policies.

Posted on May 29, 2010, 4:48:57 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 29, 2010, 4:49:44 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 5, 2010, 4:02:47 PM PDT
Dfd Dfd says:
This is great info, I am becoming obsessed with solar power and I imagine Big Energy is hording patents and keeping efficientcy away. There was a company in SoCal that was selling people on 'leasing' the solar equipment...I don't think that is a viable solution, it is like leasing a car which is also a depreciating asset. I dunno, I still hate it that TV has gone digital and a government could click it off at anytime.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2010, 6:17:43 AM PDT
Tony Grix says:
If the numbers make sense, you should not discount leasing a system out of hand. It makes more sense to own an appreciating asset than a depreciating one, doesn't it?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2010, 9:45:25 PM PDT
jerry says:
At last, a post that goes right to the reality of things. Individual reduction of usage is the key, not devices that take more energy to produce than they give in their lifespan. If you live in an area not supported by the grid, or feel a backup supply is essential, then most other things may make sense. Batteries, at least enough to keep your food cold, tend to have a bigger cost than power from the grid.....If you want to live in the 21st century, have your cake and eat it too, then stop grousing about nuclear, quit bitching about the space program(power eventually will come from space arrays), support science in the schools, and move away from the don't do anything bunch in our political society. All forms of electrical production should be utilized and supported, but not at the cost of reliable energy production.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2010, 9:47:12 PM PDT
jerry says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2010, 12:41:54 PM PDT
Stuart CODY says:
VS, your points are all well taken. In Boston, the same limited sunlight conditions exist, sadly.
But I would not discourage DIY experiments as the prices will never come down without any alternatives. As efficiency rises, and we get more for the money, demand will NOT fall off and limited product will maintain high prices. What do you think it would take to find lower prices in the market?

The grid-tied inverter is a major breakthru (eliminating batteries) Batteries are a major hassle for most normal people. They can't be bothered with periodic maintenance. They CAN understand the concept of selling power back to the grid. True, you will not get power when the power lines are down, but you could have a standby battery system for those times.

What I want to know, is how to access the latest news on the higher efficiency products. B/t/w, who cares about efficiency when the cost per watt/hr is still the same? Given that none of us has the money to completely cover our roof....

UL listing....why would I look on my homebrew panel for a UL listing? What low voltage devices exist with UL listings? 12 /24/ 48 volt systems may or may not fall into such a category for insurers' approval.

More info is needed....

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2010, 12:48:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2010, 12:50:58 PM PDT
Stuart CODY says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2010, 2:49:00 PM PDT
Hamish Shaw says:
make a plastic bag and use a small shop vacuum
i am using an used sliding glass door with its alum frame. most are
tempered glass. it will go on top of my motor home.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2011, 9:58:03 PM PST
C. S. inos says:
I saw your posting and I am impressed: I live in one of the hawaiian islands (remote from the capitol) but I am about 70 miles from the tv station. In our house, we still have the old version of tv ("F" connector in the back Not the "RCA".
I am illeterate in tv (electronics) signals. can you eduate me how you accomplished receiving signals without subscribing.?



In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2011, 2:20:39 AM PST
T. Hansen says:
"Click it off at any time"? How? Just because a station is broadcasting a digital signal doesn't make it any easier for it to be shut down. It's still over the air, direct from the station to your TV antenna. It's just a different signal format.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2011, 3:54:49 PM PST
Your advice is useless. Show where any GOP administration has ever been known for pushing R&D for any Solar energy systems. Since Germany is the world leader in this type of energy, why is R&D needed.
Solar energy has already proven it's self in other nations.
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Discussion in:  Solar forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  13
Initial post:  Sep 28, 2009
Latest post:  Nov 17, 2011

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