About 15 years ago, I started on my journey into solar energy, where my first introduction to solar power was through building my own. The simple energy system you see in the image above, was an upgrade of my home built solar panels, which was assembled about 8 years ago. This system, has been powering my TV, toaster, fan, lights and a small 12 volt fridge/freezer, since it was built! Obviously it's not going to power everything at the same time, but using the supply whenever needed at any given time, has saved me countless dollars over the time... The best part is; this energy system only cost $300.00 to build! Read on to learn how you can do it too!
Plenty of people have been looking into installing solar panels in an effort to combat rising energy costs. When most of these people see the prices of the professionally installed panels, they realize it may not be a luxury they can afford. There is an easier, more cost efficient way to harness power from the sun and that is to learn how to build solar panels for yourself.
Any motivated do-it-yourselfer can learn how to build solar panels for their home, workshop or business. When compared to the cost of purchasing and installing a pre-made solar energy system, learning how to build solar panels for your energy needs and the materials you need to execute the project are far less. By learning how to build solar panels for yourself, you have greater control over the size and design of your system as well.
Once you have a quality manual and you have learned how to build solar panels, the supplies are fairly simple to find. Most can be found at your local hardware store like, plywood, sheets of glass, and a roll of copper wire. It is also easy to locate inexpensive solar or photovoltaic cells to use in your project. Many are available over the Internet or you may have a retailer available locally. Once you’ve learned how to build solar panels and you have your supplies, it usually takes about a day to assemble a 100-watt panel. This is the perfect amount of electricity to operate small appliances or a small workshop.
The most important step is finding a quality manual with detailed instructions for learning how to make solar panels. In many cases you get what you pay for, so don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars on a well-reviewed instruction manual. Overall, the cost of the making your own panels is so low, the price of the how to guide is minimal-you will still be paying way less learning how to build solar panels on your own than purchasing a professionally installed system.
With a little bit effort, you can be on your way to learning how to build solar panels to meet your energy needs. Then sit back and bask in the pride the next time the power goes out on your block. Your lights will still be on because you learned how to build solar panels and your energy supply is still in your battery bank.
I started with the Earth4Energy guide around 15 years ago! The guide, has come a long way since then and it could be of great benefit for anyone delving into solar power, as it were for me years ago!
An off grid energy system is a stand alone power supply system...
A solar energy system that works independent of the grid, a.k.a "off grid energy
Basic off grid energy system system" is comprised of some basic, power storing and rectifying components.
(1) Solar panels use the power of the sun to generate electricity.
(2) Deep cycle batteries are used to store the solar energy.
(3)A solar charger controller regulates the energy from the panels to charge the batteries effectively and efficiently.
(4) An inverter converts the low DC Voltage into higher Voltages of AC waveform, which can then be used to power home or industrial appliances...
The solar panels are the most important component of the system and it is also the most expensive (prices are rapidly decreasing though) component of the system. There are 3 different types of solar panels which are Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Amorphous. Monocrystalline PV panels are the most efficient of all the panels and perform great under low light levels. That's why Mono panels are more expensive than the other types.
Building your own solar panels is currently the most cost effective way to incorporate solar power in your home and lifestyle - but some of the uses of solar power though, far exceed the benefits, such as: flexibility to work anywhere, never missing important phone calls, back up supplies for emergency medical equipment and the list goes on... If you've ever had a flat phone battery in the middle of nowhere or your laptop's battery went flat at an important time of usage, then you know what I'm talking about.
While building solar panels may be the most cost effective solution to harness the sun’s energy, it is only recommended for off grid configurations. Grid tie setups should ONLY be left to a certified professional and so our main focus here is only for off grid systems.
Wiring and installing an off grid solar energy system entails some complex wiring and even though the system may not be grid connected, it still involves some dangerous wiring at the inverter mains socket and inside of the inverter. Because the inverter will be converting the LOW input voltages to HIGHER output voltages (AC) that can power household appliances, and as we all know or should know; these voltages are dangerous.
Just as long as you don’t mess around with the inverter output currents, you are relatively safe setting up the system. The dangerous voltages are usually only present at the inverter outputs (in higher powered inverters, dangerous voltages may be at the inputs as well) of small systems, however, the mains power outlet is the same as your home power outlet, so treat this output the same as you would treat your household electricity.
More and in depth information about off grid systems and how to set it up is covered in another section on this site, click here to go there or read on to learn more...
For some people, building a DIY solar panel is the only way to get the cost low enough to begin to integrate solar energy into their lifestyles. Some people who live off the grid are so committed to recycling that they make a point of only using equipment, tools and devices that are recycled. Still others like to learn new things by hands-on experience. But no matter which category you fall into, there are plenty of useful applications for your do-it-yourself solar panel once it’s finished. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about your own solar panel project.
Recharge your 12 volt battery
Building your own solar trickle charger can ensure that you never have to worry about a dead car battery, and can save you money by extending the life of the battery you now own. It’s also useful for keeping full charges in batteries that sit for long periods of time between uses, like boats, snowmobiles and recreational vehicles.
Recharge your cell phone
One of the easiest do-it-yourself solar panel projects is to build a solar panel to recharge the battery in your cell phone. For materials, you simply need to assemble a small plastic project box, a solar cell, and a 12 volt DC car power outlet socket. With only a few components that can be easily obtained from your local hardware or electronics store, and by cutting a few holes and soldering a few connections, you can be charging your cell phone within in a few hours.
Solar power for your laptop
Since laptop batteries only last a few hours, having a solar powered laptop battery charger can let you work on your laptop while it’s unplugged from grid-tied electrical sources and from automobile charging systems as well. This is especially useful if you are a surveyor, engineer, have a job where you use a laptop in the field or like to stop and write while hiking and camping.
Solar power for your outdoor lighting
Any of your outdoor lighting that can be powered by battery can be charged with solar energy instead of using conventional plug-in battery chargers. Patio lights, flood lights or holiday lighting can all be solar powered. Security lights and motion detector lighting are especially well suited for use with solar electricity because they will still work during a power outage when you need the extra lighting the most.
Save money and learn about solar energy at the same time
Now that solar panel parts are readily available for purchase on the internet, it really is possible to save money by building your own solar panels. Build a few to power small battery powered electronics equipment like your laptop and cell phone. Use those projects to learn about how solar energy works, and to find out if you enjoy the process enough to tackle building them on a larger scale. If you find you enjoy building solar panels, design a system for larger scale solar energy applications.
Solar energy systems are scalable
Many people think that in order to use solar power in their homes that they have to build and install a complete solar electric system that will supply all of the electricity that they now use. But that’s simply not true. You can start off by using smaller solar panels to power outdoor lighting or to light the inside of your garage. Or you can install a small grid-tied solar panel system to offset part of the electricity that your family uses on a daily basis to cut your energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Later you can add more solar panels and eventually generate enough solar electricity to be energy independent or even sell electricity back to your local utility company.
Do an energy audit before you install a PV system
While it’s true that you can reduce your family’s dependency on the local utility company by installing solar panels, the smart way to approach it is to do an energy audit on your family’s electricity use before you start planning your PV system. By uncovering your energy use habits and making energy saving changes beforehand, you may be able to lower your electric bill immediately. And if the changes result in a big enough decrease in electricity use, you may also be able to plan for a smaller solar electric system. Lower electricity usage means that you will need fewer solar panels to meet your family’s residential energy needs. In the long run, you’ll be saving money by using less energy and by paying for a less expensive PV system.
Solar electricity for home use is now one of the most popular ways to make a difference. If you are thinking about building solar panels to generate your own home electricity, there are several routes you can take:
1. Hire a specialized solar energy contractor to install solar panels for you, or build solar panels yourself. Bringing in specialist contractors is a very expensive way to install solar electricity for home usage, and unless you can afford this option, for many people it’s not a viable option. If you are going to use an expert, always check their qualifications!
2. The most cost-effective way to install solar energy in your home is by building your own solar panels. You may think it is difficult, or that you simply aren’t a solar panel expert. However, there are many comprehensive plans out there to help you do this.
Check out our products page for ways to save BIG!
"Make It Solar Powered! "
Learn about solar cells and how to make your own solar panels...
Enter your NAME & EMAIL in the form below and we'll deliver your copy directly to your inbox...
Solar Panels Info