Building Your Own Solar Panel

Published Date: October 23rd, 2008
Category: Home Improvement

by ROGER TITLEY

Electricity bills have been constantly rising for many years but it has now reached the stage where power is now a major element in the household budget. The growing cost of electricity in conjunction with the climate warming problems created by burning fossil fuels, is driving more people to think about the environment and explore the possibility of creating their own renewable power supply. Constructing your own solar panels or a wind turbine is very tempting but how realistic is it? Can a home made solar panel or DIY wind generator really result in a practical difference to a normal household power bill? Or are they just fanciful dreams and marketing hype?

There are lots of variables that impact the answers to these questions. The answer will depend on where you live and how far you wish to go with your DIY power system.

One of the main factors that impacts the viability of home made solar panels will be the exposure that your house has to the sun. It is obvious that a hut deep in the heart of a forest is not going to get much benefit from a solar panel! So check the travel of the sun over your house, how many hours of direct sun does your house get? The encouraging news is that most houses should not have any trouble in gathering enough sunlight to generate electricity from a home made solar panel.

The same logic is true when considering a DIY wind turbine; you will need wind to turn it! In most places the wind cannot be trusted as the only source of power–it simply fills in the gaps left by solar power quite nicely. Luckily when the sun stops shining the wind tends to blow.

The amount of power that can be produced from a DIY power set up will depend upon the size and type of the devices being used.

Solar panels which generate electricity are also known as ‘photovoltaic cells’ or ‘solar pv modules’ The amount of electricity that you can expect to extract from a solar panel is calculated by surface size and weight and usually will range between 5 and 50 watts, although many cells can be simply linked together. Any excess electricity that is generated can be stored in batteries for release at a later time.

The energy that comes from a home built wind turbine is related to the square of the blade diameter (double the diameter and you get 4 times the power) and the cube of the wind speed (double the wind speed and you get 8 times the power). Although you can’t order the wind speed, you can select the blade diameter. Typical home wind turbines will have a diameter of around 6-8 feet and a typical home power system would be capable of creating 1 – 6 kilowatts with a wind speed of about 6-10miles per hour.

A home power set up consisting of a home made wind generator and solar panel is not only achievable but very practical. With a bit of investigation it is possible to find plans for constructing DIY wind generators and solar panels and these do not require any great degree of skill or unusual tools. In fact, all of the components are easily obtained from local sources and the whole construction stage shouldn’t take more than a couple of weekends.

Can a DIY home power system save you money, yes it certainly can. Either you can feed electric items in your house directly from the free renewable electricity, or if you are able to connect your home built power system to the power grid then you can sell your electricity to your power company.

Home generation of electricity is not only a reality; it is an easy way to reduce your power bills. Who knows, maybe all houses will have a renewable energy source in the future.

Visit www.my-ecopower.com and check out the plans that I used to construct my own low cost, easy to build domestic power station.

One Response to “Building Your Own Solar Panel”

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Caution! I ordered the book recommended, it is a rip off. Doesn’t give enough info to build anything. For real info on things you can do, visit http://www.builditsolar.com (They do not try to sell you anything, just give great info.)