Homemade solar panels/wind turbines

September 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Hello Everyone!


(replying to everyone not to a specific person)


As you can probably see, I just joined this forum. I have read the entirety of this thread, though because of an extremely slow Internet connection, it has taken me over an hour to log on, bring up this screen and type this up.


First off, I would like to say that all of you (or at least the vast majority) seem genuine, not try-hards who know nothing (and those of you who do not know anything seem to be interested in learning). I am addressing the first section to they guy (or girl) who said that they would like to live completely off the grid with their home powered by wind and solar power.


It is a relatively easy thing to make a solar panel, and if you would like, I can give you (for free) instructions and suggestions that should make them a lot more durable and reliable. The difficult thing is converting the raw energy (DC, anywhere from 12 to 48 Volts) into 240V AC power (or 110V AC in America-correct me if I am incorrect). And it is even more difficult to completely convert a house completely over to renewable energy sources.


*(Assuming that you know a fair amount about electronics and have good soldering and carpentry skills, then it would be well worth the effort to buy solar cells off Ebay. Just go onto Ebay and type in solar cells. Years ago I purchased ten cells as a proof of concept idea, and I received thirteen instead. Only one was chipped, though I broke most of the rest due to poor handling and dexterity, as well as youthful over-enthusiasm.)


If you want to be good to the environment, then I suggest building a relatively large array of solar panels (800W at least, preferably more) plus all associated hardware. In the case of inverters, I would suggest using a grid-tie inverter; feed energy into the grid, use only as much as you need during the day, at night draw energy from the grid. This idea is most certainly not original; it is called Virtual Energy Storage-look it up, other websites can explain it better.


Basically you use the main power grid as a virtual battery (although the energy is not actually stored, it is distributed to other homes, businesses, factories etc). As for wind power, I have very little experience in that regard. It would certainly only be worth investing in if you experience high winds for at least 20+ hours a day. Certain seaside or mountainous locations may experience conditions such as this, however.


The actual storage of power on-site with batteries is extremely expensive and the manufacture and disposal of batteries is very bad for the environment, depending on the batteries you are using. Batteries are hideously expensive and unless you are salvaging and regenerating say, banks of old car batteries, it is not worth the effort. If you are truly determined to become a little more independent, save some money, help the environment and more importantly make your objectives achievable, then I would recommend banks of home-made solar panels (again assuming that you are at least competent with electricals and carpentry-if not then buy them, do not take the risk) with a grid-tie inverter using Virtual Energy Storage.


(Another little side-note: most but not all grid-tie inverters DO NOT offer power backup; if the mains fails, and you have three staggered batteries of solar panels, they will not give you any backup power whatsoever. You will have to pay a pretty penny in order to get one that does (as a starter, go to ww.jaycar.com, and looked up SuperCombi or CombiPlus, just to get an idea of the sort of prices you will be paying if you buy your equipment commercially (remember, that is just the inverter, not counting voltage regulators ($250-$500, mounting hardware, solar cells etc)).


Please reply to this andor ask questions, even set me straight if I have made a mistake or posted flawed data. I have done tons of research over the last three years, read hundreds of articles, trawled dozens of forums, read dozens of books and run half-a-dozen mathematical and financial simulations. And remember, keep your objective achievable.

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