A DIY SOLAR POWER PROJECT
YOU CAN DO THIS WEEKEND!
Do it yourself solar power, often referred to as DIY solar power is a way to take the renewable natural energy of the sun and convert it into electricity for use in homes and businesses.
When the concept of everyday, unskilled, untrained people making their own solar power first emerged in the news, most people couldn’t believe it. After all, how could people who probably don’t evenunderstand solar power make a solar device that actually works?
Well, today thousands of people have made and installed their own solar panels with great results! While many people are not educated scientists, they were able to learn enough about solar power so that DIY solar power was possible for them. Actually, anyone with a desire to save money and help the environment can follow in their (carbon) footsteps and learn how to make DIY solar power work for their home as well.
The Cost of Solar PowerSolar power, however, can be a bit expensive if you pay someone to install solar panels or build them onto your home. Even a small system could cost a thousand dollars or more. That’s why more and more people are building their own panels from individual cells and solar kits. And DIY solar power is becoming very popular. You can purchase all the supplies needed for a 20 watt panel for about $200.
Do it yourself solar power also makes it possible to build one small panel at a time and slowly reduce your dependency on the grid. There are many specific uses for solar power, not only in your landscaping, pond pump, outdoor security system and path lights, but also individual applicationsindoors. Once you stick your toe into these waters, you may just want to dive in!
Doing It Yourself
So, how complicated is it to build your own solar panels? Let’s take a quick look at what it takes to build a 20 watt solar panel, using two solar cell kits rated at 10 watts each. Once you master this, the sun will be your slave!
• 2 Solar Cells, 9″ x 15″ / 10 watts each
• 21″x 17″x 3/4″ Sheet of Plywood
• 8′ strip of 1″ x 3/4″ Square Molding
• Outdoor Primer
• Silicon Caulk
• 21″ x 17″ Pegboard (will be cut slightly smaller)
• 21″x 17″ x 1/4″ Sheet of plexiglas
• 8′ strip 1″ padding (carpet pad will do, cut in 1″ strips)
• 8 wood screws-5/8″ x #10
• 8 washers
• A dozen 1-1/2″ finishing nails
Start by (1) cutting, gluing and nailing the molding (1″ deep, 3/4″ wide) onto the plywood surface to create a frame around the edges, then (2) coat (twice) with the outdoor primer. Let dry. This creates a frame where you can cut the pegboard (3) so it fits inside perfectly. Lay a 1″ strip of padding (4) around the inside of the frame and down the middle, which will separate the two solar cells.
Wire the two cells together (positive to positive and negative to negative) and drill a 1/4″ hole through the back of the plywood to exit the wires. Caulk the hole. Use the silicon caulk to secure the solar cells onto the frame. Drill 2 small 1/8″ ventilation holes through the plywood beneath the padding somewhere.
Carefully drill 8 holes in the plexiglas slightly larger than the wood screw’s thread diameter (one on each corner and one over the center of each frame strip) and (5) attach it with the screws and washers. Be careful not to crack the plexiglas. HINT: Mark and drill the plexiglas with the paper backing still on to help avoid accidents.
Wire your new diy solar power panel to the rest of the system as described in the solar cell kit you purchased, and you’re ready to go! You can now capture 20 watts of the sun forever. Remember, each step you take to reduce your dependency on the power grid is a step toward energy independence. Enjoy the journey!
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