Solar diy sounds ridiculous to many folks.
The idea that the space age panels that adorn spacecraft and satellites can be hand made just boggle them. But really Solar diy is pretty straightforward and within your grasp if you are a little experienced with home repairs.
Let me explain why it is so simple.
A solar panel is just a few dozen solar cells hooked up to each other and mounted securely on a nice flat backing sheet – the real magic is in the individual solar cells.
There are two types of solar panel. The type we spend time talking about here and the type shown in the photo above is the solar electric panel that runs off the photoelectric effect.
So these panels are often called PV Panels
The photoelectric effect is that electrons were found to jump out of a metal sheet when ultra violet light shines on it. Over the years more and more materials were found to show the photoelectric effect and this gets even better when semi-conductors came along.
Nowadays solar sells are made out of silicon which the main working material of the semiconducting industry. Years ago when I started teaching this stuff the main material was germanium and it’s certain that materials scientists will produce other, better materials.
The other type of solar panels runs off the heat of the sun and are like the normal hot water radiators in our homes. This is the solar thermal panel and we’ll cover that too.
Solar diy or “Do It Yourself” refers to lining up solar cells you’ve bought in a neat array and soldering them together and packaging this in a secure weather proof way and using it as a source of electric current and power.
If you can follow through on the assembly plans then making a solar panel can take a few weekends of careful though not difficult work. If, like me, you can’t solder to save your life, you just get some one to do the soldering for you.
Just about anyone who is good at detail work should be able to do this. I am a “big picture” kind of guy and useless at soldering. As it happens my mother is a soldering champ! And soldering is the main skill needed in a solar panel project!
Like any other diy job there are possible safety hazards and the whole thing needs thinking through. There is plenty of advice available online and much of it is conflicting! It is often difficult in these circumstances to know who to trust.
One person you may put your trust in is Micheal Harvey. He has spent 15 years in the Solar Industry and has produced a guide – a video guide as well as a book and wiring diagrams.
Check it out for yourself… Michael Harvey’s Solar DIY Guide
And if you have done any solar diy please feel free to leave a comment on what worked and perhaps what did not work – that’s just as useful.
And keep tuned – this is just part 1 of this Solar DIY series – lots of good stuff to come soon.