Can you really build a solar panel for under $150?
My name is Eric Moore and over the past couple of months I’ve gone from knowing almost nothing about solar panels to building my own home solar power system. This GreenDIYEnergy Review will tell you how I did it.
About a year ago I decided to try to find a greener and cheaper way to get to the train I use to commute to work. I bought an electric bike motor and started riding my electric powered bike to the train station. It saved a lot of money over driving, but I wanted to go all the way and recharge the bike batteries using solar power. I looked around, but all of the solar panels I found were really expensive so I decided to wait on going solar and just enjoy my cheaper, less polluting and much more fun way of commuting.
Several months ago I decided to take another look at solar and, while I found solar panel prices are still pretty high, I began reading about how to build your own solar panel. After searching extensively on the internet, I decided to take the plunge and give it a try.
I bought and reviewed all the guides
There is some free information out there, but it tends to be incomplete, not specific enough, or not very easy to follow. I bought one of the online DIY solar panel guides and while it was OK, I found it a bit lacking in detail. So I bought another one and found this one to be very complete and with step-by-step videos, very easy to follow. I decided to share my experience building my homemade solar panel to help other people so I bought all the guides I could find and reviewed them all.
The guide I chose
After buying and reviewing all of the guides, I decided to use GreenDIYEnergy. Why? There are really two reasons. First, it is by far the most comprehensive. There are 17 different components ranging from ebooks to spreadsheet to videos that cover all the important details. The videos are the second reason. They are DVD quality and take you through the whole build step-by-step from start to finish.
How I did it
I ordered the solar cells online and bought the rest of the materials at my local hardware store. I used the measurements and layout suggested in the guide and followed along with the videos through the build process. It was actually easier than I thought it would be once I got the hang of it. It only took one weekend to build the panel and that includes buying parts, cutting and painting the wood, soldering the cells, construction and wiring.
How much did it cost?
The total cost for my solar panel was $129. I actually spent more than I had to on the solar cells and bought ones that came pre-tabbed to make the build easier. I also had to buy all the wood so if you have some scrap plywood laying around and tab the cells yourself you could definitely build your panel for less than $100. I looked at some solar panels for sale online and I saved between 50 and 75% by building my own.
After building my panel, what do I recommend?
If you’ve been thinking about building a solar panel , I would definitely recommend you give it a try. The tools you need are pretty basic: saw, screwdriver, soldering iron (you can pick one up at Radio Shack for about $20 if you don’t have one). The whole project was pretty easy with the help of the Green DIY Energy guide.
I think the soldering is probably the part that most people would be worried about. The soldering is covered in a lot of detail in the videos and it is all easy soldering of big wires. After the first cell or two I got the hang of it and the rest went pretty quick after that.
Based on my experience building my solar panel, I highly recommend GreenDIYEnergy. It is by far the best DIY solar panel guide available. The step-by-step videos make it easy for anyone to build a solar panel with basic tools in about a weeked for under $150. If I did it, you can do it too.
What is included in GreenDIYEnergy?
The videos are the best part of the package. They were shot in Boulder, Colorado and they cover the entire DIY solar panel build step-by-step from start to finish. The videos are large, DVD quality, downloadable videos, not the smaller videos you have to watch online that you’ll find in other packages.
To put it simply, the videos look awesome. They are nice and big so you get to see all the important parts with lots of detail and he goes through everything step-by-step.
He covers the parts and tools you’ll need, building the container, soldering the solar cells together, assembling everything, wiring and finishing. At the end, he connects the panel up to a voltmeter and you get to see it produce electricity!
The ebooks cover the different parts of a home solar system, building a solar panel, solar electrical, installation, solar tax credits, solar consumers guide, building a home wind generator, wind map resources and websites and more. There are over 200 pages of information and pictures and diagrams are used throughout.
There’s just a ton of information here. Pay particular attention to the diagrams showing the layout of the solar cells in the panel and the section on where to get the parts you’ll need.
The directions in the ebook go hand-in-hand with the videos so I would recommend watching the videos all the way through and then using the ebooks as reference while you’re building the solar panel. The ebooks go through the different types of solar cells, which ones to use and where to buy them cheaply.
GreenDIYEnergy is the highest quality, most complete DIY solar guide available. The package includes DVD quality videos, over 200 pages of pdf ebooks, and Excel spreadsheets – 17 components in all. Using the ebooks and videos, I was able to successfully build my own solar panel. By following along with the videos like I did, you can build a solar panel too. If you’ve been thinking about building your own solar panel, I highly recommend Green DIY Energy.