Posted by admin on 24/10/2009
Hi me again, Dave
I’m a bit surprised by myself I must admit because I didn’t expect to enjoy doing this, I just wanted to share our experience and maybe save some other people some of the wasted time I had when I wanted to build my own solar panels for our house. I’m quite getting a taste for this internet stuff, it’s not as hard as I was led to believe!
However, if you’re finding our story a bit dull and want a copy of the guide that we found so useful for self build solar panels then click here
Anyway, back to the beginning, sort of. If you’ve read the other posts you know that my wife and I decided we wanted to use solar energy in our house to help save the planet and to save a bit of money as well. The trouble was that the tradition solar panel installations that you see around were just so expensive so that’s why we decided that I should build ours myself.
Now to be honest I don’t know a lot about electricity. It’s always something I thought it best to stay well away from and leave to the experts, after all, there can be pretty dire consequences if you do something wrong! Having said that there was stacks of information available on the internet including a number of guides to building your own solar power installation and the one thing that they all had in common was they said it was easy to build and install your own solar panels.
Now this is where we did have a little bit of a sticky patch because I chose one of these guides and duly paid my small fee for it. Then I sat down and read through it. Yes I’m a bit dull like that, I do like to read manuals before I start using them just in case there are any shortcomings and I get stuck half way through a project. Trust me, it’s happened before. :-)
Anyway, to cut a long story short I found the guide had gaping holes in the information, it didn’t cover where to get some of the bits or mounting the finished solar panels to your house and it really made me wonder if there were other things that had been overlooked. I just didn’t have too much confidence in it. I’ve got to be honest, I did have a bit of a wobble there and thought that maybe all the guides were pretty much the same and perhaps it was a project a bit outside my capabilities but my wife encouraged me to have a look for a better guide and I’m so glad she did.
The guide I used was so easy to follow and covered everything you needed to know
This is a little bigger than our solar power project
Click here for the guide that I used to help me build our solar panels
I should probably admit here that the guide I eventually used was the third one that I bought. The sales pitch is always so good and of course, you don’t know until you’ve read it whether the guide will match up. Well, the one that I eventually used definitely did.
The only minor problem that I had when building the panels was sourcing the solar panel racks to mount the panels on our roof. At first I wasn’t sure which ones I needed because there are a load of different ones. Anyway I went back through the guide again, a bit more slowly (ok, maybe I just missed some stuff first time round, I’m just an old guy!) and sure enough, there was the information I needed.
Well, with the help of the guide we got our panels up just before the end of spring and despite the rubbish summer we’ve had I think they’re fantastic. We’ve saved a shed load of money on our electricity bill and spent a fraction of what it would have cost us to get a company in to install their solar panels.
All in all, I’m chuffed to bits and I heard the wife telling our neighbour how good I was a diy, that was nice to hear.
If you’re thinking of building your own solar panels then check this guide out. It’s really cheap and when you think of the benefits of having your solar panels, cheap electric from a free, sustainable source, you have to do it.
Click here to see the guide to building solar panels that I followed.
Posted by admin on 28/11/2009
This video is really good at explaining solar panels and how they work. It’s worth watching if, like me at the start, you’ve got little idea of how it all comes together, safely, to provide you with energy for your house and reduced bills.
Spend a few minutes watching it and it all becomes clear!
Posted by admin on 27/11/2009
I have been trying to watch videos and make my own solar panels with no success. Please help me make my own solar panels.
Posted by admin on 24/10/2009
In all my time spent trawling the internet for information and help when building our solar panels I read stacks of articles and viewed a lot of videos. The quality of both wasn’t always great but even the poor quality ones did occasionally have some value for people wanting solar powered energy. The quality of my own little video on youtube is pretty bad but my kids convinced me to do one to encourage people to visit this website so I‘m denying all responsibility for it!
Anyway this is one video that I did find quite useful earlier on in my search. It’s a google tech talk about solar power and solar panel installation and is made by Meredith McClintock who’s an industry expert. She works for one of the biggest solar power companies in the states and there is a lot of information in the video. However, it is 57 minutes long and can be a bit slow in places so make sure you’ve got a coffee and plenty of time.
The video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyiPbiPLmoM
Posted by admin on 22/10/2009
As I mentioned in my previous post I was dumb-struck by the cost of solar panels. After a lot of time spent trawling the internet it seemed a very good way of going a bit “greener” and reducing our carbon footprint but the cost did seem unreasonable. Despite looking for the cheaper solar panels and affordable solar power it seemed that if we went for the usual residential solar panels we were looking at spending a few thousand at least and this was money we just didn’t have.
The benefits of solar powered energy seemed obvious to us:
a) it’s green, it uses nothing but the sun’s light and doesn’t release harmful effects into the atmosphere
b) it’s free, there’s no cost for using the power of the sun and the power can be stored for future use so you can lower or even completely cut out your energy bill. In fact you can even sell your excess back to the electricity companies
c) it’s low maintenance and
d) it can increase the value of your home
Click here to see how to get all these benefit for little outlay
Saving money on our monthly electricity bill was a nice idea but it wasn’t our driving motivation. That was more about reducing the harmful effect we had on the planet for the future benefit of our grandkid(s) and their families, but not being particularly well off, cost was always going to be an issue.
So we decided to “do it ourselves”, well, that would be mainly “do it myself”! Yet more time was spent searching the web, this time trying to learn how to go about creating our own solar panels, preferably without blowing up our house or disconnecting us from the national grid, neither of which my wife would appreciate!
And as it turns out I wasn’t losing my marbles and believing I was capable of making things that would never work. It seems that DIY solar panels are relatively simple to make even for an old duffer like me! And importantly the cost is minor when compared to conventional solar panel installations.
What I needed now was step by step instructions on how to go about building and installing my solar panels. Luckily there were a number of guides on the internet, most of them for a small fee of about £50 so I bought one and off I went… or so I thought!
It turns out that “not all guides to DIY solar panels are equal” and I ended up buying a few before I found one that covered everything I needed to know and was easy to follow at the same time.
But more of that later…
Posted by admin on
You might think solar panel racks are a strange place to start when talking about sustainable energy but this was the one thing that could have scuppered our inexperienced eco-freindly plans and being a bit of a dinosaur and only able to think of one thing at a time it’s the bit that sticks in my mind!
Over dinner one evening, shortly after the birth of our first grandchild my wife and I had our “state of the planet” conversation. I think it’s something that most new grandparents and parents will think about. Having your own children makes you think about what legacy you’re leaving them but by the time they get to being toddlers you’re so caught up in doing the right thing in your immediate environment, right food, right schools, right toys, right friends, that the larger “outside” world takes a back seat.
Anyway, the arrival of Sophie made us start thinking again about the state of the planet that she’s going to inherit from us. The beauty of being grandparents means that we actually have the time to look at the bigger picture.
I spent quite a bit of time trawling the internet (another advantage of being semi-retired!) and investigating alternative energy sources. We eventually decided that solar panels were a great idea, particularly for us as we have a large south-facing roof but when I started looking at prices I was horrified. It would take us years to get a return on what it would cost us to have them installed and although economy wasn’t the reason we were doing it, we weren’t particularly well off and didn’t have a few thousand to spare.
Being a bit stubborn and obviously having too much time on my hands my thinking went from “they can’t cost that much to make” to “why don’t I just make them myself?” Don’t get the wrong impression here, I’m not a DIYer of any talent. I detest decorating and my shelves never look quite right even if they’re level. With every DIY project I carry out there seems to be a little bit of “retouching” afterwards to make good my minor bodges. Still, the thought gave me something else to search for on the internet so a little bit more time “busy” in our spareroom/office!
Click here if you’d rather cut to the chase and just know how to build your own solar panels