DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

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So the goal is to try and design my own system for my home, and would like to tie it into the grid.

I've been reading a lot on here about problems with poor design causing fires.

1. Poor choice for front glass
Something that needs to be at least tempered glass.

2. Poor frame design
Made of wood or plastic, causing expansion

3. For it to pass inspection it must be UL certified.
How do you go about doing that? Could I make a PV panel and get it certified or is that more trouble.

4. are the cells available to the public low quality vs the ones the manufactures are buying? After watching the videos wit seems that the expense is the labor since it is a very time consuming job to solder all of them by hand.
I was having trouble finding monocrystal cells for sale online I mainly found poly ones.

I was looking at this site for some of the designs
http://www.iqsolarpower.com/index.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDlGAhRCQ9c&NR=1

here are a couple sample videos of construction I was thinking about as a model. If anyone can improve on that I would like some ideas, also i wanted to usu monocrystaline cells. I would like each panel to be about 230watts with the whole system maybe being around 3.0kwhs. I 'm hoping to try and cut down about 20% or so on my energy bill.

And of course its all about being as economical as possible. :D

For buying panels I was looking at these two prefab ones
http://store.solar-electric.com/kykd215wasop.html
215watts $585

http://store.solar-electric.com/so230wamosop.html
230 watts $670

Grid tie inverter
http://store.solar-electric.com/frigpl3uni38.html

It looks like a comparable monocrystal cells can be bought and put together for around half of the prices listed. It can't be that simple so I'm wondering what I'm missing. Also I know that there are problems with the panels heating up and that the cooler the temps the more efficient the cells will be. The cooling seems to be done by air while having a 6" setting up off the roof.

I've got some more questions but I'll have to add them later.

Thanks for your help.

Comments

  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions
    ramz7887 wrote: »
    ......
    3. For it to pass inspection it must be UL certified.
    How do you go about doing that? Could I make a PV panel and get it certified or is that more trouble.
    ....

    Thanks for your help.

    You will never get a homebuilt pane to pass UL (well, it might pass, but you will never be able to afford the several panels to submit for destructive testing). The testing fee is in Tens of Thousands of dollars, and it's unlikely you will get homemade to pass the high voltage testing. They do all sorts of nasty, destructive, electrical things to them - they are trying their best to get them to burn, or short, or arc. Afterwards, they hand you a bag of broken glass and aluminum dust, and say "Sorry".

    As for heat, 2 or 3 inches above your roof is not enough, 4-6" is more like it, unless you expect lots of high winds.

    Good for you for asking first, rather than " Hi, I've made 30, 245W panels, and need to get them UL stamped."

    Buy parts, enough for one 100W panel, try makeing it, learn how to solder fine wires on the wafers, and make a science project out of it, but don't expect to have 1 panel cut your electric bill in half.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    I don't think you will find any utility (or inspection agency) that will accept home made PV for grid tie.

    There are UL listed panels that are available under $2/watt.

    Grid tie systems, (soup to nuts) will run somewhere over $5/watt.

    Tony
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    I guess making your own panels really doesn't have any purpose since they can't be incorporated into a system safely.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    my goal is to try and cut down about 25% and act as the power company in some of my rental properties. I was thinking about taking each months average utility payment say $200, then If i can produce enough solar I would be able to make $50 a month while still charging them $200. So I would be able to get a return on equity of about 25% give or take 3% or so. I just figured if I could make my own it would be more economical to set a system up for around 8k before tax breaks.
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    or if anyone knows the cheapest setup for a grid system.
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    Try these numbers,

    $200 worth of electricity @ $.10 kwh is 2000 kwh/month
    or ~66 kwh/day. You might require a 10-15 kw system. Such a system might run ~$ 8/watt, making said system $80,000 or so. Pretty hard to make 25% on $80k from $200/month.

    I think dream on comes to mind, if it was as easy and cheap as you think it is,, then there would be PV on every roof top in the country, and every coal fired plant would be rusting away.

    Icarus
  • russ
    russ Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    Right - only in a few places with very high feed in tariffs can roof top solar start to look economic today.

    ROİ of 25%? of course using subsidy funds. How does everyone like subsidizing the next guys commercial investment?

    DİY solar panels can not be made cheaper than you can buy them today.

    What this fellow is looking at seems to be a way to have his cake and eat it too.
  • thehardway
    thehardway Solar Expert Posts: 56 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions
    ramz7887 wrote: »
    I guess making your own panels really doesn't have any purpose since they can't be incorporated into a system safely.

    DIY panels serve a purpose but it isn't in high availability, grid tie systems. They work nicely as mentioned for a solar science project, to familiarize yourself with the principles of PV power, or more practically, to power lights in that garden shed out back, run an infrequently visited off grid cabin, power small LED lights along your driveway, a cooling fan on your porch etc. They are handy and fun but not the basis for a commercial power enterprise.

    As for your apartment complex, you may read, the cheapest watt is the one not used. If you want to make money on electric savings, base your monthly rent on current electric costs inclusive in the rent to a certain usage. Example. Rent is $1200 a month including water* and electric* (asterisk denotes fine print at bottom of contract which states up to 1000kwh per mo. anything over that is charged at the current electric company cost plus a surcharge (which goes to you). Same thing with water.

    This does 3 things:

    1) Makes renters think that electric is "free" because it is included in rent so they will choose your property over competitive rental properties for a slight increase in cost.
    2) Gives renters incentive to keep electric under the national average, but you still get paid average (included in the rent)
    3) opens the door for you to keep large amounts of cash savings by making energy efficiency upgrades to structures/appliances or producing a portion of the power sold at a lower cost.

    The best way to make money on apartment complex utilities is by building a solar/DX GHP central plant system and using it for heating, cooling and selling hot water. Obviously this will not work if your rental units are scattered across town but for highrise or townhome style apartments this can be a big way to make money and save energy.

    In case you aren't familiar with DX GHP units, they are Direct Exchange Geothermal Heat Pumps that use buried copper refrigerant lines. They are much more effiicient than regular water or glycol based Geothermal systems, require less area, cost less to install, have fewer mover parts, lower operational costs and can produce large amounts of hot water at very little cost to heat.
  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions
    ramz7887 wrote: »
    ... I just figured if I could make my own it would be more economical to set a system up for around 8k before tax breaks....

    Well that makes things simple, If your in the United States, The Federal Tax credit of 30% does NOT apply to rental property, only to primary and secondary homes that are NOT rented.

    So what do you thing a 3' x 6' piece of tempered glass sells for? what are you using for backing, Tedar, Glass? mounting strata, do you have a 4' x 7' vacuum table?

    Check other threads, you've found Northern Arizona's panels some at less than $1 a watt. I and others don't think you can make them any cheaper. Check other threads here!
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • solarvic
    solarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    Your figures lie. I looked up the 215 watt panel and the price each is $246.00 each, not $585,00. The 230 watt one doesn,t come up. If you are worried about saving money there are lower priced modules than the one quoted that might even work with the inverter. I have an inverter similar to the one you looked at and am happy with its performance. Probably if you got a pallet of panels you would even get them at a lower price. solarvic
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,439 admin
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    Remember this thread is ~3 years old, and panel prices have been falling. And this thread was resurrected by a link spammer (Cariboocoot has already taken care of him).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solarvic
    solarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions

    Isn,t that interesting that the same size panel is about or less than half of the price then 3 years ago? solarvic
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions
    solarvic wrote: »
    Isn,t that interesting that the same size panel is about or less than half of the price then 3 years ago? solarvic
    Interesting, yes; surprising, no.
  • inetdog
    inetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: DIY Solar panel questioin. Done some searching and still have some questions
    ramz7887 wrote: »
    I guess making your own panels really doesn't have any purpose since they can't be incorporated into a system safely.
    There are those who say that making small (~100 watt or less) panels for small isolated DC (or sometimes AC) loads makes sense and that in any case making one can be an educational experience. But more than one large one or anything that will be part of Grid Tie does not make sense.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.