many questions

Here goes. I live in northwest Ohio and have much roof facing the south. I am interested in making my own energy either by solar panels or by wind as it seems to always be windy here.

Question 1 I see on ebay where you can buy solar cells fairly cheep and make your own panels. Is this the way to go if one has time to construct? Do they work? Cost of making your own verse buying high output more expensive panels ??

Question 2 I have read what others are doing and i see where some have batteries that are being charged and then drained off by use of an inverter. However i see where batteries are not needed and the power goes from panels to a inverter to the reversible electric meter to brakerbox ie: http://www.archive.org/details/DIY_self_installed_solar_photovoltaic_panels Why have expense in batteries if not needed?

Question 3 To build a system designed for room to grow by adding more panels or wind power or both what would be the best equipment to buy as far as combiner box, disconnect box, solar charge controler, inverter, and any other equip. needed ?

Question 4 Is there any info out there on building your own wind turbine as i have much wind? I am a dyi type person and have seen on youtube guys make there own but not much detail as to how they did it and cost.

Question 5 How many panels or rather watts go i need to produce to operate a typical 4 person home? It would be great to get off the grid !!!

Question 6 Does anyone know of free catalogs or magazines that are best for DIY ?

To all who have taking the time to read this and comment thank you very much :D

Comments

  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: many questions
    wags wrote: »
    Here goes. I live in northwest Ohio and have much roof facing the south. I am interested in making my own energy either by solar panels or by wind as it seems to always be windy here.

    Question 1 I see on ebay where you can buy solar cells fairly cheep and make your own panels. Is this the way to go if one has time to construct? Do they work? Cost of making your own verse buying high output more expensive panels ??

    Question 2 I have read what others are doing and i see where some have batteries that are being charged and then drained off by use of an inverter. However i see where batteries are not needed and the power goes from panels to a inverter to the reversible electric meter to brakerbox ie: http://www.archive.org/details/DIY_self_installed_solar_photovoltaic_panels Why have expense in batteries if not needed?

    Question 3 To build a system designed for room to grow by adding more panels or wind power or both what would be the best equipment to buy as far as combiner box, disconnect box, solar charge controler, inverter, and any other equip. needed ?

    Question 4 Is there any info out there on building your own wind turbine as i have much wind? I am a dyi type person and have seen on youtube guys make there own but not much detail as to how they did it and cost.

    Question 5 How many panels or rather watts go i need to produce to operate a typical 4 person home? It would be great to get off the grid !!!

    Question 6 Does anyone know of free catalogs or magazines that are best for DIY ?

    To all who have taking the time to read this and comment thank you very much :D


    1) Homemade panels are a great science experiment (100W) but are not UL certified for mounting on a insured structure, or connecting to the grid, they need to withstand a grid fault in the inverter and 240VAC .. Commercial panels are usually 600V rated.

    2) batteries are only used where blackouts are frequent and extended. otherwise a small generator to plug your fridge into , is less expensive.

    3) it's usually tough to "grow" a system. you could make it modular, and add in 3KW increments, but each addition needs engineering, permits, and utility approval.

    4) Wind - see Hugh Piggott - Scoraig Wind Electric site for tons of info.

    5) all depends on your area & climate. assume 5Kw as a starting estimate.

    6) I'm still looking too
    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 ,

  • RCinFLA
    RCinFLA Solar Expert Posts: 1,483 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: many questions
    wags wrote: »
    Here goes. I live in northwest Ohio and have much roof facing the south. I am interested in making my own energy either by solar panels or by wind as it seems to always be windy here.

    Question 1 I see on ebay where you can buy solar cells fairly cheep and make your own panels. Is this the way to go if one has time to construct? Do they work? Cost of making your own verse buying high output more expensive panels ??


    Making a panel that will be moisture sealed sufficiently is very tough. With the cost of panels in the $1.50 to $2.50 per watt is does not pay to build it yourself. Also be aware of UL certification requirements for any permanent install. Worse case your home owners insurance could have problems, either rejection of coverage or refuse to pay on a fire within your house.
    wags wrote: »
    Question 2 I have read what others are doing and i see where some have batteries that are being charged and then drained off by use of an inverter. However i see where batteries are not needed and the power goes from panels to a inverter to the reversible electric meter to brakerbox ie: http://www.archive.org/details/DIY_self_installed_solar_photovoltaic_panels Why have expense in batteries if not needed?

    Battery based systems (Hybrid grid-tie) provides you power when grid goes down. A non-battery grid-tie provides no power when grid goes down. Non-battery based is lower cost and doesn't have the maintenance hassels of battery based.
    wags wrote: »
    Question 3 To build a system designed for room to grow by adding more panels or wind power or both what would be the best equipment to buy as far as combiner box, disconnect box, solar charge controler, inverter, and any other equip. needed ?

    Start with decision on battery based or regular grid tie inverter. Analyse your power useage, conservation possibllities, area you have for panels, and what you want to produce. Roughly, you will average about 0.5 kWH per square meter of panel per day.
    wags wrote: »
    Question 4 Is there any info out there on building your own wind turbine as i have much wind? I am a dyi type person and have seen on youtube guys make there own but not much detail as to how they did it and cost.

    Wind turbines need about 10 mph wind average to make it worthwhile. Wind turbines can be dangerous if it gets into a runaway situation. You need load dump capabilities to ensure a drag on rotor to keep from over-rev'g. This is often a hot water heater load.

    Solar hot water heater has the best cost payback.
    wags wrote: »
    Question 5 How many panels or rather watts go i need to produce to operate a typical 4 person home? It would be great to get off the grid !!!

    Check you electric bill for average kWH's per day useage. There is no real typical, depends on your use cases.
    wags wrote: »
    Question 6 Does anyone know of free catalogs or magazines that are best for DIY ?

    There is a lot of info online, like this forum. Also manf. sites.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,404 admin
    Re: many questions

    There is also a thread with lots of solar links and project information:

    Working Thread for Solar Beginner Post/FAQ

    Home made solar panels is usually for personal education only... Home made panels (usually) do not last very long (months) and can be a fire hazard. Could somebody build a 20+ year life "fire safe" panel--Yes. But it requires the proper assembly equipment and materials--and experience. Usually would not make sense to build a "small" lot of panels.

    Home made wind turbines--There are some nice plans out there--But you need to be very handy with tools and be prepared to spend lots of time building and maintaining.

    Solar Thermal (hot water / hot air) lends itself very well to Do it Yourself projects.

    Solar PV systems... Grid Tied power to save money (or at least) nearly break even on power costs.

    Off-Grid systems (with batteries) and Hybrid (GT+Off-Grid) systems are expensive sources of power. Only makes economic sense if you are a long distance from power lines and/or you have unreliable power (ice storms, hurricanes, etc.).

    Off Grid systems will cost you around $1-$2+ per kWH; Hybrid systems can get down towards ~$0.45 per kWH; Grid Tie can be in the $0.15-$0.30 per kWH range. Utility power in the $0.08 to $0.30+ per kWH (depending on where you live).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: many questions

    Thank you to all who have made comments. This is very helpful and gives me new perspectives.
  • solarix
    solarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: many questions

    HOMEPOWER.com has a downloadable magazine that can't be beat.

    Don't try and build modules - You will save very little and have a much inferior result than purchased ones.
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: many questions

    Do solar in this order:

    First, do any and every energy conservation upgrade you can think of first.

    Second, do some more conservation,

    Third, do some more conservation.

    Fourth, consider solar hot water. Pretty easy to build a dyi system at small cost, fairly high return.

    Fifth. Did I mention conservation? Every dollar spent on reducing loads will save ~$10 in Pv cost.

    Sixth Consider PV solar, grid tie is much more efficient, (as well as cheaper) per kwh.

    Seventh, small scale wind. Most people have had bad luck with small scale wind. The dirty little secret about small scale wind is, if you have enough wind to be useful, you probably have too much wind to be reliable! It seems counter intuitive, but the reality is that wind machines are subjected to very large live loads, they live 24/7, 365 in harsh environments and are subject to dramatic mechanical failure. (Consider a bearing that has to run 24/7 365 up in the air without service).

    The reality with solar is that most people over estimate their harvest and underestimate their loads. Reducing the loads, and designing any Pv system for those loads is your best advantage.

    Good luck and keep in touch,

    Tony