Panel making business?

UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
And why can products be built cheaper there? The utter lack of safety and environmental standards that exist here. If they had to follow the same rules there would be no cost advantage in shipping goods from half-way around the world. Which, btw, is obviously not very "green" - ironic, eh?
Living in British Columbia, the receiving end for tons of Chinese goods, I have to say "good luck making a product there that isn't rubbish-heap ready to begin with".

But now this is wandering down the too-political path so I'll tell myself to shut up or else I'll have to delete my own posts and ban myself for thirty seconds or more. ;)

Hey, I have a question for you Cariboo, i've been going around town collecting glass people are throwing out to build my solar panels. Some of these people ask "what are you going to use the glass for?" of course i tell them, I'm using them to build a solar panel... Of course they are interested and ask more questions.. I always given them the same advice that you guys give, telling them that building your own solar panels isn't going to last long and isn't ideal for trying to build a home solar system, then I go into how my solar panels won't pass any codes set up by the governing bodies, and you won't rec any rebates...I showed my most recent succesful solar panel to the last person I got some glass from and they called me back after I left saying they have more glass and would pay me to build them a solar panel w/the same design as the one I showed them. My question to you, do you think I should do it? My intent was not to go into buisness, my intent was to build my own system as cheap as I could, but now people are requesting that I build them a few solar panels as well. Just the other day, i was running some more test on my panels and had them setup outside trying to wire the amp meter w/the shunt in it the way you told me to and a guy next door who worked for some dish cable network was installing the dish came over and asked me when was I hiring? I was kind of confused at first, then he said, I need to be doing what you're doing instead of installing cable, then I understood what he was talking about, i told him I'm not in buisness, and gave him a short tutorial on how to build his own solar panel. ANyway, what do you think, think I should build them for other people even doe i can't warrenty the product, don't have a buisness licenses, and to be honest, have no clue what i'm really doing?

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

    My wife is an accountant. Has been for 25 years. In that time we've seen a lot of businesses come and go. Many of them start up without a clue (business plan) and they nearly always fail. The odds are against you from the start. You need to know that going in to any business so that you can see the pitfalls before they break your leg.

    Building solar panels isn't like an artistic hobby, building bird houses say, where there aren't many things that can go wrong. If purple Martins don't like your birdhouses and starlings move in instead, you can change the birdhouse design and easily replace them for any dissatisfied customers.

    Not so with a panel. People who install approved commercial units get complaints that they don't perform the way the homeowner expected. Granted much of the time that's due to unrealistic expectations on the part of the homeowner (many of whom don't understand that 3kW of panel doesn't produce 3kW even under good conditions, much less 24/7) but you would have that same problem.

    In my opinion there are too many shysters out there giving solar a bad name by making unrealistic claims. This taints the market. "Spin your meter backwards!" is shouted at them until they believe it's possible with just one 45 Watt panel. There are also too many who declare you can build your own panels cheaply and easily at home. You've already discovered it's not quite as easy as it's made out to be.

    Trying to compete with multi-million dollar companies that have huge assembly lines and can churn out quality panels backed with 25 year warranties at a cost under $3 per Watt? You'll find that customers expect yours to be exactly the same, and cost half as much. You'll also find you're soon working for $0 per hour (count up how much time it takes to actually build one panel by hand, assuming it works out right the first time through).

    And then there's every business' boogeyman; liability. You'll probably not get insurance against it, if only because (as we've seen in another thread) insurance companies do not understand solar and are scared of it. But realistically the product could fail and potentially burn someone's house down, or at least be blamed for it. You'd be on the hook for all of that, even if it is unfair.

    There are plenty of businesses you can get in to that are solar related and less potentially hazardous to your financial health. If you haven't realized by now that building your own panels isn't simple, easy, and cheap you haven't been paying attention to your own posts. A good learning experience, yes; but you should learn that it's not very practical on a large-scale. You'll soon get sick of hand-soldering tabs.

    Yeah, I know: 'Coots a killjoy.
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

    Can't argue that!! I feel bad telling these people I can't do it, but I'd rather feel bad now, than feel bad later when something goes wrong.

    And you are right, it is alot harder than you think to build a solar panel, and don't think that after you finish building it you're done and can run out side and add it to your array, cause you're not!! you have to test the darn things w/and w/out loads on them to see if anything is wrong with them
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

    You can get assembled laminates for 74 cents watt now about 50% cheaper than your DIY panels
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

    urbandialect,
    if those people have a pc then give them this forum and the store site for naws web addresses. if they are serious of getting into it and they don't have a pc then maybe you can copy some things on paper to show them or invite them over to use your pc.
  • jeffkrusejeffkruse Solar Expert Posts: 205 ✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

    Damn, $1.48 a watt?!! I paid $3.44 a watt just 2 1/2 years ago and I thought I got a good deal.

    Does Evergreens problems mean they won't have low priced panels on the market thus causing the price of panels to stabilize?
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale
    niel wrote: »
    urbandialect,
    if those people have a pc then give them this forum and the store site for naws web addresses. if they are serious of getting into it and they don't have a pc then maybe you can copy some things on paper to show them or invite them over to use your pc.

    Yes she has a PC, she sent me an email letting me know that she wanted me to make her some solar panels and had some more glass for me, i went by yesterday to pick up the glass,(3 x 3 double pane windows filled with argon gas )..anyway I asked her what she needed the solar panels for, and she basically said just to have some, she really didn't know what she wanted to use them for. I don't think she at the stage where she is ready to invest big money in solar, i think she just wants to see how it works.

    I guess I could sale her a small system to play around with for decent price, i'm thinking I can give her 4 60watt panels, 2 T105s 6volt batteires and a small 750watt MSW inverter, and a 15 amp MTTP charge controller for $280, to play around with, what do you think?
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

    urbandialect,
    if she doesn't know what she will do with them then i suggest a small 5w or so pv she could get her feet wet with and it can maintain her car battery. if you are good with electronics you can make a small regulator circuit for it so she can charge up nicd or nimh batteries, but buying a charger with a 12v input might be better. car electrical systems don't go over 15v or so and is often far less being around 14.1-14.4v and a pv can reach over 20v open circuit so some preregulation may still be needed to protect the charger. i'm thinking simplistically as a preregulator an lm7815 regulator ic with heatsink, a diode so as to prevent you from hooking up the pv backwards, and maybe a fuse and on/off switches.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,192 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

    Check out the surplus VW windshield panels they use for shipping the cars
    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 ,

  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 719 ✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale
    Yes she has a PC, she sent me an email letting me know that she wanted me to make her some solar panels and had some more glass for me, i went by yesterday to pick up the glass,(3 x 3 double pane windows filled with argon gas )..anyway I asked her what she needed the solar panels for, and she basically said just to have some, she really didn't know what she wanted to use them for. I don't think she at the stage where she is ready to invest big money in solar, i think she just wants to see how it works.

    I guess I could sale her a small system to play around with for decent price, i'm thinking I can give her 4 60watt panels, 2 T105s 6volt batteires and a small 750watt MSW inverter, and a 15 amp MTTP charge controller for $280, to play around with, what do you think?


    Make sure that price includes profit to cover the liability insurance needed to cover you if there is a fire or something and also a little set aside for the legal fund if a customer ever decides to come after you legally. These are just 2 of the very real things that self employed people and manufacturers face in today's world. Remember "No good dead goes unpunished"
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,192 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    .. Remember "No good dead goes unpunished"

    nice twist !

    message lengthenererer
    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 ,

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Panel making business?

    I split this off because it had wandered far away from the original subject.
    We're good at lateral thinking here, eh? :p
  • UrbandialectUrbandialect Solar Expert Posts: 107 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale
    halfcrazy wrote: »
    Make sure that price includes profit to cover the liability insurance needed to cover you if there is a fire or something and also a little set aside for the legal fund if a customer ever decides to come after you legally. These are just 2 of the very real things that self employed people and manufacturers face in today's world. Remember "No good dead goes unpunished"

    lol, see, this is why i don't want to help her, I would much rather point her to the real people that do this... but when I mentioned it she said the prices are ridiculous and would much rather me make them. :(

    i trying to meet her halfway, i want to give her enough power to actually run stuff with, so she can get a feel for it, I could just give her 2 60 watt solar panels for free, and 2 T105s, that way I won't be liable if something goes wrong because i didn't sell it to her...Plus i'm not trying to go into buisness making panels, i'm trying to build me a system for my home
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,969 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Panel making business?

    Hi UD,

    Here's an idea;

    Evergreen Solar is/has filing for Bankrupcy. Perhaps this is an opportunity to go together with others to buy some technology, and production capacity to BUILD YOUR OWN Solar Panels.

    I Do respect your energy (and that of your cohort of panel builders) and dedication to this task, and believe that you and others who have this interest could possibly bring something unique to the manufacturing process.

    However, anyone who believes that the prices of solar panels is ridiculous is SERIOUSLY misinformed, IMHO.

    Opportunity knocks! Good Luck, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 755 ✭✭
    Re: Panel making business?

    I agree with solar guppy buy the 74 cents/watt panels in bulk minimum order 10 and resell them.
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale
    trying to meet her halfway,

    My opinion? I've been around the block with people like her. Flee while you yet can. Otherwise at the very least, you'll be married to her project until death do you part.
    I know you want to help, but will you have time to look after her system and all her troubles, as well as looking after your own? The world is stocked with users.:cry:
  • spanelspanel Solar Expert Posts: 35
    Re: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale
    lol, see, this is why i don't want to help her, I would much rather point her to the real people that do this... but when I mentioned it she said the prices are ridiculous and would much rather me make them. :(

    i trying to meet her halfway, i want to give her enough power to actually run stuff with, so she can get a feel for it, I could just give her 2 60 watt solar panels for free, and 2 T105s, that way I won't be liable if something goes wrong because i didn't sell it to her...Plus i'm not trying to go into buisness making panels, i'm trying to build me a system for my home

    Im not sure you "selling it" to her makes any difference or not.. if you give her that and she burns her house down... They were your panels that burned her house down as an example.. not hers...

    Chris
  • RCinFLARCinFLA Solar Expert Posts: 1,280 ✭✭✭
    Re: Panel making business?

    Some you degree you get what you pay for. There are a lot of junk cells out there.

    Every panel maker touts the power output at full sun. This is not the only consideration.

    The big crap shoot on cells are their leakage due to defects in the cell. All cells have some defect shunts. Typical value for a good quality cell is 50 to 1000 ohms. Some low cost panels are using cells with less then 10 ohm shunt resistance. During high illumination exposure the loss is minor 0.52v/10ohms = 50 ma shunted current. This may be some higher percentage performance loss at low ilumination levels.

    When cells get shaded they can end up high reverse biased due to other cell production in the bypass diode group. At the higher reverse voltage the leakage becomes an issue. The 10 ohm shunt leakage now dissipates over a watt. The more series cells in a bypass diode group the greater the power dissipation in the shaded cell.

    Poly crystalline cells are more vunerable to damage from reverse bias power dissipation at the grain orientation interface points. It can reduce the lifetime of the cell.
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