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Posted by z on March 31, 2009, 1:39 am
Got some work done on the new penstock for the hombrewhydro and it was
sunny all day -- full on solar + hydro for the win!  Days like this I can
run w/out any generator

Now the pressure is on to find more solar panels.  Summer is coming and no
way do I have enough.  Wish they were not so damn expensive.  Every week or
two we get the 'company X came up with the super dooper method to make
solar cells cheap' and yet when I go to find some they're still around 5$ a

show some off-gridders the love and start making cheap panels!

Posted by Curbie on March 31, 2009, 3:15 am

My brother is a big fan of PV panels where I am not. I think the
reasons are two fold 1) his pass-time is reading (not much wattage
required for that), 2) and he is not very mechanically inclined. Where
I like building stuff (power tools wattage required), so when building
AE stuff, in one sense, the wattage is a bonus (I enjoy the path as
much as the destination).

I bring this personal crap up NOT to hijack your thread, but as an
observation, if you put together a homebrew-hydro system it seems to
me you have to be good at building stuff. I don't know if the idea of
building solar panels appeals to you, but if it does, I bought an
e-book that I thought was pretty good. Not the "ask Bob's Barricades
for free road kill PV panels" BS, but a pretty serious and thoughtful

Build Your Solar Panel by Phillip Hurley $2.95

He has done other e-books and I have a few of them too.

DISCLOSURE, I have no association to or with this guy other than
buying some of his books which were all generally good, except the
string along hype of his Fuel Cell series, the material looked real
sound, but it was set-up in a way were you need to buy the next book
then the next book, to get the whole picture and in the finial book
was the Fuel Cell gotcha (still, I don't regret the purchases). I
haven't built any panels from the book, but the material looks sound
and the sources are good.

When I did some half-hearted cost calculations I think material cost
for was 60% of new panels (IMHO, not that great), you provide labor,
but very labor intensive. Price/ performance I'm going with wind, but
it occurs to me that building your own panels with the knowledge and
ability to repair them (a few extra cells), might offset the labor
intensive work.

For what it's worth.


Posted by z on March 31, 2009, 3:28 am

Dude I know what you are saying.  I've got a bunch of cells sitting
around and most of what I need to make some panels, but man.. I grew up
with a chainsaw in my hand, not a soldering iron.  I've worked on riging
my own panels a few times and I just suck at soldering. I tried variable
voltage irons and different solder.. i always end up cracking those
things.  Its just me probably but I haven't had any luck. Also the
extreme rain we get here..  makes me paranoid about putting something I
made out in the weather that needs to stay dry.  The hydro is fine being
wet .. I live in the wet.  Sealing those home brew pannels is key too.

So I'll probably give the damn home made solar panel another go here
pretty soon but the reality is that I don't think I can make a panel with
near the quality of the commercial products.  My old man bought at 48
watt panel thats still in my array about 20 years ago and its still
running fine.  Sad thing is the damn thing is still about the same price
as what he paid!!



Posted by Curbie on March 31, 2009, 6:32 am

Well, can't quite tell if that was a yes or no? But if you decide to
GO for it I can say for sure the book covers sealing, I think the
author lives in Vermont(?) which means COLD in the winter and I think
he said his earliest panel had been going for a few years. (I can
check the time if it's important to you).

I spent my a lot of my youth sawing, nailing, and wrenching on cars,
soldering didn't come easy to me either, if you decide to try, all I
can say is, for the most part, you're good at what you want to be good
at. Practice, practice, practice, (on junk). If you don't enjoy the
journey, the destination will be harder to get to.

Have fun.


Posted by z on April 1, 2009, 4:31 pm

Well I got off track and onto a rant there ;)

So I do have the book by Hurley -- thats been my guide.  It is pretty
good and I took his advice and bought a bunch of broken cells and spent
quite a lot of time practicing.  I just suck at soldering :)

I'll have another try.  I did score a variable power soldering iron so
maybe that will help with temp control.

thanks Curbie

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