If you are keen to install solar energy at your home, you must have seen the numerous websites promoting Solar Panel Home Kits. But before you spend your hard earned cash on one of these kits, find out if these kits are just another Internet scam or are they worth buying.
In general there are two types of Solar Panel Home kits.
1. The first type is simply a “how to” guide. They provide the manuals and videos that show you how to make your own solar panels.
2. The second type provides a manual and also includes some of the key materials required, e.g. some solar cells, a few feet of tabbing wire & bus wire and possibly a flux pen and junction box.
I want to look at the Solar Panel Home kits that claim to show you how to make a solar panel but do not include any materials. These “how to” guides / kits are heavily promoted on the Internet and typically cost $40 to $50 for the complete package of eBooks and videos.
Making Your Own Solar Panel Will NOT Save You Money
Despite all the wonderful claims made by the websites promoting these kits, you will not save money by making your own solar panel or photovoltaic panel (PV panel). Yes, you can make a 60watt PV panel for around $180, but you can buy the equivalent, retail, for the same price. And a retail panel is guaranteed to perform for 25 years. A home made solar panel has no guarantees and will last only a few years, at best.
So, only consider making a PV panel as part of a DIY or science project. The project will not save you money but it will keep you busy over the weekends and making a PV panel can be an enjoyable, rewarding and satisfying experience. The end result will be a functional solar panel that you can show off to your friends and neighbours and use to provide light and some power for a shed or outbuilding.
Do these “How To” Kits Really Show You How to Make a Solar Panel?
YES. Having bought and reviewed most of the leading kits on how to make your own photovoltaic panels I can assure you that some of these kits are very good. Not only do they contain manuals on the build process, the best kits include very good videos that show you step by step what to do and how to do it.
“Do I need to be a DIY Genius?”
No. Even a novice DIY person can do this. One of the good things about making your own solar panel is that it requires only a few skills and no special equipment. Although the process to manufacture the actual solar cells is very high tech, when it comes to making your own PV panels there is no high tech stuff to worry about, in fact the work is rather low tech. You need to acquire skills in the following areas:
If you have not held a
Measuring and marking out.
I know this sounds so simple and it is, but how many times have measured or marked something out and made mistakes. Follow the instructions and watch the videos carefully. This is simple stuff and just requires that you take your time, concentrate and watch what you are doing. Always double and triple check.
Using the silicone sealant/caulking.
The clear silicone is used for making the panel watertight. This is easy; just don’t try anything fancy like the professionals. Squeeze out enough silicon sealant in the approximate places and then use your wet finger or wet latex gloved finger to move the silicon into place and make it neat and smooth. The important thing is to make sure you seal all the gaps and holes and try not to get it where you don’t want it. But hey, it dries clear so no one is going to notice if you have used a tad too much.
That covers the main skills and techniques that you have to learn for your solar panel science or DIY project. The key thing is to take your time, don’t rush, enjoy doing it and the skills will come.