Aug 13, 2014

11 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Build Your Own Solar Panels

You would think building your own solar panels would be a good idea.  You could save money and energy costs for your home or office.  If you do, proceed with caution, but read this list of why you should consider buying solar panels made by professionals.

  1. A solar panel is a precision piece of equipment, designed to survive outside for decades of inclement weather and huge temperature variation including intense heat.
  2. Professionally manufactured solar panels use highly specialised components, in a clean room environment and to very high standards.  For example, the glass is a special tempered product designed to withstand huge temperatures and optimise light penetration with zero refraction.
  3. The solar cells you can buy from sellers on eBay are factory seconds, rejected by the factory. Many of them are blemished or chipped and damaged. They are extremely fragile, almost as thin as paper, brittle like glass and very easy to break.
  4. Unless you are an expert at soldering techniques, you are likely to create a cold solder joint between one or more solar cells. Cold solder joints are likely to create a high temperature arc, which can start a fire.
  5. Do not use Plexiglas to cover your home made solar panel. Tiny imperfections in Plexiglas can lead to light refractions and intense heat build-up on elements within the panel. Plexiglas can also distort under high temperatures, increasing these light refractions over time.
  6. Most instructions recommend building the frame and backing out of wood. This is dangerous because of the intense heat build- up in a solar panel. On a hot and sunny day, the surface temperature of the panel can exceed 90°C (175°F). If there is any additional localised heat build-up within the panel, these spot temperatures could be as high as 800°C (1472°F).
  7. There are several documented cases where home made solar panels have caught fire and caused damage to people’s homes. These fires are typically caused by poor quality soldering, or the use of wrong materials.
  8. Many of the web sites promoting home made solar panels claim that you can power your house with them. In the United States, connecting home made panels to your household electrics would in violation of the National Electric Code and you would therefore not be allowed a permit to install them.
  9. Many of these web sites infer that you can also sell your power back to the utility companies. It is actually illegal to install non- approved power generation equipment to the utility grid in many countries, including both the United States and the United Kingdom.
  10. The tax credits and rebates that are available for installing solar PV on your home are not available for home built solar panels.
  11. Many people who make their own solar panels have found that they fail after a few months due to moisture penetration, or fail after only a few days or weeks due to high temperature arcing and panel failure.
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