Don’t buy any materials for the solar panels just yet. Building your own solar panel might seem like a good way to save money but I would like to make you aware of a few misconceptions before you commit to this process.
Not all solar panels are made equal: Chances are you will be purchasing your solar panels off eBay or amazon. I am here to tell you that what you are buying are not quality top end solar panels. Much to your horror when you open the package what you will find, are a variety of solar panels with most of them smashed up in either big or little pieces. These are the beauties you just scored for an awesome price right?
But make no mistake they are the ones you did order. You might be lucky to receive a few factory rejects that are not smashed or cracked but slightly scratched. But for the most part you will spend your time sorting these pieces into whatever mosaic solar panel you can.
It won’t last like manufactured solar panel arrays: On most sites they say that solar panels/solar panel arrays last for over 25 years and this is generally true. But it is not true for homemade DIY panels like the kind you’re making. If you’ve put time and effort into finding decent enough materials and you construction skills have been top tier all through the process you will be lucky to get maybe 2-4 years out of it. Eventually your solar panel will degrade because of the weather. Even though you try to seal the panel array as much as possible vapour will eventually get through because your panel is not made from the cream de la cream of materials.
It won’t benefit from the feed in tariff (Editor's note: not all areas have a feed in tariff): Just to add injury to insult if by some glitch of the universe your DIY solar panel made more electricity than you used in that day it won’t be paid from the electric companies. Mainly because it isn’t covered by their insurance, and the materials as mentioned before do not meet standards.
I myself did plenty of research before I went onto build my own solar panel array and even then I was disappointed at the results I got. It’s really simple; if you pay cheap you will receive cheap.
So What’s The Point Of DIY Solar Panels?
Okay so you found out, that you’re going to be spending $325 for a DIY solar panel which will not power your house, will only last at most 4 years and you’re going to have to assemble it all yourself? What’s the point?
The point is a sense of achievement, to learn new things about photo-sciences to join the ranks of those who dared to turn something looking like a heap of junk into a machine which can generate at least some electricity. When I started on my DIY Solar journey I was like you, at first ill-tempered wondering why I even bothered with this stuff but now I know so much about it that I can still power my PC, TV, blow heater and halogen oven during the winter. Plus my fridge during summer, so for my $325 I have broken even many times over.
For the past 4 years I have saved $983 on my electricity bills but I have still had to repair the solar array twice. Nothing too major, just a few squirts of sealant here and there.
I Don’t Want To Make My Own Solar Panel, Any Suggestions?
So you have come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to make a lot of return on this solar panel, and that was probably the sole reason why you were going to build it. My advice to you would be to contact your local solar array installers, find out what the price range is and negotiate as hard as you can. You may be lucky and get 20-30% off your solar array.
Alternately you can get solar panels leased to you if you only want to make a reduction in your electricity bills but you will not get the feed in tariff benefits. If you choose this option make sure your roof is secure and without fault or you will be paying for the solar panels coming off and being put back on again.
My name is Gary Roberts and I have made my own DIY solar panel but after a while I called in the pros and got AmberGreen Solar Panels NI to install one on the roof of my house.
- License: Image author owned