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Energy Conservation Tips: Homemade Solar Panels

Updated on April 6, 2011

Solar Panels ... Power from the Sun.

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity.
Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity.

Residential Solar Panel Systems: Solar Panel Tips

Why Solar Energy?

If you are do-it-yourselfer and interested in energy conservation, then this article can help you identify the components of a homemade solar panel.  The importance of being energy self-sufficient has increased as the cost of oil has skyrocketed in the past months.

The Photovoltaic (PV) cell is at the core of the solar panel because it is the fundamental element that converts solar energy into electricity.  The solar panel is composed of a "series" of these cells connected together.  Hiring a contractor to take care of the acquisition and installation of a solar panel can be quite pricey.  One way to get the solar panel of your dreams is to either buy a kit or to build one from scratch. 

The Components of a Solar Panel

The basic solar panel consists of four components:
-Solar panel(s)
-Charge controller

Solar panel - The fundamental and functional component of a solar electricity system is the solar panel, which consists of a group of photovoltaic cells.  The number of cells is determined by the energy needs of the household as well as the budget.  The beauty of solar panels is that they can also be added-on in sections.  Solar panels can generate electricity for real-time use or storage in a battery system (discussed below).

Charge controller (regulator) - The regulator is there to control the battery charge level in an effort to prevent "overcharging".   In addition, it monitors the drainage of the battery in the evening.  The net effect, is that battery's effective life is maximized.

Battery - Of course, solar panels can not provide a constant level of electricity because the sun does not shine on them 24/7, 365 days a year.  The battery, provides the means of storing the unused energy for later use.  While it is possible to use a regular automobile battery, the deep-cycle marine battery is the best choice because it is capable of storing virtually all of the electricity produced by the solar panels.

Inverter - The solar panels generate electricity in the form of DC or Direct Current, while virtually all household appliances run on AC or Alternating Current.  The inverter provides the means by which DC is converted to AC making the power usable for everything from the toaster to TV.

Saving Money - Making Money with Solar

If you are hoping to generate enough electricity for all of your needs AND to sell back to "the Grid", you will need an AC Breaker Panel, and a Kilowatt-per-Hour Indicator.  The KW-per-hour Indicator for example is necessary to monitor the amount of electricity coming to and from the Grid so as to determine the charge or credit which appears on your electrical bill.

Please do not forge the least expensive and potentially most cost-effective energy conservation tip which is the use of Energy-Saver fluorescent light bulbs to replace incandescent bulb.  These may be more expensive in the short run but they consume considerably less energy and last many times longer that the regular bulbs.

Homemade solar panels are a great way to help make the home energy self-sufficient and is one of many excellent energy conservation tips.  Such panels can be purchased in kit form or made from scratch, which of course is the cheapest option.  There are other uses of solar power which will be discussed in future articles.

What Are Your Solar Plans?

I plan to build or buy solar panels within the next

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    • aikidk01 profile image

      aikidk01 7 years ago

      Planet and Joyce

      thank you for your commentary. We are still in the early stages of a major undertaking.

    • profile image 7 years ago

      This is very informative. I know that ready-made solar panels are expensive but these kits really gave another option for people who cannot afford the expensive ones. Great hub!

    • planet overhaul profile image

      planet overhaul 8 years ago

      Very useful hub. Someday ill be using solar panels at home.When that time come, im equip with good knowledge. Thanks for sharing this hub.

    • aikidk01 profile image

      aikidk01 8 years ago

      Thank you, Rick. Best wishes on your successful use of alternative sources of energy...Dan

    • profile image

      Rick 8 years ago

      Well presented and very informative.

    • profile image

      Build Your Own Solar panel 8 years ago

      Great hub Dan. Weel written and organized. I am glad to know you like the Earth4Energy program as well.

    • aikidk01 profile image

      aikidk01 8 years ago

      jayb23: Thank you. Best wishes on your use of renewable energy. Dan

    • jayb23 profile image

      jayb23 8 years ago from India

      Brilliant hub. These tips r really useful. Cheers

    • profile image

      solar 8 years ago

      das good

    • Info Provider profile image

      Info Provider 8 years ago from St. Louis Mo.

      Build Your Solar Panels Learn Step By Step

    • aikidk01 profile image

      aikidk01 8 years ago

      Gr8info - Power needs can be calculated. You can start small by buying a kit or obtaining used components to "get used to" the technology. Dan

    • gr8info profile image

      gr8info 8 years ago

      This is really useful information. I didn't realise that you had to have other stuff (like the inverter, battery etc) as well as the solar panel. I am seriously considering getting solar panels at the moment, I just have to figure out the kind of wattage I need to power my laptop computer. Thanks so much for this :)

    • Thomas T profile image

      Thomas T 9 years ago from Malaysia

      Excellent content here and a nice writing style too - keep up the great work!

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 9 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      Bookmarking this one - who knew you could get these in a kit! Very informative hub, thank you!