Your Questions About Solar Panel Kits

Nancy asks…

Solar Panel Demonstration Ideas?

Hey i am going to build a scale model house and demonstrate how you would use solar panels to provide energy. I am thinking of buying some kit solar panels and wiring up some lights to show how they power the home. Also i might hook up a battery in the house to show how you can store the energy. I might also have a large battery hooked up outside the house to represent a power plant that could provide emergency power. Any ideas or comments would be great. Thanks

ssadmin answers:

Hey Al, great idea. I don't know how big the model is, or what you're using for lighting and such. Here's what I've been doing. We have a solar and wind powered home in the Northern Great Lakes. The last few years, I've been going into the local school and teaching a solar power seminar to the 5th graders. I don't have a model home, but we just pile some stuff on a table, like a small radio, a couple lamps and portable DVD player. For fun I've added a string of LED Christmas lights and a DC fan from a truck stop. All this stuff is hooked to a 12 volt battery for a trolling boat motor. The Christmas lights and one compact flourescent bulb are powered by a small inverter from the auto parts shop, which is also connected to the battery. I show the kids our little, “home,” and then we pull the plug from the wall, which isn't actually doing anything anyway, and they see that a power failure doesn't affect it. Next I have a 50 watt solar panel with a DC plug on a long wire that the kids take outside and set up facing the sun, and when we plug it into the battery, they can see the voltage come up some. A couple ammeters will demonstrate how much the house is using, and how much the panel is delivering. On a good day, the panel can run all the stuff in our house and have a little left over to charge the battery. This is a great way to illustrate how a solar power home works, and the kids like getting involved.

Afterward, we have a field trip up to our house so they can see an actual working solar home first hand, but the classroom activity is really fulfilling even without the field trip. What I would suggest is you look for a battery like this, maybe 75 to 100 amp hours if you can find one, or larger, then shop for a panel, not more than 50 watts. This way the panel will not overcharge your battery if it is plugged in for an hour or so without any load on the battery. I don't know if your model will hold this battery, or you could add a shed in the yard for it. Then for effect, put in a switch that switches the entire model home load from the battery to a 12 volt converter that plugs into the wall. You could simulate a power failure by unplugging it, and then turn on the battery. Lots of possibilities.

There's a great mag out that gets into the nuts and bolts of all this stuff, Home Power Magazine. Our home was even featured in it a couple times. I suggest subscribing to it online, it isn't expensive, then use their search engine to look for an article called, “Trying the Small System First.” It is all about what you are doing. Good luck with your project, and take care…Rudydoo

James asks…

DIY kit for solar panel?

i am very much interested in making a solar panel, my problem is where i can acquire the main components in order to build it, i am staying here in abu dhabi UAE i'm always searching on the internet for shops that can provide me a DIY kit but i did not find one, i need somebody who knows where i can get these things, please let me know.

ssadmin answers:

I know Northern Tool ships to Canada, but not sure if they ship to the UAE. Http://
If you know how to construct your electrical controllers from the component pieces, a source the does ship worldwide is DigiKey, Since they handle Toshiba and Sanyo components, it might be worth checking with them to see about the Photovoltaics. The PV panels are not a normal catalogued item, but they can do special orders.

I would think you might have a Siemens distributor in the UAE, but I suspect you already looked.
The charge controllers are very easy to make and profit margins are very great for the ready made units. I am not sure my email will appear under the blue banner, but give it a try, I can direct you to the technical notes and application notes that explain the operation of MOSFETs, there are a few, but they are well written in the event you have not studied them yet, And also give you a few details they do not always cover well in the notes to expand the current handling capabilities.

In the event the banner does not toggle,

Lisa asks…

Solar panels make easy project?

I've been looking at this DIY project of making solar panels and wondered if anyone has purchased any of the solar panel kits that you can buy online to build your own panels. Anyone tried this and if so, was it worth the effort. would love to hear your comments. Here is the guide that I was looking at: Let me know!

ssadmin answers:

Yes,I bought one but i could't remember the name of company.But I will tell you all the informations about how I made it in home.

Things you'll need:

1.One electric stove or hotplate (at least 1100 watts)
2.Sheet metal shears
3.One micro-ammeter (able to read currents between 10 and 50 microamperes)
4.Tap water
5.One 2 liter plastic bottle or glass
6.Safety goggles
7.Two to three tbsps. Of table salt
1/2 -foot square sheet of copper flashing
8.Electric drill with sand paper
9.Two alligator clip leads
10.Harness the Power of the Sun


1 .Use sheet metal shears to cut the copper flashing in a square or rectangle to fit the size of the electric burner. Be sure to use a piece of copper flashing that is thoroughly cleaned. You may use sandpaper to thoroughly remove any sign of corrosion before proceeding.

2 .Place the copper flashing on the electric burner and turn the burner on. You will need to “cook” the flashing for as long as 30 minutes or more to develop a thick layer of black cupric oxide.

3 .Allow the copper to cool slowly once the layer of cupric oxide has formed. It will begin to flake off and may do so with some force as the oxide and the copper cool at different rates.

4 .Scrub the completely cooled copper under running water to remove any last remaining bits of oxide. Be gentle, as you do not want to remove any of the red cuprous oxide that has been created in heating the flashing.

5 .Cut another piece of copper to the same size. Attach both panels using the alligator clips to the inside of the wide-mouth glass jar or plastic bottle with the top cut off. The panels should not touch and should bend to match the curves of the jar or bottle.

6 .Connect the lead of the alligator clip which fastens the clean copper plate to the positive terminal of the meter. The negative terminal should then be connected to the cuprous oxide plate.

7 .Make a solution of salt and water by dissolving the salt in hot tap water. You should make enough solution to barely cover the bottom of the plates, leaving the clips high and dry.

8 .Place your solar panel in the sun to see the gauge jump to reflect the current your project has created

Paul asks…

help setting up a solar panel system?

wanting to set up the most basic solar panel system for a cabin in the woods that has enough power to recharge four 12V car batteries during the daytime (i am assuming; we want to run a mini fridge maybe a stove and a few lights at night off the batteries and be able to run it all just off solar during the day) It also needs to be able to power some simple tools during the day…
Experience would be absolutely amazing since alot of the info on solar paneling is either really dumbed down, or ridiculously confusing.

As of right now I am looking at a 3 panel (45watt in all) solar kit that needs a 300w inverter…. is this sufficient for my power needs? I am just a little perplexed, thanks so much!
not exactly woods…. southern exposed hillside in super sunny northern california

ssadmin answers:

If you have enough batteries, and you are there Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, leaving Sunday before dark, You could make it work, however the tools you are planning on using will have a big impact on how effective that low power system will be for you.

Also switching over to LED lighting will help a great deal. This blog should be getting a pretty big LED conversion update online soon too. Http://

If the minifridge is one that plugs into 12 volts, that should be okay. Anywhere you can eliminate the inverter will help. Such as converting the stereo over to 12 volts.

The nominally rated panels should be mounted at an angle to maximize the solar aspect/exposure. Essentially your lattitude plus 12 degrees for simplicity.

If you add 60 Watts in panels you will do much better.

Your 3 panels when installed correctly will actually yield over 15 Watts each panel at midday. If you do not achieve that, something is wrong in either the wiring, or a panel. It translates to about 1point2 Amperes to 1 point5 Amperes at midday. If wired in series for 36 volts, the total current output will be same as a single panel (nominal 15 Watt), but at a higher voltage. If wired in parallel, you achieve the 45 Watts at nominal 12 volts. Watts is voltts times Amps.

Also converting your tools over to run off the 12 volts will help, Or charging your tool batteries off the 12 volt buss. There are buck/boost circuits that would be capable of charging the common 14.4 and 18. Volt tools out there.

Charles asks…

what type of solar panel should i use?

i need a solar panel that i can use for my koi pond because the pump is using too much electricity.
i need one that can supply up to 350 watts (the pump is 286 watts and uv light is 40 watts) that will run over 24 hours that is cheap and comes in a whole kit. i am looking to pay around 1000 dollars for it please help me.

ssadmin answers:

You can build an efficient solar panel on your own for less than $200. You could be saving up to $800.

So why not make your own? It's not as hard as it may look.


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