Your Questions About Solar Panels For Home

Steven asks…

Can someone give me a ball park figure on home solar panel system install after rebates?

estimated cost of complete install and size

What im wondering, is if i can get a solar panel system installed on my home in sunny nevada for around $10,000?

system on the smaller size; for one person in 3br/2ba newer home.

ssadmin answers:

You get a 30% federal tax credit (if your taxes are enough), so that's a $14,000 system that you're talking about. Possibly Nevada has some incentive dollars, too – I don't know. That will buy a 2 kW, maybe 3 kW system. If you have A/C, it will probably not keep up.

The best way to get an idea of costs is to contact a professional installer in your area. Be ready with your electric bills for the past year if you can.

If you're construction oriented, you could put up a system yourself, getting a kit from a place like http://partsonsale.com/solarhomekits.html – but it's not a project to be taken lightly. If you're the kind of person that would re-roof their own house, or add a branch circuit to a room, then it might be for you.

We put up our own in 2006, and it's still working fine. The cost breakdowns are at http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/roderick/solar/photovoltaic.html

Laura asks…

Is anyone using small solar panels in their home with any practical results?

What about sources for straight forward solar powered products? Excluding toys, garden frogs and outdoorpath lights I have found few useful items for the home. What I have found are solar panels for under $100 each, inverters, rechargeable indoor lights and a few camping/RV products that are interesting. It seems to me that these could help me start to wean the family off the power company. I can't afford to go cold turkey and cover my roof with solar panels and I don't think the HOA would allow me to even if I could. Is anyone using solar on a small scale?

ssadmin answers:

Solar panel technologys are advancing all the time. I could be wrong about this as it has been at least 6 months since I checked, but last time I checked, solar panels as we know them, the kind you put on your roof cant generate enough power to run a full household especially if you have kids, with various game consoles, TV's, lighting, cooking, fridges and so on, not to mention power tools like the electric lawn mower or sander! That is to say, they cant generate enough power unless you are willing to spend considerable monies on the bestest most up to date ones and you have plenty of roof and garden space to mount them on. Actually, it would be cheaper just to pay the bills over the next 30 or 40 years at present prices than to do something like that.

However, other ideas are more reasonable, I have seen people mount rectulanguler plastic tanks on their roof, paint the outside of them a matt black, and put a transparent layer over them. This heats the water inside, saving them on heating costs for bathing and for heating the home in the evening. The most expensive part of this is getting it mounted and the pump to pump the water around the house.

Another alternative, is the geo thermal approach. That is the idea where you replace your radiators and heating system all together with a set of coiled pipes going through out your house. These pipes then lead out to the back garden under the ground about 3 or 4 feet. The idea being that the ground at that dept is always of a constant temperture no matter the weather, so if the house gets too hot the pipes (which are filled with a water/antifreese solution and are not connected to the water system) transfer heat out of the house and under the ground outside, but if the house gets too cold, the pipes take the heat from under the ground outside, and bring it into the house. This however will make any heating or air conditioning system almost useless as your house will always stay at the same temperature. Again you need a pump to pump the solution in the pipes it round the house.

Nancy asks…

Where can I buy a portable solar panels for my home in the Philippines?

With the power crisis looming in, I think it's better to have a solar panel than buy a portable generator which eats up petrol. Philippines must have the costliest fuel per liter in Asia. Problem is, solar panels can't be bought as easily as generators.

ssadmin answers:

The endless world of the internet

Michael asks…

where can I get free solar panels for my home?

Are there goverment grants for solar panels for residential? I live in New Jersey. USA. Or are there any experimental research companies that will install solar panels for free in return for their research purposes?
I just emailed the US Dept of Energy asking them the same question. Anyone know about the US Dept of Energy? What do they do?

ssadmin answers:

I don't really know about completely free solar panels, but you can get information about the best priced ones and how to do it yourself in my site www.ecologyforlife.info

Daniel asks…

Setting up Solar Panels for Home Electricity?

Hi

Has anyone setup a Solar Panel to generate electricity in India (particularly chennai). I am trying to see alternate energy sources to offset the Power cuts in Chennai, India. Please provide me with pointers.

Thanks

ssadmin answers:

Get the solar cells
check power and ground
When you look at the solar cell, make sure you check voltage between the positive side (the back side which is usually grey) and the negative side (which is the black side, with all the lines on it) of each cell. You can simply use a multimeter by placing its leads on the cell itself. This step is crucial, otherwise you'll connect bad cells in the middle of your link, causing the whole panel not to work.
Use conductive pen if needed
You need to make sure that all the tiny little lines in the negative side of the cells are interconnected (a way to gather all the electrons from the surface). This step is not necessary for all cells, only for the ones like in this picture, which don't have any connection between the lines on the surface. You can use the conductive pen to draw a thin line which connects all of them. Once you do that, you will immediately see the voltage rising for that specific cell.
Cell with conductive pen line
here's an example of a cell with the conductive pen line on it, linking between the tiny conductive leads on the negative side of the solar cell.
Linking the cells
This can get a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, can be done fast enough. First, some technical notes: In order to get higher voltage, you need to connect two cells in series. This means that the negative part of the first connects to the positive part of the second. As you continue to add more cells in series, you will get a higher voltage from side to side on your solar strip. This is all good, but if your cells are small-ish, they won't generate much amperage. So even if you have a high voltage, you probably won't be able to give it any load (probably will hardly light an LED). In order to get higher amperage through the circuit, you need to connect cells in parallel (positive side to positive side, negative side to negative side). When you do this, make sure the positive and negative leads (copper mesh in this case) don't short themselves out.
I found that the best way to connect between two cells was to use hot glue and some conductive mesh. The mesh is good since it allows light to come through it, and we all love glue guns. So all you need to do is glue the mesh onto the solar cell surface. Its always better to have a longer strip of mesh on the surface, with a big enough shared surface space between the two. Always check with a multimeter that there is connectivity, and that there is voltage coming through. Its a bummer later to try and figure out where the problem is.
Silicon coating
I highly recommend applying a silicon coating to your solar array. The cells are so fragile, and the links can easily detach or move out of place. A thin coat of silicon keeps it all in place… And also gives it a very cool effect!

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