Building a Solar Panel Part 1

by Kevin on April 27, 2009

wood-panel

I have started to build a solar panel to use for a class project here, and eventually in the Philippines. I searched the web and found that it’s possible to build a lower cost 60 watt PV panel, possible less than $200.00. One of my goals in building this panel is to learn more about this technology and to refine my skills. I also have a few of my middle school students that are eager to help and this will be a good learning experience for everyone involved.

I would also like to incorporate the solar panel into my large Mars Habitat project at the end of the school year. Maybe we will be able to generate enough power to run one of the fans. I’m not sure where all this will go, but I think it will be a fun project.

I already bought a piece of wood 3/8 inch thick, 2 feet by 4 feet plywood at the local store. This size wood is precut and easy to bring back to school. The only problem is that it’s a little warped. I’m not sure if this is critical or not. I plan to trim the perimeter with 1″ trim wood to add strength. Today I started to paint it and I’ll finish painting it tomorrow. So far, the cost of the wood, trim wood, paint and brush cost $38.00. Tomorrow I want to finish painting both sides and add the perimeter trim to strengthen the panel.

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Solar panel part 2
May 17, 2009 at 6:17 pm

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Randy C April 27, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Hi Kevin – I’ll be real interested to see how this turns out.

Sorry I haven’t been available lately, and it’s not looking good any time soon. I’ll be in touch though.

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2 Kevin April 28, 2009 at 5:00 am

Randy,
Hey, good to hear from you. We have a mini heat wave here in PA. It was 94 yesterday and low 90′s today so I only painted some of the panel as it was drying too fast. I’ve got most of the project completed in my mind, just gotta keep working on it everyday. Got all my tools in my classroom now so that should help.

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3 Gerald April 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Hi Kevin,

Looking forward to the next installment! I’m very interested in solar energy and would certainly be interested in saving some money on a PV setup!

Thanks for posting!

Gerald

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4 Kevin April 28, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Gerald,

My students finished painting the panel today. Thanks for visiting.

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5 Randy C April 29, 2009 at 10:12 am

Kevin – looks like a good idea for a business there in the Philippines, if you can keep the unit costs down ;-) Labor would be cheap, not sure about parts.

Samal Island Solar Co.

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6 Kevin April 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Randy,
Samal Island Solar Co.

Yes, that does sound pretty good. I think the problem for the masses is that it will still be too expensive. For my project I hope to get a real clear idea of what would be the lowest cost to build the PV solar panels. For this project, the labor is free and the only cost is the parts.

Another consideration is the other costs like an inverter and batteries. But you never know, maybe I can get them used or something. I plan to find out.

Today, my students finished painting the panel and trim wood. I drilled the perimeter pilot holes and attached one piece of trim wood. Some of my students and bringing in spare wood tomorrow.

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7 Randy C May 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Hi Kevin – how did this project turn out? You ready to start priduction ;-)

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8 Randy C May 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Production, that is!

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9 Kevin May 17, 2009 at 5:22 am

Still working on it. Almost done. Post coming Monday.

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10 Alex June 28, 2009 at 3:24 am

Hello,

I am interested to build a solar pannel in the hilippines too.
WHere can I buy cheap pannel and converter? My plan is to run my regrigerator with solar power.

Alex

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11 Kevin June 28, 2009 at 7:40 am

Hi Alex,

Welcome. They sell solar panels in Manila and Cebu. I have not found any in Davao. You can search the web to find the prices there. I think you will need more than one to power you refrigerator. Where are you located in the Philippines?

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Kevin Reply:

Also, you may need more that one solar panel to run a large appliance.

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Kevin Reply:

Alex, I’ll keep looking for a solar energy business in Davao.

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12 Alex June 28, 2009 at 9:07 am

Well, I am living in Lipa-City / Batangas.
Yes I think too, I will need more than one panel! The refrigerator I am using have 220V/90W
Many times there is a brown out and all the ice is melting inside. So that would be a good thing, because sun is shining most of the time.
Do you know a place in Manila, where to buy such kind of stuff for a good price?

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13 Kevin June 29, 2009 at 10:21 am
14 Jack Mascarinas October 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I am interested in building this business too for the Philippines. I have some instructions how to do it with parts available in the United States.

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15 alex salvador October 26, 2009 at 12:14 am

i’m interested to build a solar panel for home use.

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16 mary salome kelly November 30, 2009 at 6:55 am

I am in San Fabian, Pangasinan, Philippines right now and will be here for a couple of months, I am very interested in learning about this so I can share it with very poor villages.

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17 Kevin November 30, 2009 at 9:19 am

Hi Mary,
It take some time to build and the parts are not that cheap. The cost of the solar parts is still too high for the average Philipino to buy.

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18 Ben May 21, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Solar-powered house is very flexible because you can just start build come panels for your house first then if the performance is beyond average you might consider to expand it and make an extra solar panels. Now that’s the reason we should try to build one!

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19 bluexi September 11, 2010 at 7:41 am

Having an alternative source of energy is great. Unfortunately, solar panels are still to expensive for most Filipinos as Kevin pointed out. I’d like to have one really.

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Kevin Smith Reply:

bluexi,

The price is coming down and it’s cost effective if you can make your own.

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20 richard ceniza October 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Hi Kevin, I was looking for someone interested in solar power in davao city, I am from Maa Davao city and I have a farm somewhere in Marilog, electricity is not available there, so I was thinking for an alternative.How was your project with solar energy?

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Kevin Smith Reply:

Hi Richard,

Thanks for stopping in. I completed my solar panel project. I just need to hook it up to a battery and an inverter, to get some AC power.

Last summer when I was in Davao, I looked for, but couldn’t find any solar energy companies to buy some solar panels. Davao could use a few companies to sell and service solar power. The solar panels are still relatively expensive, but the price is coming down.

It’s even less expensive if one can build a few of the panels. You still need to buy a deep cycle battery and an inverter. If one only needs power for a few lights and a tv, you don’t need a very large system.

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21 richard ceniza October 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

Hi Kevin,
I tried surfing the net for somebody who’s selling and installing solar panels in Davao City, I came across a company somewhere in Obrero, Davao city.I still have to inquire on how much they will ask if I like to run a light and a small refrigerator.I will also compare the price if I will ask my brother in law to buy it for me in the US.I also read about this organization who’s helping poor families to have sustainable lights in mindanao http://amore.org.ph/our-partners/others
I hope I can visit you there in my next vacation to see your project.tnks.

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Kevin Smith Reply:

Rich, to run a light and small refrig, probably one needs 6-8 panels. Need to calculate the total watts first. I couldn’t find anyone in Davao to buy from.
I hope to have some solar panels on my house in Digos, which is south of Davao.

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22 richard ceniza October 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Kevin, I’ll try to ask the store in Obrero and let you know if they have any,my brother in law is staying in Carson, California and he can buy me a panel and the shipping is only 65$(if it would fit the balikbayan box)my problem is installing it.Maybe it will be cheaper buying from US.Will let you know if i’ll have my info.I used to go also in Digos, I like the delicacies in Mer’s.’Will get back to you as soon as I’ll have my info.

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Kevin Reply:

Richard,

Yes, I go to Mer’s all the time, what a small world. Let me know if you find anything. I usually pay about $65 to $70 for bb box to Mindanao. Not sure if a solar panel will fit, either buy smaller panels or they have bigger bb boxes. Thanks

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23 Conrad January 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hello Kevin :
Good Project : You need at least 300 Watts if your serious > This will run a few lights ( Florescent is best ) A small Refrigerator a radio A TV but most likely not 27 / 7 for the TV . I would get 6 Battery’s Deep Cycle 12 Volt like for Wheel Chairs for example .
Most Likely what you have built is good only to show that Power is being developed perhaps that’s your adjective at this point >
Just ton’s U Tube Videos on solar that should give you some nice input .
You Mentioned $200 at a early on point to develop your Panel >> Heck You can Buy a 100 Watt Panel for about that Cost Now > I expect you know this > was just saying how the cost has come down >
Many Panels are much better then others you will discover . A Good Panel will have a 25 Year Warranty.
I am In the Philippines Now in fact and can tell you that you will have to weld every Part down or it will be stolen very fast no Doubt .
You can hook the Panels together and add as many as you like really . > For a real System start thinking about perhaps 10 to 20 Panels > You will get a lot of interest from the power company hummmm

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Kevin Smith Reply:

Conrad,

Yes, the price has come down and it’s easier to buy some solar panels. But the last time I was in the Davao, Philippines, I hard time finding andone selling the PV Panels.

My solar panel is a science project and a learning project for me and my class. I would need more panels, as you say, to keep a frig or tv powered. I think my total cost for the panel was about $150.00 or so. I’s true that if the panels were set up in the Philippines, care would needed to make sure they are protected.

Here in the US, if professionally installed, one can hook them into the power grid and actually sell some of the power back to the utility company. I don’t know if they do that in the Philippines, but it would be a good idea to start as it would help innovation in the solar industry.
Kevin

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24 Danny Fortin February 25, 2012 at 7:41 am

I just put this year 3kW solar panel system and 2 wind turbine on the roof of my house in Visayas near roxas city. I got 4 charge controllers (50A/50A/35A/20A) runnig at 12V. All connected to a bank 6 batteries (200ah each) in paralelle. I got 1 8000w/16000w power inverter 220v to feed my house.

So far everything working good.

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Kevin Smith Reply:

Danny, Sounds like a nice system you have there. Do you have any pictures?

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26 ald April 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

merong store sa davao city nag bebenta ng solar panels at iba pang accesories nito…doon ako bumili last year..

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Kevin Smith Reply:

Hi ald,
When I was in Davao two years ago, I couldn’t find any store that sold solar. I’m glad to hear there is a store now. Do you have the name or the address of this store?

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27 ald April 21, 2012 at 7:43 am

i forgot the name..its something Light,i think its on obrero st.they have diff sizes of solar panels,controllers ang LED lamps…

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