More people than ever before want to “go green,” make their own solar panels and go “off the grid” – going green is the newest, hottest trend around and homeowners everywhere want to participate. But you have to be careful who you listen to, because there’s lots of bad information out there – about how much solar panels cost, how much they can save you, and how to build them in the first place.
The first, and biggest, myth of all is that solar panels are extremely expensive. This is only true if you buy them through a large company and get a professional installation service – if you do that, it might cost over $20,000 to take your house completely “off the grid”!
If you do it yourself, you can spend a fraction of that money – often under $200 – and still get great results, using 2 main approaches.
The first method: you can buy broken or not 100% functional solar panels, on eBay, from the companies themselves, or by calling local stores and anyone else who has solar panels they need to get rid of (like the highway patrol!).
Highway patrols spend a good portion of their time picking up broken or chipped solar panels from the side of the road due to accidents – and they desperately need to get rid of them. Call them up and offer to take them off their hands, and save a lot of money.
Another good approach is to search for “chipped” or “broken” solar cells on eBay, and then assemble everything yourself (you could also ask your local hardware store). The only problem is that it does take a few days to assemble everything, but you will save a lot of money this way.
Another big myth about solar power: you can eliminate your electric bill 100% with solar panels. It would be nice if it were true, but it just isn’t the case – at least for most people.
One big problem with this is that not everyone lives in the ideal area for solar power – if you’re in Alaska, or your house is in the shade, you’ll have a tough time extracting much power from your solar panels.
Another problem is that you need hundreds or thousands of individual cells and many, many panels to completely power your house – you use thousands of kilowatts of energy each day, and the average cell just doesn’t produce enough to work very well.
But solar panels can still save you a lot of money. It’s just you’ll need multiple panels, or the addition of wind turbines, to go 100% off the grid.
The third myth is that do-it-yourself solar panels will fall apart easily, or are very fragile. Don’t get me wrong – nothing lasts forever, and solar panels are no exception.
Make sure you build it properly in the first place – use silicone to prevent moisture from getting in, and then use flexi-glass to make sure debris and other materials stay off the top.
Also, you have to properly maintain your solar panels – clean them at least once a year, check the wiring, and clean out built-up moisture – if you can do all this, your solar panels will last for years to come and continue powering your house far into the future.
Originally posted 2009-05-31 04:14:35.