DIY Solar Panels - Overview of the Buying & Construction Process

Building and installing your own solar panel can help you save a lot of money on electricity, without extravagant upfront costs. Getting a solar panel installed professionally will usually cost you five figures. Doing it yourself, however, can cost just a few hundred.

Here's an overview of how the buying and construction process works.

==> Buying the Solar Cells

There are a few ways you can buy solar cells. You can buy them as part of a group, in which case you'll be able to buy from a wholesaler directly. Though this is perhaps the cheapest way to do it, it's much more difficult to organize.

The easiest way to buy solar cells is to use eBay. EBay has several sellers providing solar cells, which means the competition keeps the price down to inexpensive levels.

==> Constructing the Solar Panel

A solar panel is basically a series of solar cells joined together. The electricity generated from the cells flows together until there's enough electricity generated for actual use.

To construct the panel, you need a wooden container of some sort to put the cells in. You need wire cutters, strippers and soldering equipment.

All you need to do is wire the cells together to create a panel. You might also want to install a diode to make sure that energy doesn't flow from the battery back into the panel when sunlight isn't hitting the panel.

==> Inverters and Batteries

Energy generated from a solar panel comes in the form of direct current (DC) power. However, in order for your home electronics to be able to use the power, you need the energy to be in alternating current (AC).

Also, unless you plan on immediately using the energy generated by your solar panel in your home, you'll probably want a battery so you can store the energy.

Inverters and batteries can cost quite a bit of money. Again, eBay can come in handy when acquiring low-cost or second-hand supplies.

==> Passing Inspections

The final step to installing your solar panel is passing inspections.

While it's possible to create a solar panel and run it without passing inspections, you're leaving a lot on the table.

First of all, you can't qualify for the many tax incentives that come with owning a solar panel if you don't pass an inspection.

You also can't wire your solar panel to the grid without passing inspection. If you get permission to attach your panel to the grid, you can "sell" energy to the grid and actually have your electric meter flow backwards while your panels produce energy that you aren't using.

That's a basic overview of the entire buying and construction process. Building your own solar panels takes a lot of dedication, but the process can be immensely fun and save you a lot of money at the end of the day.

Solar Power For Homes

Tips for Buying Used or Discount Solar Panel

One of the main drawbacks of solar panels is their cost. Recouping their cost can often take as long as twenty years. That means that you'll essentially have earned zero profit in twenty years - you only start saving money from that point forward.

Instead of buying retail-priced solar panels, a great way to get more bang for your buck is to invest in used or discount solar panels instead.

Here are a few tips for finding and acquiring below retail rate solar panels.

==> Talk to Realtors in High-Networth Areas

Look for areas where there are many homes with solar panels. If you can find homes for sale that have solar panels on them, so much the better. But even if you can't, talk to realtors in the area anyway.

Make them an offer to purchase any solar panel that's on a property they're trying to sell. Realtors often find that prospective buyers don't want solar panels on their home because of aesthetic reasons, or they just don't want the extra cost.

It's a burden on selling a home, which means it can often convert into prime opportunity for buying a cheap panel.

==> Look for Out-of-Date Models

Another method for finding used solar panels is to contact manufacturers and distributors directly and ask for older models of their products.

Often times when a manufacturer updates their product line, they'll try to sell off all their old products at discount prices.

In fact, if you can find a distributor or manufacturer who still has solar panels from two models back, chances are you'll be able to get a steep discount on those solar panels.

==> Join a Discount Buying Group

Buying just one set of solar panels can be quite expensive. However, if you're buying ten to twenty sets of solar panels, you can get a much better deal.

Naturally, you're not going to buy that many solar panels on your own. However, if you join a solar panel buying group, you can often buy these panels together instead and get a nice discount off the price.

==> Always Get the Panel Tested

Before you pay for a used or discount solar panel, make sure you have a trained professional test it out. Often times the manufacturer or installer will be happy to administer the test for you for free.

Also check the solar panels for any clear damage. Check both the front and the back of the solar panels. In some panels, damage to the back is actually much more important than damage to the front, so don't make the mistake of only checking the front panels.

Seriously consider buying a warranty for any used or discounted solar panels.

Finding discounted or used solar panels isn't as easy as buying retail, but you can save a lot of money doing so.

Did you find this post fun, informative and useful? If so, please share it with others!

If you have a comment, question or suggestion, please leave a comment below!

Cheers, Helene Malmsio

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