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DIY Photovoltaic Panels

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Curbie, Feb 24, 2011.

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  1. Curbie

    Curbie Guest

    I was searching the web for some specific information on solar thermal
    panels and ran into a site about DIY building Photovoltaic panels. A
    few years ago a bought a book:
    "BUILD YOUR OWN SOLAR PANEL"
    by Phillip J. Hurley
    http://www.goodideacreative.com/solarpanel.html
    ..... which seemed like a real effort to construct DIY Photovoltaic
    panels, but I was twitchy on whether the panels could be sealed well
    enough against atmosphere infiltration (oxygen & moisture) for near
    commercial longevity.

    On the DIY Photovoltaic site I found links to these You-Tube videos
    outlining another method of DIY Photovoltaic construction:


    This method basically uses a frame made from aluminum angle stock with
    a sheet of ¼" low iron tempered glass laid in and the tabbed array of
    PV cells just set on the bottom side of the glass, then the whole
    array is bonded and encapsulated with the glass with Dow product
    Sylgard 184.

    The tentative costs for this encapsulated method look pretty good and
    this and it makes sense for oxygen & moisture infiltration as this
    Sylgard 184 is specifially made for this porpose.

    Has any here anything about this method, good or bad???

    Thank,

    Curbie
     
  2. Gordon

    Gordon Guest

    Apearently the Sylgard is not cheap. Someone commented that it cost
    about $40.00. But, this method looks more durable than the wood frame
    construction that others describe. I can just imagine how well
    a wood frame panne would hold up here in the pacific northwest.

    One thing you need to be carefull with when constructing panels
    is to watch out for the different thermal coefiecents of expansion
    of the various materials. That is why the wood frame construction
    uses a single dab of RTV to bond the solar cells at their center.
    The solar cells and the wood backing have different coeficents of
    expansion. The center dab bonding allows the cells and the wood
    to expand independently.

    In the video he mentions not to use plexi glass for the glass for
    the same reason.
     
  3. Sylguard doesn't always bond well, the parts need to be free of any
    contaminates (eg: oil). It will not cure in the spot where there is
    contamination. It is also soft when fully cured, like a jelly.
    Aggressive mixing will also introduce bubbles.
    Thermal properties arent all that great, But I do see that it is UV
    resistant.
    If you have a large vacuum oven to process it in, then it might work ok.

    Cheers
     
  4. Curbie

    Curbie Guest

    Hi Jim,

    I found a 5 star rated seller on Ebay selling 1000 watt packs of 3x6
    PV cells for ~$600.00 and in studying this method I was looking at
    about 4000 watts.

    Curbie
     
  5. Curbie

    Curbie Guest

    Funny, when I was looking at those You-Tube videos, the author was
    saying that he preferred cooler temperatures and long curing times,
    and I was thinking what his process needed was a vacuum cover over the
    frame to draw the bubbles out of the Syldard.

    Curbie
     
  6. Curbie

    Curbie Guest

    As I read it, the Sylgard curing as a jell, is there to buffer the
    different thermal coefficients along with encapsulating the calls from
    oxygen and moisture, so it seems to me that the notion of protecting
    cells from oxygen and moisture is too important to neglect, the cost
    is what it is.

    I would never even consider a wooden frame (or backed) panel even with
    something like Sygard, the insulation value of a wooden frame would
    help to retain the heat generated by the cells and I'm having the
    local glass guy price out a special order a 1/4" low iron, tempered
    glass.

    Curbie
     
  7. Bruce Gordon

    Bruce Gordon Guest

    Just a NOTE here, If you had a backplate that was metal with a thermal
    conducting, but electrically insulating, bonding to that backplate from
    your Cells, then you could put a cooling loop on other side of the
    backplate, and make a dual purpose Solar Collector, and use the heat out
    of the cooling loop to preheat water, or for other uses, while keeping
    your PV Cells cooler, where they generate more efficiently...
    Just say'en.....
     
  8. Josepi

    Josepi Guest

    "Bruce Gordon" wrote in message
    Just a NOTE here, If you had a backplate that was metal with a thermal
    conducting, but electrically insulating, bonding to that backplate from
    your Cells, then you could put a cooling loop on other side of the
    backplate, and make a dual purpose Solar Collector, and use the heat out
    of the cooling loop to preheat water, or for other uses, while keeping
    your PV Cells cooler, where they generate more efficiently...
    Just say'en.....

    ---------------------------
    Wow! What a concept. Too bad four thousand people before haven't done that
    before.


    mike ( The reel one)
     
  9. Curbie

    Curbie Guest

    Bruce,

    Good point!

    I was going to build active solar-thermal panel for heat only, but
    combining the two has some interesting advantages.

    Thanks,

    Curbie
     
  10. It's typically used for High voltage applications, where
    bubbles/moisture will cause problems.

    Cheers
     
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