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Homemade Solar Panel Guide

Solar power is becoming an increasingly popular option for turning some roof or yard space into a means of partially or completely covering home electricity needs. Some intrepid do-it-yourselfers have turned to building their own solar electric panels, either for the challenge of it or to meet the custom specifications of a unique space or electrical demand that requires a custom-built solution. While building a homemade solar panel may not be as complicated as one might think, building one requires thorough planning and a combination of carpentry and wiring skills.
Calculating Demand

The first task is determining the demand to be met by the homemade solar electric panel or panels, and designing an entire system around that demand. Such panels rarely supply power directly to anything; instead, they are usually used to charge batteries, and the batteries then feed a steady supply of electricity to the home. In this example, the panel are meant to power a home office with a laptop, printer, a few lightbulbs, and a few other gizmos with a projected combined demand of 400 watts. That is how much power the batteries will need to supply every hour for, say, nine hours a day, for a total of 3,600 watts.

Most solar systems are designed so that total demand should be met by the panel during the average six hours of good daylight the system will receive during an average day. That means 3,600 divided by 6, so that the panel must be designed to generate 600 watts per hour.

Special Parts

The next step is to go shopping, and choose the type of solar cell you want to use. The individual solar cells will be assembled into a single panel. Other special electrical parts include a charge controller, at least one inverter (to convert the voltage), and one or more deep-cycle batteries (batteries designed to be drawn down and re-charged repeatedly). It would be a good idea to match the voltage of the solar cells to being just a point or two above the voltage of the battery, so only one inverter is needed. Otherwise, the voltage will need to be altered for the battery, and then again for the appliances in the system.

Sketch

Always start a complicated assembly job like this one by sketching the entire end product, including where the individual cells and their wires will go. A sketch helps to save time and avoid problems during the construction process.

Building the Box

A homemade solar panel is essentially a box for housing solar cells and protecting them from the elements. A typical method is to nail or screw sideboards around a plywood backing, and then to fasten a substrate of something like cork or pegboard into the interior. The entire thing is then primed and painted for protection from the weather, and then the individual solar cells are glued or screwed into place as planned. The wires from the cells are slowly bridged using wire nuts or wiring connectors, until all the cells feed through one wire. This tangled mess of wiring is best secured to the panel’s substrate using non-conductive silicon caulk. Ventilation holes and an exit hole for the single wire are then drilled. The wire is then threaded out of the panel. The whole thing is finished by fitting a piece of plexiglass to the top of the box, drilling holes, and screwing it on.

Completion

The finished panel should be erected in the direction where it will collect the most sunlight. The wires are fed into a charge controller, which will make sure that the current is steady and does not spike and fry the batteries. It will also control the current flow out of the battery, preventing the system from overdrawing power. The final, basic element is the inverter. This addresses two issues: that the solar electric panel and system up until now have been generating direct current (DC), and that the voltage is much lower than that used by almost all household appliances. An inverter will both format the current to alternating current (AC) and step the voltage up to something useful.

Sources: treehugger.com/files/2008/09/how-to-make-diy-cheap-inexpensive-solar-panels-ebay.php; virtualsecrets.com/build-a-solar-panel.html; mdpub.com/SolarPanel/index.html

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What is the Residential Energy Tax Credit?

Residential energy credit has been enhanced by congress for using solar power. Two other new energy systems have also been included under the new residential energy credit. This is made possible by the energy extension and improvement act.
When does it start?

The residential energy credit will begin on January 1, 2009.There are eight more years and this means the residential energy credit will extend up to 2016. The residential energy credit is currently 30% of the price of the full system. The $2000 cap of water heated by solar property has been removed in terms of expenses. A person who installs the property will now receive $3000 residential energy credit unlike previously when he/she was only receiving a cap of $2000.The property installed has to be worth $10000.The residential energy credit will be made ready at the beginning of the year 2009 so as to balance with an Alternative Minimum Tax.

Which other energy systems?

The residential energy credit will also include geothermal heat power and also small energy systems that use wind.

Wind property.

A small energy system that uses wind has also been included under REEP. A wind turbine must be used with the small wind property to produce electric energy. The minimal wind property must also be owned by the taxpayer. The wind property should also be used in conjunction with a dwelling unit inside the country United States of America. The enhanced residential energy credit bill does not consider this as a basic residence, therefore the taxpayer may receive REEP credits belonging to a residence that is secondary also. The residential energy credit cannot exceed $4000 as it is constrained to $500 for every ½ kilowatt.

Geothermal heat property.

The enhanced residential energy credit is also available for geothermal heat pump properties and goes at 30%. The properties are put together with a dwelling of the United States therefore, has to be a taxpayer’s residence. The same 30% residual energy credit is also given for secondary residences as well as $2000 is the limit for this residential energy credit.

Enhancement of the residential energy credit will also encourage investment by property owners in alternative energy. This new savings’ legislation is also real. Use of alternative energy has also been made affordable as it will balance the investors expenses in a way that also affects the savings. The federal government, by enhancing the residual energy credit, shows that alternative energy use can automatically work on behalf of property owners.

Sources

1. Residential Energy Credit, 1040.com

2. New Residential Tax Credits Available, boston.com