"You cannot change the laws of physics, captain!" (Scotty in Star Trek)

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Solar Projects

Original Introduction
1. Radio
2. Go Camping
3. Solar Panels

Original Introduction

This page shows the projects I am and have been working on. This will include the total PV system layout, the construction details of the roof-mount Solar panels and the design and realisation of the inverter. The electronic schematics as well as the final looks! It is still under construction.

I did not manufacture my solar panels myself, my system is built from commercial parts. I did the system design and installation myself. If you are interested in making your own solar cells, see the link at the bottom (1/5/06 - now found on the Links page).

I will take pictures of the projects and the total look of the house, before and after. This gives you an impression of what it takes.... But first, some other "learn" projects.

1. The Radio

Ingredient 1:
BayGen radio

Ingredient 2:
Solar cell

My first project was a tiny one: adding a solar panel to a clockwork radio. The BayGen radio already needed no batteries, winding the spring already gave you half an hour of music, but you always can improve, even RE, by adding another type of RE. The idea apparently was that good, you now actually can buy the wind-up radio, equipped with a solar cell. By the way: the solar cell at my radio only measures 10x6 centimeters, delivering 3Volts and 80 milliAmperes. Because the radio needs a few milliAmps, it still plays when the weather is overcast and bright enough. 'Else you have to wind it up.

2. Go Camping

On the camping site

My second project was temporal, with the chance of repetition every summer holiday. I took a 53 Watt solar panel and mounted it on the roof of my car (I had to take luggage on top of my car anyway). At the camping site (without electicity, of course) I plugged the panel into a solar charger that fed two small gel-batteries, so we used the daylight to light our nights...

3. Solar Panels

Dramatis Personae:
The house
A solar panel

My next project is much larger: installing 3000 Watt solar panels on the roof of my house. You can see from the picture: it is an ordinary, sub-urban family home. Fortunately the backside has a 5.7x8 meters roof at 45 degrees slope, direction SouthWest (which is not optimal, but good enough: average output will be reduced by 5%) and enough clearance from trees to prevent shading. I have no good picure of the solar panels I mounted on my house yet, they'll follow! At the moment I am still wrestling with the roof-mounting frame and support. Despite the cold weater (zero Celcius and it is only Nov 25) I managed to attach frames to the roof.

strip

This is the first picture of the frame, showing how the original roof tiles stay in place (removed one for the photo) and two screws holding the aluminum strip tight to the roof. The frame is mounted on the (invisible) bent end of the strip. (yes, there is also snow!)

strip"

This picture was taken later, after some solar panels were placed. Here you see the bent end of the strip and the aluminum L-profile bolted together with non-corrosive (stainless steel) bolt & nut & washer, plus a piece of plastic to block corrosive current between the steel and aluminum. Apply the plastic both at front and back, so below the bolt and below the nut.

strip

The panels are attached to the L-profile with short pieces of the same strip that goes into the roof. One end of the strip has been pop-nailed to the back of the Solar panel's alu frame. (not visible here) The other end of the strip has been pop-nailed to the L-profile, after a 5mm hole was drilled through both profile and strip.

The first panel!

Major milestone: the first PV panel on my roof, nov 28, 1998! As you can see: many more to come...

Snow!

Major delay: after the first four PV panels I got ill for a week and now the weather is not inviting me to add more. (can you still spot the PV panels on the picture above?)

Twelve panels

Halfway: weather improved so there are already 12 PV panels installed. I got so enthusiastic that I bought 5 additional panels, bringing the total to-be-installed power on 3000 Watt.

Twenty panels

Over 2 KW: the last days of January are cold but sunny, warm enough to continue installation. As you can see: 20 panels in place, totalling 2164 Watt peak power. Only one more row of panels to go and the smaller panels that will surround the upper bedroom window.

Twenty-four panels

At 2600 W: february 20 the sun was helpful again, allowing another 4 panels installation. Now I only have to fix one large and 6 smaller panels that will surround the upper bedroom window.

At 2900 W: June 15 the large and four of the smaller panels added, a picture will follow soon. Only panels number 17 and 18 missing now, see the drawing below.

Drawing

Another project that has not taken any shape yet, is the installation of a Solar Water Heater panel (collector) and storage. The integration of the Solar Electric (PV) and Heater panels on the roof is one of the challenges.... Above is the schematic drawing how the collector (large box) could be encapsulated by the PV panels and windows on my roof. The white rectangles are windows of bedrooms. Note: the numbers are the wire-identification, as I wired each PV panel individually to my connection-box.

Come back some time to see the work progress!

Before

By the way: this is how it looked before. One thing I did before attaching any frame or panel: put the cable-booms underneath the tiles (see below) so I only had to lift a tile, and take out the right cable (already cut to length and wire lugs attached) so the fixing of the panels later was much easier.

After

The small window is also gone on this "photo", which is not true, I edited it out. The window was removed after half of the PV panels were in place. (See the pictures above.) Note that the red cables are the solar connections. The green are the two wires from the lightning protection rod down to the ground rods. The frame of the solar modules is also connected to the ground wire.