Keen to start using solar (just as we go into winter!)


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Grum

New member
Joined
May 9, 2022
Messages
9
Hi all.
Having just retired from a lifetime working in IT, I find myself with the time to finally start dissecting all those laptop batteries I’ve accrued, testing the 18650 cells, and am thinking about how to use them. Living in sunny Australia, I am keen to harness solar energy to keep the batteries topped up, and initially have a small number of battery pack projects in mind - a 1S?P pack to remotely power some solar lights that are in a shady spot so never charge on their own; a couple of 2S4P packs to provide 5v power for my electronics workbench and arduino projects, and a more ambitious 3S?P pack to provide a (near) 12v supply to lights and a clock I intend to install in my workshop.
I have a grasp of the basics, but look forward to working with you experts for detailed advice and to make sure I don’t burn my shed down.
Oh and one other thing - me and my money are not easily parted - especially now I have no income as such… 🤔 If I can salvage something, or spend a fraction of the money by waiting 3 months for something to come from China instead of paying through the nose locally (for the same thing from China anyway), then that’s the way for me 😂
Look forward to chatting with you all
Grum
 

italianuser

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
504
Welcome to you, friend from Australia! :) All of my projects are "low-to-nothing budget" so finding recycled stuff and cheaper ways to make some solid project is my new state of mind. For example, I must mount 6 PV panels on my balconies (not on a flat surface) and I need solid metal structures to hold them; the cheapest price I found for 6 metal structures is about 900€ (900USD)... so my next step is to get myself a metal soldering machine and buy 1 meter (3 feet) metal bars (4€ each) and make it myself. I can save money and make it a piece at a time.
 

Grum

New member
Joined
May 9, 2022
Messages
9
Welcome to you, friend from Australia! :) All of my projects are "low-to-nothing budget" so finding recycled stuff and cheaper ways to make some solid project is my new state of mind. For example, I must mount 6 PV panels on my balconies (not on a flat surface) and I need solid metal structures to hold them; the cheapest price I found for 6 metal structures is about 900€ (900USD)... so my next step is to get myself a metal soldering machine and buy 1 meter (3 feet) metal bars (4€ each) and make it myself. I can save money and make it a piece at a time.
Many thanks Italianuser. If only we could build the PV Panels themselves cheaply, eh? At the moment - PV Panels are the most expensive elements in all of my project plans.
BTW - do your panels really need to be mounted on a metal frame? One of my hobbies is woodwork, and I intend to build timber frames for my panels - much easier and probably cheaper than metal, and the tools are a lot simpler too - no soldering or welding, just a saw, drill, and screwdriver!
 

italianuser

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
504
Many thanks Italianuser. If only we could build the PV Panels themselves cheaply, eh? At the moment - PV Panels are the most expensive elements in all of my project plans.
Oh yes! Buying the single cells from AliExpress surely lowers the costs but I can't do that (my neighbours would 100% complain about how horrible they look! I'm not capable of making them look real good!)
BTW - do your panels really need to be mounted on a metal frame? One of my hobbies is woodwork, and I intend to build timber frames for my panels - much easier and probably cheaper than metal,
I thought about wood, lets say my wife would prefer that because it looks good. Something like the following:

pergola.jpg
this is not it's not my balcony, mine has an "L" shape and has space for 2+2 panels. The thing is that for italian laws I must ask for a permit to mount that sort of structure (with extra costs), while for how I thought it I need no permit, something like this (6 metal frames with 30° slope):

panel-project.jpeg


and the tools are a lot simpler too - no soldering or welding, just a saw, drill, and screwdriver!
ehm yes! I love it when things get faster!
 

Grum

New member
Joined
May 9, 2022
Messages
9
Hi again Italianuser - ah yes, local regulations and neighbours… not sure which is more restrictive!
I am lucky in this respect - I am not restricted by living in an apartment, and have a garage/shed on my property with a roof that is reasonably well angled for catching the sun, with no overlooking neighbours affected. There are no local regulations for the smaller 5v and 12v type panels I want to install. Six domestic sized panels might be a different matter though, even for me.
 

harrisonpatm

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Messages
107
Hi again Italianuser - ah yes, local regulations and neighbours… not sure which is more restrictive!
I am lucky in this respect - I am not restricted by living in an apartment, and have a garage/shed on my property with a roof that is reasonably well angled for catching the sun, with no overlooking neighbours affected. There are no local regulations for the smaller 5v and 12v type panels I want to install. Six domestic sized panels might be a different matter though, even for me.
I'm curious about what you might find when doing the logistics of a wood racking mount, as I would be interested in that as well.
 

not2bme

Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2017
Messages
497
I wouldn't have thought that finding used panels would be hard in Australia since I thought solar on households is pretty common? I know @hbpowerwall has mention being able to obtain used panels at a low cost in one of his youtube videos. In my area in the US I purchased my panels from a local craigslist ad from someone that was removing them off their roof (typically they find that their old roof requires replacement, and by that time the panels are too old and the cost to remove and reinstall isn't worth the effort).. There's also lots of sources for used panels where solar farms retire their older installs and offload them on ebay or craigslist. Maybe just keep an eye out for them, they may pop up once in a while.

For mounts, if you can't find used mounts, you can look into unistruts or similar brands that manufacture the same thing. They're cheap and easily available at our home improvement stores.
 

Grum

New member
Joined
May 9, 2022
Messages
9
I wouldn't have thought that finding used panels would be hard in Australia since I thought solar on households is pretty common? I know @hbpowerwall has mention being able to obtain used panels at a low cost in one of his youtube videos. In my area in the US I purchased my panels from a local craigslist ad from someone that was removing them off their roof (typically they find that their old roof requires replacement, and by that time the panels are too old and the cost to remove and reinstall isn't worth the effort).. There's also lots of sources for used panels where solar farms retire their older installs and offload them on ebay or craigslist. Maybe just keep an eye out for them, they may pop up once in a while.

For mounts, if you can't find used mounts, you can look into unistruts or similar brands that manufacture the same thing. They're cheap and easily available at our home improvement stores.
Hi not2beme - you are right… there are a (small) number of companies here in Australia selling off reclaimed older domestic sized panels, though they tend to want to sell you an entire batch rather than just one or two, and only deal in the larger 18v domestic sized panels - which are too big for my current planned needs. I guess getting the larger panels is not entirely out of the question - I’d just avoided the option due to the cost of new units, and got my mindset stuck on smaller units. Thanks for the prompt 😁
 
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