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Are there cheap DIY methods for producing solar power?
#1
Heart 
Smile Hi!  In your experiences, have you seen any DIY projects, starting from scratch, that successfully created solar power?  That are capable of producing enough power to run small electrical heaters (for home) with, for example?  And that were inexpensive, as much as is possible? Thanks!
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#2
I'm doing a DIY install if that counts.
Purchased used panels
Installing brackets to mount 4 panels to start with.
1.5kW inverter + brackets cost £300 so far.
Panels £200 for 14x 250w
We shall see how it goes beyond phase 1
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#3
I also started from scratch, just with the sun above me ;-) After 3 years and roundabout 5000$ for mostly used components later, I have a solar system with almost 5kWp and a battery with 27kWh capacity running my house completely off-grid from march to october. The only things you need besides money are time, willingness to learn, open eyes and your hands... and maybe a little help from all the nice guys here Wink

Have sun Smile
Oliver
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Cells tested: 6.618 (overall cap.: 13.335 Ah, average cap.: 2.015 mAh)
Cells in production: 3.500 (overall cap.: 7.350 Ah, average cap.: 2.100 mAh)
Powerwall setup: 7s500p, 1.050 Ah, 27 kWh
Project page
Live solar/powerwall values
Daily graph
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#4
Electric heaters are one of the harder things to run.
Think reverse cycle aircon if possible. The heat is "free" you just have to pump it indoors....
You can also capture heat from sunlight in many creative ways. Eg a black painted wall with glass cover.
+1 for used panels.
Running off solar, DIY & electronics fan :-)
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#5
I also started from scratch and after 3 yrs I'm off-grid producing 16MW/year...   but it hasn't been 'that cheap' Smile
Heat Pump is the most effective technology that I've found to go with solar.  
- 160 (summer) -200 (winter) kwh/month = Reheems 50gal Hybrid Hot Water Heater for whole house - works really well. 
- Just installed a LENNOX whole house heat-pump/AC with one of the highest efficiencies - and its fantastic, very low power compared to old/traditional sytems.
- My Electric Dryer is like a hot plate - turns on/off but when on uses 5000w!   So I wish I had bought a heat-pump Dryer..  these are more in the 1000w range I read.  

How many square feet do you need to heat and what are your weather extremes?   If you share this we could get a 'power requirement' and then advise on an approximate solar size (and cost) you would need.
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#6
(06-08-2020, 02:19 PM)OffGridInTheCity Wrote: I also started from scratch and after 3 yrs I'm off-grid producing 16MW/year...   but it hasn't been 'that cheap' Smile
Heat Pump is the most effective technology that I've found to go with solar.  
- 160 (summer) -200 (winter) kwh/month = Reheems 50gal Hybrid Hot Water Heater for whole house - works really well. 
- Just installed a LENNOX whole house heat-pump/AC with one of the highest efficiencies - and its fantastic, very low power compared to old/traditional sytems.
- My Electric Dryer is like a hot plate - turns on/off but when on uses 5000w!   So I wish I had bought a heat-pump Dryer..  these are more in the 1000w range I read.  

How many square feet do you need to heat and what are your weather extremes?   If you share this we could get a 'power requirement' and then advise on an approximate solar size (and cost) you would need.  My reply to you:   My husband said we have 960 square feet in our house to heat.   And that winter temperatures are from 10 degrees to 20 degrees below zero.   The cost of heating our house (using several small electric portable heaters - including the costs of running our electric hot water heater make a total cost of about $250 - $300 per month.   We don't use a clothes dryer.  I hang them up.   But use an electric washing machine - about 1 load per a week.  We also have a refrigerator.  We live in a woodsy area - our yard is about 3/4 percent trees.  We live in Traverse City - the climate zone here is 5.
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#7
(06-08-2020, 04:11 PM)GenieJane Wrote: My husband said we have 960 square feet in our house to heat.   And that winter temperatures are from 10 degrees to 20 degrees below zero.   The cost of heating our house (using several small electric portable heaters - including the costs of running our electric hot water heater make a total cost of about $250 - $300 per month.   We don't use a clothes dryer.  I hang them up.   But use an electric washing machine - about 1 load per a week.  We also have a refrigerator.  We live in a woodsy area - our yard is about 3/4 percent trees.  We live in Traverse City - the climate zone here is 5.

>total cost of about $250 - $300 per month
Do you know how much you pay per kwh?     
Google suggests "The average residential electricity rate in Traverse City is 9.62¢/kWh...  Traverse City is 31.92% less than the Michigan average rate of 14.13¢/kWh."

$300.00 per month / $0.0962 per kwh = 3118kwh / month  -  $250.00 per month / $0.0962 per kwh = 2598kwh / month

We're talking 2600-3000kwh/month.  That's pretty hefty for solar - especially in winter.   

There 's a web site called PVWatts that I use - https://pvwatts.nrel.gov/pvwatts.php - that will show you pretty accurately the power you can produce for your location.     For example, if I type in Traverse City, MI and go with a 7kw PV array (25 panels) and just use the defaults...


You get this estimate of kwh/month:


For example, you can see in December, with 25 x 290w panels you could expect ~300kw (292 to be precise).     To do 3000w of solar in the winter you would need 'on the order of' 250 panels OR you need to cut your electricity consumption by 90% to make it work with 25 panels.

You can do a lot with high efficiency heat-pump but they only work down to 25-30'ish F and then you need secondary heat.   You could consult on hvac specialists on this - but just personally (off the cuff) I would say you could reduce 3000 down to 2000? with high efficiency stuff.   Then for hot water - maybe another 300-400kwh/month?   

One problem with all this is you have insanely cheap electricity prices.   Mine are low at 11.5c/kwh but you'res are even lower.  Not sure you can get Solar to pay off any time soon with prices that low.   Of course I don't do mine just for $ but out of interest.  

Are you interested in DIY?  Like  Home Depot has great heat-pumps (Heat/AC + Water Heaters) and they're not that hard to install if your handy.  And maybe gas or wood as a secondary heat source.
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#8
Hi!  He said he thinks it's about 11 cents per kilowatt.
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#9
Hi!   You mean that's a pretty hefty price for heat or electricity produced by solar power in winter?
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#10
(06-08-2020, 07:20 PM)GenieJane Wrote: Hi!   You mean that's a pretty hefty price for heat or electricity produced by solar power in winter?
With your climate - yes.    

In my case, the low in winter is typically 35F with only 2 weeks/year below - so the heat pump will work most of the time for heat.   Just got it installed in Mar but for Apr it was only 299kwh ($34) for heat for whole month.   May was 382kwh for heat+cool ($44).   And that's a 2600sq ft house in moderate climate.  

However, we heat during the day and let the house drift at night till next morning - so the temps are warmer (daytime) when we heat. This maximizes heat pump efficiency as the temps are easily 45F by mid-morning.

I believe (just me personally) that a heat pump for a 1000sq ft home would greatly lower your electricity use when temps >35F (maybe many of your days?).    And a hybrid (heat pump) hot water heater also lower's electricity use significantly in my experience.     Maybe go that route - see where you get to and then revisit solar?
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