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Power generation,Solar Power Projects

EVA or or Sylgard 184 for DIY Solar Panels Encapsulation

19 Feb , 2013  

The following article was based on my experience and may not have the same results on your location.
Two Coats of Sylgard 184
Sylgard 184 used for a 80-watt panel. See how transparent it is. Only a few air bubbles.
I’ve used EVA film and Sylgard 184 encapsulate for DIY Solar Panels
EVA– $20/yard
For a 24″ x 48″ 60 watt panel- $30.00
Cheaper and a tad more work, but easier to position. Best to have some kind of kiln or oven to place the solar panel in. But, for a larger 24″ x 48″ panel, have to use a plug-in-the-wall hot air gun. If the EVA is not heated up hot enough it can unstick and peel off. I was told to put the milky color down (but it’s difficult to see the difference) Can’t remember the temperature setting it was at, but it was around 120 degrees (med-high). Make sure to ask the EVA seller what the temperature range is… don’t want to have a fire.
Best to try it out on a small panel to get the feel of it. If you like, I can send you a sample to play with.
Sylgard 184– Expensive $50 for a less than a quart.
For a 24″ x 48″ 60 watt panel- $100.00 – 200.00
The Sylgard 184 is the cats meow. It’s main purpose is for exterior electrical encapsulation, keeps moisture out and is not vinger-based acidic (like clear caulking). Remains flexible in all types of weather and when poured in layers, it work really, really well. It’s a 2 part solution which is mixed together and then poured over the back side of the cells. Has the constancy like corn syrup. Very hard to clean up. Through trial and error, pour a container on the glass, lay the strings face down and pour another container over the backside. One coat on the back in minimal for a large panel. In my West Coast climate, it took the panels 3 days to set.  Made by Dow Corning
Note: I built my DIY solar panels about 3 years ago. It was a cheaper way to go at that time ($600/120watt panel in Canada). Sylgard is the best, but expensive for multiple large panels. But, all the DIY panels I have built, encapsulated in Slygard 184 are still working.
2015 Update: The sylgard panel is still working fine.

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Other,Relaxing,Solar Power Projects

Roof top solar panels and Wind Turbine Farms in Kihei, Maui

19 Feb , 2013  

home-solar-panels Just got back from a fantastic family vacation in Kihei, Maui. As soon as we left the airport in our rental car, we noticed many the homes had plenty of solar panels on the roofs. Like at least 15 panels. Must be grid-tie systems. Even the churches were getting in on it. One fairly big church had over 60 PV panels. Did a quick search and noticed that there was a 4 year return on savings and an up to 35% rebate. Compared to a past visit to the island of Kauai, two years ago, the Maui citizens are jumping on board. Since I was looking at the roofs more closely, I did see a the newer pipe style of solar hot water heater.


Kihei Wind turbine Farm I also saw my first wind turbine farm. Owned by Kaheawa Wind Farm and it was on the road to ‪Lahaina‬ right across the bay to Kihei. 14 Wind turbines ran right up the ridge of the mountain. It was cool to see how the clouds were passing through the the turbine blades. It was like in “real time”. Just had my iPhone, so, the video came out fuzzy.

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Heat and Cooling,Other,Woodworking

The Plan to Build a Wood Fired Cedar Hot Tub

30 Jan , 2013  

Western Red Cedar four hoop hot tub handcrafted by Forest Lumber Cooperage Ltd.

Picture courtesy of Forest Lumber & Cooperage Ltd

For the past year, I been researching on how to build a wooden hot tub. If you haven’t seen one, it’s a six-foot round barrel about 4 feet high. Normally made from vertical laid Western Red Cedar planks that are fitted together. A heavy-duty banding is wrapped around the outside to keep the vertical planks from bursting. A snorkel style of wood stove is used to heat the water up. The stove sits just under the water line. Of course, I could pony up the $3500.00 a buy one. But, that’s not in the budget. The deck at the cabin comes first.

Anyway, after travelling on the internet, came across a story about another dude that wants to do the same thing…

“Hi folks, I am considering taking on the construction of an outdoor cedar hot tub. I want to build it using a joint that I have seen in use by kits I have assembled. The joint is called a canoe joint and it is used on 2×6 edges. I looked online to buy a shaper/router bit set to make this joint and have only found ones that have smaller radius than I need for my staves. Any help you can provide in a source for this bit set would be very much appreciated. Thanks, Jerry”

Round-nose-router-bit round-nose-profile So, I’m like cool. I’m not the only one. Found a responder and he/she suggested a Round Nose Router Bit by Freud. Freud makes really sweet saw blades, but I haven’t tried the bits yet. Looks like I’ll head down to the local Windsor Plywood store and pick one up.

More to come…

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Power generation,Solar Power Projects,Woodworking

Roof Top Solar Panel Mount Made from Scrap Cedar Lumber

17 Jan , 2013  

Side view of solar panel mount

Side view of solar panel mount

After finishing the four DIY solar panels, I wanted  a quick mount for the the top of the cabin roof.
The idea location was to mount it to the water barrels on the roof. The plan was to aim the panels to the south (and through a gap in the trees). As usual, my choice of material was Western Red Cedar and square head screws.

IMG_1585 IMG_1584 IMG_1583 IMG_1582 IMG_1581 IMG_1579 IMG_1578 IMG_1576 IMG_1574 IMG_1573

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Equipment,Solar Power Projects

Talking about solar gear with a rockstar

14 Jan , 2013  

Had an amazing discovery on the weekend. We hosted a birthday party for a good friend and one of the guests, worked for the company that produces Xantrex inverters, charge controllers, battery chargers, etc for off grid use. (I almost fell off my chair!) For someone like me, that’s really into the alternative energy, it was like meeting a rock star. Since we were sitting at the dinner table, enjoying a tasty dessert, I had to hold off and not get to excited with the questions/answers. Xantrex makes really good products, and for me, it’s a local company. As we were talking, my spouse and close friends were making fun of us talking about “solar stuff”. I had briefly mentioned I had a YouTube channel and do reviews/how to videos for different products. I got a nod, but, afterwards felt like a geek mentioning it.

I didn’t get a chance to ask him some details about the Xantrex MPPT Charge Controller.  Below is a few pics of the charge controller. I’d say it right up there with the Morningstar Tri-Star TS-60 charge controller. The good news is I could switch the Morningstar into Diversion mode to divert the excess power to the two 100 watt transistors. Hmm…

Xantrex XW MPPT 60A Solar Charge Controller, XW-MPPT60-150


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