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Power generation,Solar Power Projects

Simple Solar Panel Sun Tracker from an Old Satellite TV Dish

10 Apr , 2015   Video

This was an easy project and final outcome will be functional!

I have wanted to make this type of solar sun tracker for a while. The project took 2 days and there was many opportunities to get creative with some of the modifications.

Once to you can get a hold of an old satellite dish, most of the materials were scavenged. I had to purchase some of the mounting bolts ahead of time. Overall, the cost was around $12.00 for hardware.

The basic setup is an old Satellite TV dish mount, 2 IKEA cabinet metal rails, 8 nuts and bolts and some “Z” clamps. For the mast or tower, I found a piece of pipe slightly bigger and it slid over the satellite shaft. It acted as a collar. This piece then slid over a 10-foot section of long pipe from the top rail of a chain link fence. The satellite dish shaft was machine screwed to the collar. I added bearing grease to the chain link fence pipe and the entire mount could easily rotate.

The pole was then secured to a 4″ x 4″ pressure treated post and screwed to the side of the cabin. At a later date, the post will be lag bolted to the structures joist. The location of the post for the solar panel was chosen where it got the maximum amount of sunlight for the 11:00am – 3pm hours. But as a bonus, the panel on the tower can be rotated to catch some 9:00am sun and a bit in the late afternoon. In my mind, every little bit helps.

I wanted the solar panels close to the new location for the batteries. I make a serious effort to make wires short and not loose any power.

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Other,Power generation,Solar Power Projects

Do-It-Yourself Solar Panels

27 Mar , 2013  

IMG_1579 This an updated video about a series of DIY solar panels made 3 years ago. It consists of a material list, still images and a few short videos. It’s more of a rough guide.

In total, I have completed four DIY solar panels for an off grid system. The main reason was I couldn’t afford a new solar panels and I wanted to see if I could do it. Three years ago, the cost of solar panels in Canada was around $580 for a 120 watt brand name solar panel. Since I had to purchase a charger controller, four deep cycle batteries, wires, fuses and an inverter, it wasn’t in the scope. Most of the work was completed after hours or late at night, out in the cold workshop. The overall plan was to purchase the solar cells off ebay, join them into strings, stick to the back side of a single pane window, cover and erect on a rooftop mount.

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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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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.

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