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Are Homemade Solar Panels Worth the Risk

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Everyone is looking for cheap energy solutions, but are homemade solar panels the safe option? One must consider more then just initial purchase price when opting for solar solutions, and look at the total value of their solar dollars.

There are countless “how to” articles and “Do It Yourself” (DIY) videos on YouTube about making your own homemade solar panels, but one must question if saving a few dollars up front pays off in the end. Among the variables to consider is where the solar panels come from. Many solutions involve the use of solar panel “fragments” that are leftovers from solar production runs that broke during manufacture or are scavenged from lower cost panel kits. EBay is filled with such options, but rarely is any explanation given to what the final product will yield. The homeowner is likely to end up with a mismatched group of various panels made of differing materials produced at differing times. This makes for a final panel that has potential for numerous issues. Manufacturing frustrations aside, including soldering countless panel fragments, troubleshooting burned out sets, or varying solar production rates, the final panel can cause erratic behavior at best, and complete failure at worst. People that would never consider mixing old and new batteries from various manufacture dates and locations around the world, are often the same people that never think twice about doing this very thing with solar panel fragments.

One thing homemade solar panel “guru’s” don’t explain to customers is that once that panel is created, it must use some sort of device to smooth the current, often times “grid tie” it back to the main grid, and invert it to AC. Using solar panels of varying strength, material and craftsmanship can make this task a challenge and potentially unsafe. Since there are no common components, some fragments may out-produce others making it difficult to determine the actual “load balance”. This makes it difficult to find a solution for many scenarios and no guarantee of compatibility.

Lastly by taking the homemade solar panel route, one must remember “you get what you pay for”. With no warranty or guarantee of compatibility and safety, the backyard craftsman waives those securities when he takes on roll of manufacturer. He assumes those risks and claims troubleshooting expertise of his product when it comes time to tie into “compatible” devices. This may negate any Underwriter Labs (UL) certification on the components he may choose tie those panels into. Not only can this create shock and fire hazards, but can cause UL certified devices to operate outside their safety ranges.

Although homemade solar panels may seem an ideal solution, one really must calculate all risks and costs involved to manufacture, purchase, install, troubleshoot, and warranty those panels. Most consumers find that letting someone else figure out all those variables is the cheapest, safest and most trouble free solution because homemade solar panels just aren’t worth it in the end.