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Let’s face it, you’re pretty darn handy. DIY projects are right up your alley and the local home improvement store happily feeds your addiction to all things building related. Now it’s time to put your hard earned skills to good use. It’s time to save the world wearing a tool belt,  safety boots and stocked with different types of Fasteners such as Hex Bolts and Hex Head Cap Screws. And to get you started here are some tips for building that solar panel you’re dreaming of.

Counting the Benefits

Solar energy is not just a new fad. Capturing energy from the sun has been around for awhile (remember those solar-powered calculators you had in high school?), but with the mass commercialization in the industry, homeowners are now able to build a panel themselves.  The market is exploding and with it comes the ability for you to create a dependable, environmentally friendly source of energy.

Your house can be “off the grid” and your family more self-sufficient.  Electricity could cost you less, while being more within your control. And if you’re lucky enough to have a remote property or cottage that has no access to hydro lines, solar panels can get your lights on. What’s not to like?

The Basic Necessities

You can build your solar panel a few different ways. Get yourself a kit with thorough instructions and most of the materials if you’re feeling at all intimidated by the process.  There are a bunch of brands out there that will walk you through the project and deliver a solid, well made system you can be proud of. There are kits ranging in size from 5 watts (the Mini-Me of solar panels) to a more impressive DIY 40 watt solar panel kit. Look for a manufacturer that offers a decent warranty and makes a few different sizes.

You could also pick up a guide and build one yourself from scratch, so to speak. They range from the really straightforward to the slightly more technical – check out your local bookstore for a decent selection. Essentially you’ll be building the frame and fitting in PV panels (which is the majority of the expense in such solar projects). From there you need to connect the panels together, run wiring to the batteries and ground the system. Connections are made between the battery and the inverter and if you’re going that way, back into the grid. Trust me, the guides will make it a little more complicated than that.

Grounding Is Essential

No matter how it’s put together, your solar panels need to be grounded properly to prevent damage from electrical faults or lightning.  Well designed systems are always well grounded.  Use quality solar panel grounding hardware to do this job right.

Depend on Your Sealant

Homemade solar panels need to be sealed well to protect from the elements seeping in.  It’s best to make sure everything inside the panel is working properly (especially when you’ve put this thing together yourself) before sealing.  That way you can replace faulty parts and make repairs without having to break any seals, which can be a messy job.  Again, sealants will keep out the wind and water, and even help seal out fire threats to some degree – an important element in solar panel design and key for durability.

Choose Hardware That Will Last

Solar panels take a lot of heat.  And a lot of rain, wind, snow and sleet too.  These panels are exposed to the worst weather and need to be built with the toughest components possible.  You may need to spend a few more dollars, but in the end, good quality materials are well worth it.  Aluminum is a corrosion resistant material that does well outdoors, is lightweight (another plus in solar panel construction) and readily available.  Choose aluminum mounting brackets, clamps, clips and splices plates.

Your best bet for nuts and bolts is stainless steel, providing the strength and durability you need to build it and forget it.

This project will be a major accomplishment and something you can brag about for years.  A well built solar panel will save you money, save the planet and save your pride.  Alright, maybe your pride is still healthy and strong, but who doesn’t want to tackle another project that’s exceptionally challenging and extremely rewarding?  I know you’re up for it.

From → Fasteners, Hex Bolts

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