How To Build Solar Panels

We tested 11 solar panel kits so that you don’t have to!

Can someone point me in the right direction to build a solar power system that can power my air conditioner for the summer? I live in a 700 square foot apartment. Any idea on the cost to build something like this? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks!

You can find sizing calculators for solar electric off and on grid at http://howto.altestore.com/Calculators/c5/

First use the load calculator to find out how much energy in terms of wattage your AC unit consumes per day. Then you have 2 choices. You can use the off grid calculator to figure out the size of a system it would take to power your ac unit completely detached from the utility. Or you can use the on grid calculator to see what size system you would need to connect a PV array to the grid to offset your AC usage.

  1. genscripter Said,

    Not to derail this question, but the future of HVAC innovation is not in PV’s; it’s in residential geothermal heating/cooling.

    PV panels are terribly inefficient, and it would take an ENORMOUS array to produce the necessary power to heat/cool even a small apartment.

    Residential Geothermal (see the link below) uses the ambient temperature of the earth (around 50°F) to either cool the air temp in the summer, or heat up the air temp in the winter. Plus this is tapped into the ground, so that you don’t use up your above-ground space with dozens of PV panels.

    But in the case of most apartments, you probably cannot dig into the ground and install a geothermal setup. If this is the case, you should look into obtaining a small wind turbine (in conjunction with a series of batteries). Even the smallest wind turbine is orders of magnitude more powerful than the average PV panel. This will use up less room on your roof or yard than several swaths of photovoltaic panels. Plus it’s much cheaper.

    HTH :)
    References :
    http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Geothermal_Residential_Heating_and_Cooling, http://www.nickpisca.com/0001d

  2. Peter J Said,

    Good luck with that… I don’t think they’ll let you use the entire roof.
    References :

  3. yankee_sailor Said,

    you have to figure out how much electricity your A/C system uses.

    Look at the data plate and see Wattage….or kilo Wattage ..that’s what is used when its running. Watts is volts x amps. The A/C’s in my condo unit are 240 volts on a 40 amp circuit, so they use just less than 9,000 watts when running.

    How many hours a day does the A/C run? Lets say its on 20 minutes and hour over the course of 24 hours; 8 hours times 9,000 watts is it burns 72,000 watts a day, or 72 kWh. So now you know how much electricity you need a day.

    Also, at, say 20 cents a kWh charged by your power company you’re spending $15.00 a day for the A/C. If your local power bill is lower, adjust the numbers below.

    A solar system is inefficient in the mornings and the afternoon when the sun hits the panels at an angle……the DoE has a ’solar calculator’ for where you live showing how many usable hours a day you get. For the Caribbean its 6; assume where you live its 4,

    A Kyocera 175 watt panel costs $700.00. AT 4 hours a day it makes 700 Watts of power. You need a battery bank to sore the energy for cloudy and overnight use, an inverter to take the panel energy down to 14 volts and another to take it back up to 140 v to run the A/C.

    Looking at the example above, I would need 10 2 foot by 3 foot panels to maybe make enough to run the A/C. That’s $7,000 in panels, another $3,000 in batteries and inverters and installation. Call it Ten Grand.

    At $15.00 a day saved paying the electric company you’d get a payback in 2 years if you ran the A/C every day. If you only ran it in summer, say 100 days a year, you’d break even in 6 to 8 years.

    If your power bill is ten cents akWh, then its 4 years and 12 to 16 years.

    See why people don’t have solar panels?
    References :
    just put in a 70,000 dollar system.

  4. racer123 Said,

    I say congrats!-On your ability to cope in such a tight space. Not many have this ability. You have a rare form of cop-ability. That said- You first have to calculate your limits of heat and cold tolerances. Once those are determined-you may then begin calculating heating degree days and nights. Be -sure!- that another warm body will destroy all your selfish calculations! Plan for the extremes and you will be comfortable.Never pride your-self on this calculation.Continue with your science.
    References :

  5. roderick_young Said,

    A 5000-BTU window air conditioner might use 800 watts. If we call that 1000, then you’re looking at $5-7k net after rebates for a grid tied array to offset that energy. The array would be about 5 feet high and 13 feet wide.

    It could still make financial sense, if you’re planning on staying there for 10 or more years, or if your landlord will share the cost. That is, if your landlord would allow it at all.

    I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, just trying to be realistic.
    References :
    We have panels on our roof. If it were cheap, everybody would be doing it. Don’t get scammed by sites that say you can do it for $200 or less, if you’ll buy their book.

  6. Jim Said,

    I’ll keep my answer short:
    To build a solar panel, you need a couple hundred bucks (for materials) and a good website that can guide you.
    A good one that I found helpful is, http://tinyurl.com/solarpanelmania
    References :
    http://tinyurl.com/solarpanelmania

  7. Ben Said,

    You can find sizing calculators for solar electric off and on grid at http://howto.altestore.com/Calculators/c5/

    First use the load calculator to find out how much energy in terms of wattage your AC unit consumes per day. Then you have 2 choices. You can use the off grid calculator to figure out the size of a system it would take to power your ac unit completely detached from the utility. Or you can use the on grid calculator to see what size system you would need to connect a PV array to the grid to offset your AC usage.
    References :
    http://www.altestore.com

  8. john m Said,

    Uh,

    Dude, you dont have enough room, Unless your land lord is willing to let you tear down the outsdie wall of your aprtment.

    AC units use a ton of power, and you wont get enough from a solar panel. Plus, you’d need to keep 1 or 2 car batteries in your living room for a homemade setup, but you just dont have enough sun, in a 700 sq ft apartment.

    About the only thing that might make enough power for you, with your limited space wind be a small marine wind turbine. About the size of 2 direct tv dishes, your could mount it to the wall outside, and yuo might , might get enough power from that.
    References :

Add A Comment