Solar energy- does anyone know of a DIY way to make a solar collector and transfer that energy to batteries?

I would like to learn about solar energy and how I can make some panels for my home, of course with in a reasonable budget. My goal is to be able to run a refrigerator and fan off of battery. Any ideas out there?

2 thoughts on “Solar energy- does anyone know of a DIY way to make a solar collector and transfer that energy to batteries?”

  1. It’s difficult (nearly impossible?) to make your own electric solar panels, so I think the direct route is probably too difficult, unless you’re prepared to buy them. (wiring them up isn’t too difficult)

    Another way to do it, is to use the heating power of the sun. Perhaps use a parabolic mirror/trough to focus the sun’s heat on to a copper pipe. If there’s enough sunlight and/or the reflector is large enough the water will boil. Use the steam to power a small steam engine, then connect that up to an alternator/dynamo to get the electricity. To avoid wasting water, you’ll want a condenser

    Problem is then making the steam engine. It’s possible to modify an old internal combustion engine to make a small steam engine, but if you’re wanting to do it ALL yourself I’d suggest trying to use boundary layer turbines, as there’s minimal machining needed (just flat discs, rather than needing blades), less to go wrong, and they work better with the low quality ("wet") steam you are likely to produce. If the steam isn’t too hot (I haven’t tried it!) you may be able to use scrap CD/DVDs or maybe old hard disk platters as the turbine discs.

    There’s a lot of controversial/spurious claims about Tesla Turbines, but they really do convert steam into (some) shaft power.

    What’s the problem with Steam engines/turbines? You can have them generating electricity right from capacities of a few horsepower, all the way up to ten’s of Megawatts. The Rankine thermodynamic cycle of "steam" engine can be more efficient then even that of diesel, which is probably the reason why commercially produced electricity ( even nuclear!) uses such cycles. The power/weight ratio is low, mainly because of the size of boiler/condenser required, which hinders their application in modern in vehicles, but it’s rarely a problem in a static installation.

    Turbines run VERY fast, and without gearing the frequency of any AC produced would be way too high. If you rectify the AC to DC, then store some in a batteries, an inverter does the frequency conversion for you.

    As steam engines are external combustion engines, they don’t give a monkeys about how the heat is produced, just long as it can be got into the working fluid (doesn’t need to be water/steam, but it’s most common fluid used, ammonia can be used too, but it’s a bit nasty if it leaks. Still it’s probably better for the environment the CFC)

    A back up boiler fuelled in a more conventional manor would allow the system to work when there was less sunlight.
    (For a given fuel, combustion at/near atmospheric pressure produces less pollution than if the fuel was burnt at higher pressure, something to do with the way nitrogen reacts at high pressure.) Use a combine heat and power cycle and you’ve got heating too. Have a refrigerator running on a Gas Absorption cycle, and you’ve got cooling.

  2. Excellent!!….a fellow enthusiast! What size refridgerator? The fan is no problem. What state are you in?
    But here’s the deal: Solar panels are rather costly right now and to run what you said whenever you want you will need some serious panels. (6- 150 watt units)
    That means under full sun the panels maximum output, wired in parallel would produce 900 watt/hours. Here in florida, we get very good output off a panel, but in seattle it would be essentially useless.
    I have a small set-up consisting of 2-150 British Petroleum units hooked together and wired to 2 semi (big truck) batteries wired in parallel. I have a 1200watt power inverter hooked to that. That whole set-up is hooked to a 5000btu window air conditioner that is in my bedroom. When I go to bed (11:30p.m.) I shut off the house a/c and turn on my small a/c. After a sunny day the unit will run three hours and then the 10volt underage signal goes off and it shuts down. But that is enough to keep me more than cool. ( I like my a/c freezing)


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