Thursday, January 14, 2010

solar panels

Here are 2 of 3 solar panels I recently purchased from a manufacturer in China. These, I believe, do not carry the usual stigma of a MADE IN CHINA label. Most people including myself, sometimes associate that label with shoddy goods. Something's going on here. I've never purchased or used PV's before, but they seem to be well made and of high quality. In preliminary testing they were putting out more than the rated power of 50 watts. The only difference I can find so far is that they are slightly heavier than domestic models, probably because they use cut cells. Most if not all modern Japanese PV's have no void spaces between cells. Therefore less glass is needed, thus less weight. How mine perform in the long run is the real test. I'll let you know in 25 years.

Today I was testing them in cloudy and snowy weather. Even with the sun behind trees they were putting out more power than the best wind turbine I ever made did in high winds. Well that's not saying much for my turbine, but it is saying something for the panels. By importing them myself they were 1/2 the price of the same model sold on the internet, and 1/3 the price of domestically manufactured panels of the same wattage. Of course I'd rather have domestic, but...

I plan on mounting them on the roof of the living room sometime soon, then pick up some semi- deep cycle batteries. I'm re-thinking my plan for microhydro and leaning more towards wind again. The reason for this being cost of the pipeline, expected problems with getting permission to place the pipeline on neighboring land, and mostly, foreseeable damage to the pipeline intake due to flooding. With the wind setup it won't put out nearly as much power as the hydro, but it will be much easier to install, no permission needed. Costs will be the same roughly too.

I've found a good company in the US that makes blades and tail to fit my generator/PMA. All of their testing is done under load, while the batteries are drawing power. In low winds, 10mph , it should make 50 watts. 100watts at 15mph and 200watts at 20mph. And more above this level of course. None of this is spectacular, but it is sufficient for my needs.


  1. Hey JohnE,

    Nice solar panels! Must be exciting. Good call on the micro-hydro. I guess you could always do it later if you had to, even using primitive materials if need be. Looking forward to the wind turbine project.....Hoping you'll write a little about it. Hey, I found this really neat website about building a small homestead with simple tools on a shoe string budget. Here's the link:


  2. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the link, lots of good info there. I'll definitly be writing about the wind setup when it gets rolling, should be going in spring. Maybe sooner.

    It would be cool to have a small cabin up on a ridgetop somewhere huh? I like the idea better than carrying in a tent and a ton of gear, only to carry it all back out again. My MIL has a small steep tract with one possible site, no view but well hidden. Might be a bad place to be in heavy rain though.