What Solar Panel System Do I Need?
For meeting temporary needs, solar power is the sole renewable energy that’s used. Solar power in California differs and is within the range of anyone with a couple dollars to spend and a tiny motivation. It is used in many homes around Mountain View.
Introduction To DIY Solar Panel Frames
When building your own solar panel one good perk is that there is no shortage in materials or type of materials.
But there are some important factors to keep in mind when selecting your materials like:
- Material durability
- Construction methods
- Availability of the materials
- Financial costs
Your solar panel frame needs to withstand environmental threats such as precipitations,wind,extreme temperatures, ingress etc.
The frames need to be rough to protect the valuable and fragile solar cells inside, during the installation phase.
For some areas the frame needs to withstand heavy wind pressure, hail or snow loads.
There are instances where pv panels are used only occasionally for small batteries, and thus are not faced with harsh environments on a daily basis.
These types of PV panels can get away with more inexpensive materials.
Without a doubt the most important factors that affect solar panel frames are Thermal and Moisture resistances.
Thermal Resistance For Solar Panel Frames
All photovoltaic panels are subjected to extreme temperatures from freezing winters to very hot summer days. These seasonal fluctuations in temperature can lead to a warped panel frame if the proper materials are not used.
Extreme temperatures cause the materials of the solar panel frame to bend and contract,at different rates depending on the materials.
As the materials are different in a pv frame,they will contract and deform at different rates eventually separating from each other. Because of this special consideration should be given to the bonding agents and their longevity.
In the winter when temperatures are very low, bonding substances tend to crack and they separate from other materials that have different contraction rates.
In the summer the opposite is true and bonding agents soften up and decompose which leads to the degradation of the panel and lesser performance.
Moisture Resistance For Solar Panel Frames
Almost all solar panels are subjected to moisture in one way or another. Factors like melting snow, rain or fog need to be taken into consideration before building the frame.
Many materials tend to absorb moisture and warp over time, drawing moisture to the insides of the panel where the solar cells and electrical connections are placed, eventually leading to panel failures.
To counteract moisture you need to use bonding agents with a high moisture resistance and fasteners that can withstand corrosion.
The panel needs to have some degree of flexibility for its mechanical parts. They need to contract and expand in tandem,so proper mechanical connections are important.
Personally we use Silicone 2 for bonding purposes as it has a high degree of flexibility for contraction and expansion. Silicone 2 is also a great seal against moisture.
UV Resistance For Solar Panel Frames
Another factor that affects solar frames is UV degradation. Some materials tend to decompose when facing constant UV exposure and eventually lead to moisture and temperature extremes degrading the panel.
To counteract UV vulnerability we used silicon,aluminum and Plexiglas in our frames. Tough not the very best, these materials give the best bang for the buck when cost and availability are taken into consideration.
Plexiglas can also be replaced with polycarbonate or fiberglass.