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Thread: How would I mount solar cells for diy collector with elect ?

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    How would I mount solar cells for diy collector with elect ?

    Tho it often costs me more money in the long run, I like to tinker and have been wanting to build an electric producing solar panel for a while and making one to help heat the pool gives me an excuse.
    Idea of a diy panel is here -
    Just making one for electric is pretty straight forward and about as simple as could be, but am wondering how I could convert this to also be a pool heater and was wondering if anyone had any ideas ?

    I guess the big thing is how to mount the cells so they will heat the pipe. frame would just be made deeper for the pipe to fit, but can't think of a way to then mount the cells above the pipe without putting down another substrate, which would block the sunlight from reaching the pipe.

    Yes, I know it would be just as cheap, or maybe even cheaper to just buy one, but I do love to tinker with stuff like this. just curious if anyone has an idea on how i could mount the cells so the pipe still received the heat.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: How would I mount solar cells for diy collector with ele

    Mixing electricity and water is not an especially good idea. Even aside from the corrosion/shorting risks, the required electrical insulation will kill the overall system efficiency for heating water. Using separate solar water heating panels will be far more efficient and simpler to build.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: How would I mount solar cells for diy collector with ele

    i am not too concerned about mixing the 2. I would think moisture would be more of a concern and hopefully the vent holes would take care of that. The absolute worst case scenario - a pipe burst, shooting water everywhere inside the box, allowing it to go up thru the vent holes to the solar cells and the gfci outlet fails plus does not trip a fuse installed inline on the positive wire - is a maximum of 18 volts and 3 amps (amps is the killer, not volts - i have been hit by a coil in a car, upwards of 12,000 volts - but very, very low amps). I discover it by getting shocked so I disconnect the wiring and still have the pool heater.
    Not a concern for me - also, grandkids are never anywhere near the pool area unless accompanied by wife or I, so hopefully if something did happen, would be the wife getting shocked, not me lol)

    I believe I have it - plexiglass. Build the box like in the link, only make it deeper to add the plumbing - then add the cells sandwiched between 2 pieces of plexiglass (with vent holes etc, as per link). Voila - 60 watts of 3 amp power per frame plus heats the pool. More than enough power to run accent lighting and maybe even a small fan.

    Again, it is not about the money (tho that is an added bonus), but I just love trying to build stuff like this. When it works, the satisfaction is .......priceless.

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    Christian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Sacramento, California

    Re: How would I mount solar cells for diy collector with ele

    Sounds like a cool project. You'll have to post some pics once you get it going. I'll be interested to see how it works out!

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