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romesa 05-03-2009 11:29 PM

Questions about mounting PLYWOOD solar panels to a roof
I recently purchased the GreenDIYEnergy guide to making affordable solar panels out of Plywood. He then goes on to explaining how they are installed and all they tell you is what professionals do with the aluminum panels. There is nothing (that I could see) about how to install 8X4 pieces of plywood that are 3/8 of an inch thick with a 3/4 inch cube as a border around the edges to screw the plexiglass to. Nothing. I am also wanting to make these things for other people but I am finding it hard to get straight, clear, concise answers. I am no electrician but want to learn as much about Solar Panel making and installation so that I can make a business out of it. I want more people to be able to afford these kind of energy generating panels vs. the extremely expensive ones, although more kind on the eyes. :) Is anyone else doing the "cheap" solar panels from home and making a living selling them? I have found I have to have my product UL certified. How can I do that when I can't find one website that will show me what mounts work well with a wood solar panel? Or, if they even meet up to code with all the red tape you have to go through??? Ugh... can anyone tell that I'm frustrated! :( Anyone who could help answer some or all of these questions would be greatly appreciated!!!



Gigs 05-03-2009 11:48 PM

Are you talking about PV, or some kind of water preheating?

Tom Struble 05-04-2009 06:44 AM

romesa 05-04-2009 10:16 AM

It's PV, no water heating system.

jogr 05-04-2009 12:05 PM

Romesa, you are approaching this all wrong. If you want to create a business then you actually have to create it. You can't expect others to create it for you.

romesa 05-04-2009 03:27 PM

I understand what you're saying jogr, it is just that I am so new to all of this and I thought that the E-Book would take me from step one to the final step, like they claimed. Building the business is no problem, I just don't want to make a shoddy product because of my lack of know-how. I might think something is fine but later (after much work and expense) find out that there is a flaw in it. A doctor can build his practice, but only after he goes to school! I'm currently a student! :)

Aggie67 05-04-2009 03:59 PM

You can't build a product off of a DIY site. Yikes! That is kind of scary.

I've been down the road of building material product development in a prior career, and I know all about getting UL and Factory Mutual certification. It costs money to have them test it for you, and you better have your ducks in a row, because you just keep paying if it keeps failing. If you know what you're doing and engineer it correctly, it costs money. If you don't know what you're doing, it's a hole in the ground in to which you are shoveling your money.

My advice is to rethink what you're doing. Are you trying to make and market a less expensive code-compliant UL listed and FM approved roof top solar panel? If that's the idea, then develop it. If you don't know how to develop it (and your post here on a DIY site says it all), you should call a product development company to help you flesh it out.

But in my humble opinion, "less expensive code compliant UL listed and FM approved" can only be done via economies of scale, not alternate construction materials. These types of products go through repetitious cycles of engineering, bean counter analysis, re-engineering, more bean counting, etc, before they ever see a UL or FM testing lab. We'd spend a year trying to drive the price down on the production of a frame assembly. And the price came down not because we built it out of something you could buy at Home Depot. It came down because we engineered the extra metal out of it.

As for the mounts, if you're looking to buy mounts, why not get a price from a fabricator? I do work for a cell tower company, and I imagine all of the rooftop antenna clips and anchorages would be similar in nature to mounting solar panels. Those things aren't out of a catalog. Every single structural piece you see on a cell tower or roof top antenna installation is custom made. But the more you make, the cheaper they are. So American Tower has zeroed in on their engineered design for their systems, and they get a fabricator to make a zillion brackets. Those brackets only get made for American Tower. I would imagine solar panel mounts would be exactly the same. They need to be engineered and custom fabricated in lots.

Scuba_Dave 05-04-2009 04:02 PM

If it was easy everyone would be making them

Gary_602z 05-04-2009 04:03 PM


Originally Posted by romesa (Post 269091)
I have found I have to have my product UL certified. How can I do that when I can't find one website that will show me what mounts work well with a wood solar panel? !



Umm.. I think if you google UL certification you might find out it is big $$dollars$$! Also mounts will be different for different types of roofs. Is this something that you are trying to build yourself or are you planning on hiring employees? Have you made a business plan and talked to accountants,lawyers (liability) insurance agents and bankers? Have you done any R&D? What is the life span of the product and your warranty? This will all have to be built into your cost of doing business.
Remember most small business's fail in the first few years!

Don't want to burst your bubble!


romesa 05-04-2009 04:44 PM

POP! Nah, I know there is still so much for me to look into and learn. I know most small businesses die in the first two years for lack of know how and capital. Seems I have a bit of both. :( Thank you all for your suggestions and wisdom. I guess I will just have to plug along and do the best I can as I pick up more information and mooola.

Gigs 05-04-2009 07:39 PM

I can almost guarantee you that any "business idea" that is sold as an e-book (or on infomercial) is probably a rip off. I mean if it was such a good idea, why are they selling e-books instead of doing the thing in the book instead?

Aggie67 05-04-2009 07:47 PM


Originally Posted by Gigs (Post 269462)
why are they selling e-books instead of doing the thing in the book instead?

Because a long time ago, the smart people figured out that the money wasn't in panning for gold, it was in selling the pans.

Tom Struble 05-04-2009 08:06 PM

with the lifespan of 25 yrs plus for the pv plywood for the base is a poor choice

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