Monday, August 3, 2009

build you own solar panel scam

Back in NY, I used to sit on my front porch every now and then and just sit and watch the grass grow - well today, I sat on my front porch and watched my road dry out. Since I wasn't getting anything done for the Field Lab, I thought I would delve in to my latest favorite alternative energy scam.

For months now I keep seeing these ads pop up on the web (yet another reason why I don't have ads on this blog). BUILD YOUR OWN SOLAR PANELS FOR UNDER $200 USING PARTS FROM THE HARDWARE STORE REDUCE YOU POWER NEEDS BY 80% THE POWER COMPANY WILL PAY YOU! BULLSHIT!! I thought I would list them all but I found today that there are just way too many on the web here is the short list and MHO about them.

One of my favorite bullshit sites (and one of many just like it) is They appear to review and recommend the top three choices in this category - including my other favorite In fact....if you do a search for "build your own solar panel scam", you come up with mostly sites like these or "testimonials" of folks saying it is not a scam. The masterminds behind this snake oil have loaded the search engines with run-a-rounds to avoid being found out. There are even some YouTube videos of folks showing off their "home made" systems - and if you look closely, their "home made" panels have manufacturers labels on the back. Some of the sites even claim that you can get free batteries....just remember - you get what you pay for.

DON'T BE STUPID AN BUY IN TO THIS CRAP! And by the way, if you somehow manage to build 2KW of solar and wire it up yourself to spin your meter backwards (with or without the permission of your local utility) will not reduce your utility bill by 80%, it will cost you far more than $200, you will not be able to get all the parts from your local hardware store, and if something shorts out and burns your house down....guess what the insurance company is going to say?


Gavin said...

LOL... I've been seeing these stupid advertisements all over the web recently. It's such a shame that people fall for these. If you are going to buy panels then really do need research. A wonderful resources is the forum at I am really glad you brought this scam to light John.

Lynette said...

too true

TexasMan said...

My sister fell for this scam. Luckily, she asked me to review the crap. I told her to request her money be refunded or protest the bill to the credit card company. John is right. You can't even begin to build enough solar panels to stop your meter from turning forward must less backwards.

If she goes solar, it will cost about $30,000. She is not yet prepared to spend this much. I suggested she do an energy audit and try to convert many appliances to 12V as possible.

She is figuring that out now.

2L84Me said...

Well Said! With your hands-on experiances with Solar and the research you've done, YOU ARE THE MAN! I get a kick out of you exposing this type of marketing. It's all about the money! Bottom line, there IS usually a pay-off with solar, but everybody can't afford it yet! This exploitation of an infant industry needs to be kept on the staight and narrow. Keep up the good work! The same goes for the WIND POWER!

How's The Field Lab recovery going?

2L84Me said...

Gee I wish I had Spell Checker!

Off Grid Terlingua said...

Yep, thats one of those sounds too goo to be true things. The thing that is still haunting me isnt do it your self solar panels, but a sterling steam engine powered by the sun. Im still trying to figure that one out.

Allen Hare said...

John Wells, Scam Buster! Thank you, sir, for exposing these scoundrels. You certainly have the knowlege to do so.

Hope all is well at the Field Lab, and with the storm recovery.

Bob from Athens said...

Hey Off Grid Terlingua, like you I am trying to get my head around the Sterling, you probably have already found it but if not this is a pretty good site:
It goes into a lot more detail than I seem to be able to grasp so far. If this engine will do what they say it will, it seems like a perfect candidate for all sort of off grid aplications. There is a company, out in Arizona I think, that has built some really big ones for commercial power generation, using basically nothing but solar heat for fuel.

John, now you have uncovered some of the bad players in solar & wind power, how about revealing some of the good ones? Sources for parts and information would be really appreciated.

Billy Bob said...

Funny that John would bring up the subject of solar panels right at the time I am in the process of installing a solar system on my motor home (RV).
I will be posting my progress on my blog for those interested. So far, after months of research, I have located panels for less than $2.28 per watt....waiting on confirmation on prices.
By the way John, my solar oven works perfect. Hope you get yours back up and running soon.

John Wells said...


solar panels at those prices are usually blems, off-label (no manufacturer warranty), Chinese, and non-certified carefull!

denziel56 said...

jw ,

These type of DO It Yourself scams!

They make a guy like me angry. after designing systems for over 10 years,there is no way you can manufacture quality and reliable pv panel's in the garage, maybe some 15 watters .but to produce say 1.5 kilowatts per day of usable power would require

8 @ 125 watt panels on a pole mount along with a 1000 watt turbine, all of these rated for a 24 volt system with a 24 volt 3500 watt inverter, lets see ya build that in your garage.

total outlay so far : panels = 600.00 each x 8 = $4800.00 , wind turbine $2495.00 add pole $1700.00 ,

60 amp charge controller add another 285.00 ,

then you need those batteries, lets use for example some cheap ones B-T105: Trojan T-105 @ 135.00 each. 24 volt system requires a double string so 12 x 135.00 = 1620.00.

Pole mount for 8 / 125 watt pv panels = 3200.00. total outlay without cabling or installation = $13.815 materials only ! Then you add a generator for heavy load days. This is considered a conservative system ! you need 3.0 kilowatts per day to splurge , so double the materials and labor.

The real problem lies with public knowledge of renewable electricity. in order to use a system to power a home you have to design it to accommodate your total wattage usage per day , most folks don't have a clue about most of what I've just outlined but the crap they are getting the general population to believe is one 60 watt panel and a 12 volt battery will lite up the house ! WRONG !

and to think you can built this in your own garage. It's the biggest joke I ever heard (LOL) !

and that's the way it is !


denziel56 said...

I thought that was a low material list I forgot to include the cost of the inverter so add $ 2300.00 to the 13.815 = $16.115


Off Grid Terlingua said...

Some really cool info on this blog.
Id like to know more about solar for under 2.40 kw.

And about the sterling, the only problem I c is tracking the sun to focus the fernel lense on the boiler all day. But its easy to rig an alternator to a small sterling and point a fernel at the boiler with a water drip feed. just would be a pain to stand there all day and hold the lense

denziel56 said...

Bob from Athens

here are the real deal guys

I have been dealing with them for years.
This site has everything you would ever need to go off grid ,including appliances many 12 volt applications ,lights ,freezers, pumps.
It's all there at one place highly recommended ,from a class 1 renewable installer


Gavin said...

denziel56, your post about reminded me of:
I've always found them to have really interesting articles for anyone wanting to look at getting either partially or fully off-grid.

Michael said...

I just had one of these boneheads contact me about advertising on my site. Don't people realize that all this scheming and scamming is just a terrible waste of time?

If they just did something real and ethically entrepreneurial with their time they'd do just fine.

pratishtha said...

John, now you have uncovered some of the bad players in solar & wind power, how about revealing some of the good ones? Sources for parts and information would be really appreciated.
make solar panel

kellycpp said...

Looking for credible information about DIY solar panels to see if they are worth the $50.00 most are charging is apparently a challenging endeavor. I get that you feel that none of the programs have merit.

But the commentary is just denial of the basic "selling points" rather than any sort of analysis of the points demonstrating why these claims are bogus. For example, they say you can use these resources and can find these low cost system requirements yet TFL investigation demonstrates that nothing of the sort is true and here is why. THAT would be a real source of useful data, saving many of us the cost of buying the material and being left in the lurch after-the-fact if the reality of claims falls short (as likely they will).

If The Field Lab would specifically refute the claims and show that materials, skill sets and/or instructional aides are inadequate and elaborate on why, I would build a shrine to the guy who could save me 50 bucks!

javieth said...

Solar energy is the best natural resource that we have this time even more that fuel is too expensive. In fact i want to approach costa rica investment opportunities and look all the alternative this country can have because it climate. We must to find the way to save our planet and to use solar energy could be the first step.

Edward said...

Solar power is becoming very price competitive with conventional energy sources and there are many federal and state rebates and incentives in place to compensate you for the power you produce and also help offset your initial investment cost.

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Ray Wilson said...

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Thesolar said...

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May Gwen said...
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rmorandantejr said...
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rmorandantejr said...

Me too, I almost buy the product. Luckily, I search more if this company is a scam.

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