Cambridge Self Build Solar Team

Construction Weekend 15th to 17th March 2002

The construction weekend is part of the National Energy Foundation's Selfsol project.

What were we doing?

Making 40 solar panels. These are 1 square metre in size. They sit on a roof facing the sun, and help heat up hot water.

Who was there?

Phil, David and Dave, who work for the Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI). They run the course. Phil designed the panels and the system. They demonstrated the assembly process by explaining, showing, and doing.

Delphine, Ian and Gareth from the NEF.

Fifteen attendees. Do-it-yourselfers that were going to end up with some panels. My four panels worked out at 109 each - a bargain!

Ten potential punters, wanting to see what was involved. They worked as hard as everybody else.

Wysing Arts  

Building. You can climb into it too!!Scary statue. Well it is when its dark, and your not expecting the thing to be looking at you when you're pressure testing.Statue The weekend was held at Wysing Arts near Bourne Cambridge.

Construction Friday

Bernie and jig The solar panel's timber frame is assembled in a jig, screwed together, and painted. 
Stacked frames The assemblies are stacked and left to dry over night.

Construction Saturday

David admiring the fibre glass Glass fibre insulation is cut and fitted to the timber frame.
Tape being applied  A reflective trim is taped to the top and bottom.
Bernie's quality soldering The collector fins, 7 per panel, are riveted together, connected with 10mm copper pipe, and soldered. The pipe work is pressure tested to 3 bar, and flushed out.

Construction Sunday

Fins in frame The fin assembly is slipped into the timber frame...
Charles ... and screwed into place.
Preparing for glassGlass attached A glazing strip of bitumen is taped around the frame, and the glass offered up.
Into the claddinggentle encouragement The glazed assembly is inserted into its stainless steel cladding.
FinishingClose up of the finished article. The cladding is screwed to the timber frame. Finished. 

What happened next...

Bernie and I tested our panels.

Bernie installs his three panels.

Controller Day


A sample water circulation circuit was being used to demonstrate the entire system. 

It had a couple of useful features. One was a mechanical flow meter calibrated in litres / minute.

flow rate meter

The other was a simple gate valve across the cylinder coil, there to help bleeding air from the system. I may have to add that to my schematic.

Snowy, one of the attendees from the course, lent me some controllers to look at.


Wysing Arts

National Energy Foundation

Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI) 

Lili's course details.

My temperature related pages. Read about a temperature logger, and a Thermomax panel installation.

Solar power at J Squared

Bernie's Solar power


Cambridge Science Week (Not specific to Solar Panels, but was being held while we were at Cambridge making panels.)

DTI Press Release. "Brian Wilson, Minister for Energy, today [18/3/02] brought the reality of the wide scale use of solar power closer by announcing funding for public buildings which include schools, galleries, church halls and sports centres all over the UK."

We had met Dave from LILI a few years ago when we visited CAT.

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