© 2011 -
Resources, Guides and Plans For Getting Cheap Solar Panels
~ Updated December 11, 2012
Perhaps you live in some remote place, off the electrical grid, or you'd like to save a little money, or you wish to be ecologically friendly. You tried a DIY wind turbine, except the wind doesn't blow when you want it to. You tried a biomass gasfire, but after escaping major injury during the welding and metal-
A solar panel is a collection of solar cells, the things which actually transform sunlight into electricity. The greatest hurdle to overcome in order to build your own solar panel is the cost of solar cells. Bought new, they are very expensive, and are sometimes hard to get hold of in quantity for any price. But blemished or outright damaged solar calls for sale can be found on Ebay and elsewhere at a fraction of the price of perfect, new cells. These can be employed to create a solar panel which works just fine.
Bricks of 36 monocrystalline solar panel cells arranged 3 x 6 x 2 and wired in series will produce around half a volt each, providing 18 volts in total. This is enough to charge a 12 volt battery. This kind of solar cell is as thin as paper and as fragile and brittle as glass, so it is easily damaged. The cells are coated in wax to allow for shipment, and this is something of a pain to remove. Removal can be achieved by means of a bath in hot water (“What are you cooking, darling?” “Oh, solar cells”). The water should not be boiled, or the bubbles will collide with the cells and the electrical connections of the cells may be affected. Placing the bricks in the water while it's cold will avoid a harsh, thermal shock.
If you can find a source which provides unwaxed solar cells, you will save yourself much bother, although this must be traded-
Using solar cells without metal tabs attached doubles the amount of soldering to be done, so it's worth paying a little more for the tabs. Using different cell sizes is a bad idea because the current produced will be limited by the size of the smallest cells, and larger ones won't work to their full capacity. This will mean yours is not one of the most efficient solar panels.
Put your solar cells into a shallow box whose sides won't block sunlight which comes in from an angle. In this case, the box is 45.75 x 22.25 x 0.75 inches.
A few coatings of paint inside and out will protect the wood. Painting both sides is necessary, or the paint will curl, and this can damage the solar cells which are glued to it.
Vent holes will equalize air pressure and permit moisture to escape. The vents should be on the bottom to prevent water from entering. Holes of at least a quarter of an inch wide work. Some fiberglass insulation will prevent dust and critters from getting in.
A plexiglass front will provide protection from the weather. Glass will do the job, but is so very fragile and can be shattered by flying debris. In this way, you will attain the honorable goal of domestic solar power.
|Build Your Own|
|Pros and Cons|