Build your own Solar Panel
You probably already know that it is possible to harness energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. You may even know it is done with a photovoltaic cell, also called a soar cell. You also might know the biggest problem with solar power right now is how expensive it is. But there is a better way, you can build solar panels at home!
Well, the key to what I said was solar panel, not solar cell. It is possible to make a solar cell at home, but not a useful one for practical use. The way we will be making a solar panel involves buying used and slightly blemished solar cells, and putting them together to make a panel.
First, we need the solar cells. To make a solar panel that can charge a 12 volt battery you will want 36 cells. They will be wired 18 in series, twice, then together in parallel. It is wise to get cells that are pre tabbed, it will make the final assembly much easier.
Next we need a board to mount the cells to. Plywood works good for this. It is a good idea to give this a good paint job, perhaps a primer also. It will be outdoors and exposed to the elements. You will need some scrap pieces of plywood to create a frame around the base to mount to Plexiglas to.
Also, you will need a piece of Plexiglas to cover the entire top of the panel. It will protect the solar cells, while allowing light to pass through. You could also use glass, but it is heavy and more likely to break.
Miscellaneous items also needed are, wire, solder, and a soldering iron, silicon caulk, and eventually a charge controller to regulate the charge, and keep electricity from flowing backward when the panel receives no light.
It is a good idea to first lay out your solar cells to figure out how you will attach them all together. Remember, you are making two panels of 18, connected in series. Once you figure out how to conform them, you can attach the tabs from one cell to the next. use care as the solar cells are very fragile.
Once you have both panels of 18 cells soldered together you will know how big your plywood base has to be. Cut it and make the frame peices, they should be large enough to be able to put screws in, but as small as possible.
Now you can size up and cut the Plexiglas. Pre-drill holes to attach screws.
Now you will gently pace the solar cells in the panel and attach. Complete the wiring to create a parallel circuit. At this point you will want to put the panel in the sun and test it with a volt meter. Be sure all the connections are good, and secure. Next we will be sealing up the panel with silicon. It will be a lot of work to open it after this stage, we will have to break the seal and scrape all the old silicon, then add new silicon and replace the Plexiglas. When you are confident of the wiring, find a place for it to exit the pane, and seal it with silicon.
Now place a nice size bead of silicon around the panel frame, place the Plexiglas panel on top and screw in.
Your solar panel is now complete, you can hook it up to a charge controller and a 12 volt battery to store the power. You can find many 12volt appliances or just get an inverter and use normal household current.
If you are serious about doing this
project you can get a wonderful guide here:
It will walk you through step by step in much
greater detail then I just did in that article.
Also it will teach you how to make wind generators,
and live a greener life!: Efficient Planet
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