Alternative Energy: How to Make Solar Cells & Solar Panels

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Solar panel
Solar panel (Image: Solar Panel image by kuhar from Fotolia.com)

Solar energy is energy generated by sun in the form of heat that is transferred to the Earth. The best part about solar energy is that it is renewable, inexhaustible and pollution-free. Solar panels can be installed at homes to generate electricity. Solar panels make use of solar cells to convert solar energy into electricity.

Things You'll Need

  • SOLAR CELL
  • 1-by-2-foot copper flashing sheet
  • Sandpaper
  • Water
  • Electric stove
  • Scissors
  • 1 large clear plastic bottle
  • Salt solution (dissolve 2 tablespoons of common salt -- sodium chloride -- in warm tap water)
  • 1 micro-ammeter
  • 2 alligator clip leads
  • SOLAR PANEL
  • Plywood
  • Solar cells
  • UV Protector
  • Rosin Flux Pen
  • Soldering gun
  • Tin wire
  • Silicon adhesive
  • Drilling machine
  • Plexiglas
  • Screws

Solar Cells

Clean the 1-by-2-foot copper flashing sheet with sandpaper. Use scissors to cut it into two small pieces the size of your electric stove burner.

Heat one out of the two copper flashing sheets for about half an hour until it becomes red hot. The high temperature facilitates oxidation of the copper flashing sheet and forms a thick layer of black cupric oxide. Allow the sheet to cool to room temperature. The temperature drop causes shrinking of the copper sheet underneath, causing the outer layer of black cupric oxide to peel off. There is a red cuprous oxide layer underneath, which is required for the functioning of the solar cell.

Slightly rub to clean the copper flashing sheet using sandpaper and water to remove all traces of the black layer of cupric oxide. But be careful not to scrub off the red cuprous oxide layer.

Now take the cooked piece of copper flashing sheet (coated with a layer of cuprous oxide) and the uncooked piece of copper flashing sheet and bend both to set inside a clear large plastic bottle containing salt solution. Secure both the copper sheets (using two alligator clip leads) in such a position that they do not touch each other. Make sure that the level of salt solution in the bottle is at least 1 inch below the alligator clip lead.

Connect the cooked copper plate to the negative terminal and the uncooked copper plate to the positive terminal of the micro-ammeter.

Place the solar cell in the sunlight and test the charge readings on the micro-ammeter.

Solar Panels

Cut a piece of plywood to an appropriate size to accommodate about 80 solar cells.

Paint the plywood with UV protector coating.

Mark the solder points using the Flux Pen on the solar cells. This will ensure that your wiring stays in place.

Connect all the solar cells to each other using the tin wire. Solder all the wiring and solar cells together to connect the cells. Complete one row at a time. Connect all the rows with tin wire. After connecting the solar cells, you will find two wires hanging from both ends.

Bind the solar cells to the plywood with a little silicon adhesive. Now drill two holes in the plywood on each side of the solar cells to send the two unattahed wires to the back of the plywood. Seal the holes with silicon adhesive.

Create a border around the plywood using silicon adhesive like a frame around a picture. To protect the solar cells from rainwater, cover the solar cells with plexiglass. Attach the plexiglass to the silicon adhesive at the border of the plywood. For added support, use screws to fasten the plexiglass to the plywood.

Position the solar panels in such a way over the building that they can harness the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the daytime. When solar panels are coupled with an energy converter device, they can generate electricity for your building.

Tips & Warnings

  • When making solar panels, make sure there are no holes or gaps in the plywood or any area covered by solar cells.
  • To prevent moisture from accumulating, drill a hole away from the wiring at the bottom of your solar panel. Any water from rain or other sources will now drain from this hole.
  • Make sure the holes drilled in the Plexiglass are smaller than the screw size to avoid breaking the Plexiglass while attaching.
  • Do not leave materials such as metal shears, soldering equipment and an electric stove unattended.

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