Getting your energy requirements from your very own solar power system is a great way of cutting utility bills and protecting the environment. If you’re a technical person, then installing your solar panels can also be a wonderful and productive adventure in itself. There are many guides available on the Internet on how to set up and make an appropriate solar power system for your home, and following any of these guides can be a very a rewarding project.
It is not difficult to create your own solar panel if you know the main components necessary to build it. High quality solar or photovoltaic cells, sturdy aluminum frames of about ? inch thick, and a ¼ inch dark glass are all you need to create your own solar panel. But how do you go about it if you want to build even the photovoltaic cells yourself?
Solar or photovoltaic cells are solid state electrical devices that convert light energy into electricity. Arrays of photovoltaic cells are used to build solar panels. Most solar or photovoltaic cells that are used in solar power systems for households are those available from various electrical supply traders and are made of processed silicon. These photovoltaic cells are commonly manufactured in large plants that are capable of producing and controlling high temperatures and vacuums. Compared with homemade solar cells, these products are highly efficient in terms of generating electricity from the light energy they capture from the sun.
If you wish to build your own solar cells, you need to accept the resulting downgrade in terms of efficiency. You’ll also need to visit your neighborhood hardware store to purchase the required components and raw materials. Building your own photovoltaic cell should be a breeze for a technical person like you and should take only about an hour to complete. Once at the hardware store, secure the following materials: a sheet of copper flashing of about 1 sq ft, two alligator clip leads, a reliable multimeter to check and measure electrical current produced by the solar cell, an electric stove, a plastic water bottle, table salt, sand paper or wire bush, and metal shears for cutting your copper sheet. You will also need tap water.
With all required materials on hand, proceed with the project by following these steps:
1. Cut a piece of copper sheet. Avoid getting grease or oil on the sheet.
2. Thoroughly wash and sand the copper sheet.
3. Heat the copper sheet until the burner is red hot and the copper sheet is coated with black cupric oxide coating.
4. Turn the burner off after 30 minutes.
5. Clean the copper sheet lightly while avoiding too much cleaning pressure in order to retain the red cuprous oxide layer.
6. Cut another piece of copper similar in size to the first one you prepared.
7. Bend the two copper pieces and place them in the plastic bottle in a way that they fit the bottle but do not touch each other.
8. Attach one alligator clip lead to the copper plate with the cuprous oxide, and the other alligator clip lead to the new copper plate.
9. Connect the alligator lead associated with the new plate to the positive terminal of the multimeter while connecting the alligator lead associated with the cuprous oxide plate to the negative terminal.
10. Mix two tablespoons of salt with tap water. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Pour the solution into the plastic bottle.
Congratulations. You have successfully built your own solar cell! To verify whether your solar cell is working, check the multimeter reading when it is placed in the dark and when it is placed under the sun. A reading of about 33 to 50 microamperes when your solar cell is under the sun should confirm that you have done the job correctly.