Michael Davis of Arizona has always had an interest in renewable energy. Last year he needed a way to provide electricity in a remote location and learned that used parts found on eBay can be used to build a solar-powered electric generator.
Most of us understand the benefits of using the sun to produce electricity. Sunlight is available for free and there is less harm to the environment. Up until now, the main stumbling block has been the cost of solar panels which contain electricity-producing photovoltaic (PV) cells.
Michael found some damaged PV cells on eBay and decided to give them a try by using them to construct his own solar-powered electric generator. Here is what he learned:
- Less then perfect cells can still perform efficiently.
- These cells are much cheaper than new cells.
- They are readily available on eBay or from other sources.
- How To Construct Your Own Solar Generator
If you are handy with tools, you can construct your own solar-powered generator following these basic steps:
1. Determine How Many Cells You Need
You'll need to decide whether you want to produce enough power for your entire home or just power a few items such as lights or small appliances. This will help you determine how many cells you need.
2. Find A Source For The PV Cells
While eBay isn't the only source for damaged or blemished cells, buying them online is convenient. With some investigation, you may be able locate other sources, including cell manufacturers or contractors that install panels.
3. Wire The Cells Together
The cells must all be connected together. They may have tabs that simplify this or you will have to wire them together. You will likely need to do some soldering.
4. Construct Panels To Hold The Cells.
The solar panel is nothing more than a shallow box typically made out of wood. It needs to be large enough to hold your cells, but don't make it too large or you'll have trouble carrying up to your roof for mounting. You can have many panels, all connected together with wiring.
5. Assemble And Install Your Panels
Place your completed solar cells inside the panel, running the wires out through holes. Then cover the panel with Plexiglas. This will increase their efficiency and make the whole system more weather-resistant. Finally, test the panel under the sun using a multimeter.
6. Mount The Panels
Most likely, you'll want your panels to be on your roof, but you can place them anywhere that sunlight is available. If you're in the northern hemisphere, face them toward the south.
7.Connect Your Panels To Your Home's Electrical System.
To complete your project, you'll need to run wires from your panels to your home's electrical system. Here are some additional items you will need:
- Inverter - necessary to convert your solar-produced electricity from DC to AC
- Emergency shut-off switches
- Optional energy monitor and battery back-up.
You can start out small and expand your solar power system over time. If you generate excess power, you can even sell it to the local power company and start seeing a profit.
Autor: John Horning
Added: September 6, 2009