Anyone have experience making their own solar panels?
Scoping out eBay, I found a seller who deals in just the cells. IE he sells them in lots to make a full panel, and from what I can tell, it looks to be about 1/3 the cost of buying a completed panel at full retail (the cost around here, anyway, which is north of $8/watt for the panels I've looked at).
I understand soldering the tabs is the hard part. I do have soldering experience.
Just wondering if anyone has tried it? How'd it turn out? Pitfalls? Advice?
I'm not sure what the competitive price for finished PV panels are right now but last time I checked, I think it was about $5 a watt (usd).
The biggest concerns I'd have with doing them myself are:
-heat-damaging them while soldering the leads on them (they're basically silicon).
-picking the right substrate material to mount them on so they aren't damaged from expansion/contraction.
-finding a suitable mounting adhesive.
Maybe there are ready-made answers but I don't know.
One thing I always thought I'd try if I were ever to make my own PV panels is to mount them on something heat conductive and run cooling coils on the back side. This way I could cool them and extract the heat at the same time. I've seen writeups about attempts at PV/thermal hybrid panels and the performance was iffy (in terms of ROI, I think), so I don't know.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein
I have seen them as low as $5 watt US, but they're usually the big panels - and with solar as with many things, the more you buy, the cheaper it gets.
But I'm just looking for around 30-50w worth. And even if I find a good price (eBay), shipping kills the deal, or they won't ship out of the US, or they only ship UPS which charges egregious customs brokerage fees coming over the border, really killing the deal.
I just read about hybrid panels yesterday. Neat idea.
this used to be pretty popular on the otherpower.com forum, often with partial broken panels. They used to be a lot cheaper as i understand, and a lot of work to turn into a useable panel. Getting a unit that would stay sealed from moisture seems to be the hardest part. There is a site I've seen that sells broken panels by the pound for an excellent price per watt, but I would have to dig for the link.
PV panals are normaly laminated between layers of low iron safty glass, helping to give them that 35+ year life span, low iron glass (I;'m pretty sure that is what is used) is basicly more clear, so it filters out less of the light, and being temperd, it's really strong, it's what is used in skylights, and windshilds, and it's basicly two layers, simaler to how a windshild is built up, with the PV in the center of that.
I haven't my self soldered any together, but I have friend who did at one point in time, I have a cell that snaped in shiping, it's pretty sweet, they ended up selling them in order to get commercialy made pv panals for their small house.
my house could very easly run on solar ( it was built this way) the hard part is to get my dad to front the cash on it. if you can get it to work that would be a awsome example to show him that it is possible at a somewhat affordable price.
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