Build PV solar panels from broken solar cells

The sun's energy may be free, but solar panels can be quite expensive.  Still hoping to get off the grid?

VIRON has a great Instructable, How to make PV solar panels, teaching how to make your own from broken or surplus solar cells!

From the introduction: In essence, this involves ways to connect cells, which may produce more or less than one volt, and not only try to increase power output but also decrease the load, that is, efficiently conserve the energy whether it is meager or significant. For example, even the weakest solar panels can run watches, calculators, radios, charge batteries, and if a computer were specifically designed to, it would be as solar-powerable as a calculator.

Check out the Instructable for info on finding and foraging usable solar cells, instructions on preparing different types of broken cells, tips for getting more power out of your panel, and instructions for wiring the whole thing up to power your devices.

Inspired? Planning to try piecing your own solar panels?  Already off the grid, and planning something even better?  If you do, be sure to post an Instructable so the rest of us can learn something new.



This post has been sponsored by Pepsi. The Pepsi Refresh Project celebrates the people, businesses, and non-profits with ideas that will have a positive effect on our world.


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osiris sr7 years ago
the help never ends a idea changing world technologies has a process that extracts oil from garbage . it uses a principle that everything is made of its fundemental elements. a solar array broken or whole contains all the necessary elements to make a new cell but the problem is the glass correct its just there as a base to hold the silicon but upon shattering it has failed in its intended function. how do you remove glass from silicon and re-used the silicon ? most cell are cut from wafers and they are slabs from crystals grow in an incubator. (we can't do that here) cut and solder is lots of trouble and risk to lungs solder has lead in it is twenty bucks worth risking your health. no!  heat and pressure could trecover the usefull elements but gallium may be considered toxic elements breathing vapors once again not worth it. in theory metlting the glass or grinding it to a fine powder would liberate the semi conductor materials from the glass but to what eands even if seperated are these usable materials. one way to find out son grind them up . all elements can be seperated by gravity methodes i have plans for an elutration colume it uses stokes law to seperate out elements for one another. a cheap jar mill can be build to grind down the glass and silicon
a gallon jar  ten penny nails with heads cut off and rollers off old typewritter make bottle roll . mini rod mill each time the mill turns glass will be grond down shattered into powder and adventuall all will pass a fourty mesh screen
this material feed thru elutriation colum to seperate out the heavy elements gallium . thats how to recover the elements  price per gram gallium recovered vs cost of labor materials and power consumed = go go buy solar battery recharger and work on eralier concept smaller pc. try pc text to mp3 then listen to information over radio boom box. everything done its just not been tried much. verbose software gets pdf files to mp3 and on here they offer in line text as option now the whole site could be heard as a broadcast to an old radio thru mini mp3 player very little juice used to hear info on radio
i do this now with text on my pc . mp3 players hold what two gb chips thats essentially endless storage. once converted hands free and easy on electric consumption. early mp3 players ran off AA batteries dont know if they still do or not. is this off the subject a talking computer fdrom broken solar panel wow off course or good course on the reason to think out of the box guys and gals if your out there keep trying
osiris sr7 years ago
the crane compay sells solar battery chargers for twenty dollars. this charges AA and AAA bateries. with a twenty dollar set and couple dozen re-charble batteries there no reason why you can't mod everything you own to just run off  these. I belive a Tandy laptop once used eight AA batteries to operate a computer. the hundred dollar computer project was looking at similar designs. just think a display like in the car computers . (see mac mini in the Honda element) now think simple pc just surf and add video now tv radio
AA lights LED MP3 text to MP3 voice recognoition as in sync from wrecked vehicles. now you have some thing free power and all the lights camera action you can handle. Solar powered back packs that charge lap tops and cell phones that play videos whats next solar power laser beam guitars
osiris sr7 years ago
flexable is the way to go i got that from edc in popular science mag they showed a guy holing a three foot by three foot solar cell and bending it to show it could not be broken like the one you are working with. Think of cells and an array of cells. one cell makes one or two volts and at miliamps so several make 5 volts and more make twelve volts we see the volts and think solar can be used to power 5 and 12 volt devices it can be. cell phones are getting as powerfull as the first computers were. today mobile computers are very powerfull. 12 volt models running on 4g networks are as powerfull as any laptop so it is right to assume a five volt cell could run off a solar cell since cell phones can charge off lap top batteries might be what ever salvage you do look to charge an old lap top battery then usb that five volts to cell computer dumed down no hdd just chip win 98 se on sd chip parsed down
as your power monitor . see voller int fuel cell software conditions power at 12 five and 3.2 volts. on grid universal charger to start . cut solar cells with tile saw has diamond blade retain the interwiring silver solder to edge.
osiris sr7 years ago
Since this material is silicon based semi conductors it might be possible to experment with a process similar to paper making. in other words working with small pieces create a larger piece of paper in this case making a solar panel . you were right we own a solar powered caculator it ran great for over seven years when thinking one day it might need a new battery we took the back off only to discover no battery what so ever inside only a diode for power storage. I also had a watch like that it did have a battery so that was a cheat.
I though of a grinding mill like a rock tunbler make fine grains of silicon powder by repeatedly grinding sifting drying and re-gringing the broken shards of glass and silicon.. water jet cutters might be able to cut the silicon into usable pieces. and or casting into a grid and pouring a clear coat over them pieces. the galium or silicon material are there effeciency is not the point i think its the learning process keep thinking keep trying see where it takes you not give up be very stubborn as this is the stuff of future land fills find the way . your use less to do the same job is correct thinking.
osiris sr7 years ago
several things come to mind when viewing the instructable. I researched roll to roll solar cell mfg. a base wa stinless steel and seven layers were applied to get the p & G junction this is where the free electric positive ion is released and flows as current to ground. you cell can be made of layers of did-similar materials conductors and non conductors. light coming to the layers in waves as it does stimulates the release of the electrical current. print tron ink tried to print circuits and Energy conversion devices own the roll to roll production process and solar one yet another sorce of research. i once ordered a book on copper basesed solar panels. it might be worth re viewing these three sources. printron ink,solar one and EDC stock prospectuceses have to disclose alot so try those too. print me out a five volt device ok
Thank you for the ideas it helps  the world