Step 7: Applications for Small Solar Panels

The solar panels I made and pictured generate around 1 or 2 watts generally.

These are the applications I use them for:

Charging batteries.
In the blackout of 2003, those batteries ran our blackout party,
which included black lights, fans (it was a hot day), radio, small TV, and low voltage lights.
And an AC inverter.
(I go to the rechargeable battery recycle bins with a meter and if they are not really dead
then I borrow them until they are. I didn't buy any of these batteries.)

Solar night lights - nowadays a very common thing where I live.

Solar powered fans - although my solar panels run computer fans directly when it's hot,
(The sun makes it hot, and the sun runs the fans!)
I notice that solar charged battery powered fans are MUCH MORE POWERFUL.

Solar Flashlights

Solar powered radios - including my ham radio shack.

I guess people don't leave their laptops in the sun...
My approach to designing a solar powered computer,
(and my definition of computer is a processor with memory
and a keyboard and a screen that runs not-necessarily-an-operating-system)
is to use very high resistance CMOS chips which use very little electricity,
just like watches and calculators... a computer is also a calculator with lots
of memory, and CMOS memory is a common thing!
At night time, the computer has not used up all it's solar power so it uses
what is stored in the rechargeable battery.
There is simply no demand for the solar powered computers,
nor any obstacle to solar powering a PDA or a laptop with similarly sized panels.

In simple theory, if you get eight hours of sun and need one hour of power,
you can get by with one eighth the solar power by saving it up in batteries.
Also, if LED lights should run all night, it's easy to collect more than enough
solar power during the day in batteries with the right sized panel.
<p>There are so many interesting posts regarding this topic, people share information and experience. But unfortunately it seems do easy when you ready the instruction though when you try to create something it turns into&hellip; sorry, cannot find decent words. So, we also spent quite much money but as the result got nothing and applied to solarpanelscompany.com to have solar PV installed. In such a way I can calculate the costs and efficiency as well as invite specialists in case I have some problems.</p>
What is it with these people and emails? Are those spammers? I mean you are giving very detailed instructions on this and they want you to email them with detailed instructions? LOL. I put you in my favs this is great! Most just have instructions but I need pictures too so yours is easy to follow.
Interesting &amp; informative post. Please can some one clear how many panels required to generate 1000 Volts?
at least 1,587 high efficiency cells. If each cell is producing a minimum of 0.63 V.
what are the sources of those cells?
Ebay, broken cells<br>
Thanks, good instructable! <br><br>What's with all the people asking you to email them how to's ? Didn't they bother to read this ?
Nice informative instructable. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you very much!!!!
would like to know about &quot;ICL7660&quot;<br> <br> When I check my local Electronics store<br> they list 3 different versions<br> <br> ICL7660CPA<br> ICL7660CSA<br> ICL7660SCP<br> <br> dose it make a difference which one I pick ?<br>
It shouldn't make too much difference. The different letters at the end are often just differences in max levels, whether of efficiency or of other small details. For a small project like this, any of the three should work fine. If you'd like more info on the chips, the datasheets can be found on alldatasheets.com, ti.com, or most other electronics providers sites.
Very nice article and illustrations. You gave step by step instructions that were easy to understand. I've seen a few more of these on other sites, but got a little lost. Keep up the good work.
Pretty Darn cool, I've got a little different angle on this. Let me explain. I live in the Midwest U.S. It's gets pretty darn cold/expensive in the winter. With the price of Corn sky rocketing it's no longer cost effective to heat my house with my corn burner. So I started playing with electrolysis to make Hydrogen to burn in my Natural gas Furnace. The problem is if I do this with the grid I'm burning coal not to mention it would be more efficient to forgo the electrolysis step. So here's what I want to do. I'd like to keep a battery charged from a solar panel. My output to the electrolyzer from the battery will be about 12 volts at 20 amps. Keep in mind it will only run for about 10 minutes every 20-30 minutes . That's it, if I can get it to work it will save me about $2000 a year in heating expenses.
Be very careful - hydrogen is a dangerous gas. One little bit of air in there and you have a bomb. I will explain a little more. Hydrogen is the smallest gas molecule you can get. So it leaks through almost any sealing material. Also because of its low molecular weight it reacts with oxygen very quickly which means its &quot;burn rate&quot; is very fast. A lot of the reason you are not already driving a hydrogen powered vehicle has to do with these properties - many millions of dollars have been spent trying to make hydrogen safe to store and make it burn slowly enough not to destroy the engine.
i've been interested in wind energy as well as solar energy for a while, I want to build my own wnd generator but there are many versions and ideas, can someone point me in the right direction and just tell me how to do it. what type of motor especially, the design portion I have down but getting the motor to produce energy is the confusing part, i.e. what kind of motor is the most effective.
https://www.instructables.com/id/Chispito-Wind-Generator/step2/MATERIALS/<br /> This instructable mentions electric treadmill motors. <br />
I have heard that a DC Motor made by Ametek is what you need. These motors will produce DC current when they turn backwards. You attach your blades per your design and it should turn the motor backwards. You will want a 30VDC Motor with a low RPM rating, under 400RPM @ 30V is the best bet. I hope this is helpful in some way.
Large umbrella mounted solar panels. Just a thought, might be heavy...
Hiya folks. Just want to say thanks for the site. Loads of info here. I currently live off grid entirely. I have 2 solar panels, 1 X 32 watt and 1 X 80 watt. They are in series and charge 2 deep cycle 12 volt batteries, {deep cycle is VERY important...they can be drawn down and recharged many more times than a regular auto battery) no charge controller because I use the power and the batteries never "cook". My house runs mainly on 12 volt: tv, radio, lights, and I have a small inverter to run my laptop (low power draw) and to charge my pager for the fire department. Living in northern Ontario, our winters are long with short days... only 8 hours of limited solar charging time for the panels, so I am looking for ways to add to my panel bank to keep things better charged up in the winter.I sometimes need to run a generator in the winter to run a charger for my batteries, and I'd like to get away from that, so I am hoping this is the way! Thanks to this site I am now exploring more possibilities! Physics and chemistry and mechanics are NOT my strong suit, but since it is a way of life for me, I am highly motivated to learn how to build panels myself, instead of paying close to 10 bucks a watt for retail panels. Cheers!
thanks to all concern, sites like this evolves ,very helpful and informative!!!!!
I'm glad to see someone who's truly interested in helping the planet instead of making a profit!!!!
Many thanks for this highly instuctive article from a land of sunshine and very expensive solar panels! Thanks!
My comment was deleted, don't know why, but I'll post it again as many want to get cheap parts and recycle broken parts. The solar powered traffic highway warning signs on trailers get damaged by just getting hauled around or encounters with drunk drivers etc. anyway they have to be fixed and the broken panels go into the dumpster many times. Look in the phone book for places that rent these signs and see if they have any broken panels you can experiment with. Many times they might just give them to you.
Is that plexiglass? Where did you buy it? I can't find any place that isn't obnoxiously priced!
I found plexiglass at lowes, when I was modding a computer case. Have you tried looking there?
I've always known lowes to have it I just though it would be pricy because it is an actual store. How moch did you pay? How much did you get?
For normal 1/8 inch thick plexiglass (in US currency) $43.99 for 36"x72", $6.77 for 18"x24", and $19.37 for 24"x48"; there where more sizes, but this gives you an idea. For the thick 1/4 inch plexiglass $13.49 for 16"x24" and $42.97 for 24"x48". Lows also carried high impact plexiglass, but it was high, so I didn't bother looking at the prices.
hey guys I have a solar panel which is from radioshack but I'm not sure what is the top plastic layer is supposed to be. it looks like a bunch of tiny lenses but I'm not sure what they are.
Did you ever burn ants as a kid.... Same principle, just a bunch of magnifying lenses.
Doob, they are basically mini-fresnel lenses to focus the sun's energy. They use a similar technique on motion sensor lights to for focusing infrared energy to the sensor.
So are there any recommendations on some places to go to find these broken ones for the cheapest?
A very good project.
i want to make solar cell but unfortunatlly im not good in electronics and tell me how connect wire with glass
Thank you!!!!!
where can i get the solar cells?(broken) and i can put them together i'm thinking about making a battery/solar powered go kart!
I did buy broken solar cells from goldmine. I thought if this work all right !! but if it didn't it was only $9.00. What I got though was really quit useless except for really small projects. It would be better to just wait and buy a panel made for charging then it would be to do this even so canadian tire ( I am in canada) sells small panels for around 20 to 30 ,even a 15 watt panel goes on sail once and a while. but for me I just don't think would think help me solve my problem. IE. parents have a camp not hydro so they use a generator /battery iron lead I think so I though this instrucable could have been useful. But all in all this would be good for cell phones or mp3 ,i-pods though. I hoe tis is useful
wait, so in the circuit (voltage doubler) ground is positive??<br/><br/>Electronic-goldmine has super <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G16323">cheap</a> solar panels right now, $1.00 for 0.5v and 0.4-0.5 amps i'd buy them, (If i had a credit card.)<br/>
Quick note:<br/>Watts = volts * amps<br/>so .5 v * .5 amp = 0.25 w for $1 (the link now says $1.89), which comes to $4 ($7.56) per watt<br/><br/>I mention this more as a warning, I've seen a few places offer solar cells or &quot;cut&quot;/broken down pieces of panels for prices about this, where when all is said and done the price doesn't work out to be a good deal at all.<br/>
ya, the PV cell's aren't on sale anymore, bummer, got any links to fully functional, non-broken, cells? (which are cheap)?
I am just getting interested in solar/renewable energy (thanks to ed!) so please forgive my ignorance. After looking at panel system prices, even w/ the rebates & tax incentives can still be quite costly... this is why I am now researching building our own solar panels. After reading the comments on Oct 1, I take it your instructions are for small scale ? not full house operation ? I have been printing & reading all kinds of info but have no electrical tech background so I am confused... please advise if I am on the right track...
I consider the DIY making of solar panels from broken cells practical for charging 12 volt battery systems. It seems to me and my friends the best market value for ordinary solar panels is currently about 4$USD per watt. But broken cells can be obtained cheap if people are willing to do a little extra work to make them useful.
Not my kind of thing, but it was VERY well written, and even I understood most of everything. Excellent job.
You would think that in the 21st century, the price of solar panels would be less.<br/><br/>I plan to add some articles on solar panels to my website <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.property-bangkok.net">'Ideal Homes'</a><br/>
I would be interested in hearing the feasibility and possible construction design thoughts to buying broken cells and creating a grid that would fit on a roof of a house in central Florida that measured say 25 by 60 feet. How much potential out put could be realized using the step up circuit mentioned in one reply. I would like to explore using clusters of led lights through out my 1000 so ft house from a battery bank and only use the grid for what is absolutely necessary at the moment such as the TV my computer and power tools in my shop. this is a great article and am looking forward to reading about what others are doing and one day contributing my self. thanks for your advice.
I am wondering how much power you can get from something like this. Also, what you could power or charge with it. And this may sound stupid, but can solar panels receive energy bouncing off a mirror? Thanks
Solar panels do receive energy reflected from a mirror and occasionally they are used with mirrors to collect more light or collect light from a different angle when the sun moves. In the picture above (IN STEP 1), , I put in series a 5 volt, 6 volt, and 7.5 volt panels I made from broken cells which were sorted by approximate size. The 5 volt panel made about an amp in full sun so it's 5 watts. The breaking of a solar cell in half generally makes two cells with half the power. The whole thing with the 3 panels stuck together in series is about 10 watts in full sun, that's over 12 volts and "almost" 1 amp. It can charge a car battery during times of full sun, and when the car battery is needed, it has stored up enough power to give a LOT of power for a short time (which is the normal use of car batteries anyway). I charge 12V batteries with solar panels to run radios (ham or CB) and lights if, when, and where utility power is not available. Usually, 15 to 18 volts panels are used to charge a car battery, so there is still extra charging voltage when it's not full sun. Most consumer car-battery charging panels put out about 200 mA at 15 or 18 volts, and are intended for cars not driven often. A car battery can power small plug-in things (few hundred watts) if they are plugged into an "inverter". This can be scaled up with more cells, panels, and batteries, but then it helps to know a smart electrician. Usually heat needs the most power and is done with water-heating panels, which are plumbing rather than electric. A solar powered hairdryer may be a particularly troublesome thing.
if i were to make some panels like yours, and have a battery, it could run a tv or somethin maybe? or lights? im sory im just tryin to get a feel on how much power(havent taken physics in a while) i can get when i make my own
I have a 12 volt TV that I think works on the 10 watt panel in full sun even without a battery. Small LCD TV's may be even easier to power.
Ok, back from the shed. I have salvaged at least 10 watts of cells that I thought were useless so thanks again to this article. One thing I have found is soldering to solar cells - solder fluid (30% zinc chloride) helps a huge amount. Put a drop on the area to solder and wait 10 seconds for it to etch and then solder.
Great article - I'm off to the shed to recycle some broken cells! One of the problems of building panels with lots of cells (eg 36 for a car battery charger) is the current is limited to the size of the most inefficient cell in the group. So there may be an advantage to building low voltage panels and stepping up the voltage. For example, 4 cells and a diode will charge a single NiMH rechargeable (6 cells if you want a charge under heavy cloud conditions). With some cunning electronics using a latching relay it is also possible to eliminate the diode and associated losses. <br/><br/>I have been inspired by a circuit that steps 1.2V up to 5V <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.talkingelectronics.com/projects/PowerSupply5vSolar/PowerSupply5vSolar.html">http://www.talkingelectronics.com/projects/PowerSupply5vSolar/PowerSupply5vSolar.html</a> and have modified it into a circuit that steps 1.2V up to 9V <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.geocities.com/drvernacula/315_mhz_solar_powered_radio_rptr.htm">http://www.geocities.com/drvernacula/315_mhz_solar_powered_radio_rptr.htm</a> <br/><br/>Other outputs up to 20V and more can be designed by changing the voltage divider components. Whole solar cells are $10 a watt and broken ones are as low as $1.60 a watt so there is a big incentive to use broken ones. <br/><br/>

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a figment of my own imagination. ---- To Win the war on Terra Means to END the WORLD. How about a nice game of ... More »
More by VIRON:How to Make more game memory / cards for the Hydra Game Console How to MAKE PV Solar Panels Make a Brass Soldering Iron Tip (, How I ...) 
Add instructable to: