As the title says this instructable demonstrates how to solder individual solar cells together in preparation for building a solar panel.
First i need to give a few disclaimers:
1. Soldering irons are hot and will burn you if you are not careful. If you do not know how to solder you will need to learn how to first before attempting this project.
2. You need to have and understanding of basic electricity before attempting to work with solar panels. If you do not have this understanding have some one help you that does.
3. Tab wire and solar cells have sharp edges, they can cut you, be careful.
Now that the warnings are out of the way lets look at the items you will need. In the 2 pictures the items have a description of what each item is, but hear is also a list:
1.Soldering iron, there are many soldering irons out there but these are the ones I recommend:
A. Budget iron, it will get the job done but there are better and easier irons to use. Found Here
B. Mid range, its a little bulky but heavy duty and works well. Found Here
C. Top line, this is my most recommended. This one can be used all day and never quit. Found Here
2. Soldering iron stand
3. 2mm tabbing wire- pre solder coated. Found Here
4. 5mm tabbing wire- pre solder coated. Found Here
5. scissors. Found Here
6. ruler. Found Here
7. holding tool. Found Here
8. solder pen, Found Here
9. solder paste- only used to tin the solder iron. Found Here
10. solder wire- only used to tin the solder iron. Found Here
11. solar cells, this is an example of the kind of cells i work with. Found Here
12. electrical tape - not pictured. Found Here
Some of these components can be purchased in packages. Take some time and decide what size of panel or number of panels you are going to build and try to find a package with the amount of components you will need. Here are some examples: Package 1Package 2Package 3
After you have all the items needed i recommend making 2 jigs, this will make things easier and faster.
The first jig is to hold the solar cells while soldering. I made this from a piece of scrap wood and some small nails. I laid out a few of the solar cells on the board and marked places to put the nails. Make sure you put the nails in places that when you are soldering that they do not get in the way of your solder iron. Make sure that the solar cells can easily slide in and out of your nails, solar cells are very brittle and break easily. The board i am using is large enough to put 4 solar cells in a row on it.
The second jig is used to make the tabbing wires for the solar cells. It is a piece of 3/8" x 6" black pipe. The outside diameter of a 3/8 pipe is a little more than 1/2". When using 1" solar cells i use tab wires that are 1 3/4" long. When you wrap the wire around the 3/8" pipe it comes out close enough to what I need(1/2"pipe o.d. x 3.14= 1.57"+ any slack deviations). I milled a slot down one side so one of the scissor blades could fit through it. At the end closest to the drill I welded a small piece of round stock in it that will fit into the drill chuck. I use the drill to wind the 2mm tab wire around it, then I use the scissors and cut the wire through the slot. You need to hold or tape the tab wire when cutting or it will unwind and make the wrong size tab wires. After cutting the tab wires you need to flatten them out. See the pictures for more information.
When setting up a work area I highly recommend good ventilation. When soldering you will make some smoke and fumes, you do not want to breath these in. I used some old computer fans, a circuit board soldering stand, dryer vent duct, cardboard, and duct tape. Look at the captions on the pictures.