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Making a 1 Watt Solar Array.

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Picture of Making a 1 Watt Solar Array.
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I love my neighbor’s garbage I call them the parts department. In this, instructible I am building a Solar Array out of 30 solar lights my neighbor threw out.

For this project I am only going to use 18 of the solar cells for the array I am building. The array will be able to charge a 12 volt 10 watt hour battery in a day. The total cost of building this array is about 5 dollars, a comparable array or solar cell can run you 60 dollars.

Since all the parts are salvaged, I will test every thing every step of the way, I don't want to completely assemble the array only to find out one of the components I used is faulty.

For testing you will need a multimeter.
 
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Step 1: The Lights.

Picture of The Lights.
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My neighbor threw out 3 different styles of solar lights.

I took them apart and kept the tops with the solar cells  and electronics.

At this point you don’t need tools all the parts clip or press together.

The white spot next to the solar cell or in the solar cell is a photovoltaic cell the photovoltaic is used to set the light into charging or lighting mode.

Step 2: Dissamble the tops.

Picture of Dissamble the tops.
I took apart solar light tops and kept the internal parts, the solar cells and electronics.

At this point all the tools I needed was a screwdriver and a wire cutter.

Step 3: Clean The Solar Cell.

Picture of Clean The Solar Cell.
Clean the caulking and other debris off the solar cells, a utility knife works well, try not to damage the solar cell by scratching it.

Step 4: The Usefull Parts.

Picture of The Usefull Parts.
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The parts inside are, the circuit board with an LED light, the solar cells, and the photovoltaic.

Some of the solar cells have the photovoltaic attached to the solar cell, like this green solar cell.It can be remover by unsolder the connections.

Some of the photovoltaic are hot glued together just apply a little heat and they come apart.

At this stage the tools I used was a wire cutter, a soldering gun, and a hot air blower.
Josehf Murchison (author) 2 years ago
If you do make an array make an instructible on it and here is a little advice.

Try not to mix different makes of cells in string series to be sure you don’t create an over current in a cell in the string or the string may fail if a cell burns out.

With solar cells, you should always have a diode to prevent a back current from batteries and the other strings of solar cells in the array hooked up in parallel.

Back currents can drain your battery at night or burn out a cell string even when you are not using the array.

There is a voltage drop across a diode, try to pick a diode with the smallest voltage drop.

Small cells like the ones I used create a small current so if you use diodes rated for 1 amp you should be safe.

Make sure the diode is rated for a voltage greater than the string voltage generated by the string, the 1N5819 Schottky Diode is a good diode it is rated for 40 volts and has a voltage drop of less than 1 volt.

High-speed diodes have the small voltage drops and Germanium diodes have voltage drops as low as .45 volts.

Last seal up the array so morning mist and rain wont short out the array, you wont believe how many commercially available solar cells cannot be let get wet.

Hope this is helpful

Joe
wouternet2 years ago
Plastic doesn't oxidize. It decomposes or degrades.
Metal oxidezes. And oxidation isn't caused by UV light, it's caused by water and oxigen.

Oxidation isn't caused by UV light? You couldn't be more wrong.
The vast majority of plastics are polymers (around 98% of them) and Polymers most definitely oxidize. In fact Polyethylene, polypropylene, and poly(methyl methacrylate) oxidize due to UV light.
I realize this post was quite sometime ago however, stating that a person is incorrect when it's yourself making false statements is just bad form.

Don't be to hard on him most people are taught oxidation is water iron and air, when that is far from the truth.

Valeriy6 months ago
А если подключить преобразователь то можно и 220 вольтт получить для дома !
Josehf Murchison (author)  Valeriy6 months ago
My Russian is bad so I hope you can get this.

Solar is not fixed the sun and clouds, even a cold day effects the efficiency of the solar cell.

This one runs 450 ma in good light most of the time it is less and the volts get as high as 18. That is why I call this a 1 watt because over 1 week of charting its output averaged 1 watt during daylight hours.

However if you build one the components you use will in all probability will give you something different let alone what the sun shine will do.

You must remember electronics is a ball park and sometimes that ball park is big and sometimes it is small.

Joe
kuhldad1 year ago
Followed your guide and was successful on my first try! I polished my plastic round panels with a buffing wheel and some Brasso instead of painting a clear coat. I received a bottle of the resin as a Christmas present so I used your instructable to make a 26 volt solar panel to trickle charge a slow go-kart I built for my boy.
Josehf Murchison (author)  kuhldad1 year ago
Cool you should post a Pic of it.
Joe
cobourgdave2 years ago
I like this instructable. I had not considered the garden light solar panels in this way. Clearly I am going on a scrap hunt amongst the garage sales this spring. Nice instructable with good clear instructions and good pics.
Well done sir.
wouternet2 years ago
I'm only seeing volts here. How much current can it deliver?
It will probably be about 150 ~ 200 mA....
paintphone2 years ago
So I used your instructable and made an upcycled solar pannel myself, here is what i came up with: 5 glass cells and a wopping 16.4V thanks so much for helping me understand this more.
DSCF1633.JPG
Josehf Murchison (author)  paintphone2 years ago
cool it looks nice also
Joe
paintphone2 years ago
I love just driving down the road and seeing some perfectly good solar lights, just hazed over and in need of a quick scrub with 1000 grit wet sandpaper and a quick coat of clear or 5. Defiantly going to a new home  a new home. This is going to be very useful for me. Great Instructable!
sorry to tell you but the voltage you are getting is not the voltage you need to charge a 12 volt battery from solar most solar panels are 18-21volt
Josehf Murchison (author)  dasimpson19812 years ago
I have checked out commercially available solar cells of the same power they only go up to 15 volts max 12 volts average. Even the charging system in a car only goes up to 14 volts.
I have a 10 panel array. Each panel produces 22V @ 1.18A/20 W

My array produces 200W @ 11A.

I charge 2 Deep Cycle Marine batteries and run them through an inverter to

power a 625W device.

If I wire them differently I can get 220V out of them.
Josehf Murchison (author)  Dr.Bill2 years ago
If the solar panels don’t have a diode in them, I hope you put a diode between the solar panels in parallel.
I get a much larger wattage.

I x V = W
1.18a x 22v = 25.96 watts
25.96w x 10 = 259.6 watts

If you connect them in series you should get 220 volts at 1.18 amps and 259.6 watts.
You can connect them together two different ways.
220varay.GIF
Sorry wrong diodes 1N5403 in the top schematic and 1N5400 in the botom.
deep cycle batterys are not to be charged the same way as a car battery different voltages etc but all solar info i have read says 18v-21 i guess that way it can start charging sooner with less light
Josehf Murchison (author)  dasimpson19812 years ago
You want more build your own.
I have commercially available solar cells.
Picture.jpg
i will be doing soon i will go round collecting the end of crimbo ones every one seems to scrap
Josehf Murchison (author)  dasimpson19812 years ago
If you do make an array make an instructible on it and here is a little advice.

Try not to mix different makes of cells in string series to be sure you don’t create an over current in a cell in the string or the string may fail if a cell burns out.

With solar cells, you should always have a diode to prevent a back current from batteries and the other strings of solar cells in the array hooked up in parallel.

Back currents can drain your battery at night or burn out a cell string even when you are not using the array.

There is a voltage drop across a diode, try to pick a diode with the smallest voltage drop.

Small cells like the ones I used create a small current so if you use diodes rated for 1 amp you should be safe.

Make sure the diode is rated for a voltage greater than the string voltage generated by the string, the 1N5819 Schottky Diode is a good diode it is rated for 40 volts and has a voltage drop of less than 1 volt.

High-speed diodes have the small voltage drops and Germanium diodes have voltage drops as low as .45 volts.

Last seal up the array so morning mist and rain wont short out the array, you wont believe how many commercially available solar cells cannot be let get wet.

Hope this is helpful

Joe
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