Is it worth making your own solar Panels?
By Joseph Parish
With the high cost of electricity these days every American family should be seriously considering the possibility of generating their own emergency in some manner. In addition, as a survivalist you may want to have some means of generating power when you are at your retreat. Foremost in popularity are the solar cells that we keep hearing about on our evening newscasts.
As we surf the World Wide Web it is not unusual to see advertisements that outwardly state how we can make our own solar cells and be free from the high costs associated with commercial electric companies. It is in our best interest to carefully weight what these sellers are saying to us. We must seriously wonder if this information is in fact valid and it really is cheaper to make then or to purchase those which are already constructed and tested.
In reality there are several methods for which homemade solar PV panels can be created. First you can make each of your cells yourself or you can purchase broken and damaged cells and then wire them into modules to be assembled on the panel. A search on the internet is sure to bring you page after page of sites that would like nothing better to do then to sell you a book on creating your own PV’s. These prices are outrageous and usually will set you back by about $50 dollars. Don’t be fooled by these gimmicks as the public domain information is readily available for free on the internet. You merely have to search for it.
Purchasing the broken solar cells to assemble your panels with do not really save you a considerable amount of money at all and they usually result in a very inferior PV panel.
Back to our various techniques for constructing our PV and we find that both of thee methods may be totally unacceptable. To start with there are generally two types of solar cells made, the Cuprous Oxide and the Cadmium cells. Both of these types of cells require some very poisonous chemicals in their construction. Although the copper variety of cell may in fact be enjoyable for a school science project it is very impractical for any sort of serious solar panel contraction. When using the copper method of cell construction your final PV product would have to be so large that it becomes a builder’s nightmare. In order to generate the same amount of energy as you would find in a commercial panel you would be required to place hundreds and perhaps even thousands of homemade cells together.
The second kind of PV panel is the screen printed Cadmium type however these cells use cadmium or in some cases tellurium which tend to be extremely toxic. In addition, in order to finalize your construction project you would need to bake the finished sheets to crystallize the resultant mix thus creating an abundance of extremely toxic fumes. Although you may get lucky at finding the procedure on the net no where does it state what proportions should be used for the chemical paste used in the screen print. There simply is no recipe available. This makes for a very dangerous venture.
In regards to wiring the cells together to create an effective PV panel you must consider the effects of water penetration, fogging from humidity, light degradation and corrosion on the various contacts. Since these cells are usually glued to a sheet of common plywood you are certain to encounter problems with the wind flexing the panel when in use as well as potential fire issues when the panels are utilized.
Since prices are continually dropping on the cost of commercially available PV panels it is hardly worth your bother to try and construct your own panels, in fact it is not unusual to find them costing in the area of $1.00 per watt.
Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish
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