Solar Panel on the Cheap

March 24th, 2010 by

I took a class on solar energy this quarter (EE237 - Solar Energy Conversion) that had a fairly nifty final project. They provided the cells (EverBright, purchased on eBay) and we were supposed to build a panel in groups that minimized the energy cost ($/Wh) by using the cells and any form of light concentration. We took the quick and dirty approach of cardboard and aluminum foil, but ended up making a pretty nice looking panel that performed decently. The cells are supposed to generate 1.75 Wp (peak power output) so 12 cells should have put out about 21W, while the panel put out about 30W. We had expected about 60W, but I think that cracks in the panels and reflector roughness were our downfall; also, we never got around to testing the cells without light concentration so who knows how good they actually were. I'll hear in a few days how it compared with the panels made by the other groups in the class. We'll probably lose to the group that used a huge lens capable of melting a penny (!), unless they managed to fry their panels with the light intensity. Either way, I wanted to share the pictures.


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