Solar energy kits can save you money in the short term as well as saving you money on your energy costs. There are numerous websites and outlets where you can buy the materials needed to produce your own solar energy kits.
Most of the supplies to make solar energy kits are inexpensive and can be found at almost any hardware store or electronics retailer. The main component of building the kits are the solar cells
themselves. They are readily available on the internet. There are websites such as eBay, Amazon and solar energy companies that sell mono-crystalline solar cells.
When buying the solar cells to make solar energy kits there are a few things you need to know before making your purchase. A common size of the mono-crystalline solar cells is 3' X 6'. It takes 36 of those cells to to make an approximately 2' X 4' panel that will generate about 18 volts which is enough to charge a 12 volt battery. Please note that when making your solar energy kits these type cells are brittle and are as fragile as a thin piece of glass. When handled they can be damaged and may even become chipped during shipping. Chipped cells can diminish the performance of your solar energy kits.
One common shipping method of the mono-crystalline solar cells is to encase them in wax and ship them in bricks of 18 or so. This method reduces the percentage of you cells being damaged during shipping. However the wax has to be removed before installing. There is a simple method to remove the wax on the cells that I have used to much success. This four step process involves three large pots and heated on a four element stove. Heat two pots with just water on the medium setting. Place a third pot between the two and use the same setting but add dish washing liquid to make light soapy water. Add the bricks to one of the pots with just plain water. When the wax starts to melt remove the panels with light pressure using thongs (preferably rubber or bamboo) and place them into the soapy water. Remember the cells are fragile so the too much pressure could chip a panel, after that place them into the third pot of clean water to remove the remaining wax. Following the last rinse place the cells on a towel to dry. There may be a slight film on the mono- crystalline cells after the process but it doesn't affect performance on your kit.
Another thing to note while cleaning the cells to make solar energy kits is that the soapy water and the rinse water baths will need to be changed. Do not use your kitchen sink to dispose of the water. The wax will clog the drain. You may need to adjust the heat to melt the wax and make the process more efficient. I also recommend putting the brick of cells in the water cold, and then slowly heating them up to just below boiling temperature to avoid harsh thermal shocks to the cells. Do not bring the water to a boil at any time during the process.
However the process goes by quicker when the water is just under a boil. Removing the wax is a time consuming process and a little messy. I would recommend avoiding having the cells dipped in wax. It may be more expensive to ship the cells for your solar energy kits by other means but you increase the possibility of damaging cells.
One last thing on the cells that I would recommend to produce quality solar energy kits is to purchase mono-crystalline solar cells that have tabs already in place. Soldering the tabs onto the cells is time consuming and offers up another opportunity to damage a solar energy cell. In closing the last thing I would add when making DIY solar energy kits is the importance of using a blocking diode to prevent the panel from discharging the battery. The diodes are inexpensive and are a very important component to produce quality solar energy kits.
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