Have you ever wanted to make your own solar panel? Well now you can and believe it or not it isn’t as hard as you might think! Follow this guide and within a couple hours you will have your own solar panel generating power, ok sure its not going to be enough to power your house but you can see the concept of it working and actual power output!
To make your own solar panel you are going to need the following:
1) A sheet of copper flashing, you can get this from most hardware stores, we don’t need a lot and its usually around $5 per square foot, this will be plenty.
2) A micro-ammeter, you will need a sensitive one of these and the power output will not be very big. You can get these from most electronics stores like radio shack.
3) A small electric stove, you need quite a powerful one that will get the ring red hot, somewhere in the region of a kilowatt, you can get these from camping shops and many other places and they are not expensive.
4) Two alligator clips.
5) A plastic bottle, preferably quite a large one, you will need to chop the top off it.
6) Tap water and table salt
7) Some sand paper
8) Something to cut the copper sheet with (metal shears should do it)
Building your solar panel
Firstly you will need to cut the cooper sheet to size, make it around the same size of the ring on the stove so that it fits on top of it nicely. Once you’ve done this give the sheet a good clean and then use the sandpaper to remove any corrosion from it.
Next we need to heat the copper sheet up, so stick it on the stove and turn it up to full blast. As the copper gets hotter you will notice different coloured patterns forming, this is the oxidization of the copper and is completely normal.
After a while the copper sheet will turn black, this is a coating of cupric oxide. At this stage we need to leave it for around half an hour to ensure that the black coating is thick, otherwise it will be tricky to remove it as a thin layer will stick to the copper.
After hour or so turn the stove off and let the copper sheet cool down, this may take a while but leave the sheet on the stove so it cools down slowly, you will probably start noticing some shrinking and parts of the black oxide will start flying off, this is normal.
Once the copper has completely cooled down most the black coating will be gone, you can run the sheet under cold water and remove any excess bits but do not scrub the sheet as this can damage the red cuprous oxide layer that will make the solar cell operate.
That’s the hard part done! Next you need to cut an identical size piece of copper from the sheet your bought, take both sheets and bend them so they fit inside the plastic bottle that you cut the top off from. Make sure that both sheets do not touch each other, ideally you want the top side of the sheet that we burnt to be facing inwards.
Next, connect up your two alligator clips to both sheets of the copper, the one attached to the burnt copper sheet must go to the negative terminal of the ammeter and the one sheet must go to the positive terminal. OK were almost there!
Get your tap water and mix two tablespoons of salt into it, pour this solution into the bottle carefully and try to submerge around an inch of each copper plate under the water.