Hi! One of my newest projects is a 12 watt solar panel made for charging my phone. Now that I have successfully tested the panel in the shy Vancouver sun, I have decided to share the build process on this website. Here is a list of things that I did:
- Gathered materials
- Prepared the cells (tabbing)
- Connected solar strings using bus wires
- Prepared the frame
- Covered the cells in epoxy
- Made the power connections
- Tested it out
Things I needed:
- Solar Cells (0.5v each at 1+ amp)
- Tab wires (3-5 mm wide tin wires)
- Bus wires (5-7 mm wide wires)
- 4mm thick board
- Wires (2)
- 5v power regulator (I used the COM-00107)
- Electrical Tape and/or shrink tubing
- Rosin core solder
- White spray-paint
- Clear automotive coat
- Self leveling epoxy resin
- USB micro cable
Tools I used:
- Voltage reader
- Flux pen
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- Soldering Iron
- Pliers/tin snips
- Propane torch
Most of these materials I had at home and did not need to buy them. However, I later realized that not many people have solar cells and spare electronic parts laying around; so I made a handy list with references to eBay:
Keep in mind that if you were to buy more efficient solar cells (say like 2 amps each) then you would need to buy a more powerful voltage regulator, otherwise your voltage regulator would overheat.
You may have noticed that I did not include all of the materials in the eBay list; this is because I personally bought them from either Home Depot or The Source (Radioshack in the States). It’s much cheaper to drive to one of these stores than pay for the extra shipping online. Also, I highly recommend searching for a solar kit as it may be slightly cheaper than buying all of the items separately.
Here is a blueprint that I made in inventor:
As you can see, the solar cells are aligned in two rows and are connected in series (I will go over this in more detail later). This means that the voltage is added from every single panel, yet the current stays the same. A drawback of doing this is that if one of the cells break, then the entire current might be disrupted, and then the solar panel wont work.
These solar cells can be connected in series by connecting the bottom side (the anode or positive) to the top side (the cathode or negative). This is usually done by connecting two strips of tin to the top side of a cell, and then have it connected to the bottom side of a cell. This process is called tabbing and will be covered in the next post.
Be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions! I’ll be happy to update my post with any information I missed.