inexpensive solar electricity generation
Hi, I have noted some real great deals on ebay recently on solar cells. It is easy to build your own solar panel with only a modest amount of equipment. The cells that are a real bargain are the seconds or working but cracked or blemished. These cells are still working at levels approaching the perfect cell levels while costing less than 10% in some instances. For example, I saw a dealer selling a bundle of solar cells that will generate 1,000 watts of electricity for $100. The cells have to be connected and placed behind glass to use them but with some effort the home builder can make his own solar panels and harvest solar electricity for much less than the commercial panels. For example, commercial cells use many fairly expensive components which allow the panel to achieve very high efficiency. However if some degradation on performance is accepted then the inexpensive glass from the local salvage yard and supplies from the local hardware store can be used. Cell potting compound is very expensive and I suspect that the silicon caulking compound that cures and releases ethanol may be a suitable but lower performing level substitute. I have not tried this yet but it should work well. Silicon caulking compound is not nearly as clear as sylgard, the commercial solar cell potting compound, but is a fraction of the price. The less than perfect clarity of caulking compound is offset by the price of the caulk as compared to the sylgard.
Information on building panels is available on the web. One note, I have never understood the reason for putting protection in the form of mats or barriers on the back side of the potted solar cells. If the panels are mounted then they will not recieve any impacts from the backside so impact protection for the backside of the cells is an expense that I will skip. The barriers used to protect the backside of the cells from mechanical damage are rather expensive too.