How to Build Your Own Solar Cell

So, you are going green, and have started to successfully build your own solar panels. The next logical step will be building the solar cells, as well, right?

Its a noble idea most certainly, but one that you need to give some careful consideration to. Sure, you would have bragging rights to say that you created everything yourself, but you need to be aware of what it takes to create a solar cell, and whether or not it will really save you money, as these days they can be purchased very inexpensively.

Each solar panel can have hundreds, if not thousands, of individual solar cells – and making even one of your own cells could potentially take an hour. Before you put forth the effort, think about buying a cell for less than a dollar instead.

But if you truly want to proceed with making your own solar cells, here are the materials you’ll need:

1) Copper sheet – half a square foot should do. 2) Two clip leads. 3) Micro-ammeter measuring between 10 and 50 microamperes. 4) Either an electric stove, or some type of heating plate to put on your gas stove. 5) A large jar or plastic bottle. 6) A few tablespoons of salt. 7) A bucket of water. 8) Sandpaper. 9) To cut the copper, you’ll need metal shears.

First, clean the copper sheet with the sandpaper and wash both it and your hands before proceeding. Then, cut the sheet using the metal shears to the approximate size of your heating plate or stove.

With your copper piece cut, put it on your heating device and set the power to “high.” Wait for 30 minutes to pass so you get a blackened copper piece, and then wait another 20 minutes for it to cool so you can handle it properly.

Afterward, the oxide will have disappeared and your copper will be covered with black and red spots all over.

Then, cut another copper sheet that’s approximately the same size as your first one and make sure that they can both fit into your plastic bottle or jar without touching.

Using the negative terminal of your micro-ammeter, connect a lead to the copper you cooked. The positive terminal should then be connected to the raw or uncooked copper.

Now, pour the salt into the heated water you have, and pour them both into the bottle to fill it up just below the tops of the two copper sheets.

Finally, test your new solar cell to see if it produces current in the sunlight. You should be able to see at least 10-50 microamperes of current if you did it properly.

Since copper is so inefficient compared to silicon, you’d need 80,000 square meters of these cells to power a single 100-watt light bulb. So I’d highly recommend eBay for buying cheap, manufactured silicon solar cells.

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Originally posted 2009-05-31 06:47:12.

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