If you’re thinking about starting a do-it-yourself solar cell project, you must already have a pretty fair idea of what solar power involves. It’s a good bet that you already realize you can save a lot of cash by making your own solar panels, and you might already know some fairly inexpensive ways to do that.
You’ll need to know more to complete a DIY solar cell project, however. For example, you’ll need to know how to make individual solar cells in order to make your own solar panels. Once you create your first solar panel, your reliance on the traditional sources of electricity will begin to decrease. You’ve heard the old saying, “knowledge is power”; Well, in this case it means “knowledge is solar power”.
Below are the first few steps of a DIY solar cell project.
1. Assemble all the materials you’ll need:
Electric ring hob
Thin wood strip
Sandpaper or emery board
2. Cut your copper sheeting so it forms a square that’s 6 or 8 inches on each side. You’ll find this easier to do with a metal guillotine, but cutting the copper will work if you don’t have one.
3. Wash your hands to remove all traces of oil and dirt that could potentially contact your solar cell. You also need to remove any grease that might be on your square of copper sheeting.
4. Remove the oxidized upper layer of copper from the copper sheeting by gently sanding it with sandpaper or an emery board. You’ll reveal a new top layer of shiny red copper if you do this correctly.
5. Heat the copper to form yet another new layer on top. Removing the old, oxidized copper in order to create a new layer of copper and then heating it to create yet another layer might sound odd, but it’s essential to create a thick layer of cuprous oxide when you’re making your own solar cell. Set your burner on high and place the copper square on top. Watch how the heat alters the copper. A thick black crust of copper oxide will form. It’s quite fragile, and you can remove it easily once the copper cools down.
6. Gently wash off most of this black copper oxide. You’ll find a reddish layer of copper underneath, and that layer is what you’ll need for your solar cell. This layer of copper is now photosensitive, and it will make your solar cell work. You might need to use some trial and error during your DIY solar cell project, but you’ll soon have a photosensitive cell.
These are the initial steps in a do-it-yourself solar cell project. The next part of the project involves creating another electrode, so that the negative and positive sides of the photosensitive film can interact. Always remember to seal your solar cell with duct tape at the end in order to make sure it will work.