Cheap Solar Cells

cheap-solar-cells

Solar power has a lot of benefits over other forms of electricity generation. It’s renewable and inexhaustible. It’s environmentally friendly compared to electricity from fossil fuels, nuclear reactions, or even hydroelectric power. It’s amenable to a decentralized application with homes sporting solar panels on their rooftops to generate their own electricity.

If you’ve looked into getting your own solar system at home, you probably know that, aside from the labor to install the system, the
biggest cost component is the solar panels themselves. One solution to this is to make your own solar panels, but then the question takes a step back: how do you find the cheapest solar cells? If you buy solar cells at usual market prices from manufacturers or wholesalers, you won’t really shave all that much from the cost of buying the solar panels pre-made, and you’ll have to work pretty hard for that small savings.

A single solar panel built in this way would likely cost about $200 in materials, and you can find a pre-made solar panel with the same output for that price if you shop around.

Making Your Own

Making your own solar panels is something that can be done. How about making your own solar cells? Is that feasible? In a word, no. Solar cell manufacture is done in clean rooms to very exacting standards, and requires specialized knowledge and some high-powered equipment to do it properly. While you can make something that
will function as a solar cell without too much difficulty, even from household items (a very amusing Wired.uk article discussed how to do this from powdered sugar and herbal tea), this is not going to be a good item to make a household solar system from.

Finding Cheap Solar Cells

It is possible to buy solar cells on eBay, Amazon and from other sources that are factory seconds and sold a good deal cheaper than top-quality cells. These solar cells produce the same amount of power as top-quality cells, but are blemished and not as attractive. They may also be more fragile and require more delicate handling
when building your solar panels.

Reasons Not To Do It

Are there arguments against making your own solar panels? Yes, potentially pretty good ones. Let’s assume that you have the necessary skills and equipment to solder your connections properly, and that you are making your frames out of fireproof materials rather than wood, and covering your panels with glass rather than plexiglass. (Doing otherwise presents a serious fire hazard.) The remaining problems are more legal than technical.

To begin with, installing home-built electrical equipment, including home-made solar panels, to your home violates electrical codes in many countries (certainly including the U.S.) and it would be impossible to obtain a permit. While it’s not terribly likely you would be caught for this any time soon, it would present a problem if you have your home appraised for any reason, such as when you go to sell it.

In addition, you would not be able to use net metering to have an on-the-grid system, at least not legally and not without committing fraud. It is illegal in many countries, including the U.S. and U.K., to install non-approved power generating equipment to the utility grid.

Also, installing non-approved solar panels to make a home energy system could legally present a fire hazard and, if a fire starts as a result, your home insurance provider might not cover the damage. Finally, tax credits and rebates for renewable home energy are not available with home-made systems.

Some of these legal problems would arise with home-made wind power as well as solar power, although wind power presents less of a potential fire hazard.

Want To Do It Anyway?

Despite all these arguments, you may decide you want to make your own solar panels anyway. Perhaps you don’t want them for your home but for some other use that is less heavily regulated by law. Perhaps you plan on making an off-the-grid system so that net metering concerns don’t arise. Perhaps you are an expert at electrical
welding and are certain you can produce panels that are as good and safe as those coming from manufacturers.

If you want to make your own solar panels anyway, here are some thoughts about where you can get the cheapest solar cells.

 

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    By: Neville

    New Zealand based entrepreneur and passive income machine. My views are my own a reflect me exactly. My family comes first and I believe a strong family unit is the backbone of any safe functioning society. I am a strong advocate for justice, which incorporates equity and fairness. I’m a skeptic and am always open to change any of my views based on evidence. I also love tennis and American muscle cars.

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