Guide to Exploiting Cheap Solar Cells for
DIY Green Energy Projects

(If you're looking for cheap solar cells and don't need any more info, please scroll directly to the bottom of this page, where you find many choices, at rock bottom, wholesale prices.)

Building your own solar panels using cheap solar cells is one of the best ways to to not only lower your residential electricity bill, it can be a fantastic way to make sure your home has the energy it needs if you are ever in a situation where your local power grid goes out. While there are a few steps in making your own DIY solar panels, we'll concentrate on the actual solar cells in this report, as they are the materials in the system that actually take the solar power from the sun and convert it to renewable, green energy.

Although there are other methods of converting sunlight to electricity, such as thin film, here we will discuss two most common types of "photovoltaic" cells you'll come across when building your own homemade solar panels, which are monocrystalline
 and polycrystalline cells.

In theory, monocrystalline cells have a slightly higher efficiency than polycrystalline cells, but in most actual home power systems the difference between the two is negligible. However, with everything else being even, including price, I'd suggest you stick with monocrystalline cells.

Building your DIY solar panels consists of 3 main parts:

  1. The cells
  2. Wiring/soldering the solar cells together
  3. Building a case/enclosure for the wiring and cells
Note that the 3 items above are for the solar panels only, and not the entire system, which can include other parts such as deep-cycle batteries, inverters, etc.

For our purposes here, we'll just discuss the cells and how to solder/wire them together. Its actually very easy to do, it just takes some time. Below are a couple of great videos that explain the general process:

In the video above, you'll find all the info you need to learn how to solder your solar cells together.
In this video, Dan Rojas explains the basic fundamentals of electricity and wiring for your cells and panels.

The best place I've found online to find the cheapest solar cells at warehouse prices is on eBay. Basically, what you're looking for is monocrystalline cells. I recommend 3 different types for DIYers:

Tabbed Solar Cells - These cells have "tabs" already attached, which cuts down on the work you have to do soldering them the cells together by about half, and the additional cost is almost nothing. It's real time-saver to look for pre-tabbed or tabbed cells.

6x6 Cells - The standard size for solar cells is 3 inches by 6 inches. However, we are starting to see more and more 6 inch by 6 inch cells, which are twice as big (and twice as powerful) as the standard size. What this means to us it takes alot less work soldering them together, compared to untabbed 3x3 cells.

Unfortunately, I haven't found any 6x6 cells that are also pre-tabbed. I'm sure that someday soon we'll see them, but until then make sure you get either pre-tabbed or 6x6 cells, as this will cut the time and effort of joining them in half as compared to using 3x6 untabbed cells featured in the two videos above.

Broken Cells - If you really want the cheapest solar cells you can find, check out "Broken" solar cells. They will still work if they are broken, you just need to spend more time soldering the parts together. Broken can mean a lot of things...Are they broken in half, for example. Or do they just have a small chip on a corner or two? Be sure to consider just "how broken" they are when considering buying broken cells.

Broken and chipped cells aren't optimal for all systems and have some obvious disadvantages, but because of how inexpensive broken sells are, they are perfect for things like learning and experimenting. For example, use broken cells for a cool project for you kids or a Cub Scout project where they make a battery operated toy run on solar power. This is a great way to have fun and learn something very useful at the same time and may lead your kids to a great future in a green energy career.

Here's a quick video that demos working with broken solar cells. You can see that your craftsmanship or the condition of the cells doesn't have to be perfect to build your own homemade small scale electric power system using renewable energy:

DIY Solar Panels Using Broken Cells:

So far, we've just talked about solar cells, which make up just a part of building your own solar panel system. For everything you need to know, I really recommend this great info kit for making your own system.

After you click, you'll find a great instructional system that covers everything you need to know about DIY solar panels. You'll get:

Introduction To Solar Energy - You'll be taught all the basics about solar energy, including all the materials and components of a complete solar panel system.

Building Your Solar Panel - Easy to follow, step by step plans, diagrams and pictures that take you through the entire process.

The Solar Calculator - You get only access to this special tool that will calculate exactly how many panels and how big your battery bank needs to be if you want to be completely "off-grid". Just give it your basic info and let it do the thinking for you!

How To Install And Mount Solar Panels - Fully illustrated guide to get the results the pros get.

Solar Tax Credits And Rebates - All the needed forms and info in one place. It's easy to qualify for special tax credits that can pay for up to 30% of the cost of your solar power system.

Electrical Wiring Plans - Everything you need to know to keep your green energy power system working in a safe and efficient way.

Earth4Energy Video Series - In addition to many diagrams and pictures, you'll get access to high-quality videos that walk you through the most important parts of building your solar powered, renewable energy system.

Make A Wind Turbine - You'll even get a tutorial on how to build your very own wind turbine.

The best part is, you get the entire DIY green energy course in two ways:
1. Instant access by way of online videos. No waiting to get started.
2. A high quality DVD is send to your home, so you can play many of the lessons on your TV or PC, if they have a DVD player.

I've found that eBay almost always has the cheapest prices on solar cells, often below warehouse prices. Go ahead and browse the options to get more info. These listings are updated daily, if not more often, so be sure to check back regularly to get the best deals.

Tabbed Solar Cells 6x6 Solar Cells
Broken Solar Cells

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