Solar Powered Refrigerator

Using the Sun to Keep Things Cool

If you have a remote cabin or rural dwelling that you only visit periodically, a solar powered refrigerator may be just the thing for you. Solar powered refrigerators or solar powered fridges operate on 12 volts DC which is the same as a car battery. Your home refrigerator operates on 120 volts AC. Visit our other blog post for a good description of DC vs. AC.
Click here to visit our Solar Powered Refrigerator Store.

Solar Powered Refrigerator Capacity

It comes as no surprise that these solar powered fridge is smaller than what you’re normally used to . A typical residential refrigerator is 18 cubic feet. These solar powered refrigerators range from 1.8 cubic feet to 8.0 cubic feet.

These solar powered refrigerators are better insulated than a typical residential home refrigerator. The sizes shown below are typical.
Click here to visit our Solar Powered Refrigerator Store and see the entire selection at once.

1.8 Cubic Foot – Solar Powered Refrigerator (24.5″ x 27.5″ x 36.5″)

This is the size of the smaller dorm type of refrigerator. The larger dorm refrigerators like you see in hotels are typically 3 cubic feet. There is typically room for a gallon of milk, eggs, and other items that you may want to refrigerate for a short time.

Click here to see the 1.8 Cubic Foot Solar Powered Fridge

5.8 Cubic Foot – Solar Powered Refrigerator (30″ x 40″ x 37″)

This is the midsized refrigerator and is about 2 times the size of the larger dorm refrigerators like you see in hotels which are typically 3 cubic feet. This would be a good choice if you’re staying in your cabin for a week or more.

Click here to see the 5.8 Cubic Foot Solar Powered Fridge

8.0 Cubic Foot – Solar Powered Refrigerator (30″ x 50″ x 37″)

This is a slightly larger midsized refrigerator and is about 2 times the size of the larger dorm refrigerators like you see in hotels which are typically 3 cubic feet. This would be a good choice if you’re staying in your cabin for a week or more.

Click here to see the 8.0 Cubic Foot Solar Powered Fridge

Click here to visit our Solar Powered Refrigerator Store.

Assembling a Solar Powered Refrigerator

All these solar powered refrigerators listed above require some additional parts. You will need a solar panel, a battery and a charge controller. These parts can be found at the following links:
The solar panel and charge controller can be purchased together as an 85W kit here – 85W Solar Panel & Charge Controller Kit
or they can be purchased separately

I’m partial to the Universal Power Group batteries. Here is a link to their 110W battery (about $240).
Click here to visit our Solar Powered Refrigerator Store.

A Cheaper Solar Powered Refrigerator

Another option is to use an existing refrigerator. You’ll need to supply power to the standard refrigerator using 120V AC. To do this, you’ll need an inverter to convert the DC power (battery) to AC power (outlet). Remember that you’ll loose some power during the conversion and these refrigerators may not be as efficient so you’ll probably need a larger battery, solar panel, and controller.

Hopefully, this has been an informative article for you. If you have any suggestions, please let me know so I can include it. Now you should be set to get a solar powered refrigerator.

Best Solar Backpack Reviews

Solar Backpacks Reviews – Back To School

The Back To School rush has started again. In looking around the internet, I noticed that now some solar backpacks are being offered. Basically, these backpacks have a flexible solar panel on the outside of the backpack which charges a battery. This battery/solar panel can then recharge portable devices.
Big Disclaimer here – These are SMALL solar panels and battery packs on these solar panel backpacks. You won’t be able to recharge your laptop. These are designed to recharge your iPod, iPhone, mp3 player, cell phone, or other small portable electronics. You’ll typically plug your device into the USB port on the battery pack to recharge. Read on for reviews of the solar backpacks we looked at.

Blue Solar Backpack and Cell Phone Charger

This solar backpack and cell phone charger is rated for 3W which means that with full sun, these solar panels are pumping about 1/2A which about what a typical USB port gives. Any excess power is stored in the battery pack which can hold 3000mA. Adapters are included

  • Pros: Large capacity battery. Decent power output can charge devices directly.
  • Cons: Requires an adapter. The power output is 6V but USB is 5V. Using a USB plug would allow people to use their own USB to device cable.

Here’s the link on Amazon.

Samsonite Solar Backpack

This is advertised as a business solar backpack. This solar backpack and cell phone charger is rated for 4.5W. This one has a 12V adapter which would be nice for powering those adapters making use of the car charger. Even at 4.5W, the current output is less than 1/2A. Most of the energy is probably lost to heat in the conversion process. This one doesn’t seem to have a battery.

  • Pros: Has a 12V adapter so you can use your existing car charger.
  • Cons: No energy storage in a battery. Rather low current.

Here’s the link on Amazon.

Other Solar Charging Options

Another option is to buy the solar charger separately and just keep it in your backpack. I like this idea the best because in most cases, the excess energy can be stored in a battery or the battery can be charged from a USB port so you’ll have it when you need it most.

ReVive Solar Battery Pack

This battery pack can be re-charged from the sun or through a USB port. Once the battery pack is charged, use it to charge your other portable devices – without being in the sun. I like the fact that you can use your existing USB cable instead of having to carry around a bunch of special adapters for that solar panel charger. Unfortunately, the solar panel will only charge the battery to about 50% of capacity. On the plus side, it includes an LED flashlight and LED power indicator. This is my favorite of the bunch.

  • Pros: Has a USB adapter so you can use your existing USB charging cables. Energy storage in battery. About 1/4 the cost of a solar backpack.
  • Cons: Only charges battery to 50% with solar.

Click here for the Amazon link.

Solar Battery Charger

This is strictly a battery charger – no storage. It will allow you to charge your portable device from the sun . Use your existing USB cable. It can charge AA or AAA rechargeable batteries.

  • Pros: Has a USB adapter so you can use your existing USB charging cables. Charges AA or AAA batteries
  • Cons: No energy storage – must be in sun to charge.

Click here for the Amazon link.

ReVive Solar Battery Pack

This battery pack can be re-charged from the sun or through a USB port. Once the battery pack is charged, use it to charge your other portable devices – without being in the sun. I like the fact that you can use your existing USB cable instead of having to carry around a bunch of special adapters for that solar panel charger. Unfortunately, the solar panel will only charge the battery to about 50% of capacity. On the plus side, it includes an LED flashlight and LED power indicator. This is my favorite of the bunch.

  • Pros: Has a USB adapter so you can use your existing USB charging cables. Energy storage in battery. About 1/4 the cost of a solar backpack.
  • Cons: Only charges battery to 50% with solar.

Click here for the Amazon link.

Solar Power System Design

Solar Power System Design For The Home.

The general layout of a residential solar power system design is shown in the image below (thanks to the Dept. of Energy). This article discusses the different components of designing a Solar Panel system for a home.

Solar Power System Design Step 1 - Solar Panels Capture the Sun's Energy

Solar panels on the house roof (or other area that isn't easily obstructed) capture and convert the sun's energy into electrical energy. Residential solar panels typically provide a voltage in the range of 12-48VDC. We discuss DC voltage in our DC vs AC post - click here to jump to that post.

Courtesy of DOE

Solar Power System Design Step 2 - A Junction Box Combines the Solar Panels

A junction box is where the different solar panels are tied together - typically in parallel to provide more current. In the above solar power system design diagram, there are 6 panels tied together. If a junction box is used, the wire from the solar panel to the junction box can be a smaller gauge (actually a higher gauge number). If the solar panels were tied together on the roof, the wire would have to handle the combined current of all the solar panels. Also, if a solar panel had a problem, it could drain the energy that the other panels are providing. A good way to isolate each panel is to use a blocking diode on each solar panel string inside the junction box.

Solar Power System Design Step 3 - Storage Battery Bank

Although it is not shown in this solar power system diagram, the excess energy could be stored in storage batteries. The solar panels would keep the batteries charged. Typically a charge controller is used to maintain the battery bank at optimal charge and also prevent overcharging.

If a battery bank is used, the battery bank would be connected to the solar panels in the junction box or a separate junction box. These batteries would attach to the solar panels on the wires before they feed into the DC disconnect and then the inverter.

Solar Power System Design Step 4 - The DC Disconnect

The DC disconnect is a safety device used to isolate the solar panels from the inverter. This is necessary for maintenance and troubleshooting of system problems. The DC disconnect typically consists of a breaker switch housed in a normal electrical junction box.

Solar Power System Design Step 5 - The Inverter Converts the DC to AC

An inverter converts the DC voltage into an AC voltage. Most houses and appliances use an AC voltage (that is what a standard outlet is). They will convert the 12 to 48VDC to 120VAC. If the homeowner is getting AC power from the power company (the grid), they will need a grid tie inverter. These inverters match the AC wave to the AC wave coming from the power company. If the house doesn't have AC power attached, a regular inverter can be used. For instance, a summer cabin in the mountains wouldn't require a grid-tie inverter. Grid tie inverters are typically more expensive than normal inverters.

Solar Power System Design Step 6 - AC Disconnect

This is where the Inverter connects to the house wiring and by extension, the power company's meter. Similar to the DC disconnect, this is used to isolate the solar power system from the house and/or the grid. This is useful for maintenance and troubleshooting as well as blackouts where we don't want to power the entire neighborhood - only our house.

In many cases AC disconnects are required by the utility company for their use and are typically located near the meter.

Solar Power System Design Step 7 - Power from the Utility Company

As you can see from the solar power system design diagram, electricity is also supplied by the power company via power lines. Their power goes through a power meter before entering the home. The power company checks this meter each month and bills the homeowner according to the amount of electricity used.

Solar Power System Design Integration - Solar Power Supplements Utility Company Power

In the above solar power system diagram, a double arrow is drawn between the inverter and the power meter. In theory, if the solar panels are supplying more electricity than is used, the meter will turn backward because the power will be sent back out on the power lines. Unfortunately, many newer power meters only turn in one direction - the direction that energy is consumed by the homeowner.

However, the solar panels do supplement the power used by the home. If a dryer is being used on a sunny day, the amount of power consumed is the same but a portion of the power is supplied by the solar panels so the meter will turn slower and indicate that less power is used.

Advantages to Solar Power Systems

It is apparent from the above picture and discussion that having solar panels will reduce the power supply burden that the power companies must supply and transfer on their transmission lines. In the future this will become more important. No one wants a repeat of the rolling blackouts, and this is a great solution.

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Passive Solar Energy

Passive solar energy is the use of solar power without any active mechanical devices to convert or act on the energy. This is opposed to the idea of active solar power systems which use solar panels to collect the sunlight and convert it into electricity. Generally passive solar designs do not require any conventionally generated or supplied power to run, however there are exceptions to this rule, where a small amount of power supplied by “normal” or conventional means is used to control aspects of the passive solar designed system. Passive solar power systems can be used to heat your home, heat your swimming pool, provide hot water for household use, and can even be used to ensure your home has good ventilation and air circulation.

There are also examples of bad passive solar design, in which rooms within a dwelling become very difficult to cool in summer and this can lead to inefficient use of power hungry air conditioner systems. Quite often, installing external shading or louvers can significantly improve the unwanted heating of a room by solar energy.

Adding thermal mass is often used to smooth out the highs and lows of temperature variation, so that a building can be cooler through the day and warmer at night. Practically this can be achieved in building design using some more traditional building materials such as stone or by adding thermal mass to the walls and/or flooring slab or support.

Solar chimneys can use convention to naturally move air by means of heating the air in an exposed chimney, which rises and in turn draws stale air up from a building below, and this technique can be very effective in ensuring air circulation without requiring electrically driven fans or other equipment.

Other uses of passive solar technology include solar cookers, which have solar reflective arrays or mirror systems to concentrate the sun's rays into a central area containing a cooking vessel. These have particular interest in remote or developing areas, where conventional electricity or gas or even wood supply for burning are just simply not available. More specialized uses of passive solar technology can include solar forges and concentrators for extreme heating of a small area. These require very careful alignment to achieve the necessary concentration of energy into a small central area.

In a truly modern energy efficient, green environmentally conscious building, there is a role for both passive and active solar energy systems. Good insulation, good building design principles and clever use of solar power panels and electricity generation schemes can all have a part to play in ensuring we reduce the reliance on conventionally generated power in our society.

Solar Energy – DC vs AC

DC and AC in Solar Panel Systems

DC Current

Photovoltaic solar electric panels, or PV modules, generate electricity by converting sunlight directly into power. The PV modules generate direct current, or DC electricity. DC electricity is what you’ll typically find in batteries. Direct current flows in one direction (more about this vs. AC below). DC is typically hard to transmit over long distances because the voltage can’t be easily increased. The source generation needs to be matched to the load and the distance from the load. In a long transmission line, the voltage drop is current * resistance or (I *R). Wire has a fixed resistance so you need a high starting voltage to overcome the voltage drop.

DC Current Example

For example, say you have a motor that requires 1 Amp at 12 Volts. Let’s say you’re using 12 guage wire that has a resistance of 1.5 ohms per 1000 ft. If you’re close to the light, the resistance of the wires is negligible so your starting voltage can be 12V. If however, you’re a mile away then the resistance is noticeable – 1.5 * (5280ft/1000ft) = 7.92 ohms. Now the drop in the wire is 7.92 Volts (I * R = 1.0 Amps * 7.92 ohms = 7.92V) and you’ll need to start off with 12V + 7.92V = 19.92V or almost 20V to power that same motor

The Problem with DC Electricity

At the beginning of the electrical revolution, many different types of generators were needed to match various loads such as lights, motors and railway systems. You can see that this can quickly get out of hand. An interesting wikipedia article discussing the argument between Edison (DC proponent) and Tesla (AC proponent) can be found at this History of Electrical Power Transmission link. Is there a solution to this type of problem? Luckily there is and it comes in the form of AC electricity.

AC Electricity

Alternating Current is typically referred to as AC electricity. This is what you find in your house power outlets. In today’s AC systems, the movement of electrical charge changes direction many times per second. AC systems have the advantage of being easier to increase or decrease in voltage – on other words transform. A device called a transformer is used to convert a high voltage/low current into a low voltage/high current or vice-versa. If the voltage doubles, the current will be cut in half and on the other hand, if the voltage is cut in half, the current will double. This is an example, transformers can actually convert AC power in any ratio – not just ½ and 2 (ie. 4:3, 12:1, etc). For efficiency reasons, the typical AC waveform is a sine wave as shown below


The Advantage of AC with Power Transmission

Remember how the voltage drop in a wire is I * R? Well, if the current is 1/10 of the DC example, we’ll only get 0.792V of drop (0.1A * 7.92 ohms = 0.792V). In this case, the voltage would be 120V while the current would be 0.1A. Just before the motor, we can place a 10:1 (10 to 1) transformer which would convert 120V to 12V and the 0.1A to 1A. We have the same result 12V at 1A, but we’re getting less loss in the wire. Additionally, the wire will heat up less as a result of the lower current (the 7.92V drop is dissipated as heat).

AC Discussion and Solar Power

You may be wondering at this point, why this is important. I wanted to discuss why AC power is used throughout the home. I also wanted to point out that the electricity that is produced by solar panels isn't directly compatible with the power in your home. I'll have additional posts are articles in my newsletter to discuss these issues.

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Installation Steps for a Solar Power System

With electric rates on the rise again (another rise occurred for the new financial year), and yet more hikes predicted as government policy changes, homeowners everywhere are warming to the idea of installing solar panels on their rooftops and taking back some control of the household energy. This article will walk you through the steps to installing a full commercial system, such as those available from BP Solar, in your home.

Solar modules or panels are made up of many silicon cells all securely mounted together into convenient strong panel structures. The panels have no moving parts, and baring breakage, will last for many, many years. They are lightweight, and so the roof will not need any extra bracing or strengthening and very easy to install.

Typically solar panels should be mounted facing south for Northern hemisphere homes or north if you live in the Southern hemisphere. If this is not possible, that doesn’t mean you can’t have solar panels, South East, South West, or even East or West facing panels are still possible. Professional installers will use a device called a “solar pathfinder” to plot shading through the day and can work out the best position to install the modules to get the greatest amount of sunshine throughout the year.

Installation starts by the fitting of horizontal rails across the selected area of roof. The modules are then simply held onto the rails using clips. It is a good idea to have a gap between the roof and the bottom of the solar modules to allow for air flow under the panels, as this will help in keeping the panels themselves cool which leads to greater efficiency.

The modules/panels are then wired together to form a solar panel array and the array is then wired down through the roof to an “inverter” typically mounted in the garage. The inverter is a device which converts the direct current (DC) power produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) power which is the standard for most homes in America and elsewhere. The compact inverter mounts on the wall and won’t take up too much space. The inverter is then wired to your circuit breaker (fuse) box and this feeds the power into your home. After the system is all set up, you can practically see the benefits if you have an older style rotating power meter, as you will see the wheel turn slower than it would have. In fact, it is possible for you to generate more power via your new solar array than the household is using, causing the electricity meter to spin backwards. The excess power is fed back into the electricity grid for credits on your bill actually EARNING you money as you are selling power back to the company. Doesn’t that feel good!

A point that is often missed is that solar electric panels operate very differently from solar hot water heaters, and can operate well even if the weather is very cold. In fact, with the same amount of sunlight on a cold day, they will work better as they are generally more efficient at cooler temperatures.

With the barriers to installing solar power modules for the average household dropping away day by day, more and more people are turning towards solar power generation to save money and take back control of the contentious issues involved in more “traditional” power generation means like coal. And with state incentives and rebates on your bills for solar improving all the time, you can genuinely save money month to month, and increase the resale value of your home.


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4 Benefits of Solar Panels

What are the benefits of solar panels on your home?

Installing solar panels on the roof of your home can be a great investment that saves you considerable money, helps the environment and also increases the value of your home. Over the last few years the use of solar panels within residential and farming housing has grown enormously, and with good reason. Not only do you immediately save on your utilities bill, also in a lot of areas there are fantastic government rebates and incentives.

Benefit #1 of Solar Panels for Your Home - Tax Incentives

This is one of the best times to build a solar power installation in the United States. The 2008 Recovery Act has some fantastic tax incentives for solar and wind power. These incentives are in the form of a tax credit which is even better than a tax deduction. Read more about the Tax Credits here.

Benefit #2 of Solar Panels - Costs are dropping

Costs of the panels have dropped over the last few years, and for those willing to put in a bit of “do it yourself” effort, armed with the right know-how the costs are even lower, and the step to free energy from the sun has never been easier. It is now possible to build solar panel or panels and assemble your own array to make the entry cost very low. See our build-it-yourself series of articles here.

Benefit #3 of Solar Panels - Becoming Self Sufficient

If you have suffered through a rolling blackout in Texas or California, you know what it feels like to feel helpless. The nation's electricity grid is sometimes over-whelmed and therefore not everyone can be provided electricity. The power companies will shut down different sectors for 1-2 hours at a time. If you are producing electricity locally with solar, you can still power some of your more important applicances such as refrigerators, etc.

Benefit #4 of Solar Panels - Selling excess electricity

Not only can the energy you collect from the sun using your own solar panel array compete with the conventional grid utility power supply in terms of cost, in some cases you can even sell your excess generated solar electricity back to the grid – how is that for reversing the utility bill situation!

How Hard Is It To Get These Benefits?

If your home is located in the northern hemisphere, and you have a good south facing roof area that is not too overshadowed and gets reasonable sunlight through the day, you have a ready made spot to put your solar panel array. If you are in the southern hemisphere, take a look at your north facing roof area as a good location for the panels.

These days solar panels make a convincing argument to switch from coal burning conventional “unclean” energy sources to clean, abundant, cheap power right where it is needed – in the home. The benefits of solar panels for your home are numerous and we'll start to see more adoption of solar panels as time goes on.

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Build Your Own Solar USB Charger

Have you ever had your cell phone or mp3 player die and you're not close to a computer? In many cases, today's cell phones and other portable electronics use a standard miniUSB or microUSB jack. That means you can use a standard computer's USB cable to charge your phone or mp3 player. This post discusses the components of a typical solar USB Charger.

A USB jack provides +5V DC. The phone or mp3 player's internal circuitry uses this +5VDC to charge the battery. What does this mean for us? Simply that a solar panel USB charger only needs to provide +5VDC - the circuitry needed to charge the device's internal battery handles the charging. That's nice because a charger performs all sorts of tasks like

  • Slowly charging the battery when it is completely discharged until it gets to a point where it can begin fast charging.

  • Fast charging the battery while monitoring the vital signs of the battery like the temperature, voltage, and limiting the charging current.

  • Performing the final top-off charge of the battery - this is usually a low current.

  • Turning off the charger once the battery is fully charged.

  • Performing any maintenance charge. Over time, the battery will naturally deplete called self-discharge (Lithium Ion batteries discharge at a lower rate than NiMH or Alkaline).

  • This article details how to build your own solar power USB charger - a DIY cell phone solar charger.

    Build Your Own Solar Powered USB Charger

    In the diagram above, you're attaching a series of smaller solar panels together to generate a voltage of 7V or more. The string must supply at least 7V because the drop across the voltage regulator (voltage from IN to OUT) is 2V for a standard 7805 regulator. You can choose another voltage regulator that doesn't have as much drop but they are harder to find (not stocked in Radio Shack or Frys) and they're more expensive.

    You'll need to experiment with a capacitor between the OUT terminal and GND as well. Typically a 10uF (microFarad) capacitor is fine. You will also want a capacitor between the IN terminal and GND. Use 10uF for this as well. This is needed to stabilize the +5V output.

    Another option is to buy one of these Solar Panel USB chargers. The ones shown in the following links include a battery so that it is more portable. Contact me if you're interested in the schematic for something like this. I haven't tried the 2nd or 3rd items - the 2nd item gets mixed reviews.

    Simple DIY Solar Panel Project

    I've written a lot about making solar panels at home to save huge amounts on your electricity bill and slash your carbon footprint, all without paying big supply and installation costs. However what if you don't want to take this step right now, instead you just want to have a play with solar technology and see what it can do? Here we present several simple and fun experiments you can do without breaking the bank.

    I'd like to look at the solar garden lights that are spreading everywhere like wildfire at the moment. These are getting so cheap and readily available that you can pick up a dozen for next to nothing.

    A quick search on eBay I did turned up packs at a “Buy it Now” price of $2.95 and I saw plenty of auctions at less than a dollar!!

    Now these solar garden lights don't pack a lot of power really, but they do have a fully working solar cell, a little battery (usually AA size) and a bonus LED light thrown in. Apart from using these lights for their intended purpose of lighting up your garden, you can fire up your imagination and put them to all sorts of great uses. How about using some of the spotlight types over your door so you can find your key at night? What about lighting up the path to the garage so you don't trip?

    These are a few of the more obvious suggestions, but I like to tinker, so if you have some basic skills at wiring, or even better like to hack electronics, how re-using these gadgets for other low power applications? You can make a solar USB charger by hacking together a couple of solar garden lights solar cells and adding a simple regulator. Put enough in “series” (electrical term for connecting together the batteries within the solar garden light units in a daisy chain fashion) and you can build up the voltage a bit. Experiment with a few in series and then connect together a few of your series chains in parallel (another term meaning positive to positive and negative to negative). Series gives you more voltage, and parallel gives you more current and the combination of both can mean more power. Try this; take the guts from a dozen solar garden lights and disconnect the LED lights leaving just the solar cell and the batteries. Divide into two groups of six, connect each group in series then connect the two groups in parallel, now you have a 9V solar power generator than might even run a pond water pump for a pretty display in your garden. Not bad for less than $10 I say.

    I've even seen some modifications using red LED's and a clever arrangement of a lens to make a DIY solar projector which you can use to throw up little projections onto walls outside. Spell out words or simple pictures with your solar projector for a bit of arty fun.

    The best part of all these little solar projects, is that once you have put them together, they cost nothing to run and you can leave them going all the time to continue to inspire you to bring solar power goodness into your life.

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    Do It Yourself Solar Panels for $40

    You've decided you want to build solar panel technology, now you want to find out just how much DIY solar panels will cost. In this article we will do a little experiment – we will go to eBay, do a little searching, find the gear we will need to build solar panel arrays that are equivalent to commercially available solar panels, but at a fraction of the price. We will aim make solar panel of 36 solar cells, which will provide about 18V nominally, enough to charge a 12V lead acid or gel battery.

    We will be searching for WHOLE solar cells, although you can save even more money if you use broken cells – depending on how damaged they are you can still use them, but with lower output.

    I went to eBay, and searched for “36 solar cells” and immediately came up with this entry;

    36 Solar Cells w split 3x6 1.8W 3.6Amp

    Buy It Now $32.42

    Of course this is a “buy it now” type listing, I found many other auctions starting from $1 with just hours to go until bidding stops, so you can pay less than $32 if you try.

    An important thing to note is that the solar cells I have found on eBay and listed above are “untabbed” cells, which means you will need to “tab” them yourself. Tabbing solar cells is not difficult, but you will need some more stuff to get it right. An alternative is to pay slightly more, and buy your solar cells already tabbed, and this will save you time and effort. I found this auction (below) as well, which for about $4 more has the cells already tabbed. Bargain!

    36 FULL Tab solar cell 3X6 B- grade

    Buy It Now $36.63

    Now we have our cells, the rest can be found in the local hardware store – you need plywood for a backing, small cross section timber for the frame, a piece of masonite for the substrate and a piece of perspex or plexiglass for the cover. The best part is, most of these items you can scrounge or reclaim from the rubbish at little or no cost at all!

    I also recommend you grab a copy of one of the guides currently available to help you with the build process. Doing this will save you countless hours, and will make the whole process fast, enjoyable and truly rewarding. Ebooks and information kits are available that include video tutorials, bonus information and tips on putting together whole solar power systems, plus extras light wind power generation and other renewable energy tips and tricks.

    Residential Solar Panels