We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.
– Thomas Edison (1931)
I’m not a dirty hippie. I use plenty of non-renewable energy sources. But I’m not thrilled with it. So for an exercise in mathematics, electronics, and chemistry I decided to see what it would take for me to be able to reduce my overall usage.
After the maths that resulted in me realizing that a 6m x 6m solar panel would be required to power my home I decided to not jump right in to a multi-thousand dollar investment. But I did, after playing with a simple little 1.5W panel from Radio Shack, decide that piecemeal and proof of concept would be a more interesting way to go about this. So let’s at least make a little juice.
I started by purchasing 36+ 4.54A 0.5V manufacturing grade cells from an eBay seller. This came with bus wire, a junction box, flux, solder, the whole thing… for $48 with shipping and such. The jobbers came in and I immediately tore into the situation. What follows is the start.