This untabbed solar cells kit inlcudes the following items:
This set of new 3"x6" solar cells are string ribbon multi crystalline cells. These are the the classic and traditional solid blue front side string ribbon cells. The cells are the original factory standard cell size, not other sizes cut by using home made tools which could damage the cells during cutting process. The cells have never been used or soldered, and are not recycled. There are no tabs on these cells so you can start from scratch and get experience in making solar panels.
I: Solar Cells: 72 3x6 untabbed solar cells
The standard cell specifications are the following, though the individual cells can be above or below these standards.
Average Power (Watts): 1.75 Wp
Average Current (Amps): 3.5 Imax
Average Voltage (Volts): 0.5 Vmax
Thickness 200 ìm = 0.2 mm
Exact dimension: 3 1/4 inches x 6 inches, or 80 mm by 150 mm
Weight: Just above 6 grams, or 0.2 oz.
II: Tabbing wires: 80 feet of tabbing wires to connect the solar cells. Cut them into 6 inch sections to solder onto the bus bars on the cells.
III: Bus wires: 8 feet of bus wires. Use them to connect them between the series and connect the tabbing wires ends to the junction box at the back of the panel.
IV: Flux: an easy-to-use flux pen that dispenses flux onto the bus bar or your tabbing wires without leaving a mess. It's used to aid soldering and bonding of the wires to the cells.
V: Diodes: 2 diodes, rated at 15 amp each. Schottky style diodes.
How to make sense of the above numbers:
The basic and very important formula you need to know to make sense of solar cells is this: Power (P) = Current (I) Multiply by Voltage (V), or P=I*V Power's unit of measure is watt, Current's unit of measure is amp, Voltage's unit of measure is volt.
In our solar cell's specific example, if each solar cell is rated at 1.75 watts on average, and the voltage is 0.5, you do a little algebraic math, then to get the amps (I), since P=I*V, so I = P / V , therefore I (amps) = 1.75 watts divided by 0.5 volts = 3.5 amps.
It's important to understand the concepts of series connection and parallel connection when stringing these solar cells together to make a solar panel. Series connection of the cells increases voltage but not amperage; parallel connection of the cells increases amperage but not voltage. Series connection is when you connect the positive terminal of a cell with the negative terminal of the next cell. Parallel connection is when you connect the positive terminals of all cells in the set of cells with a tabbing wire and all the negative terminals of all cell in the same set. You can use a combination of series and parallel connections to get the right voltage and amperage for your solar panel.
The cell specifications above were given to us by the manufacturer as averages. Variations are possible. To make a 18 volts panel, for example, you connect 36 cells in series (36 cells times 0.5 volt each = 18 volts). And 36 * 1.75 (each cell in theory averages 1.75 watt) watt = 63 watts. The amps you will be getting is 63 watts divided by 18 volts = 3.5 amps. Solar cells basics: The front of the cells (blue side, aka Sunny side) has two thick white lines, called bus bars. They are the negative terminals of the cell. The back side, where the 6 square dots are, are positive terminals. Connect the tabbing wires from the bus bar of the first cell on one side to the three dots of on the back side of the next cell. That way you have a series connection. Repeat the process on the other side of the cells. In panel making you should connect all the tabbing wires on the front for all the cells first, then flip the cells over to solder the back side in a second step. Some solar cells such as SunPower cells have both positive and negative terminals at the back of the cells, but we don't have to worry about them. Most cells are negative on the front and positive on the back.
The white color bus bars on front and the contact points on the back are made out of silver, and you should keep them intact. Apply solder on your them and the wires should bond.
Testing: Make sure that you test the cells under strong sun light with the front of the cell facing the sun, at the same time connect your meters to the right terminals. If you are inside the building, make sure you shine your sun simulating lamps onto the front of the cell while testing.
Panel configuration: For those who are new to solar panel making or if you don't have an engineering background, here is our recommendation:
1) Make small panels first so you gain experience.
2) In most situations, make either 36 or 72 cell panels, and connect them in series. 36 cells give you 17.5 or around 18 volts or so. And 72 cells doubles that. These panels are very useful, and you will find a lot of matching products that will want to buy! For example, you almost always want to use a charge controller if you make your panels to charge batteries. Charge controllers usually come in 12 or 24 volt settings, which match your panels' 18 and 36 volts very nicely. Yes, your panel voltage should be 1.5 times the voltage of the battery you intend to charge. Connect more panels together if you want to tie to the grid, in which case, always use an inverter. However, we always recommend that the panels that you make for yourself be used in off-grid applications, such as charging your batteries to be used in RV, remote cabin, or marine settings. If you intend to connect to the grid, it is wise to buy the professionally made, UL certified panels.
3) For a lot higher voltage panels and configurations and connecting multiple panels to get high voltage, consult a professional. Just don't fry yourself. Remember that solar panels are always loaded with electricity when exposed under the sun. At high voltage even a tiny bit of current, when handled wrongly, can kill you.
Soldering: If you want to become a serious panel maker, buy a good soldering iron whose temperature can be adjusted. Don't get a cheap iron. It's one of the most important tools you need to have. If you can't buy an adjustable solder iron, get one that's rated at 90 watts. Also when you solder, all you need to do is to apply flux on the bus bars and the backside contacts before soldering. Do NOT scrape off the whitish substance on the bus bar or the backside square contacts. Those are made of silver and must be kept intact. Just apply flux and solder the tabbing wires. The wires are already coated with tin solder so you don't need to use extra solder AT ALL. Use a smooth and continuous motion to solder the wires onto the bus bars of the cells.
The solar cells are very fragile so be very very careful when handling them. Out of all of the solar cell packages that we sent, broken cells via transit are relatively rare occurrences. We make sure that the cells are well protected by a combination of foam pads, paper pad, bubble wraps, inner box, and outer box. Our warehouse personnel take great pride in their packaging.
Each package is clearly marked and labeled with how many inner packs and how many cells there are in each pack.
You might break some cells during the panel making process, so we always give our customers extra bonus cells for free just to show consideration.