Solar energy- does anyone know of a DIY way to make a solar collector and transfer that energy to batteries?

Question by : Solar energy- does anyone know of a DIY way to make a solar collector and transfer that energy to batteries?
I would like to learn about solar energy and how I can make some panels for my home, of course with in a reasonable budget. My goal is to be able to run a refrigerator and fan off of battery. Any ideas out there?

Best answer:

Answer by tirod
You will need about $ 15,000 worth of collectors to charge up enough two volt batteries to use the electricity.

The actual collector itself is constructed like a circuit board – substrate, photovoltaic chemicals in layers, and etched lines for conductivity. I don’t know of anybody doing that on a DIY basis unless they have a degree in it, much less that the step by step instructions are even available. Too many companies hoard the knowledge under proprietary agreements – it’s how they make their living.

But you can buy stuff from them, with enough cash.

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2 Responses to “Solar energy- does anyone know of a DIY way to make a solar collector and transfer that energy to batteries?”

  1. Current solar technology for home use is too expensive and inefficient. It would take about 30 years of electric bills to pay off solar panels you installed today, and by that time their efficiency would be close to zero. You could look into solar thermal tech (1st link) which uses mirrors to focus sunlight on an overhead pipe filled with liquid. That heats to a boil and the steam is used to drive a turbine to produce electricity. Conceivably you could build one yourself but you’d need a lot of time and skills most of us lack.

    You can build a small solar charger to recharge AA batteries and the like, using just a solar-powered yard light. There is at least one detailed plan for this at instructablesdotcom. Even then, it would take all day (on a sunny day) to charge the batteries. New photovoltaic makers claim efficiencies of 22-80% but that seems unlikely.

  2. If your goal is to save money, it will be hard to do that with solar electricity. You can come out ahead under some circumstances, but powering a refrigerator and a fan is an unlikely one. However, if your goal is to learn about this kind of setup, you could get a kit from (say) Harbor Freight for a few hundred dollars, which will (barely) charge a car battery over a period of a couple weeks. The energy you collect could power a fan for several hours.

    You could also learn about solar electricity just by searching the web. That way, you don’t need to spend any money at all. Our solar setup is documented at

    That said, there are ways you can save money on energy. A solar hot water heater usually pays for itself over time, depending on where you live. You can buy a kit to retrofit your existing water heater for perhaps $ 2000 or so.

    Also, if your refrigerator is old, just changing to a new, extremely efficient model can save 1/3, maybe even 2/3 of the energy.

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