Sunday, 12 August 2012
Solar Panel Fun
I recently began experimenting with solar panels when I saw some apparently cheap "Solar Battery Maintainer" panels at my local hardware store. The function of the panels, which come with a 12V car cigarette lighter-socket adapter and alligator clips, is to maintain the charge level on your car battery if you are gone for a prolonged period of time.
Excited about the prospect of going solar, I picked up 4 of these panels and was ready to start hacking these things together. Much to my disappointment, besides outputing upto 20V the current was almost non-existent. So I opened one up to find the blinking diode and N4007 KDE diode (which is supposed to block reverse battery voltage short-circuiting through the panel) in there, removed it to see if I could use the panel directly but still very little power/current out of it.
Apparently these are the amorphous crystalline silicon form of panel which can be produced more simply but has less power. After speaking with some people on electronics forums it seems the panel is not even sufficiently powerful to reverse the normal current leakage/draw from a car battery. So I returned 2 of them and kept the other 2 hoping that I can use them for something eventually. Beware the cheap solar panels! Do investigate and test them first if possible.