Science
Make a solar cell in your kitchen

Jar Cell In Shadow
Simon Field @ Scitoys shows you how to make a solar cell in your kitchen – “A solar cell is a device for converting energy from the sun into electricity. The high-efficiency solar cells you can buy at Radio Shack and other stores are made from highly processed silicon, and require huge factories, high temperatures, vacuum equipment, and lots of money. If we are willing to sacrifice efficiency for the ability to make our own solar cells in the kitchen out of materials from the neighborhood hardware store, we can demonstrate a working solar cell in about an hour.”Link.

Related:
DIY solar projects – Link.

20 thoughts on “Make a solar cell in your kitchen

  1. I think this is good to know. Take high-tech development back to the basics and show that to the people who care. This way knowledge sharing is taking place and maybe better,cheaper or just plain usable products will be available.

    If these ingredients are available in my neighbourhood I’ll certainly will experiment with this….

    – Unomi –

  2. You would do this to me, wouldn’t you? Where there’s a diode there can be a transistor. After a little searching, turns out there’s a book with details on how to make, among other things, your own Cuprous Oxide Transistors.

    Where there’s a transistor… You get the idea.

    Andrew.

  3. I Tryed this and it actualy worked. however i got extreamly low outputs. and it took ages *ages* to do the copper plates over a bunsen burner but it worked. School Project FTW

  4. TO

    The Officer

    Subject: Request for Establishing a Solar cell manufacturing plant

    Respected officer

    I am an investor and want to invest in field of solar industry in Pakistan.

    Please! Help me as possible.

    1 What’s are the basic needs for this?

    2 Where from I can purchase all those?

    3 What is the total approximate cost for plant?

    4 Which company is best for this

    5 Is here any person who provide me full guide about it?

    Muhammad Riaz

    C/O Zian-ul-abiden

    27-C GBHP Hattian

    Attock Punjab Pakistan

    +92301-7516061

  5. To Mr Muhammad Riaz

    Sir,

    I am an engineering student from U.E.T.Lahore. I don’t know about your first questions but about the last question: here in uet Prof.Dr. Suhail Aftab Qureshi is our senior professor and being an industrialist, has many contacts. He may be useful to you.

    Also, some of our teachers have done thier projects in this field so they may be of some help.

    Hope this answer satisfies.

    regards,
    shoaib.

  6. This project is basically only good for teaching how a solar cell works and can be made. Beyond that, it is worthless. Why?

    First off, look at the current output on the meter – not even 10 -microamps- (so, an order of magnitude from what you would need to begin charging a battery).

    Secondly, the price of copper is INSANE, especially today. Methheads are stealing it (and dying in some cases) from live kilovolt lines at substations – all for a few thousand dollars, at best. So, you couldn’t make enough of these cells (or large enough of one) for enough current for less money than it would cost to buy regular silicon cells.

    Thirdly, the need for a transparent conductor for the side that faces the sun kills this for any real use cold (as if the first two reasons didn’t). A brine solution (aka salt water) is ok for a demonstration, but for real use, it isn’t that good (not a great conductor, which may be where most of the current output goes). The best conductor would be a transparent conductor made with glass and a silvering solution (not trying to make a silver coating, though, just a thin transparent coating). However, getting the chemicals is not easy, nor cheap (because the price of silver has gone up, too) – not too mention, hazardous to handle (poisonous solutions and fumes, mainly) as well.

    I had an idea to make such things cheaper and easier to build by using copper oxide paint (used to paint boat hulls to keep barnacles off) and silver solder/paste to “screen print” a conductive grid over the paint, but there wasn’t any guarantee it would work, and there wasn’t any way to just buy a pint of the paint (gallon and 5 gallon sizes are available to the consumer – but a gallon cost a heck of a lot – makes epoxy coating for garages look cheap).

    In other words, outside of learning, don’t look to this to be a cheap answer to supplying electricity to your home. Neither are the “titanium oxide/pomegranate juice cells”.

    If you want cheap electricity, a better thing to concentrate on would be converting a 8-10 foot Ku band sattelite receiver dish into a solar concentrator (lots of liquid nails/jbweld and mirrors), with the focus hooked up to a heat exchanger for a Stirling or Rankine-cycle engine coupled to a small DC motor acting as a generator. Cheaper, easier to build, and most parts (outside of the engine) available off the shelf or otherwise.

    Oh, and though it is off-topic for this project, there is another Make project article about a parabolic solar trough engine/generator (MIT?) for use in 3rd-world countries, basically doing what I suggested above (though with a little more complexity). As far as the working fluid for the output side: it would have to be something like freon or (more likely) propane or similar – simply because it would all have to be easily available and buildable by individuals with little more than a 6th grade education and no nearby AutoZone or Lowes to help them out.

    Good luck, everyone!

  7. This project is basically only good for teaching how a solar cell works and can be made. Beyond that, it is worthless. Why?

    First off, look at the current output on the meter – not even 10 -microamps- (so, an order of magnitude from what you would need to begin charging a battery).

    Secondly, the price of copper is INSANE, especially today. Methheads are stealing it (and dying in some cases) from live kilovolt lines at substations – all for a few thousand dollars, at best. So, you couldn’t make enough of these cells (or large enough of one) for enough current for less money than it would cost to buy regular silicon cells.

    Thirdly, the need for a transparent conductor for the side that faces the sun kills this for any real use cold (as if the first two reasons didn’t). A brine solution (aka salt water) is ok for a demonstration, but for real use, it isn’t that good (not a great conductor, which may be where most of the current output goes). The best conductor would be a transparent conductor made with glass and a silvering solution (not trying to make a silver coating, though, just a thin transparent coating). However, getting the chemicals is not easy, nor cheap (because the price of silver has gone up, too) – not too mention, hazardous to handle (poisonous solutions and fumes, mainly) as well.

    I had an idea to make such things cheaper and easier to build by using copper oxide paint (used to paint boat hulls to keep barnacles off) and silver solder/paste to “screen print” a conductive grid over the paint, but there wasn’t any guarantee it would work, and there wasn’t any way to just buy a pint of the paint (gallon and 5 gallon sizes are available to the consumer – but a gallon cost a heck of a lot – makes epoxy coating for garages look cheap).

    In other words, outside of learning, don’t look to this to be a cheap answer to supplying electricity to your home. Neither are the “titanium oxide/pomegranate juice cells”.

    If you want cheap electricity, a better thing to concentrate on would be converting a 8-10 foot Ku band sattelite receiver dish into a solar concentrator (lots of liquid nails/jbweld and mirrors), with the focus hooked up to a heat exchanger for a Stirling or Rankine-cycle engine coupled to a small DC motor acting as a generator. Cheaper, easier to build, and most parts (outside of the engine) available off the shelf or otherwise.

    Oh, and though it is off-topic for this project, there is another Make project article about a parabolic solar trough engine/generator (MIT?) for use in 3rd-world countries, basically doing what I suggested above (though with a little more complexity). As far as the working fluid for the output side: it would have to be something like freon or (more likely) propane or similar – simply because it would all have to be easily available and buildable by individuals with little more than a 6th grade education and no nearby AutoZone or Lowes to help them out.

    Good luck, everyone!

  8. This project is basically only good for teaching how a solar cell works and can be made. Beyond that, it is worthless. Why?

    First off, look at the current output on the meter – not even 10 -microamps- (so, an order of magnitude from what you would need to begin charging a battery).

    Secondly, the price of copper is INSANE, especially today. Methheads are stealing it (and dying in some cases) from live kilovolt lines at substations – all for a few thousand dollars, at best. So, you couldn’t make enough of these cells (or large enough of one) for enough current for less money than it would cost to buy regular silicon cells.

    Thirdly, the need for a transparent conductor for the side that faces the sun kills this for any real use cold (as if the first two reasons didn’t). A brine solution (aka salt water) is ok for a demonstration, but for real use, it isn’t that good (not a great conductor, which may be where most of the current output goes). The best conductor would be a transparent conductor made with glass and a silvering solution (not trying to make a silver coating, though, just a thin transparent coating). However, getting the chemicals is not easy, nor cheap (because the price of silver has gone up, too) – not too mention, hazardous to handle (poisonous solutions and fumes, mainly) as well.

    I had an idea to make such things cheaper and easier to build by using copper oxide paint (used to paint boat hulls to keep barnacles off) and silver solder/paste to “screen print” a conductive grid over the paint, but there wasn’t any guarantee it would work, and there wasn’t any way to just buy a pint of the paint (gallon and 5 gallon sizes are available to the consumer – but a gallon cost a heck of a lot – makes epoxy coating for garages look cheap).

    In other words, outside of learning, don’t look to this to be a cheap answer to supplying electricity to your home. Neither are the “titanium oxide/pomegranate juice cells”.

    If you want cheap electricity, a better thing to concentrate on would be converting a 8-10 foot Ku band sattelite receiver dish into a solar concentrator (lots of liquid nails/jbweld and mirrors), with the focus hooked up to a heat exchanger for a Stirling or Rankine-cycle engine coupled to a small DC motor acting as a generator. Cheaper, easier to build, and most parts (outside of the engine) available off the shelf or otherwise.

    Oh, and though it is off-topic for this project, there is another Make project article about a parabolic solar trough engine/generator (MIT?) for use in 3rd-world countries, basically doing what I suggested above (though with a little more complexity). As far as the working fluid for the output side: it would have to be something like freon or (more likely) propane or similar – simply because it would all have to be easily available and buildable by individuals with little more than a 6th grade education and no nearby AutoZone or Lowes to help them out.

    Good luck, everyone!

    1. Thank you for telling me this now.
      I have glued 1000’s of bottles to my rooftop.
      They fill up with rainwater.
      Now I need to know how to get them off again.

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