20-Watt Solar Panel – A Primer @ MAKE

Energy & Sustainability

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20-Watt Solar Panel by Parker Jardine in Primer. With a few solar-cells and a plastic case, you can utilize the sun’s energy to power anything from a light bulb to your entire house. Page 158 – MAKE 12. Read this article now in the MAKE digital edition.

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You can view all our in depth Primers from MAKE here too.

18 thoughts on “20-Watt Solar Panel – A Primer @ MAKE

  1. Dan says:

    Looks like a bug in the article – the 20W kit isn’t “about $49” – it’s $84.95!

  2. Rasputin says:

    Overpriced and overcomplicated!! Get & dismantle some discount solar yard lights — weatherproof cells (and batteries, battery holders and charger switching circuits to boot) for a lot less.

  3. pt says:

    @Dan – if you look on the page we listed the correct price.

    @Rasputin – sure, that’s the point of MAKE -you- might be able to do something similar in another way :)

  4. bluesky says:

    actually Dan is correct. The price of the
    20W kit is $84.95
    The price of the 8W kit is what is listed
    as about $49.

  5. Freddy says:

    Why is it that every new post is beset by the uninformed making thoughtless, negative comments?

    Well, Dan just pointed out an error – that’s helpful!

    But “Overpriced and overcomplicated!!”
    “Rasputen”‘s reasoning:
    Buying 20 yard lights (assuming that the panels have the same output as the ones in the kit- you might need 40 – who knows), disassembling them all, testing the components, identifying the inputs, outputs, and operating characteristics of the charging circuits without schematics/board diagrams/documentation, figuring out how much the charge circuits can handle, figuring out how to connect sub assemblies of chargers/panels/batteries together to work in unison (if 1 charge circuit cannot handle the total 20watt output), and mounting the whole mess in a custom designed weather resistant enclosure = simple

    Buying a kit and following the illustrated instructions = overcomplicated.


    And my TIME is worth something, even if his is not. So I also question his assertion that his solution is less expensive even if you could get all the parts from yard lights for less than $85. (Somehow, I suspect that he hasn’t tried it himself.)
    Now, it IS another approach that you could take, but it certainly doesn’t warrant the derogatory post.

    Also, Bluesky, he didn’t say that Dan was wrong, he said “If you look on the page we listed the correct price.” – and they did.
    You guys really have to start READING things before commenting on them.

    Thanks to PT and JBC for all the great stuff!

  6. Rasputin says:

    Odd that the pricey kit only includes solar cells, rather than circuit components and a whole tutorial on charging, circuit boards etc.

    Salvaged solar cells take a few seconds to remove (they snap out) and the power output can be figured in a few more seconds with a $4 VOM, a 20¢ resistor and Ohm’s law. You can throw the rest out if it’s too complicated (dispose of the NiCd batteries properly).

    This is just more salesmanship and refers to a subscribers-only magazine page. Where is Make’s open source? Hm?

  7. pt says:

    @Rasputin – the page is viewable to everyone, but not every page, it’s a preview. “open source” doesn’t mean we give away unlimited free copies of the magazine to people who do not subscribe, if you like it – consider subscribing to MAKE, the digital edition is free with that – or just get the digital edition.

    good business is good for open source, we sell open source hardware kits – surely you don’t think we should give those away free too?

  8. slightlyeskew says:

    I’m looking for the follow-up article to 20-Watt, “In the next volume of MAKE, I’ll show you how to connect the solar panel to your electrical system.” (Vol 12) Are there plans to put it in Vol 13?

  9. Rob.b says:

    If you can follow the steps well, then this is for you. otherwise if you are not sure that you will be able to do it without expert guidance, don’t go for it.

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