Make a Solar Panel Using Diodes

Make a Solar Panel Using Diodes


A diode made from a semiconductor can generate electricity in the presence of light. Instructables user nevdull shows how to generate a modest amount of power by arranging four 1N4148 diodes in parallel.

Go ahead and dig out a few diodes from your tacklebox, toolbox, bead drawer, or whatever you keep all your electronic goodies in and put them in parallel. Connect your voltmeter to either side and take a reading in ambient light. I get about 4-5mV in ambient light.

Next, grab your maglight and while still taking a reading shine a focused beam on the diodes and see what your voltmeter says. In my configuration using the diodes I had at hand, I was able to get more than 100mV from four diodes. That’s not too shabby, especially if you’re shuffling that voltage off to a capacitor to either save for later or to build up a larger charge to do something more useful, like light an LED (yeah, like that’s more useful) or run your garbage disposal.

20 thoughts on “Make a Solar Panel Using Diodes

  1. Bruce Miller says:

    Can LED’s do the same? Recharge batteries in LED flashlights for example? Circuits please?

    1. Arno Brosi says:

      Yes,LEDs do the same.See YouTube video here:

  2. Bruce Miller says:

    Always include a schematic – leaves no doubts!

    1. Bashtarle (@Bashtarle) says:

      The circuit is diodes in parallel

      1. Ian Fitzgerald says:

        Put them in series and you’ll get higher voltage at the expense of current.

  3. foobar64 says:

    Reblogged this on THE Blog.

  4. SkipF says:

    E^2/R=P… 100mv^2/10,000,000= 1nWATT (for FOUR diodes…)
    Find a MILLION nanoWATTs and you get a milliWATT.

  5. Jerry Carter says:

    It would be interesting to know the physics / chemistry behind this.

      1. Jerry Carter says:

        Thanks, SkipF! I’ll have to find time to watch the whole lecture – good stuff.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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