Use of solar energy is being promoted as it is a renewable form of energy that is seems to hold promise and serve as the major energy resource in the future. The main feature of the solar energy is the collection panels that recieve the sun during the day. The solar energy collector panel is a medium through which maximum solar energy is collected and stored. The solar collectors are generally of two types: evacuated tube and flat plate. Both have some pros and cons and it is for the user to determine which works best, at least until a design that supersedes these two is introduced in the market. With flat solar collector panel you can get maximum solar energy. But as the sun moves the sunrays become tilted and the collector panel becomes less effective. The evacuated solar collector panels are cylindrical in shape and hence irrespective of the direction of the sun, the amount of energy collection remains almost constant. The main function of these solar collector panels is to keep the cold out and retain the heat. That is the reason why glazing is applied on the panel that faces the sun and its inside is packed with thermal insulation to save heat loss. While making a solar collector panel, you need to keep in mind this main function of the panel.
Who are the popular manufacturers of Solar collector panels?
Some of the popular solar collector panels manufacturers are:
Green Brilliance: This is mainly an alternate energy supplying company and aims to provide resources enabling production of solar energy. The company offers customized solar collector panels depending upon the requirement and has experienced staff that can come up with tailor-made panel modeules and designs of expected size and shape.
Blue Square Energy: Located in Maryland, US, this company provides solar collector panels to various countries including France, Italy, Ireland, Germany, United States and a lot more. This company offers panels made from silicon that can be used for household and commercial needs.
Suniva: The company leads in the manufacture of monocrystalline and multicrystalline modules of panels that are highly efficient. Optimum photovoltaic applications are used for increasing efficiency of the cells and collector panels.
Advent Solar: The company since 2009 has been acquired by Applied Materials Inc. and basically produces off-grid and grid-tie integrated photovoltaic solar cells. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the company provides customized solar collector panels for both residential and commercial purposes.
Innovalight: The company provides high power solar cell technology to various manufacturers who produce solar cells. These cells are highly effective in solar cell conversion. Nano-particles of silicon are used to produce this solar cell application. Incidentally, the company also produces silicon inks that are extremely popular.
What materials are used in building Solar collector panels?
Check out the materials you would need for building solar collector panel:
Around half a sq. foot copper flashing sheet which cost around $ 5.00/ sq.ft and is readily available in hardware stores
2 Alligator clip leads
Small LCD multimeters or highly sensitive micro-ammeter that have the capacity of reading current between 10 to 50 microamperes
An electric stove
Big sized clear plastic bottle ( 2 liter will do) or a glass jar with wide mouth
Wire brush or sand paper
Sheet metal sheers
How to assemble the material for making solar collector panel?
A breakdown of steps in the process of making solar collector panel:
Cut the copper sheet with the help of sheet metal sheers matching the exact size of the gas burner.
Wash your hands and the sheet with soap or cleanser to wipe off the oil or grease
Use wire brush or sandpaper for cleaning the copper sheet thoroughly. This is necessary to completely remove the traces of light corrosive materials such as sulfide
Set the burner at its maximum setting and then put the clean and dry copper sheet on this burner
Colorful patterns of orange, red and purple hues begin to form as the copper sheet starts heating up
When the copper sheet becomes extremely hot, the colors formed due to oxidation turns into black coating forming cupric oxide. Keep heating until the whole sheet is covered with the coat of black cupric oxide and no traces of other colors. It is important that the coating is thick so that the flake will come off nicely
The whole process takes nearly half an hour.
When you are sure that the coating has become thick enough, turn off the burner and let the sheet cool
Do not try to cool if off very quickly as the black coating will otherwise get stuck to the sheet and won’t come off easily
As the sheet starts cooling, the copper shrinks. Similarly, the black deposits of cupric oxide also shrink.
Interestingly, the shrinking process continues at varying rates due to which the black coating flake off
At a normal temperature, the sheet takes less than half an hour (20 mins) to cool off during which the flakes pop up like popcorn and almost all the black oxide vanishes from the sheet.
Scrub the sheet with hands lightly to remove any remaining traces of the cupric oxide
Do not rub it harshly or else the delicate layer of red cuprous oxide will get damaged. This is the layer that stimulates the working of solar cells
Now, cut out another sheet similar in size to the earlier one and bend the two pieces of copper sheet slowly in such a way that they get placed inside the glass jar or plastic bottle comfortably without touching each other
Place the face of the copper sheet exposed to the burner outwards in the bottle or the jar as it is the cleanest and highly smooth surface
Attach the two alligator clip heads to the two copper sheets
Now connect the positive meter terminal to the lead of clean copper plate and the negative meter terminal to the lead of cuprous oxide plate
Carefully put salty water (mix of salt and water) inside the jar or bottle in such as way that the leads on the alligator clips do not get wet
The level of the saltwater should be little more than 3/4th height of the bottle
Place this solar panel collector with a magnified glass at its top in the sun and see its solar battery produce microamp current
People can experiment with other materials such as corrugated plastic used to make signs. This is much cheaper but it might get softer once it reaches a high temperature and hence might work ok for experiments but if you are using for your home, might not be a feasible option.