Solar power / Photovoltaics

Solar power means using energy from the sun to produce electricity. These pages show how that energy is turned into electricity, the components needed and various possible types of systems.

How it works

Part 1 - From the sun to the panels
Part 2 - From the panels to the inverter
(and an explanation of AC and DC electricity!)

Types of systems

Solar power systems can be configured in a variety of ways to meet different needs. The following are the most common configurations.

Incentive programs

One of the highest paying incentive programs is the Ontario microFIT/FIT Feed-in Tariff program which pays up to $0.549 per kWh for power which is fed onto the Ontario power grid. This is a lot, given that consumers pay around $0.20 per kWh for power from that same grid.

Damaged solar panels and repairing them

Shattered/broken solar panel in need of repair.

Examples of solar panels damaged by having their glass shattered or by lightning, along with some info about repairability.

Shattered/broken solar panel in need of repair.

Solar panels with shattered glass often do still work, though with varying degrees of reduced output. The only repair you can do is to weatherproof them. See here how to repair a solar panel whose glass has been shattered.

Fun solar experiments

DIY/homemade solar panel (simple one).

Here's step-by-step how I made a very simple solar panel from just a few solar cells that I needed for a video.

DIY/homemade copper solar cell.

You can make your own solar cells using copper but they don't give enough power to be useful. They are a fun experiment though.

Homemade/DIY solar cell made using a 2N3055 power transistor.

The easiest solar cell to make is to use a transistor as a solar cell (in this case a 2N3055 power transistor) by simply cutting it open. Five of them in series will power a small 1.5 volt calculator.

Solar panel made of transistor solar cells for powering a calculator.

A solar panel made of five transistor solar cells producing enough power to run a small calculator.

Concentrated solar power test using a fresnel lens and a solar cell.

Concentrated solar power tests using a large fresnel lens to concentrate sunlight onto a single solar cell.

Mini solar tower using a fresnel lens to turn a turbine.

Mini solar tower powered using concentrated sunlight from a large fresnel lens.

Sample installed systems

Here's a small sample of solar power systems I helped install with Ottawa Solar Power.

Just another day installing solar power in the Ottawa, Ontario area...

... but then, not all days are snowy.
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