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solar power stepping stones

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echobravo

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hello all.
ive been reading peoples comments on solar power and thought i would join to ask a few myself.
im not a professional in this stuff in anyway. im just starting out and looking learn more about solar power.
i want to purchase some solar panels and batteries to play with and learn however i thought i would start off with a little solar project first.

i want to make a solar power walkway somewhat like its done here
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Solar-Powered-Walkway/

the only thing is i dont want to have wires running all over the place so i want to ask everyones input about encasing the solar cell under a glass block, protect it from the elements and still be able to catch the sunlight to charge up the batteries to power the lights at night.
I will be modifying those solar walkway lights that they sell at the dept stores that you stake in the ground
each block would have its own light, battery and cell.

thoughts?

thanks
 

spec

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Hello echobravo.

Welcome to ETO- care to tell us where you are?

Your idea is perfectly feasible. That approach is used with small garden lights you can buy for a couple of bucks. Just make sure that whatever transparent cover that you use passes the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation (light) that your solar cells need.

spec
 

KeepItSimpleStupid

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Since I worked in basic solar cell research, you will lose some efficiency of Silicon solar cells depending on the glass type. It depends on the Quantum efficiency curves of the material, the spectrum AM 1.5 Global and the transmission curves of the glass. I can't, off the top of my head remember the difference. By knowing all of the numbers, you can actually compute short circuit current at the magic 100 mw/sqcm light intensity and 25 deg C (the standard measurement temperature). Think the sun at noon on a clear day.

Without a good heat sink to the panel, the performance could drop as the temperature goes up.

You can likely measure short circuit current with the voltage across a suitable resistor in parallel with the "array" and check the net effect of adding glass.

Quartz would work, but probably not cost-effective. See: http://www.technicalglass.com/product_pages/machined_quartz/polished_items_plates_discs.html
 

spec

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Doubling output capacity would be quite something.:cool:

I wonder if you could combine water heating and solar cells in one panel?

spec
 

gary350

Well-Known Member
I have 130 watts of solar panels after experimenting with them for 4 years I can say this is not much power. You need to consider many things, does the sky in your area have a lot of clouds, does your yard or neighbors yards have tall trees. Stepping stones will be much lower than roof solar panels so you will have a problem with them getting dirty, when it rains they will be covered with mud, grass will grow over them, a house or car will shade them. My 130 watts will run two 60 watt light bulbs all day that is all it will do. I paid $450 plus sales tax to have enough power to run 2 light bulbs. How many years can you run 2 light bulbs on the local power company for $450? This does not include the cost of installing them and maintenance. A 1000 amp car battery is $130 with a 5 year warranty. A DC to AC inverter costs $35 from Harbor Freight. "IF" my battery gets a full charge during the day, I can run a TV, a light, computer for a few hours every night. That is all the power there is.

Now I am experimenting with wind power using a permanent magnet generator. An 8 foot diameter blade produces several times more power than my solar.
 

audioguru

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Solar garden lights are designed to be cheap therefore they have minimum performance. The solar panel and battery are small so the current is low which makes the LED fairly dim. A glass block will block a lot of sunlight energy then the tiny battery will never fully charge.
 
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