Mar 252009

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When you look at off-the-shelf solar power systems many people are put off by the cost. You may be investigating the various solar energy systems and putting a shopping list together. After all, the whole purpose of the project is to cut costs, so you should be looking at cutting the cost of the project itself. By the far the biggest money saving step is to buy used solar cells, so begin by looking at places where you get cheap parts.

The cheapest place I’ve found for solar cells is EBay – home to just about anything you could possibly ever need. You can use other auction sites, but EBay is the most popular and as so will most likely have new and used solar cells. You don’t normally purchase solar cells individually; they are usually sold in batch/lots which drastically cuts the cost of homemade power systems.

Once you find solar cells for auction don’t be hasty and start bidding until you have investigated what you are bidding on. If there are pictures look for chips or cracks. Read the description. Don’t mistakenly bid a ‘new item’ price for used solar cells. If you aren’t sure, contact the auctioneer and ask. If the cells are cracked or chipped, that is okay, just don’t overpay for them.

Damaged and used solar cells with chips and cracks can be used. The repairs aren’t difficult and it is well worth the difference in the price. Also check to see if they are transparent. Transparent solar cells typically sell for more. It definitely makes sense to read all of the information presented with the auction.

After browsing the online auctions, find out who installs solar energy in your town. Go visit them and ask them what they do with panels that are removed during upgrades or repairs. Most of the time they toss them out, their trash is your treasure. Offer to take them off their hands. You can salvage the used solar cells out of the old panels or luck up and be getting some panels you can repair.

The installer might not have any at the moment, that’s okay. Leave him your name and number and ask him to call you when he does. Check back on occasion so they don’t forget you.

While you’re out checking with installers find out where your county road maintenance office is. That is your next stop.

Make a visit to the actual shop, don’t try phoning, you’ll get passed from one person to the next. Once there ask them what they do when traffic signals that use solar cells are damaged. Of course you’re going to get the ‘in the trash pile’ answer. Ask if you can have them for recycling purposes. Once you get the okay, leave your information for future use. Again, you can salvage the solar cells from the damaged equipment.

Lastly, research retailers of solar cells and get some contact information. Explain that you are looking for damage or used solar cells. Offer to buy any that they have had to take back due to cracks or bad packing causing damage. They will probably be happy to give them to you for nothing more than shipping costs.

It might take a little bit of research and searching around to find used solar cells, but it is easily do-able. And what can be more rewarding than making your own solar powered system with used solar cells you paid next to nothing for?

If you are seriously considering building your own solar power system then check out this Earth4Energy review which explains step-by-step (with videos and manuals) how repair damaged solar cells and build your own solar energy system for under $200.

Further resources on Solar Power Systems can be found here: Solar Power Systems.

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 Posted by at 12:15 am