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Choice of Amorphous Silicon Solar Cells

Amorphous Silicon, Why?



Past experience tells me that a good starting point for conversion of low light levels to electrical current is amorphous silicon solar cells.

Amorphous silicon is very inexpensive and easily accessible. Digi-Key has several available in different sizes:


Where to get some Amorphous silicon solar cells cheap?

For this effort, we will use amorphous solar cells from very very cheap $1-2 USD calculators.


These calculators can be purchased from places such as Wal-Mart. In places like Amazon you can find a 5, 10, or 100 pack of these. (different brands, all the same internals.) After having opened many of these over the last decade, I have come to the opinion that they are all most likely coming from the same factory.



Removing the solar cell:

Removing the solar cell is simple, disordering the two leads from the mainboard will release the solar cell. Most commonly, there will be SUPER sticky foam on the back of the cell. Pro Tip: Use a heat gun on the foam, the foam contracts, and shrinks, and the adhesive becomes thin making a clean removal every time. If you attempt to peel off, the adhesive will win and the foam will tear.





What solar cell comes inside?

After much research, it seems that these solar cells may indeed all come from just one or two manufactures. The most popular I have seen are:
  • SCNE or VIMUN
    • In this case, SCNE SC-2509-4 (for lost Googling souls) 👋
    • The final digit I think is a sequence number when the panels are made. Likely as a giant sheet, then laser cut to single cells.
  • Panasonic


What's next then?

In a later blog post, we will measure and analyze these solar cells and compare them to each other.  Spoil warning, no two are alike as evidenced by the endurance testing I am putting them through. Some vary by 20%, stay tuned for the next post.



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