When you need to boost the voltage output of your homemade solar panel and you do not want to buy a voltage regulator, you could split your solar cells into two. With two halves of a 0.5V cell, you can connect them in series and get a voltage output of 1V. All that happens is your power output from the original cell is divided in two as well, so you will be left with two 0.5V 2W cells from one original 0.5V 4W cell.
Solar cells are not damaged by cutting them in half. As long as you retain the full tabs on the front and back of the cell, the divided cells with still produce the full voltage. This means that a solar cell can only be divided along lines parallel to the tab lines and can only be divided by the number of tabs. For example, if you have a double tabbed cell, you can split it into two while if you have a triple tabbed cell, you can split it into three smaller cells.
Anyone who has worked with solar cells knows that they are extremely fragile, even a small bump or nick can cause them to break in half. So you need to be extremely careful when cutting a solar cell into two. If you do land up breaking a solar cell, don’t throw it out, you can still use broken solar cells to build a solar panel.
What You Will Need To Split A Solar Cell
- A Solar Cell
- A Ruler
- A Sharp Craft Knife
How To Split A Solar Cell Into Two
To cut the cell, place the cell face down on a clean an flat surface. Place the ruler down the centre line along where you wish to split the cell. Now repeatedly run the craft knife lightly along the edge of the ruler. Do not apply too much pressure or the cell will crack. Do this until you feel parts of the cell splitting underneath the knife (the knife movement will become slightly jerky). Lift the ruler and break the cell in half along the line.
The video below shows how to do it in detail as well as the voltage measurements:
Have you tried splitting a solar cell? Let us know your tips and tricks for cutting solar cells in the comments section below.