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  • Solar Cell Tabs

    The solar cells I bought do not have tabs on them and I'm not sure what I need to buy to solder them together. Should I buy some electrical wire? if so what kind? or should I just get some steel wire?

  • #2
    Putting tabs on cells can be a pain. The cells are really fragile and break easily when soldering. A lot of people have tried different methods with little success and agree they are better off buying the tabbed cells rather than putting the tabs on. Usually it takes expensive equipment to put the tabs on successfully without diminishing the output or breaking them. But of course it can be done with some time and patience.

    What your going to want is tabbing wire for the solar cells. you could google "solar tab wire" and find what your looking for.

    you'll also need a "bus wire" which is pretty much like tabbing wire except it's a heavier gauge (thicker/wider) wire. It's used when you are going to attach all of your strings together. just google "solar bus wire"

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    • #3
      also, just to let you know, I moved this thread to the "Do it Yourself" section as I felt it's more appropriate there and could help out others.

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      • #4
        here is another link that may help:

        http://www.fieldlines.com/story/2007/11/15/212948/38

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        • #5
          i just found this site after looking at google and found this and it may be of help:

          "Here I've put tabs on each of the solar cells. My soldering skills leave something to be desired and soldering tabs on solar cells is extremely difficult due to how extremely fragile they are; so after breaking a few cells I opted for using wire glue. This amazingly seemed to not diminish the output from the cell over the few I managed to solder (even with some smudging). The downside is that it takes some practice to not smudge some of the glue on the cell itself, but you have the same problem with soldering anyways. Mainly if you just make sure the tab is completely un-bent before placing it on with the wire glue you can avoid any smudging by not kneading to press it on anywhere, but it takes a bit of practice. The wire glue dries relatively well to the point you can start handling the cell within about a minute or two, though it takes 24 hours or so to completely dry. Once I got the hang of putting the tabs on with the wire glue, it literally took under 30 seconds a cell to tab it and set it aside to dry."

          here is the source to check it out: http://www.hiskey.us/PhysicalComputing/Week9.aspx

          not sure how well this works, but if you try a method that works, be sure to post it on here if you wouldn't mind.

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          • #6
            I've always thought there should be a way to make a conductive glue, looks likes someones finally done it

            But checking ebay, one seller writes.....
            "If you plan to use this for solar: I recommend this for small uses with solar panels. Like when fixing broken solar cells. I do not recommend this for connecting a whole panel or replacing solder when connecting cells, resistance affects current.

            This has been used successfully to repair remote controls and also defrosters on cars - I DO NOT KNOW IF IT WILL WORK ON EVERY DEFROSTER (1 Person told me they were succesful)

            Solder is probably better for full Solar Panels!"



            Originally posted by Jason View Post
            i just found this site after looking at google and found this and it may be of help:

            "Here I've put tabs on each of the solar cells. My soldering skills leave something to be desired and soldering tabs on solar cells is extremely difficult due to how extremely fragile they are; so after breaking a few cells I opted for using wire glue. This amazingly seemed to not diminish the output from the cell over the few I managed to solder (even with some smudging). The downside is that it takes some practice to not smudge some of the glue on the cell itself, but you have the same problem with soldering anyways. Mainly if you just make sure the tab is completely un-bent before placing it on with the wire glue you can avoid any smudging by not kneading to press it on anywhere, but it takes a bit of practice. The wire glue dries relatively well to the point you can start handling the cell within about a minute or two, though it takes 24 hours or so to completely dry. Once I got the hang of putting the tabs on with the wire glue, it literally took under 30 seconds a cell to tab it and set it aside to dry."

            here is the source to check it out: http://www.hiskey.us/PhysicalComputing/Week9.aspx

            not sure how well this works, but if you try a method that works, be sure to post it on here if you wouldn't mind.

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            • #7
              Not as hard as people make it out

              I somewhat dissagree with the folks that characterize soldering tabbing wire as difficult. Yes you need to be careful with the cells and it takes a little practice but after about `10-12 cells the process went smoothly for me. I bought tabbing wire on e-bay and spent my money on the cells.

              A couple of things that helped

              After I cut the tabbing wire to length I used a wallpaper seam roller to flatten the wire so that it would lay flat on the cell while soldering

              I bought a good 50W Weller soldering iron with variable temp so that I could dial in the temp that worked best for me

              I cleaned the tip often on a damp sponge

              I bought a container of "tip cleaner & tinner" from radio shack. I found that if I dipped the soldering tip into this stuff every now and then that iron worked really well. I was able to solder the tab to the cell with a single slow but consistent stroke and tabbed 125 cells in 3-4 hours. In the process I broke only 2 cells.

              Hope this helps

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              • #8
                In my humble opinion , leaded solder 60/40 worked much better than the new unleaded. As others have stated, I got a 50 watt temp controlled iron which I use at about 70 %. Flux pens are a complete waste of time and money. Some folks say its helped them instead to use a pencil eraser to lightly scour the surface before applying heat or solder. I didn`t notice any difference. Find the right iron , buy good solder and prepare to waste some cells to get a half decent technique. I should say my cells were from mlsolar...so I am not claiming flux pens,erasers etc do not have some effect on other "brands". I was very happy with the cells I bought but have no idea why one can buy a kit which includes a flux pen that is not needed.I`m sure the guy who sells must know ! Cheers to all.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by aquabilly View Post
                  ....... Flux pens are a complete waste of time and money. .......
                  I'd have to disagree, I could see a big dif when I used the flux pen.
                  The solder just stuck much easier and stronger.

                  I spent about $17 for a 40W Weller soldering iron (with a 1/8" tip), $2 for a cheap brown power cord, and spliced in a $5 600W light dimmer switch.
                  I played with it till I found a temp just below the point where the heat would scorch the cells, you can see them discolor near the irons tip when it's too hot.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by longwolf View Post
                    I'd have to disagree, I could see a big dif when I used the flux pen.
                    The solder just stuck much easier and stronger.

                    I spent about $17 for a 40W Weller soldering iron (with a 1/8" tip), $2 for a cheap brown power cord, and spliced in a $5 600W light dimmer switch.
                    I played with it till I found a temp just below the point where the heat would scorch the cells, you can see them discolor near the irons tip when it's too hot.
                    I agree with lonewolf. I have the same setup available.

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