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Materials

The materials required for this experiment:

  • 3 polycrystalline solar cells 0.5V 2.0A, 1Watt
  • 1 digital voltmeter
  • 1 ammeter
  • 1 resistor 0.25ohm 4 watt
  • 1 panel-mounted fan
  • 1 metal plate for the solar cell to be placed on (about 200mm wider and longer than the solar cell)
  • 1 metal plate with a hole for mounting the fan (about the size of the solar cell)
  • 4 pieces of pan head screws M5 x 50mm, 4 pieces of pan head screw M5 x 100mm, 16 M5 nuts
  • 2 pieces of plywood about the size of the solar cell
  • 1 handheld infrared thermometer

Procedure

  1. For this experiment, the independent variable is the operating temperature of the solar cell. The dependent variable is the power output from the solar cell. This is determined by measuring the voltage and current. The constants (control variables) are the resistor, lighting conditions and the solar cell type. The solar cells are assembled as shown in figure 1.
  2. The first solar cell is placed on a metal plate. The metal plate will become hot and increase the operating temperature of the solar cell
  3. The second solar cell is assembled using 4 pieces of 50mm screws, 4 nuts and 1 piece of plywood. This construction allows for air ventilation below the solar cell.
  4. The third solar cell is assembled using 4 pieces of 100mm screws, 12 nuts, 1 fan, 1 piece of metal plate and 1 piece of plywood. This construction allows for forced air ventilation below the solar cell.photovoltaic cell experiment
  5. This experiment is conducted outdoors, preferably at noon (12pm). The assembled solar cells are kept under the sun for 30 minutes before any measurements are taken.
  6. The resistor, voltmeter and ammeter are connected as shown in figure 2 to each cell.
  7. The voltage and current and solar cell temperatures are taken and recorded in the table below.
  8. The procedures 3 to 5 described above are done for all of the three setups shown in figure 1. The voltage and ampere readings are taken and recorded in the table below.
  9. The output power of the solar cell is calculated as follows:

    Power (watt) = voltage (volt) x Current (ampere)
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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
120
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 1 hour for experiment
Material availability:
Solar cells may be purchased from a hobby store
Safety concerns:

Heat stroke, sunstroke, dehydration - be careful when working under the sun and have an adult supervise your experiment