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I am currently involved in a photovoltaic systems engineering project at the University of Calgary and I am interested in purchasing around 30 solar panels of an irregular rhombus size: roughly

Does anyone have any ideas for how I can order or construct custom solar panels which will be of this size?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, why does the shape need to be irregular? What drives the shape? What are these panel powering? Finally, your drawing and post do not have dimensions or scale. We can't tell if the panel is 1cm or 1m across. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev May 15 '14 at 4:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev: The shape is due to the result of a geometry and optimization project, I can't release more details due to the confidentiality of the project. The panel size is scalable, we would be happy with any reasonable size. \$\endgroup\$ – Samuel Reid May 15 '14 at 4:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cells for PV are of regular shape (generally) so you will have gaps of unused space if you go for a irregular shape. Apart from that you should care about the proper interconnection and intermediary circuitry as your cells won't be (I guess) evenly irradiated (look into partial obstrucion of classical arrays). You probably won't be able to buy it off the shelf. Try buying single cells and build your own array. Try to find the smallest single cells possible because of the gaps. One more important thing is to look at the characteristics of the cells if irradiated from non perpendicular angles. \$\endgroup\$ – WalyKu May 15 '14 at 4:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might be able to find a manufacturer that would be willing to make these for you to maximize the coverage; constructing them from prefabricated cells will almost certainly result in unused surface area at the borders, and be genuinely difficult to hand wire. If it were my project, I'd take whatever theories and proofs I had and look for potential partners. If it's confidential, partners and sponsors are fairly familiar with nondisclosure agreements. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Boddy May 15 '14 at 5:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ It just occurred to me that you might be playing with non uniform distribution of solar irradiation. If you are, be mindful that under low light conditions, the low flux regions could behave as if obstructed and subsequently burn out. Whatever you do, make sure you install protection diodes or your expensive prototype could turn into a paperweight. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Boddy May 15 '14 at 5:36
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You can try to cut standard panel into that shape.

Few youtube videos:

  1. How to cut solar cells
  2. Cut solar cells in custom sizes.
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It appears that you can just treat solar cells as small glass tiles, so if you're prepared to do some careful soldering to the tabs you can make a panel from arbitrary shapes: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-high-powered-solar-panel-from-broken-solar-/

So you would order square cells, then use the score-and-snap technique to trim them to the nearest rhombus.

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