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Originally Posted by
kevinpcox The goal isn't hot air or hot water, because neither are needed in the climate of Haiti. It’s really just to provide some electricity to power lights, fans, or a donated computer. This is a rural very poor region in the southern peninsula of the country. These are subsistence farmers and there is no infrastructure of power or running water. People live in stone, concrete block, or wattle and daub houses with dug well water. The nonprofit I work with has a small clinic with imported solar panels and serves as a community center where people get healthcare and training. It's the only place that I saw outside the cities that have any kind of power at all. The goal is to get locally available materials and bring down solar cells and teach people there how to build a panel for their own house. Then they can run lights in the evening and possibly be able to work on donated laptop computers. I will donate my own money to get started and then run crowdfunding to get additional units built.
I have the Robert Smith Instructables DIY videos to start as a reference. I want to write out a materials list to see what is available locally and expect to have to bring the actual solar cells with me. In addition to providing a panel to homes one at a time, there is a goal to have the locals learn and build their own and possibly start their own business of providing for others. Many Haitian men I met have a decades-old motorbike they've repaired with whatever materials they have on hand and therefore seem like amateur engineers. I think that bringing solar knowledge could transform the region to make them more self-sufficient.
My experience of third-world equatorial Asia is that the locals will learn whatever skills you need to make the panels. They may not (initially) be able of sizing or planning an installation, but the task of assembling, soldering and putting together a workable solar panel will be learnt in short order. I've made my own panels from wafers and it's not hard at all. Good quality solder and flux are the key, along with a decent soldering iron - an adjustable butane one would be ideal. Teach them how to solder, how to test the connections and work out a plan for construction (and repair) of panels and you should be fine. A basic kit for construction should be under US$50 - butane iron, can of gas, tub of flux, 1.5mm 60/40 solder, basic digital multimeter, side cutters, good quality wire spool. I source everything off Aliexpress and you can find a specific solar panel kit designed for such a task, but just as easy to pick and choose your parts. The soldering iron and solder are the most important parts - a good iron with bad solder will make bad joints, a bad iron with good solder will make bad joints - Get the two right and its easy. Once you have some decent soldering bodies, you can make your own inverters, controllers, etc. from components - there's plenty of designs in the public domain. Components are cheap. You could end up with a cottage industry, making for other remote villages. Great project! Keep going.