Go Down

Topic: Measuring solar panel voltage (Read 5358 times)previous topic - next topic

tlharv

Oct 17, 2012, 01:44 am
Would like my Arduino Uno to take voltage measurements of a solar panel and print the value to the serial monitor throughout the day.  Any thoughts on how I'd do that?  Is there a maximum solar cell size (voltage) that I can plug directly into the Uno?  What would I do for larger panels?

Thanks,
Tom

DVDdoug

#1
Oct 17, 2012, 02:11 am
I assume we are not talking about a 120V or 220V solar panel that powers your house?

The maximum voltage you can connect to the Arduino is 5V.

For anything that's "safe", say below 40 or 50V, you can use a Voltage Divider (2 resistors) to scale-down the voltage into the Arduino.     You don't want the voltage divider to put a "load" on the solar panel, so I'd use resistor values that add-up to around 10k Ohms.

#2
Oct 17, 2012, 02:12 am
Any voltage over ~5v will possibly kill your Arduino.

You can use a "voltage divider" (look it up) to reduce the voltage to the 0-5v range the Arduino is happy with.

______
Rob
Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com

mauried

#3
Oct 17, 2012, 07:31 am
What exactly are you trying to achieve with this measurement?
A Solar Cell is a current source , and will produce 0.5 V per cell even with only a low light level.
So a Solar panel , even in a relatively low light environment will produce close to its full voltage.
The voltage wont change much , even though the light level may change a lot.
To measure the change in light level, you need to put some kind of load on the Solar Panel and then
measure the current.

MarkT

#4
Oct 17, 2012, 05:16 pm

A Solar Cell is a current source , and will produce 0.5 V per cell even with only a low light level.
So a Solar panel , even in a relatively low light environment will produce close to its full voltage.

Ever measured a solar cell?

Indoors 0.7m from lamp: 0.27V
indoors near window: 0.37V
Outdoors in shade of bush: 0.47V
Outdoors in weak sun (breaking through clouds): 0.515V

A PV cell is not a current source.  Its a current source in parallel with a forward biased semiconductor diode(*).  When you measure the open-circuit voltage you are measuring the diode voltage with the current all flowing through the diode rather than external circuit, so it obeys a logarithmic law against light-flux.

(*) approximately.
[ I will NOT respond to personal messages, I WILL delete them, use the forum please ]

tlharv

#5
Oct 17, 2012, 11:18 pm
Thanks for the responses.  I'm mostly thinking of measuring and data-logging the output voltage of a small (5.5V, 320 mA) solar panel throughout the day, as a gauge of whether or not -- on average -- it makes sense to invest in solar power at my house.  I live in an area (Puget Sound Convergeance Zone) where direct sun is hit & miss throughout the year.

Peak voltage of my solar cell is over 6VDC, so that would probably fry the Uno.  perhaps I should find a smaller panel for my experiment.  But the question is, can I just plug the output of a smaller panel directly into an analog port on my Uno (assuming its peak voltage is under the 5V limit) and read the voltage through code?

dhenry

#6
Oct 17, 2012, 11:28 pm
Quote
But the question is, can I just plug the output of a smaller panel directly into an analog port on my Uno (assuming its peak voltage is under the 5V limit) and read the voltage through code?

You may want to put a resistor in serial. Otherwise, it is fine, assuming that you are powering your arduino separately.

Go Up

Please enter a valid email to subscribe