How To Build A Solar Panel From Scratch?

(De)soldering a contact from a wire.Image via Wikipedia
I’m not going to try and kid you. Solar panels are expensive. In fact, next to the storage batteries, solar panels make up the biggest financial barrier to most people converting to solar energy.

Now, you don’t need batteries if you don’t want to store your solar generated power to use at night and on cloudy days. But there is no way to produce solar energy without using solar panels.

But what if you save a bundle of money by making your own solar panels? And what if you didn’t have to be an engineer or physicist to do it?

Well, you can. And I am going to show you how it’s done.

Required Tools
You probably already have most of the tools you need if you’re an average DIY person. Otherwise, between your local home improvement and electronics store, you can get everything you need.

• Hand or electric wood saw
• Soldering iron or gun
• Paint brush
• Rosin flux pen
• Wire cutters
• Screwdriver
• Caulking gun
• Volt meter
• Plexiglas cutters
• Drill

Parts and Supplies

• 3/8 or ½ outdoor-grade plywood (4x8 sheet)
• 4/8 sheet of Plexiglas
• Tin wire
• Electrical solder
• Silicon caulk
UV-ray protective varnish
• Solar Cells (available online or at electronic supply stores)

Ready? Let’s get started.

1. Calculate the number of solar cells you need by considering that 80 cells will produce around 100 watts of power under ideal sunlight conditions. You need around 36 cells to charge an 18 volt battery.

2. Lay out your solar cells in rows and columns and then cut your plywood to a size necessary to support the dimensions you end up with. Most people use a rectangular layout, but that is not necessary. Use any layout pattern that works best with your roof and the number of solar cells you’ll be using per panel.

3. Apply the UV-ray protective varnish to all sides of your cut plywood.

4. Use the rosin flux pen to carefully apply flux to connector strips on each solar cell. Then use your solder and soldering gun/iron to connect each cell together.

5. Use dabs of the silicon caulk to attach the connected solar cells to the plywood panel.

6. Drill two small holes to accommodate the two wires leading from the last solar cell in your array. Feed the wires through the holes and then seal the holes with silicon.

7. Construct the frame that will support the Plexiglas and use silicon and wood screws to attach the frame to the plywood panel containing your solar cells.

8. Pre-drill screw holes in the Plexiglas. Then apply a bead of silicon around the edges of the Plexiglas where it will contact the frame. Press down to make a tight seal and then screw in the wood screws. Do not over-tighten or you could crack the Plexiglas.

9. Carefully inspect the assembled panel to make sure there are no gaps where moisture can enter. Seal any openings with silicon.

10. Drill a small hole on the bottom of the panel, away from all the electrical connections, to allow air to circulate through the panel and remove condensation.

Guess what? You’ve built a solar panel. Now that was easy, wasn’t it?

Article Tags: Solar Panel, Solar Cells

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Jakob Jelling runs which focuses on solar energy. Click here for a step-by-step guide to installing'>">installing your own solar panels.
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