How to build Solar Panels in 8 Steps
Welcome DIY Fan (or not?), here you will learn how to build solar panels easily at home following step by step instructions. We will teach you what material and tools you will need in order to build a working solar panel.
Once you build your own solar panel, you will notice, it is a very satisfying feeling to build something that works and generates electricity for free and even contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions. I’m pretty sure you would want to build more than one panel to really slash down your electricity bill. Building solar panels is really fun!
Let’s get started!
You might always have been wondering how solar panels are assembled. Watch this short video about the construction process of industrial made solar panels. It is quite similar to what you will achieve when you build your own solar panel:
I hope you enjoyed the video. The cost of one of these commercially produced solar panels seen in the video is too high for most people, and it will take many years to get a return on your investment. But luckily there is a solution – DIY Solar Panels!
You can build solar panels for your home yourself for just a fraction of the cost. The only question is how to build solar panels. Read on, if you would like to find out.
Now let’s get started with our home DIY solar panel. I will show you how to build a solar panel from scratch.
First things first, we need to buy some material to make our DIY solar panel.
Here is what you need:
Untabbed Solar Cells (PV Cells): You can buy these PV cells easily on ebay. Make sure you don’t buy damaged cells, as you would need to repair them before you can use them. Look around a bit for the best offers.
Plexiglas: This is to cover the solar cells and protect them, as they break easily. You can go to your local hardware store, they will cut Plexiglas sheets in the size you want to. You can buy 2 sheets, one for the cover and one for the back. But you also can use plywood for the back of the panel. The Plexiglas should be at least 1/4 inch thick to have a good protection.
Plywood: You can use plywood for the frame of the panel and to hold the cells. But as I said before, you also can use Plexiglass for the back of the panel. It’s up to you, I would just check, which is the cheaper option for you. If you already have some strong plywood laying around your garage, use this. Don’t use plywood that is thin and not very strong. It needs to be stable.
Tin coated Tabbing Wire: You will use this wire to connect the solar cells to each other using a soldering iron. You will need two different sizes. A thin one to connect the solar cells to each other, and a thicker one to connect the several rows of cells along the sides of the panel.
Solder Iron: You will need a solder iron or solder gun to connect the solar cells to each other using the tabbing wire.
Flux Pen: This pen is made of a substance called Flux, a substance which facilitates soldering, brazing, and welding by chemically cleaning the metals to be joined. This will be helpful when you are connecting the solar cells with the tabbing wire.
Silicone: You will use the silicone to fix the solar cells to the back of the panel, and also to seal off the Plexiglas cover.
UV Guard: If you want to use wood for the frame of your DIY solar panel, you should use UV Guard to coat your frame. As the panel is exposed to the sun all day long, it will need this protection, otherwise it won’t last very long. If you use a aluminium frame, you don’t need UV Guard.
Volt / Amp Meter: In order to test the power output of the solar cells after you connected them, you will need a Volt and ampere meter, which you can buy at your local hardware store. Make sure you read the instructions how to use it.
That’s all we need at the moment.
How to build solar panels – The 8 Steps
Now we need to complete several steps in order to assemble our do it yourself solar panel:
Step 1: You should choose what size of a panel you want to build. Depending of the usage of your solar panel you need to calculate how many solar cells you would need for one panel. Depending on the size of the cells you need to calculate the size of the panel backing and cover.
Step 2: Once you have decided on the size of your panel, mark lines on the plywood or Plexiglas backing, so it will be easier to place the solar cells on it in a straight row.If you use plywood as a backing, apply some UV Guard now.
Step 3: Cut the needed number of tab wires (2 per cell) and start connecting the solar cells in rows. Before you actually solder the contacts together apply some flux with your flux pen, to make sure the connections are going to hold better. Check the output of the connected cells, with each additional cell you connect, the power output should increase.
Step 4: Once you have connected the cells of each row, connect the rows in series. That way all the cells are connected in a row.
Step 5: Place the solar cells on the marked lines of your solar panels backing and make sure they are in the same distance to each other (I would suggest around 1/4″ distance between them). Attach the cells with a small amount of silicone.
Step 6: Drill a hole in the back of the frame where the positive and the negative ends of the connecting wire (one positive and one negative) will come out.
Step 7: Place the Plexiglas sheet on the panel and attach the frame with screws. Make sure everything is tight. Seal everything with the silicone, so no water can get into your panel. Don’t forget to seal the holes, where the connecting wires come out.
Step 8: A special trick to prevent moisture inside the solar panel, is to make a small hole at the bottom of the panel, where it can breathe. Make sure to place the hole at the bottom, where no water can enter.
That’s it. Now you have built your first solar panel! It’s that easy to learn how to build solar panels.
I know, the whole process of making solar panels can sound a bit overwhelming, but there is help. I would like to recommend you a step by step video course, where you can exactly see every step of how to build solar panels explained on video, which you can pause and rewind and watch again, and then just do the same thing what has been shown in the video.
My friend from Alex has created a HD Video Course, where he will show you not only how to build solar panels step by step, but how to create a complete 1000W Solar System.
Most of the solar panel courses out there only provide written information to teach you how to build solar panels, mostly only one simple 80W solar panel. But let’s be honest, with one of these solar panels you can’t power your entire house. In change, a 1000 W Solar System with several solar panels arranged in an array can slash your power bill quite significantly. Click here to check out my friends HD Video Course. Building solar panels doesn’t get easier than that.
If you already own solar panels, and you would like to improve their efficiency, I recommend you take a look at the new Solar Tracker DIY Project my friend Alex has developed.
photo 1 by hardwarehank (flickr), photo 2 by somadjinn (sxc.hu)