DIY – Build Solar Panel

Build solar panel – it is easier to build a solar panel than one would normally think. These panels will provide free energy from the sun without emissions and very little maintenance for a lot less cost. These panels are made up of cells that are connected together to generate electricity from sunlight.

Build Solar Panel-The Beginning

With a little bit of know how, some basic tools and some good old fashion motivation, a person can build a panel and save a lot of money in the process. If you’re a competent do-it-yourself type person, some panels can be built in a single weekend.

In the event you are using a panel kit; the kit should contain all the necessary wiring instructions accompanied with a diagram and cell layout. All you need to do is follow the instructions. Many of the instructions will provide a list of materials that can be used to construct the frame of the panel and also provide dimensions the various parts need to be sized.

Here’s a great CD ROM to show you how to build panels. This CD provides a huge amount of detail to assemble your own. Not only does this CD provides information on panels, you will find information on inverters, batteries, wire sizing, fusing, charge controllers, building and electrical codes, tax credits, maintenance of systems, and how to sell excess energy generated back to the utility.

Some Instructions to Build Solar Panel

The instructions below provide a very brief step by step process, a list of parts, and where to get them. Here are some of the basic tools and other things you will need:

  • Wood working tools-a drill, saw, screwdriver.
  • A soldering iron, flux and solder.
  • Pliers, wire cutters, wire strippers.
  • Voltmeter.

Buying Photovoltaic Cells

  • First thing to do is buy your cells. They usually come in 3”x6” sizes and will produce 0.5 volts with around 3.5 amps.Most DIY panels are 18 volts which means you will need 36 cells per panel.
  • Cells can be purchased from places like eBay or Amazon. Do not buy cells of Grade B or less. Buy the best quality cell that you can find. Buy cells that are already tabbed. Cells that have tabs will make assembly much easier. Pay the extra money for the tabbed cells.
  • Cells are usually sold in quantities of 36, 100 or 108. Avoid buying in quantities of 100. Either buy in quantities of 36 or 108. With 108 cells, you can build up 3 panels.

Build Solar Panel Box/Container

  • Before soldering all your cells together, you’ll need to build a box or container that will hold your cells once soldered together. The dimensions of the box/container will be dictated by the cell layout that you choose (Many plans for panels that you can purchase over the Internet will contain different cell layouts). Most people use wood, plywood or fiber board for its construction. However, there isn’t anything to stop you from using other materials like aluminum. The cells require a substrate such as plywood for mounting.
  • Plexiglas or lexan for glazing materials. This will need to be cut to fit inside the box/container.
  • Make a hole on the side or back side of the box/container so wires can exit it. Paint the wood to protect it from the weather.

Build Solar Panel - A DIY Project

Build Solar Panel – Connecting the Cells Together

The following assumes you purchased tabbed cells. Solder together the 36 cells in your panel in a series connection. This will provide 18 volts of electricity. Purchasing tabbed cells will make the work of assembling your panel much easier and quicker since you will only need to solder the tabs to make the electrical connections. If your cells did not come with tabs, you will have the added task of soldering those on to each cell; a time consuming process.

If the charge controller you buy does not have a diode and you have storage batteries, you may want consider installing a diode to prevent the back flow of energy into the cells at night when the sun isn’t shining. This back flow of energy will drain storage batteries.

Build Solar Panel – Mounting the Cells

As you begin to mount the cells to the plywood substrate, lay them down at one string of cells at a time. Use a good quality silicone caulk. Apply a small mound of caulk to the center of the backside of the cell. Do not apply caulk to the four corners of the cell. Applying to the four corners can result in damaging the cells since plywood and the cells different expansion / contraction rates. A single mound of silicon caulk will be more than enough to mount your cells.

Finishing the Panel Construction

Now you are well on you way to completing your DIY solar panels. On the backside of the box / container, drill a hole to allow easy exit of wires. Use the silicone caulk to seal off the hole after passing the wires through it to keep bugs and moisture of out of the panel. You’ll need to decide on the type of connector to use for the solar panel based on what you connect to it.

Making Sure the Solar Panels Work

After you assemble each solar panel, take it outside and face it towards the sun. Use a voltmeter to measure the amount of voltage coming from it. The voltage should be in the range of 18 to 20 volts.

Learn about Solar Energy Advantages Disadvantages

Learn to Build a DIY Solar Powered Battery Charger

Learn about Grid Tie Systems

Learn about Living Off Grid the Solar Systems

Learn About the Solar Charge Controller

Go to Sunup Solar Power Home Page from Build Solar Panel

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