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How to Make Your Own Solar Panels- a DIY approach!

Updated on July 18, 2012

Making a solar isn't that difficult- you just need to be a quick learner!

With the increasing prices of electricity all over the world people are moving towards renewable energy resources like solar and wind energy for producing cheap electricity. The problem with using wind energy is that it does not provide enough power and can operate only in windy conditions. On the other hand solar panels that use sun energy for producing electricity are too highly priced. One way out of this problem is to make your own solar panels.

Making a solar panel is not as difficult as you might think it is. There are only a few basic things you should know about electrical equipment and you can easily make a solar panel all by yourself which will rival the company made solar panels for power but will only cost you a fraction of their price.

Required Components

As is the case in manufacturing any other product, there are few components that you need to accumulate before you start making your solar panel. You will require

· Some plywood for the panel frame

· A non-conductive material like a Masonite peg-board that will act as substrate

· Solar cells

· Soldering equipment for making connections between the solar cells

· Schottky diode

· Electrical wires

· Sheet of covering material like Plexiglass to keep the solar panel safe

· Silicone caulk for pasting the solar cells to the substrate

· A few screws to secure the Plexiglass on top of the wooden panel.

Purchasing all these items is not going to be very tough as all these things are commonly available at hardware stores or can be bought online.

Solar cells- How to choose them

The Solar cells are the most important component of a solar panel and are the first thing you should get your hands on. New solar cells can cost a lot of money so it is better to buy second hand or slightly damaged ones from websites like EBay. Since the slightly damaged or blemished solar cells can almost provide the same amount of power as the new ones there is no harm in using them. However, you must be extra careful in choosing these used solar cells. Most solar cell dealers cover them up in wax to keep them stabilized and free from harm. Try to avoid buying these solar cells as it would be very difficult for you to get them cleaned up. It is better to buy solar cells of the same type and size as they would complement the solar panel better than a mix and match of different type and differently sized cells. Take extra care when handling these cells because they are very fragile and can get damaged if handled casually.

Start building the solar panel

After having bought all the equipment, it’s time to start building the solar panel.

Construct the Panel

Because of the fragility of the solar cells it is better to make the panel first and then install the cells in to the panel later on. The panel should be designed like a shallow box with very small side edges whose shadows must not block out the sunlight from reaching the solar cells. The size of the panel is up to you but always remember that a large sized panel would be heavy and would require a lot of solar cells to fill it while a small sized one would be portable and would require less number of cells. The substrate to be placed on the panel and the plywood that is to serve as the panel should both be thoroughly painted so that they can withstand the weather and the moisture. Leave some vent holes at the bottom of the wooden panel to keep the air pressure balanced inside the panel and outside it.

Start connecting the solar cells

After the panel is ready, start work on connecting the solar cells together in series connection. If the solar cells you bought have metal tabs on them then it would be easy for you to solder the cells together so always buy those solar cells that have metal tabs present on them or you will have to solder the tabs on the cells yourself besides soldering the cells together. Soldering should be done very cautiously and with a very light hand or the cells might get damaged during the soldering process. Remember to join the negative tabs which are on the front of the first cell with the positive tab present on the bottom of the second cell. The same soldering method should be used for all the cells until all the cells are soldered together in a series connection.

Install the cells into the Panel

The next process after soldering is done is to glue the soldered cells on the substrate present on top of the panel. For gluing purpose the use of silicone caulk is advisable as it does not interfere with the solar cells. However if you put a lot of glue in between the substrate and the cells it can damage the cells. So, only apply the glue on the centre of the cells and paste them on the substrate after the silicone caulk has dried out completely. Now, link all of your cells with a wire and pass it out of one of the vent holes left open at the bottom of the panel. Use the silicone caulk to keep the wire secured along the edges of the solar cells.

Before putting the Plexiglass on top of the solar cells placed inside the wooden panel connect the Schottky diode with the solar cells. This diode is going to serve as the blocking agent preventing the voltage to flow towards the cells when the sunlight goes out. This way the battery you are charging with the solar panels is not going to get discharged by the cells when they stop getting power from the sun. After connecting the diode, put the Plexiglass on top of the wooden panel and secure it with screws. Now connect the wire coming out of the solar panel to a plug and then to a battery and start harnessing energy from the sun.

So, you see making a solar panel is not very difficult at all. All you need is a few components and you can make your own solar panels with ease just by following the afore-mentioned instructions.

P.S. I made one after reading some great stuff and thought of sharing my own experiences here. Hopefully everybody will find this useful!

A seriously helpful Video


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    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      Very good information you have provided here, I'm sure it would be well worth the effort to make and use some of these to provide or supplement some of our power needs. I voted this up and useful.