Solar Panel How to Build
In this article “Solar panel how to build” I will give you a very detailed overview of all the steps necessary to build a fully functioning electricity producing solar panel.
This process is very straight forward and does not require a lot of do-it-yourself expertise.
Before we start this “solar panel how to build“ guide, I would like to point out that a solar panel is nothing more than a box that contains a number of individual solar cells that are wired together in series.
Solar cells are the electricity producing units and they are actually very fragile and easy to break. The main purpose of putting them into a box (the panel) is to protect them from harsh weather and environmental conditions and anything else that may cause damage to them.
The two main ingredients, therefore, for building an electricity producing solar panel are solar cells and a box. Therefore, this “solar panel how to build“ manual will cover the three main aspects: solar cells, the box and the assembly.
Even though it is possible to build solar cells yourself, this is not recommended for the novice. Instead, in this “solar panel how to build“ article I recommend you purchase solar cells that are new but second rate blemished or slightly damaged cells.
These factory-second rate solar cells can be bought at places like ebay for a fraction of the cost of first grad new solar cells.
These solar cells are considered second rate because they usually have small chips. Inspite of those small imperfections these solar cells still work just fine.
For our purpose in this “solar panel how to build“ introduction I recommend you buy 3×6 mono-crystalline solar cells. Each cell produces ½ volt.
36 cells in series produce 18 volt or about 60 watts of power in bright sunlight.
Of course, you can also buy larger cells that can produce more electricity each but then your overall solar panel will become much bigger in size, too. To start with I recommend 3inch by 6inch solar cells.
Since solar cells are very easy to break many manufacturers put them together in blocks and then dip them in wax.
The advantage of this method is that they are easier to transport without damaging them. The drawback is that you need to clean the wax off of them before you can use them.
Instead, look for solar cells without wax if you can. That will make the assembly process much easier.
As we intend to solder our solar cells together you should buy cells with metal tabs on them.
Otherwise, you will have to solder these tabs on yourself and that will increase the amount of soldering you have to do.
The panel itself is nothing else but a shallow box large enough to hold all 36 solar cells in place.
In this “solar panel how to build“ overview we cannot cover the process of making a simple box in detail.
A single piece of plywood with a ¾ inch high frame around the edges will be fine. The box should have some holes for air ventilation and for moisture to dissappear.
Inside this box you can fit another thin piece of non-conducting material onto which the actual solar cells will be fixed. You then need plexiglass to seal the box to protect the solar cells from the elements.
Of course in this article “Solar panel how to build” I can only give you a summary of the assembly process.
Step 1: Build the basic box
Step 2: Put several coats of paint on the plywood, the frame and the thin non-conducting material to protect it from the weather and from moisture
Step 3: Remove the wax from solar cells
Step 4: Draw the outline of how you want to layout the solar cells onto the thin non-conducting material
Step 5: Put solar cells in place on the thin non-conducting material facing down
Step 6: Solder tabs on the back of each solar cell
Step 7: Glue the solar cells onto the thin non-conducting material in their final positions
Step 8: Solder the cells together in series
Step 9: Place the non-conducting material with the attached and soldered solar cells into the box and fix it into place
Step 10: Let the wires exit at the back of the panel and connect an appropriate plug
Step11: Add a blocking diode to prevent the solar cells from consuming electricity during night time
Step12: Cover the box with the plexiglass.
Step 13: Use silicon caulk to seal the holes where the wires exit.
The main purpose of these “solar panel how to build” instructions is to show you how easy it is to build your own fully functioning and electricity producing solar panel.
Before you start building your own solar panel, however, I recommend you get your hands on some professional “solar panel how to build“ instruction manual, preferrably with video instructions and support staff that you can contact should you have any questions during the building process.
I hope you have enjoyed this article “solar panel how to build“ and I wish you success building your first electricity producing solar panel.