Most existing guides and resources make the process of solar panel construction far more complicated than it needs to be. The truth is, building your own solar panels doesn’t have to be hard – it’s only hard if you start it without having a clear idea of what you need to do and how to get there. I cover this in more detail in my article on how to create solar panels, but here’s a quick overview of the process and just how easy it really is:
1. First, decide if you actually want to build your own solar panel at all – you can often get them for free from neighbors, from the hardware store, or even from highway patrol. So don’t assume that you need to even construct your own solar panel in the first place!
2. If you do want to go ahead with the solar panel construction, here’s what you need to get started:
First, you might be tempted to completely eliminate your electric bill with your own DIY solar panels, but I would actually recommend against doing this for your first project. It’s best to start small and take it from there – try building a simple 40 or 50-cell solar panel first, see how that goes, and then adapt accordingly.
Here’s how you can set up your first solar panel “experiment”:
First, gather the necessary parts – maybe 40 or 50 solar cells off eBay, some plywood (cut to the necessary length and width), as well as tabbing wire, solder, and a rosin flux pen. Then, arrange the solar cells in series, face-down, and drop a small amount of solder onto each of these tabs.
Then, wire all these cells together by attaching wire from the back of one cell to the front of another cell, and so on until everything is connected. Next, connect each individual row together in parallel, and then fix the cells to your plywood using silicone.
Finally, drill some holes at the bottom of the plywood for positive and negative wiring from your solar cells – and then connect these to your inverter before connecting them to the power box on your house.
If you’re uncomfortable with this last step, you can always get an electrician or the power company itself to help you out – it can be tricky to get everything perfect on your first try, and if you’d rather not risk it, going to the “experts” is always a viable option.
This is a very quick overview, but you get the basic idea just from this article – the most tedious part of this whole process is wiring the solar cells together, but you’ll get better at it with time and practice.