The best DIY projects are ones that are challenging but not so difficult that they drag on for months or years. And, of course, it’s an added bonus if your completed DIY project brings some measurable value to your home. Building a solar panel is one such project. It is fun, interesting, relatively easy to complete, and, when completed, can help reduce your monthly electricity bills. In this article I will discuss the tools and supplies needed to build a solar panel, and I will give you two good building options.
Building a solar panel is a wonderful weekend project that does not take any special or expensive tools. In fact, you’ve probably got everything you need. Do a quick check with this list to see for yourself.
- Screwdriver set
- Wrench set
- Soldering iron
- Wire cutters
As you can see, you just need the basics. If you don’t have a soldering iron, don’t worry. You can pick one up for about 10$. In addition to basic tools, you’ll need some supplies. With the exception of solar cells, you can get everything on the list below at your local hardware store.
- Wood–for a frame and for backing (aluminum frames are better if you can work with metal)
- Plexiglas paneling (or glass, if you prefer)
- Black paint
- Eva glue
- Ribbon wire
- Tabbing wire
- Blocking diodes
- Solar cells
When shopping for solar cells, first decide what you intend to use your panel for. If you want to provide power to your home, for example, you will need higher quality cells. If you are just going to use it for fun stuff, like powering a portable stereo, you can buy cheaper cells. If you go to eBay, you can even get “grab bags” that are full of broken cells. I’ve seen them for as low as 10 dollars a bag. They are irregular, but they function well, and, if you like, you can use them to create an artistic looking but still fully functional solar panel. There is one thing you want to avoid when buying solar cells–wax. Some manufacturers coat their cells in wax that must be stripped off before being used. The process is difficult, time consuming and wholly unnecessary–just buy cells that haven’t been coated.
When building a solar panel, you have two options. You can buy a kit that just requires assembly, or you can buy a set of solar panel plans and do the fabricating yourself. Both projects can be completed in a weekend. If you are an experienced DIY person, you may find that assembling a kit is a little boring. Building a solar panel using solar panel plans is more challenging but still easy to complete in a weekend, even for a beginner DIY enthusiast.
Building a solar panel is a fun, safe, interesting project that everyone in the family can help out on. Your completed panel, if built correctly, will take free energy from the sun and convert it into valuable electricity for your home, lowering energy costs and saving you money. This makes building a solar panel a DIY project that is not only enjoyable, but also valuable.