How to Make Solar Panels

One piece of information that many green enthusiasts look for is how to make solar panels. The reality is that with the right knowledge and a few simple parts you can learn how to make solar panels, and you can do so at a cost anyone can afford.

In this article we'll talk about how to make solar panels. More specifically we'll give you a list of the parts you'll need to do make your own solar panels at home, and then give you the steps required to build your solar panels.

How to Make Solar Panels – Parts List

When it comes to making your own solar panels, cheaply, sourcing the parts correctly is everything. The basic components you will need include:

1. Solar Cells – To produce the power.

2. Tabbing Wire – To connect the solar cells together.

3. Solder – To attach the tabbing wire to the solar cells.

4. Bus Wire – To wire everything together in a series when done.

5. Plywood – To use as a backing

6. Framing material (square aluminum tubing or 1 x 2 lumber) – To build a frame on top of the plywood.

7. Plexiglas or Lexan – To seal your assembled unit up, and protect your solar cells.

8. Silicone – To ensure the whole unit is sealed up.

9. Misc Hardware – Screws, etc to put it all together.

The most important component is the solar cells themselves. For most people, a suitable solution is to choose your standard 2Watt Polycrystalline cells. These types of solar cells are less efficient than the current current thin-film cells, but the difference in efficiency is only about 7%. The cost difference is about 400% (in other words thin-film cells are expensive).

By choosing to use your standard cells, available on sites like eBay, you'll enable yourself to build a 100 Watt panel for around $ 125. Some people even opt for chipped, or B-Grade cells, that produce the same amount of power but are defective by the manufacturer's standards (ie chipped corners, etc). With this choice of solar cells a completed 100 Watt panel may cost less than $ 70.

With the parts in hand you are now ready to start putting everything together and making your solar panels.

How to Make Solar Panels – Steps Required

The steps to create solar panels are actually quite easy. If you do need help at this point we suggest buying one of the top guides to DIY solar power. They can help since they include illustration and video to show you exactly what needs to be done. Having said that the steps required really are not that difficult, and anyone is capable of building a solar panel.

Before you start you need to look at how many solar cells you have and then divide them into an even number. For example if you have 50 cells to make a 100 Watt panel, you might choose to make 5 rows of 10 cells.

Step by Step to Make Solar Panels:

1. Tab Your Solar Cells – Cut two pieces of tabbing wire for each cell. These should be double the width of a cell, and then sold those wires to the cells themselves.

2. Wire the Cells in Series – With all of the cells tabbed, beginning wiring the cells in a series. Solder the wires from the top of one cell to the bottom of the next cell (- to +). Continue this until you have the number of rows you decided on before you started.

3. Build a Panel – Using your plywood and your 1 x 2, cut the correct size to house your series of cells out of the plywood and then build a frame around it.

4. Place the Solar Cell Series in the Panel – Place your solar cells in your panel. Before you tack them down using silicone, wire two more tabbing wires to the end of each series (so that you have a + connection off one side of the series and a – connection off the other).

5. Wire it Together – Once you cells are in the panel cut bus wires that can reach across two groups of cells. Wire them together in a series so that you are wiring the positive side of one group to the negative side of the next. Continue this until all of your series are wired together.

6. Attach Your Final Wires – Take some braided copper wire and solder it to the + connection of the first series of cells, and then wire another piece to the – connection of the last series of cells. Run those wires out of the panel.

7. Test and Seal – With the wiring complete all that is left is to test your panel and then close it up. Take it out in the sun to test it. Assuming your voltage is what you expected, close the panel up using your silicon and Plexiglas. At this point you're ready to wire your solar panel into it's final position.

With just a few steps you've now learned how to make solar panels. Move on to your next panel, and start working to convert your whole home to solar energy.