by Duke Energy
Making solar panels at home is easy with the right materials and instructions. You can make a solar panel for as little as $ 200. The materials you will need include: solar cells, plywood or plastic board, UV protector for the plywood, Flex-Glass, tin wire at two different thicknesses, silicone, solder, solder iron and or gun, rosin flux pen, nuts, bolts, and wood or metal to use as a frame, and a junction box. You will also want a volt meter to test your panel. (You can borrow this from an electrician.)
1. Make a template. A template will make sure that each cell is placed evenly apart. You can purchase 5×5 inch cells for this project. Draw a template making sure that each cell in each row is about 1/4 inch apart. Leave a few inches on the outside edges for the frame of the panel.
2. Cut the plastic board or ply wood to the size of panel you want to build. You will want to figure out the size to cut the board or plywood. If you need 100 watts of power then you will make a panel with 50 cells. You may not need that much. If you are using plywood, then you will want to protect it with a coat of UV Guard.
3. Cut the tabbing wire: Cut the wire the same length of two cells plus 1/4 inch so if you were to use the 5×5 inch cells, you would cut the length 10 1/4 inches long. Cut two for each cell. You will be soldering half of the wire to the negative side of one cell and the other half of the wire to the positive side of the next cell. If you do not have coated wire you will need to put solder on the wires or on the tabs of each cell.
4. Use the flux pen and solder gun. Each cell will have two tabs on each side. Run the flux pen along the tab of a cell (blue side or negative side) where you are going to attach the tabbing wire. Solder the wire to the cell. Solder a second wire along the second tab. Do this with all the cells.
5. Attach all the cells in rows. Now turn the cells over and solder the excess wire to the positive side of the other cells making 5 rows of 10 cells (if you are using 50 cell panels). The negative side of cell #1 attaches to the positive side of cell #2 making sure that each cell is 1/4 inch apart in each row.
6. Attach rows using heavy wire: You are going to use the thicker wire to attach all the cells together at the ends. You will be connecting in a series, meaning negative to positive and negative to positive through the panel connecting each row.
7. Test it with the volt meter: Attach the volt meter to the wires on the cells to make sure it is working properly.
8. Use the Silicone to secure the rows of cells to the panel.
9. Put wires through the junction box: There will be two pieces of wire left over from attaching the wires in a series: a positive and a negative that you will solder to a positive and negative electrical wire. Pull through the back of the panel and into the junction box you have attached to the back of the panel with silicone. You can check out the link below to get the guide for all the details.
10. Frame it. You can use a wood border as a frame for the plywood or a metal c frame for the frame of the plastic board. Use silicone to attach the backing and then use nuts and bolt to keep it tight. Use several nuts and bolts to attach the c metal frame to the panel.
You can purchase an inexpensive step by step video guide called Home Made Energy to make the perfect solar panel. Click here for more information: Home Made Energy Review.