by PHL Council
With a little bit of time and patience, it is possible to create your own solar panel that will direct the captured energy from the sun into batteries for storage and later use. For starters, you will need some wiring knowledge, as well as tools at your disposal that allow you to create a box from wood. The size of the box you create should be directly proportional to the amount of energy you want to capture, but 5′ x 3′ is typical.
1. Using 3/4″ plywood, create a base for your solar panel. The size mentioned above should be divided in half so that when the tray is complete, it will be able to hold two solar panels. This step requires decent knowledge of woodworking, so have someone help you if you do not possess the tools yourself.
2. Coat your box with UV guard to protect it from the sun. You should coat it three times to be sure it is fully protected. If you cannot find UV Guard, then deck sealers and paint will work, but you may need to coat the panel up to 10 times for these to be effective in protecting the wood from the sun’s UV rays.
3. Masonite pegboard will need to be cut to fit into your solar panel. It should fit snugly, so use accurate measurements when cutting. Once the peg board is cut, coat it with UV Guard before you install it. Other materials that can be used include sheetrock and cardboard, if you do not have any peg board. The material used must be non-conductive.
4. Solar cells are most commonly sold in batches in the size 3″ x 6″. Some are pre-wired together while others are not. How you proceed from here will determine on the cells you purchase for your panel. If you have purchased unwired cells, you will need to wire them into the series.
5. To hold the solar panels in place, use a small dot of caulk on the under-surface of each panel. You do not need to coat the entire panel, as this will prevent the cells from moving in harsh winds and possibly cause them to break.
6. For pre-wired solar cells, you are ready to install the Plexiglas shield that will keep your panel safe. For cells that still need wiring, you will need to make sure each cell is wired into the other before you install this shield.
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