I became interested in solar panels and making my own for my garage so that I could do more household projects. I don't have an electrical degree but with the vast amount of knowledge, tips and tricks regarding building solar panels on the interweb, I wanted to consolidate and share my project with those who are also interested in making a solar panel out of quality materials that will last for more than 15 years.

Step 1: Tools

Most of the tools needed are for constructing the aluminum frame. I decided to make my own frame just to save a few bucks. My plan was to make a panel to closely mimic one you could purchase fully constructed from a retailer but to cut cost by doing it myself from the ground up. The frame is the main piece where doing it yourself will save your wallet. Well, that and obviously wiring the cells yourself, too.

Mitre Saw
Measuring Tape
Box Cutter or Scissors
Metal Working Drill Bits (makes drilling the aluminum a little easier)
Speed Square
Soldering Iron
Clamps, Makes using the mitre box easier
Caulking Gun
Sockets (I list these only to be used as weights to weigh down the panels when wiring these in series. This will make more sense later.)

Amazon.com: 100W panel, $149 with free shipping
<p>That panel is made with 1/8&quot; glass; I made mine with 1/4&quot; glass to withstand the weather and foreign material so that it will last longer. Using a thinner glass will make the cost go down, but the panel is then more susceptible to hail, falling branches, weight from snow, etc. This way, the panel will be able to be in use for 15-20 years just by spending slightly more on the 1/4&quot; glass, rather than having it break after one winter by going with the 1/8&quot; glassm that the panel on amazon uses. </p>
<p>Great write up, however I didn't see where your blocking diode came into play at. Did it get wired in and encapsulated or was it located somewhere else in the wiring of the cell?</p>
Oh, man, you are absolutely right! I chose to leave mine out because most charge controllers prevent a back discharge to the panel, which is the same job as the diode. However, to install it, place it in between the Back (Positive) bus and the associated output wire. Also, Ensure! that the grey line is facing the wire end and the dark black part of the diode is facing the bus. Double check me on that with your multimeter just to be on the safe side! Thanks for the heads up.

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