Picture of DIY Solar Panel
Creating a solar panel out of broken re-used solar cell pieces. I ordered a pack of these from http://siliconsolar.com (3$ for a bagful of them - you can order here). In addition, you will need some conductive copper mesh (available at most art stores), glue gun + sticks, a multimeter and a conductive pen (or any sort of conductive brush-on - I got my conductive silver pen here). In this tutorial I will try to explain the best technique I found to connect these broken cells, in order to create your own CHEAP solar panel.

Step 1: Get the solar cells

Picture of get the solar cells
this is how the cells can look like when they arrive
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I have a single panel 250 watts, sits on the ground outside my motor home in the woods. Northwest USA, gets full sun about 1/2 day on a sunny day and powers my laptop for several hours in the evening. If I just use it to run my LED lights then it lasts much longer. This was under $600 total (panel, battery, controller, converter, wires). But it would be nicely supplemented by one of these. Solar power isn't as hard as they want us to believe, it's not as expensive either if you Google and read through all of the choices. Good deals can be had. It just takes a little perseverance. If you don't have a TV, fridge, air-conditioning, etc you really don't need that much electric.
You can create whatever voltage you want, and whatever current you want. It's a question of how much surface area, light intensity, and cell efficiency you have. In the desert, you have lots of light, but you still need a pretty large surface area to get that much juice.
mel1215 Zafner6 years ago
By the way the higher the temperature the lower the current in a solar cell.
catdawg4265 years ago
Nice instructable! But I have the same question as george16888. What wattage could we get out of these?
Very useful tips to build cheap solar cells. Superb. Though as a newbie the whole process of making, sounds a little complex to make a meaningful amount of power. I found an another affordable and simpler way to making solar panels from damaged solar cells.
chaitanyak5 years ago
awesome! i didn't even know you could buy old broken solar cells! will order a bag soon!
jonnyds5 years ago
Where can you get the panels and silicon?Build solar guide Diy solar panels
thepelton5 years ago
Another source for solar cells. www.sciplus.com part # 37731 4.5vdc solar cell @ 50mA 8>) Don
lukeyj155 years ago
i thought that amps or mA was for measuring current
It is. Every circuit has 3 basic values: Voltage (V), current (I), and resistance (R). V=I*R. Amps is current. More cells (battery, solar, generators, etc) = add voltage in series, add amps in parallel. Resistance is variable depending on material, length and thickness.
I bought four 3cm square solar cells fixed into those solar garden lamps from my local £ shop, I'm using them to build a solar Mendocino motor, maybe if I get it right I'll do an Instructabe on my project.

bobtannica5 years ago
Very nice instructable! Clear and informative. I, too, have a question. You are connecting the front(neg) side of one piece to the back(pos) side of the next. What then is the purpose of mounting on the large piece of conductive metal mesh as in your last picture? Wouldn't this short out the circuit? Or were these first coated with silicon and the mesh merely for aesthetics? Again, really enjoyed the instructable and thanks for your time.
RahXephon5 years ago
A great instruction and easy following step for everyone who interested. It's a great idea for people who's willing to save energy and the world. I also recommend http://www.alivegreenpower.com for anyone who love this green power lifestyle.

I actually followed the advice I got from http://www.xs4all.nl/~hante/hoofdproject.html
He is great! Simple explanations and well written.

alex10213456 years ago
I can't seem to find the scrap solar cells. can anyone help me ? thanks
I bought mine from http://stores.ebay.com/SOLARCELLSMART. Pretty sure you can easily find them from many other sellers. Just be careful and check the ratings.
I am looking for the scrap solar cells too, is anyone can help us?
 I cant find them either..
go to the link : http://siliconsolar.com

and search for scrap using the web site's search feature :)
Found 'em. Thanks very much.
GeekTinker5 years ago
I would think that the Wire Glue from Think Geek would be perfect for this role.


mini_pwn5 years ago
 How do you put a silicon coating??

and nice instruct-able you made
alex young5 years ago
hello how is everyone. Can I use ordinary 60/40 solder to solder up my cells together to make a panel
yyyoshiii5 years ago
 yes i second eorges comment. 

if i made say, 1-5 sqr yards of this material (u pick how much), how much light would that produce? i think its a brilliant idea, pls get back to me!

(i live in florida, so plenty of sun)
teeps5 years ago
Could you please explain this one a bit more?  Would this be weather proof?  What would be a good protective medium for all year, outdoor use with freezing temperatures?

jimmy dean5 years ago
Is there a way to do this without a conductive pen, because those are pretty expensive (almost $30). Also, I can't seem to find broken cells on the link you gave.
I like the idea of solar power. It's really cool because it's free when you already have your own solar panel.

I can recommend you to read manual from Michael: http://www.squidoo.com/solar-panels-diy
Or read this:


Also free and with lots of information.

Has a number of video's and links to sites showing you how to build solar panels as well and the info is free.
rpvanpatt7 years ago
I am wondering how much power you can get from something like this. Also, what you could power or charge with it. Thanks
At the equator you get 1000 watts per square yard (approx)@100% E. solar cells are around 15% and if north or south of the equator you get less.
also i was wondering if the power is flowing through the mesh or what? I am new at this but I have an idea that I want to do, but i hafta figure out how it all can work first
TFrosty6 years ago
Where can you get the panels and silicon?
giladlotan (author)  TFrosty6 years ago
Unfortunately siliconsolar is out of stock. Not sure where else it is possible to find these broken cell pieces. Anybody have ideas?
Hello, my friend, i can provide you monocrystal silicon or polysilicon. If you need, please contact me. applegirl-3@163.com
Silicon Solar is in stock now. I got my order.
Ebay has them.
1oooop7 years ago
why not epoxy... like max CLR(on ebay)... well it isn't flexible... but it does protect from the weather if you plan to use the solar panel outside... and it looks cool with the silicon encased inside... and little children can't peel the silicon off... (0.o) (++)
yanggers 1oooop6 years ago
unpainted epoxy is prone to UV damage, I think.
1oooop yanggers6 years ago
oh yea huh :P... forgot. Most small solar panels actually have epoxy on them :P. I guess glass is the best bet, possibly vinyl.
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