Introduction: DIY Solar Panels for RV or Off Grid

   This instructable is about a couple solar panels I made while traveling in our RV. I ordered 72 solar cells from ebay. It was a kit that came with cells, flux pen, and flat buss wire. The glass came from a recycle store for 5 bucks. I got the epoxy encapsulate off ebay also. I added 3 more batteries to the RV system for extra storage. The 2 panels I made are 60 watt each. I added them to a store bought panel for a total of 240 watts. On a sunny day it has put out a steady 9+ amps.

Step 1:

   I tested each cell before starting. Then soldered the tabs on. Be sure to put flux on all solder points. These were tabbed cells but i had to resolder a lot of them. Solder them + to -  in series. Be very carefull as they break easy.

Step 2:

     I arranged the cells along a straight edge and taped them. I left 1/8 inch gap between them.

Step 3:

     I put a small dab of solder on all the points first then soldered the tabs to them. I tested them after soldering them together. I made strips of 9 cells each.  Use 2 strips of cardboard for moving and flipping the cell strings over. Be very carefull as they break very easy.

Step 4:

     I layed the cell strips face down on the glass and soldered them together in series. I takes 36 cells for a 60 watt panel. I soldered the diode that came with the kit to the + end of the series and added an old lamp cord. I then poured the epoxy encapsulate from ebay over everything and carefully spread it with a paint brush, then wait and wait. It took 3 days for it to set up. I used a white garbage bag fit over the back, not really needed but it made a white background for the cells. My neighbor mounted them on the roof for me and off we went. We can now dry camp for many days without running the generator. I will try and enter this in the OFF GRID contest. I you like it, I could use all the votes I can get.

Comments

author
osprey.loop (author)2015-03-20

Great write up!! I was wanting to build one from scrach, it seems the prices on individual cells has gone up, and the cost of already assembled panels has gone down. I calculated about $110 plus about 6 hours of labor per 100w panel I could build. OR.. $130 for a Renogy 100w panel with a waranty.

author
JimmyJ60 (author)osprey.loop2017-07-11

Hi "what are you making them to sell" at that price Wow! can get two maybe three

or show me how please!

author
Lethis195 (author)2015-01-20

Can you make an ible of how you wired it to your RV?

author
osprey.loop (author)Lethis1952015-03-20

What do you need to know about wiring? I can assist if you like.

author
Lethis195 (author)osprey.loop2015-10-13

sorry for the delay in replying. I'm wanting to rig up a solar setup on my travel trailer that would be like a grid tie home system without a batter bank. Any suggestions? please pm me with some ideas.

author
moffett8 (author)2013-04-21

I have one question about encapsulation. If you have glass or polycarbonate covering the pv cells, why do you need to encapsulate them if they are already protected? It's like the pv cells are double encapsulated?

author
Schmidty16 (author)2013-01-20

isn't it a very pain staking process

author
scottlhollis (author)2013-01-04

The DIY Solar panels here looks great, the prices of Solar panels is very high and you have to build it yourself in order to lower the price, just like it is explained in this DIY Solar Panels Blog.

author
aleutianwind (author)2012-09-07

I have totaled up the project and it came to 208 dollars total or 104 for each 60 watt panel for a total of 1.73 per watt. I used sylgard encapsulant from ebay which is UV protected. My next panels will be encapsulated with a mat type encapuulate sold on ebay. much cheaper. As to the rolled panels it would take 4 0f them to get the power we have now and we don't have the roof space. The panels have been on our roof for 1 1/2 years, 22 states, over 21,000 miles and show no wear. For a test I switched back and forth between my commercial panel to my homemade and the homemade puts out 1/2 amp more than the store bought. So far we are very happy with the results and will build more when we decide to settle down. These panels were build in about 6 different RV parks.

author
vincent7520 (author)2012-09-06

Only one word to say it all : where do I vote ?...

author
finfan7 (author)2012-09-06

Very nice build. I considered doing something like this but found the price was restrictive compared to buying one already made. How much did this cost to build, if you don't mind my asking?

author
noahw (author)2012-08-30

Beautiful solar panel build aleutianwind. I'm the creator of this contest and your Instructable hits the bulls eye for the type of project I was hoping the challenge would inspire.

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