Instructables
Picture of DIY Solar panels for RV or off grid
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   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.
 
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Step 1:

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   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:

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

Step 3:

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     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.
moffett81 year ago
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?
Schmidty161 year ago
isn't it a very pain staking process
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.
aleutianwind (author) 2 years ago
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.
Re soddering the cells....

"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."

Should be reworded:

"Be careful as they break VERY VERY easily."


Nice pics, well written, good job.

vincent75202 years ago
Only one word to say it all : where do I vote ?...
finfan72 years ago
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?
noahw2 years ago
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.