Homemade 63 Watt Solar Panel

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Introduction: Homemade 63 Watt Solar Panel

I am a young person interested in solar energy. I decided to build a solar panel. I am young and if I can do it then anybody else can to. I will take you through everything from building the frame to soldering. When this is completed this will give you 63 watts of free energy that is good for camping or for small household items. Lets get started!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools

1. Soldering Iron
2. Drill
3. Caulk Gun

Materials

1. Solar Cells
2. Bus Bar
3. Tabbing Wire
4. Solder
5. Flux Pen
6. Plywood
7. Trim Pieces
8. Primer
9. Super Paint
10. Silicone Caulk
11. Wood Glue
12. 14 Gauge Wire

Step 2: Build the Frame

The frame is the easiest part of the solar panel. Take your 2 by 4 piece of plywood and glue your trim pieces to it. Now predrill some holes and screw it down with fairly skinny screws. Screw down gently and slowly. Now use primer to coat it 2 times and paint with Super Paint. I recommend Super Paint because it is high quality. Finally you should caulk with silicone on the inside edges for a good seal. I now suggest that you add 4 quarter inch holes for breathing. The holes are important so that if any moisture gets in, it can get back out easily. It is important that they are drilled on the bottom so if your panel is out in the rain, huge amounts of water won't get in. You could also seal the panel off completely, but if you don't make it in a dry room water could be trapped inside your panel. Make sure to seal the panel well or otherwise water can get in but not get back out nearly as easily.

Step 3: Solder the Cells Together

Soldering solar cells can be tricky. I recommend a low wattage soldering iron because they are lower temperature. Start with 2 cells. Use your flux pen to flux the 6 dots on the back of your solar cell. Lay the tabs from the first solar cell and lay them on top of the dots(Make sure this cell is also upside-down). Take your soldering iron and put it on the tab. Hold it there until you see heat wave go across the white dot. When you do, pull the soldering iron away. Repeat the above steps until you have three strands of 12 solar cells. Now test your 3 strands of 12 solar cells for 6 volts. If they all have 6 volts, glue the strands to your plywood with silicone. Glue them the way that works best for you.

Step 4: Solder the Bus Bar

Soldering bus bar is much easier than soldering solar cells. You also need to solder tabbing wires to the untabbed dots on first solar cell of each row. You need to take the negative wires and attach them to the bus bar and then take the positive wires and attach them to the bus bar. Then on the side of that there will be another separate bus bar that is the negative side. Do that on the opposite side and then test for 18 volts. Now solder your positive and negative wires to the bus bars. Now drill holes and run your wires through them.

Step 5: Add Plexiglass and Your Done

Silicone your wires to the plywood. Now just silicone your plexiglass on and predrill more holes and screw it on with screws and washers. Seal up the wire holes from the outside and your done. The total cost is about 200 dollars and is much cheaper than buying a solar panel. Now get started making free energy from the sun! 

P.S.  Please write comments. I love to here ideas or questions you may have. Don't forget to rate, comment, and subscribe!

 

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56 Comments

Great job and very informative. It will be interesting to learn how long the plexiglass lasts in full sunlight.

Needs to be more dtails

I want to make 4 rows of 9 or 9 rows of 4. each cell is 4W! Should I make 9 rows of 4 and use more bus bar that way or would the thinnier wire be thick enough to get all the electricity though all the 9 cells?

I will try this

You can reduce the cost by buying surplus windows at a community recycling center (waste transfer station, BRING, Community Forklift - if they have surplus toilets, you're in the right place...). Also, sealing the cells with Through The Roof seems to work pretty well to keep moisture away from them - it's cheap and it dries clear. I'll do an instructable on my method once it's all proven out in the summer heat. Nice instructions though!

Does "Through the Roof" dry semi-flexible (like a clear rubber) or rigid (like epoxy)? Rigid is undesirable because the expansion and contraction of glass and metal due to the heating and cooling cycles from day to night over time will crack and destroy the cells if you encapsulate them in rigid material like an epoxy...

If the sealant works than I'm all for it. Maybe I'll build another panel and use "Through The Roof" so it will last a long while.

What would be the recommended thickness of the plexiglass?

Nothing less than 1/4". Use a type that doesn't yellow over time in the sun. Lowes hardware stores sell this kind.