Instructables
Picture of 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!
 
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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

Picture of 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.
a5858522 days ago

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?

mine10015 months ago
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...

It's like a clear soft rubber.

airsofter1 (author)  hardwarehank3 years ago
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.

airsofter1 (author)  iknowirule31 year ago
I can't remember the exact thickness I used, but just about anything at your local hardware store should be just fine.
mcarrell8 months ago

This shouldn't be the last step. You MUST seal the air out of the panel (at least the cells must be completely sealed away from touching air because the air will corrode the cells, oxidize them). A two part mix of a solution commonly sold on eBay to encapsulate the sells is sufficient and proper to keep air and water from ruining your panel over time.. If air is allowed to swirl freely around the cells, they will drop down in power much quicker over time than ones sealed with a proper sealant plus if the frame leaks it will rust the cells and wiring connections. Take this precaution and protect your panels!

mine10011 year ago
Cool
navigxmen1 year ago
thinks
budiyanto4 years ago
hello sir.sorry i cant speak inggris. but i have very much guestion.for you sir.I from Indonesia.my guestion like this :
1. do you can make silicon solar for step by step
2. what from
Iam Sorry sir
Hi there!
Let me give you some insights about what you are asking for..
1. It would be more expensive to build your own silicon solar cells. Only consider doing that if you're thinking about building a factory for it, considering that you will have to procure machinery, equipment, and materials. And I assume that you will never find materials sold on a retail basis at a good price. If you want to make a solar cell, follow the link below. However, it is not using silicon and it is not that as efficient.
http://www.instructables.com/id/My-home-made-solar-cell-1/

2. If you're looking for pre-made solar cells or solar panels, I suggest you check look for local supplier in the internet and not from overseas. Importing items from overseas could have heavy taxes (just like in my country) but it depends so you better research and consider that as well. Buying from a local supplier means that you will get the items fast, gives you the opportunity to see the items personally prior to purchase, and benefits your country because a local businessperson will be the one to earn the profit.

I hope that helps! :)
airsofter1 (author)  budiyanto4 years ago
 If you mean making the solar cells, you can't. You can buy them from ebay. If you mean making silicon the glue/sealant, you can't. You can buy it from any hardware store or even Wal-mart.
Actually, you can. just not long lasting or that powerful.
airsofter1 (author)  farmerboyk2 years ago
That is what I mean, nothing viable.
Walmart has to get it from somewhere. This guy made a homemade solar cell with copper http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5Edw99PgzQ
imajem3 years ago
Does anyone know how to feed the energy back into the grid? That would be helpful?
Grid tie inverter.
airsofter1 (author)  imajem3 years ago
http://www.solarpowertoptips.com/grid-tied-solar-system.aspx 

This should tell you what you need to know.
kktwags4 years ago
I made 4 60 watt solar panels , they work great for the most part , we installed them on our awning with 2x4's unerneath for air to get through however we are having major moisture issues.  when we built the first two we thought it was because we used to much silicone and didn't seal up the sides good enough but we just built two more with alot less silicone and we sealed the sides with aluminum tape however there is still alot of moisture in the panels.  It always starts with a fog and then turns into alot of water droplets.   Do you or anyonelse have any suggestions on how to fix this or why this is happening. Wehaven't been able to come up with any other reason.
paqrat kktwags3 years ago
It sounds like condensation to me. Perhaps moisture laden air, trapped in the panels is condensing on the glass during the cooler times of the evening? If it was mine I think I'd see about opening some holes, perhaps underneath so rain coming in would not be a problem.
If you have the solar panel sealed good and you are still getting moisture,water or fog,then the next thing is vent holes to let it out, i would try at the top of the panel under the panel, OR two sets of air holes and a little fan to dry it up this is good in the summer to keep the solar cells cooler becouse they work much nicer when they are cooler ANY WHAY!
you may not have a moisture issue in the winter as much
but with the wood panels most need the vent holes not big but small to get it out

So far i my all glass diy solar panel is doing good with no water,or moisture getting in i have made two so far,i have made the wood frame diy and i still like them they just need a little more work but they are fun to build

this is my all Glass solar panel

https://sites.google.com/site/earthforsolar/glass-frame-diy-panel

David
have you thought about mounting a computer fan in the box? It shouldn't be any drain at all on the power. If you got some air flow through the box I don't think you would have a problem.
airsofter1 (author)  Grey_valentine3 years ago
I don't think there is enough room on the sides of the cells to fit a computer fan in there. That is a great idea though.
Professional panels have cells that are encased in a polymer. The most popular is called SLYGARD. You pour it over your cells and they are completely protected. It's not cheap though. But will it cost if your cells get damaged or corrosion destroys them?
airsofter1 (author)  rcisneros4 years ago
I don't think its worth it unless your solar panel is your only source of power and needs to last for 20 years. That will outlast the frame.
I think your right. That stuff is too expensive for me, but that will solve the problem
airsofter1 (author)  rcisneros4 years ago
It could be worth it for kktwags to use since it seems that they use their panels' power on a regular basis.
airsofter1 (author)  kktwags4 years ago
This has happened to my panel to. Did you drill holes in the bottom like I did? If you did that is why there is moisture in there. You can seal those holes up with a little bit of silicone. If you did not drill holes it is because there was probably a little bit of moisture in the panel when you sealed them up and it just keeps evaporating and condensing. To fix that you have to unscrew the plexiglass and let it air out, then put new silicone on and screw it back on. When it fogs up it doesn't seem to affect its output at all. Hope this helps. 
andrew thanks for your info, however i didn't drill any hole and we did unscrew them and air them out and still fogs up.  I know it really don't seem to affect the output however it did rot the wood at the bottome and corode the one bus wire.  Any other suggestions
airsofter1 (author)  kktwags4 years ago
The only thing I can think of is to let them air out for a couple of days in a warm, super dry place. Maybe even use a hair dryer to dry it out. After that seal it up again and with aluminum tape. I guess this sort of stuff just happens when it is not proffesionally built. Also, make sure the sides of the plexi glass are not lifting up from the silicone. When it lifts up just put a screw where it lifted. That should help keep more moisture from getting in. Good luck.
andrew i already did that  this past weekend with the aluminum tape and airing them out and it still does it
airsofter1 (author)  kktwags4 years ago
Drill holes in the bottom. It will still fog up but it will go away as the day warms up.
not sure if this will help but have you thought of a way to maybe make it vacuum sealable?  you are getting fog and water droplets for the same reason we get dew.  the air inside has moisture in it, especially if it is made on a warm day.  warm air can hold more moisture than cold(why you get dew when it starts to get cold).  if you seal it up, and the air temperature drops then the moisture come out(fog and water droplets).  not sure if it will help but i think if you wait till a cold day to make it, then vacuum out as much air as possible before you seal it up it might help.

like i said, not an expert, just what i think is happening and a possible fix
just spit-firing ideas but maybe make in a room with dehumidifier? never used one and have no idea how effective they are but just another suggestion.
mcarrell3 years ago
Try filling the air-gap between glass and panels with clear epoxy (the type that doesn't yellow). That will solve the moisture issue for certain.
rocketman203 years ago
How much did all the solar cells cost
airsofter1 (author)  rocketman203 years ago
105 dollars.
I added this page to my link page. This is a nice looking solar panel
this is the link
http://www.solarcells101.com/index2.php

Thanks for sharing you DIT Solar Panel
David
Pal4 years ago
I'm curious if there's a good reason for trying to seal these up to be airtight? If you could make the panel strong but leave say most of the back side open, so the top was solid and the sides flashed to prevent rain from hitting anything, would this cause trouble over time?

Plywood will absorb the moisture in the air over time even if primed and painted, so eventually there will be moisture inside the panel. Fogging will be an issue over time if the system can't be ventilated, just like a double paned window where the interior seal fails.
airsofter1 (author)  Pal4 years ago

Fogging is not a huge issue for me because my panel has holes in the back of it, so as soon as it warms up a little bit it un-foggs.

ourmoneypit4 years ago
You know those little silica gel packets that come with so many things these days to protect them from moisture during shipping?  Maybe tucking one of those into the unit along the side somewhere, where it wouldn't interfere with the operation/sun capture would address the moisture issue?

I always save them 'just in case' - our cottage is damp and I use them to protect things (like a vintage clock I love).
GreenD4 years ago
Rather confusing - you just stated that you connected your positive and negative tabs to the same bus bar... You should (have) take(n) a picture of the overall layout - and indicate where your positive & negatives are going, justa  thought.
You connect each cell in a ceries wiring so the cells are connected from +  to  -.
[-+] [-+] [-+] [-+] [-+] [-+] [-+] [-+] [-+]       ([-+] solar cell)    
each cell only puts out .5  volts so this type of wiring gives you a higher voltage.
airsofter1 (author)  GreenD4 years ago
Yeah, I guess I said that wrong. I will try to get a picture explaining it better. Thanks for pointing that out.
tjmalek4 years ago
Where are you feeding your electricity to? I've thought of using Li-ion batteries to store the energy then using that to charge other things, but LI batteries aren't cheap. Rechargeable NI-Hydride batteries seems bulky and impractical. And, after buying a meter, array DC disconnect, inverter and an AC breaker panel, feeding the energy back into your grid can cost quite a bit also.
airsofter1 (author)  tjmalek4 years ago
 If you use it for camping then a couple of deep cycle batteries wired in parallel hooked to a 12 volt inverter is just fine. If this is for whole house AGM or gel batteries are good because they can take abuse. They are sealed sealed so they don't need watering. As of right now the panel isn't hooked up to anything as it will be used for camping.
donald77775 years ago
how are your solar panels still working?
airsofter1 (author)  donald77774 years ago
 They still work fine.

Chiana_Rei5 years ago
Any wood will split if you just try to slam a screw into it. Just predirll a pilot hole a little smaller than your screw, it will prevent splits and also help with getting the screw in straight, I would go back and at least tack the trim down with brads. I don't think I would trust that much money in parts and that much time to glue alone. Also a few more pics of the process and more detailed instructions would benefit this ible greatly, Good start just needs a bit of polish.
fegundez15 years ago
where and at what price did you get the cells? A few pictures of the process will be great as well. The panel looks great
airsofter1 (author)  fegundez15 years ago
I got the cells off ebay for 105 dollars. I ordered 50 so I had 14 extra cells. These cells are pretabbed which are the ones I suggest buying. 36 pretabbed cells ( how many I actually used) cost 79.95. You can also order from Everbrightsolar.com