Instructables

Homemade 63 Watt Solar Panel

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.
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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.
donald77774 years ago
how are your solar panels still working?
airsofter1 (author)  donald77774 years ago
 They still work fine.

Chiana_Rei4 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.
fegundez14 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)  fegundez14 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
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