Several years ago I built a 60 Watt solar panel
. It's a great panel. I still use it a lot. However, it is big, and heavy, and I don't always need 60 Watts of power. Sometimes I just need a little power for a portable device or two. I'd like to be able to charge up my cell phone, or MP3 player without having to lug around the big solar panel. I'd also like the panel to be more compact and easier to pack when I am traveling light. So I decided to build a 15 Watt Solar panel that folds up to be more compact. Some people may complain that it is too much effort, and doesn't save enough money to make it worth the trouble of building their own 15 Watt panel. For me though, it is all about the joy of building. Anybody can buy a solar panel. How many people build their own? Plus it folds up, which most commercially made panels don't do.
I experimented with putting plexiglass covers over both halves of the panel, but in the end decided not to use them, so those steps are omitted from this Instructable. You can see the mistakes I made, and the omitted steps, and lots more about constructing this solar panel
on my web site
. See also my home-built wind turbine
and home-built biomass gasifier
alternative energy projects while you are at my web site.
Here is a video walk-around of the finished solar panel. This Instructable will explain how I built it.