Instructables
Picture of How To Build A Solar Panel
Currently I'm a college student studying computer engineering, and this summer while I was on break I decided I wanted to learn more about solar energy and how to build a solar panel from scratch. My main reason for looking to build it myself was to learn how it all worked, and the next reason was due to the price of a commercially built solar panel.

So to get started, I searched around and found a few videos here and there, and a few articles on how to go about building a solar panel, but it was hard for me to find a full free video or article that showed you the full process to making a solar panel from scratch. I ended up having to watch about 4 different videos, and then having to sign up for a forum to ask other questions I had in order to get a basic idea of how to go about building my own solar panel.

It was basically an adventure for me, and mid-way into the project, I decided that while I'm learning about how to build a solar panel, and putting it together, why not create a free video to help others that want to learn about solar energy and how to build a solar panel. Of course it takes time to edit the video, and time to create a website, but I see it as a small great way of giving back.

So, you'll learn how to build a 63 watt solar system in this instructable with free videos to help you get started. I know I'm a visual learner, so hopefully most find this very helpful.

For the full video series, simple visit my website at: http://www.greentechtown.com/how-to-build-a-solar-panel-diy


 
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ZDIY1 month ago

The link to your site seems to be a dead link, where can I find the video series you mentioned?

damonboy7011 month ago

hi, it's very interesting project. Just wondering where you bought your solar cells from?

hastyhost (author)  damonboy7011 month ago
I bought them off of eBay. This was 4 or so years ago, but you should be able to still find them. Just type in Solar Cells in the search field, and you should get quick a few results.

thank you very much, sir. This definitely is going to help me on building one of these solar panels. I am in Canada. Do you remember you paid any import duties on this?

A tip for drilling plexiglass: Buy a cheap steel drill bit of the size you need. Before using it on the plexi, run it into a piece of concrete for a few moments. This dulls the edge just right so you can slowly chew through the plexi without cracking it, and without the bit trying to pull itself through faster than it's cutting. You can get specialized plexiglass/acrylic drill bits, but they cost alot. An aquarium friend of mine shared this tip with me for small numbers of holes, and it really works.

Another method that works 95% of the time is to step up in size. Always drill a pilot hole :) about 1/8, or 3/16 max. the thicker the plexi the smaller you want. and step up in incriments of 1/4 to 3/8 at most. Works 95% of the time.

if you have any experience with sharpening drills, you can also use shallower lip angle so the edges don't cut as aggressively. also, a reduced rake angle will prevent the drill from grabbing which would decrease the chance of breaking the material around the hole.

taken from http://www.smithy.com/machining-handbook/chapter-6/page/4
Henry3212 months ago

Opps, power my house, a three bedroom .

Henry3212 months ago

Hi! How many DIY panels in your instructions would you need to be totally off the grid and would power your house.

frenteria4 months ago
Hi Robert. I'm in the process of in the process of creating a solar panel-have not started building only calculations. I'm looking for a grid- interactive inverter. A grid-interactive inverter allows me to sell the excess energy from my solar panels to my electric company, but I can find one that is for 100 watt solar panel: keep in mind I want to "expanded" my solar panels. If anyone can send me a link to one for sale for under $50 that would be great. Thank you.

you're not going to be able to tie a DIY panel into the grid. Most utliities have interconnection requirements that all equipment be UL listed. It's simply a safety issue. To that end, by all means, DIY up whatever you want for your hobby projects, but if you want to lower your electric bills with solar, call a local installer and see what they're willing to do for you.

vic86m6 months ago

Hi!
I am from India, and i am a solar enthusiast.

Recently, i bought Solar panel (75 watts, 36 cells) in a govt of India subsidy scheme for 5000 INR (that's 95 $ roughly which includes a 15 foot rod, battery and a street light). If i make one, would it cost less than what i've purchased under this scheme?

Jport189 months ago
Hehe want some candy
Cali12131 year ago
You'll have to figure out the right voltage for sure. I got really detailed info about making my own panels online at www.homemadesolarcelldiy.com and it was pretty helpful good luck !!
asargent23 years ago
how many of these would i need to run a computer all day, computer is AC 220v battery
JCG5 asargent21 year ago
I'm not sure but you would want an inverter and a deep cycle battery about AC 220v to keep it running.
JCG51 year ago
On the solar cells I ordered, it has three "lines" to put tabbing wire. Do I put tabbing wire on all 3 lines or just 2?
Excellent, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Would you let me put this on my blog? With FULL credits to you? thx. http://homemadeiseasy.blogspot.com/
Doesn't plexiglass discolor over a fairly short period of time being exposed to the elements ? Thanks.
TheCiscoKid2 years ago
hi, i really like your instructable I am almost at the end but it seems that you never explained how to wire the junction box to the charge controller. My junction box has what i believe are mc4 connectors. Will the charge controller have a connection for these? If not, how do i connect them??i have looked around online but i cant find anything on the topic. Thanks.

Francisco
If you want to reduce the chances of water geting to ur solar cells you can seal it useing eva. its made incapsle the solar cells
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUG9kLuRGXc&feature=related
and this is by far the best video i found on makeing a solar panel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVEK_OnEA2M&feature=related
hope i helped.
Hi Robert. I just wanted to thank you for making this instructable, it's really appreciated. Your videos are really easy to follow and interesting. I've been doing research trying to learn how to make my own panels and found a few tutorials but yours is the best one I've found. I've also subscribed to your YT channel as well. So thanks again for this instructable. I'm making a few for my future home where there's no utilities and you're making it possible for me without spending tons of money.
dasgemuse3 years ago
you deserve some sort of instructables award for this. outstanding work. i too have been in you exact predicament. this information is HARD to come by. thank you so very much
pensativo3 years ago
Thank you very much for posting this, it answered a lot of my questions. :)
kschmitz23 years ago
What kinda of output is this generating? are you using it to power anything? Great Post.
Ronnieloo3 years ago
I live in a single wide aging 1971 flat roof mobile home. My roof is shot. I was thinking of making a peaked roof of solar panels. Anyone have suggestions for me? Thanks much!
jcksparr0w3 years ago
FINNALY!!! someone with solar panel nohow AND brains!
rohitbhl3 years ago
CAN U PLZ LET ME KNOW THE APPROXIMATE COST to made it at home....
plz let me know on my email id :
rohitbhl@yahoo.com
Kaya Tetsu3 years ago
Just started watching this. Couldn't help to notice that you painted it white. Would you not want to paint it black or a dark color? Would that help at all? Or is there a reason that you shouldn't that I just don't know about?
Painting it black would increase the heat inside the panel and solar cells are less efficient at higher temperatures
chardog19713 years ago
do you think this type of tech would work on the pop top of m van?I hate running out of battery when on long term camp trips.seems that you could put it directly on the surface to reduce any wind drag
If you bevel the edges of the frame, at least on the front side, the wind drag would be negligible.

If you are camping, you should make the panel attached to the roof but still removable. That way, if you would rather camp in the shade, you could set the panel up in the sun with a cord running back to the van.

It sounds like a really fun project.
It would work quite nicely.
mr_man3 years ago
Here is a similar guide, in case anyone's interested.
http://sunelec.com/Solar_Array_guide.pdf

Ducky0013 years ago
What the..... You build all that by your self!!! Nice job!! Was it hard? I'm going to study computer engineer too. Have fun building other kind of things! :)
zulfattah3 years ago
I got mine from Ebay germany..cheaper than when directly order from producer..cost me EUR170 for 100 pieces 156mmx156mm mono or poly with 3.8 W to 4.1W power rating.
djcssp4 years ago
Hello Robert,
I looked at your website and you posted a spreadsheet on the cost of producing the panel. Your list of materials includes the tools. What is the approximate cost if I already have all the tools?

The approximate cost if you have the tools is the approxmite cost listed on the spread sheet minus and cost of any tools you already have.
hastyhost (author)  djcssp4 years ago
 Hi,

For my solar panel I did not buy any tools, such as the power drill, saw, and other power tools. I also had all that on hand already, and the spreadsheet doesn't include those items.

Maybe you are referring to something else?
I AM TRYING TO WORK UP THE NERVE TO ATTEMPTA DIY SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATION YOUR PROJECT IS EXELLANT.

PAUL COX
POOLE, SOUTH COAST ENGLAND.
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