Introduction: 144 Watt Solar Panel
This is about a solar panel I build about 8 years ago and has been on our motor home since then, still working.
I ordered a box of about 45 solar cells from ebay, the box was damaged when it got here but no broken cells. When I built this the price of panels was still high but they have gone down enough now that it is not feasible to build your own in less you have lots of extra time. It came with a flux pen, 2 rolls of flat wire and some solder.It also had a wire connection box and a diode.
I rolled the flat wire around a piece of cardboard the same length as the cells and cut them in half to make the tabs.
I started soldering the tabs on and stacking them up. Can't push very hard when soldering because they are very fragile (see pic 5) when I had a few done I soldered 3 cells together an a flat piece of cardboard so they would be easy to flip without breaking. Then I found an old sliding glass door to mount them to. I soldered 4 rows of 10 each, it worked out to 22 volts each row in good sunlight. Soldered + to - for a series of 10 and then 4 rows parallel and then to the Diode then a wire to go to my solar charge controller.
I needed a backing so I bought a sheet of 1/2" silver insulation. I cut a piece of EVA film solar panel encapsulation material, that i found on ebay, laid it on the glass and put the cells on that face down. I put the insulation on that and taped it all around. I found a vacuum pump and taped it with the tube going under the insulation.
For a heat source to melt the EVA I built a box of cardboard around the solar panel and used hot bbq briquets on top of soda cans, Turned on the vacuum pump to suck everything together when it melted. I mounted it on the roof of our motor home and wired it through a 30 Amp solar controller. It has been working for over 8 years. I don't remember what the total cost was but it was worth it for the experience .