Introduction: Homemade DIY Solar Panel
I had completed this project approx. 3 years ago for my college project (Finally, I got a chance to publish it, as I have free time during Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown in Mumbai, India)
I later mounted this DIY Solar Panel at my home's balcony and used it to charge portable Li-ion chargers to charge mobile phones every day.
It fulfilled the daily need to charge my smartphone as well as the phones of other family members.
Overall, It worked great for several months, however, due to rains and heavy winds it got damaged and I had to repair it several times.
It cost me approximately ₹2,000 (~ $30) and it was a great deal : ) Though it didn't decrease my electricity bill drastically, however, I am satisfied with my work.
In future, I plan to use pre-fabricated panels and use them to power my house entirely (Or at least one of the room).
To build simple, generic DIY Solar Panel, you will need the following items:
- Solar Cell (52mm by 38 m)
- Tabbing Wire
- Flux Pen
- Soldering Wire
- Soldering Iron
- Jumper Pins Male & Female
- Jumper Wires Male & Female
- Copper Strip Prototype Stripboard PCB (approx. size which can accommodate at least 12 cells in my case.)
- Multimeter (To measure output and debug connections)
- Copper Wires
- Protective PVC sheets
- Cardboard or Acrylic sheet to mount the panel on it
- Cable and hooks to attach it in your home balcony
All the above items I required to build this simple panel, you can make changes according to your needs. You can also take into consideration to make it more rigid and prone to the environment to increase its life span.
Optionally, you can also build a power regulator/converter circuit, which I haven't covered here as most of the portable chargers have them in-built.
Step 1: Understand Solar Cell & Some Calculations
Solar cell basically works on Einstein's "Photo Electric Effect" which convert light energy into electricity.
There are mainly 2 types of silicon-based solar cells:
- Mono-Crystalline Cell
Are usually expensive
Fairly efficient in terms of power conversion
Are usually cheap
Less efficient in terms of power conversion
The cells that I used here were cheap and Poly-Crystalline
- Width = ~ 52 mm
- Height = ~ 38 mm
- Thickness = ~ 1 mm
- Voc (open circuit voltage) = ~ 0.52 V
- Isc (short circuit current) = ~ 0.56 A
- Approx. power delivered by a single cell = 0.52*0.56 = 0.2912 W
I have used a total of 24 cells combined as 2 sets delivering a total power of ~ 7 W
Step 2: Assembly
Arrange Solar Cell and solder them properly with each other.
Now assemble each component and connect with each other. Connect tabbing wires and jumper pins.
Once all connection is done then guard cells with very thin transparent PVC sheet.
Note: Make sure you understand which terminal of Solar Cell is +ve & which one is -ve and then only make connections. You can check it with Multimeter.
Step 3: Testing
Before making the final panel, I first did a small test with only 4 Solar Cells.
I carried out some testing with different time of days, different intensity of light and different angles.
I needed data for my project as well as it helped me understand angle and time at which I can extract maximum power from sunlight.
I used Lux meter and a normal multimeter. It helped me gather all the required data and compare it with theory.
Step 4: Complete Yay!
When the panel is ready, check all wiring and output of panel thoroughly before mounting in the balcony or on your roof.
If everything is fine then properly mount it and lay down the wire with low resistance and wire should be as short as possible (otherwise there will be lots of power drop on the wire only and net usable power will be very small).