The sun's energy may be free, but solar panels can be quite expensive. Still hoping to get off the grid?
VIRON has a great Instructable, How to make PV solar panels, teaching how to make your own from broken or surplus solar cells!
From the introduction: In essence, this involves ways to connect cells, which may produce more or less than one volt, and not only try to increase power output but also decrease the load, that is, efficiently conserve the energy whether it is meager or significant. For example, even the weakest solar panels can run watches, calculators, radios, charge batteries, and if a computer were specifically designed to, it would be as solar-powerable as a calculator.
Check out the Instructable for info on finding and foraging usable solar cells, instructions on preparing different types of broken cells, tips for getting more power out of your panel, and instructions for wiring the whole thing up to power your devices.
Inspired? Planning to try piecing your own solar panels? Already off the grid, and planning something even better? If you do, be sure to post an Instructable so the rest of us can learn something new.
This post has been sponsored by Pepsi. The Pepsi Refresh Project celebrates the people, businesses, and non-profits with ideas that will have a positive effect on our world.