The Nicaragua Solar Panel

About: I am a student who is fascinated with everything, especially engineering. I have worked on projects from Making a Segway, creating a 6 axis robotic arm to building and installing wind turbines and solar panels.

This is a small solar panels that is designed to be constructed and installed in Nicaragua. I created it using minimal materials as well as supplies that are low cost and can be transported easily to Nicaragua. The raw materials for this device will be brought down to Nicaragua where the villagers will be able to construct their own solar panels and have their very first electric light. The villagers will then be able to take these panels home; and with other materials supplied and with our assistance, they will have their very first nonflammable, nontoxic light at night

This eight watt solar panel is constructed out of recycled glass and laser cut 6' x 6' monocrystalline solar cells. This panel is encapsulated in an optically clear rubberized epoxy to provide dampening against falling objects as well as a 100% waterproof barrier to this panel which will last for 20 years without any maintenance. There is a six volt battery and a custom charging circuit. The light is a combination of four low cost 5mm LEDs that are defused and waterproofed.

I hope you are interested in my outreach and enjoy my Instructable!

Step 1: The Idea

Why do I deserve a Hurricane Laser Cutter?

With this a laser cutter I would be able to provide the best and lowest cost renewable power source to villagers in Nicaragua and around the world.

With this project, I am limited by financial restrictions to the amount of people that I can help.  One solar panel and power station is estimated to cost only $20 and is able to regeneratively illuminate an entire house (one to two room building) continually when there is no sunlight.  This solar panel will enable the 40% of the citizens of Nicaragua who have no power and the 60% who have intermittent power, with clean reliable light.  The custom led light will provide light for students to study under, reduce the use of fire causing kerosene lanterns, and increase the esteem of the residents because they made a device that is now helping their family be more functional.

At this time my planned cost is spot on except for one component. Currently the 2" x 1" solar cells are purchase pre-cut from a company for $ .30. I can reduce the cost of the solar cells by 480% if I were able to use a Hurricane Laser Cutter. I have 300 6" x 6" Monocrystalline solar cells that cost me $150. Each cell can be cut into 8 cells which can be used in the Nicaragua Solar Panel. The laser cutter would enable me to provide 150 solar panels to villagers in Nicaragua. That is 150 kids that would increase their grade a whole letter grade! That is thousands of dollars saved from using kerosene. That is enough to possibly even save a life from a fire from a tipped over kerosene lamp.

Step 2: Tools and Materals

The tools required for this project are quite minimal due to the simplicity of the design and manufacturing process. 
Solar Encapsulant
.015" Solder
Tabbing Wire
Flux Pen
Recycled Glass
Soldering Iron  This is a very nice step up soldering iron station that is am extremely happy with.
Wire Cutter
Solar cells        I currently purchase them from here

Step 3:

This is a 2" by 1" solar cell. Each cell is like a little battery, the gray side is positive and the blue side is negative. These are very thin and fragile pieces of technology, but can be easily worked with if you are careful. 

Step 4: Tabbing Wire Tool

Pictured below is how I created the tabbing wire jig. 

Step 5: Tabbing Wire

Pictured is how I accurately cut multiple pieces of tabbing wire. It is a very effective process. 

Step 6: Tabbing the Solar Cell Cells

Pictured below is how I tabbed each solar cell with one 1.5" piece of tabbing wire. I used a 60 Watt Weller soldering Iron set to 750 degrees Farenhight. We will need to tab 16 cells.

Step 7: Adding the Cells Together

For this step, I am wiring eight cells in a series configuration to increase the voltage of the panel. In the end, this panel will supply 8 volts.

Repeat this twice to have enough for a full solar panel. 

Step 8: Assembly

With your two strips of eight cells gently move them from your work space to your piece of recycled glass. Make sure they are orientated like the second picture, blue side looking through the glass.  Any kind of glass will work bu i am using 1/8' thick glass that measures 10" x 8".

Step 9: The Final Wiring

Depicted below is how I wired the two strips of eight cells together to get the final voltage of 8 volts. 

Step 10: Encapsulation Prep Work

Pictured below is how I used silicone to hold down the solar cells and create a wall so the encapsulant does not flow out.

Step 11: Encapsulation

Pictured below is how i encapsulated the Nicaragua Solar panel
I used 50 ml of part R and 50 ml of part H

Step 12: Conclusion

Well congratulations on learning how to make a small panel that could do so much to help the world. I will come along with updates on the power charger, LED, and my adventure out to Nicaragua this summer. 

This project is supported buy myself and a Professor at GVSU who came to me with the question below.

I want to help provide the people of Nicaragua with light, how can i do it?

To this day I know that I am on the right track and hopefully this contest will enable the two of to finally finish our efforts.

Thank you all for your time, support, and interest. Please consider this Instructable during your analysis of the submitted entrees. 

If you have any questions feel free to ask!



    • Paper Contest

      Paper Contest
    • Weaving Challenge

      Weaving Challenge
    • Epilog X Contest

      Epilog X Contest

    17 Discussions

    Thank you all for looking at my Instructable and please don't forget to vote! I am on the first page of the Hurricane Laser Contest entries page.

    The villagers of Nicaragua thank you as well!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Can you link to some more info about the silicone your using to make the wall? I'm going to try this for the first time, but I've never seen that stuff before.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The silicone is just standard construction silicone. It is only used until the encapsulent is cured, to keep it from flowing out. An example is in the link below.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Is the encapsulate that you like to exactly the same one that you are using? I received 16 oz. of it and it comes in yellow and blue parts, not clear.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Replied to your inbox. The encapsulent is 100% optically clear and the link provided is still correct.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is amazing!!I plan to move to Nicaragua and I would like to make my own solar panels.I would need instructions on how to do it step by step and also where to buy the raw materials.I appreciate your help if you send me info. Of course you get my vote.

    1 reply

    Thank you for your vote! I will work on updating this Instructable for you and others with further necessary information. If you would, I would like to talk with you further about your experiences in Nicaragua.
    Thank you,


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Jordan This is amazing, I would be glad to help in any way possible, just let me know.
    I had to created an Instructables account just to vote for you as a winner.

    3 replies

    Very nice. You need to set up PayPal account so people can donate to your cause. Also, bill gates gives millions every year to projects just like yours. It is what they are looking for. You need to contact them, they have a hole building full of people looking for projects to fund. There is a process, just do search and you will find it. I too would like the info on where you purchased everything for project an for making the led light. I also would like you to contact me. Thanks don

    This is a great idea! I will go ahead an see if we can get any further support through the Gates Foundation. After I go over to Nicaragua I am going to set up a Kick Starter so we will have full understanding of the situation and will have pictures of the actual process! I will work on adding additional information for you all.
    Don, if you would like to contact me further please feel free to E-mail me!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, it is apparent that you have a lot of passion for this project and are willing to go lengths to make it happen. This is very impressive and I wish you luck in winning this competition so you can pursue making these solar panels at a cheaper cost to benefit others.