Building a solar panel is not as difficult as you might think. You will need solar cells, as well as basic tools and supplies. Once you have everything you need, it’s a simple process. This guide walks you through the steps needed to create your own solar panel!
Step 1: Purchase the solar cells
There are many different types of solar cells available on the market, but for this project, we recommend that you purchase polycrystalline solar cells, as they are relatively inexpensive and easy to work with.
The number of solar cells that you need will depend on the amount of power that you want the panel to generate. The average solar cell on the market is rated at about 5 watts of power.
For example, if you want your panel to generate 200 watts of power, you will need approximately 4 solar cells.
Step 2: Purchase tools and supplies
Now that you have the solar cells needed, it’s time to get the tools and supplies.
For this project, you will need:
- Soldering iron
- Flux pen
- Super Glue
- Wire cutters
- Wooden board
- Protective glasses
Step 3: Cut the wooden board
In this step, we will create the frame for the solar panel.
First, lay the solar cells in the arrangement you want them in.
Then, use a pencil and a ruler to draw a rectangle around the solar cells. Make sure to leave about 2 inches of space around the board, as you will need this space for wires.
Next, use a saw to cut out the rectangle that you just drew. Make sure to wear protective glasses while doing this!
Step 4: Wire the Solar Cells Together
Linking the cells in series will increase the voltage while linking them in parallel will increase the current (decrease voltage).
The power output will remain the same regardless of how you link the cells but we need to make sure that the panel voltage is 12 or 24 volts. Less than 12 volts and the solar panels won’t be able to kick-start the appliance and more than 24 volts will damage the appliance.
To link the cells, use the wire cutters to strip about a half-inch (1 cm) of insulation off of the end of each wire.
If you want to connect the cells in series, solder the positive terminal of one cell to the negative terminal of the next cell.
To link the cells in parallel, solder the positive terminals together and do the same for the negative terminals.
Step 5: Glue the cells to the frame
Now that the cells are all wired together, it’s time to glue them to the frame.
Use a generous amount of glue and make sure that each cell is securely attached to the frame.
Congratulations, you have now built your very own solar panel!