Build Your Own Solar Panels

Can you Build your Own Solar Panels?

Solar panels: you want them, but are they too expensive to buy retail? If you consider yourself handy, is it possible to build your own solar panels?

Investing in a complete solar array may prove prohibitively expensive for some people, but there’s a reason for the high cost: solar panels are high-tech, and so are the inverters that convert electricity from them. You also have to consider that professionally installed solar panels are mounted onto metal rails that are drilled into your roof. The whole system then has to be spliced into the electrical wiring of your home–something you can’t do without an electrician’s license.

So what options do you have for building your own panels then? Let’s talk about two basic options for going it alone:

#1 Do-It-Yourself Solar Kits

Many do-it-yourself solar energy kits are available in the market to help set up simple, pre-fabricated systems. These solar kits are complete packages containing necessary components of a solar panels, electrical devices, batteries, wiring cables and handy guide on how to do it. Most solar kits are easy to assemble requiring only a basic knowledge of wiring. The solar panels is supplied which is set up and connected to the other component to build your panel.

The size and capacity of solar kits vary considerably. Buy a kit pertaining to your needs and go through the guide to make your own solar panel in no time.

Of course, all the complicated work of actually making the solar panel is already done for you.

#2 Building Solar Panels from Scratch

Is it possible to construct a solar panel by hand? Well, yes, but there’s a catch: you aren’t going to be able to make the semi-conducting wafers–the solar cells–that actually convert light into electricity. But if you buy the solar cells you can in fact string them together yourself to create a usable solar panel. Cheap, previously used, solar cells are available as scrap on the market, and you can put them together into a panel if you know how to solder.

solder-solar-cellsEach PV cell is about 0.5 Volt, and the typical 12V solar panel, 25×54 inches, uses about 36 cells wired together in series (17 volts peak output). Wire two of these 36-cell units together and you’ve got a 75-100W solar panel. String a few of these panels together and Viola, you have a solar array.

We aren’t going to go into the details here, but this primer (with pictures) on solar panel construction can get you started:

PV_solar_cell_assembly [WORD Document Download]

Once you get hold of the PV cells all you need to do is setup a solar array and connect necessary components like inverter, charge controller and batteries (if you’re using them). The installation procedure involves electrical wiring, which as stated above can be dangerous and requires a license. With the solar panel in place and the wires duly connected, you can have your solar array up and working!

Building your own solar panels could be a lot cheaper than buying a new one. Assuming you already know how to solder. And do electrical wiring yourself. We estimate that you could build your own solar panel for under $200.

[photo credit]