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How To Build a Solar Panel Step-by-Step

The most abundant source of fuel in our entire solar system is the sun. Knowing how to build a solar panel for your home or business will let you tap into a power supply which will, scientists predict, still be going strong 4 billion years from now. If that doesn't sound like a permanent solution to soaring energy bills and dwindling fossil fuel supplies, there isn't one!

how to build a solar panelThe first thing factor to consider in learning how to build a solar panel is whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, for example, solar panels for homes should face south in order to capture the maximum amount of sunlight each day. If the roof of the structure on which you'll be installing your solar panels doesn't face south (or north in the southern hemisphere), you can simply attach your solar panels to poles that have been installed in a location which does.

Learning how to build your own solar panel, as long as you have the basic carpentry skills, is actually quite simple. Begin by gathering your tools and parts. If the parts aren’t available at your home improvement store, you won't have any trouble finding them on eBay!

Tools

Parts

  • Saw for cutting
  • plywood
  • Soldering iron gun
  • Paint brush
  • Rosin flux pen
  • Wire cutters
  • Screwdriver
  • Caulking gun
  • Volt meter
  • Plexiglass cutters
    Drill
  • Plywood sheeting
  • Plexiglass
  • Tin wire
  • Solder
  • Silicon caulk
  • UV-ray protective varnish
  • Solar Cells (microcrystal cells cost around $2 a piece)

When purchasing your solar cells, figure that 80 of them will normally produce 100 watts of electrical power. You’ll use your volt meter to test the solar cells individually, making a record of the voltage each produces. If you wanted to charge an 18 volt battery, for instance, you’d need a panel with 36 solar cells producing .5 volts each

Determine how much power you need from each of the solar panels you're going to build, and remember that you'll need more solar cells in areas which don't get a lot of direct sun. Then cut your plywood to the dimensions large enough to fit the number of solar cells which will be on each panel.

While the most common shape of solar panels for homes is rectangular, one of the advantages of deciding to build your own solar panel is that you can cut it in whatever shape you desire to fit where a rectangular panel won't go.

Once all your plywood has been cut, use your paintbrush to apply the UV-ray protective varnish. While you're waiting for the varnish to dry, start working on the solar cells.

Begin by using your Rosin flux pen to apply flux to the bus strips on your solar cells. This will ensure that when you solder your tab ribbons to your solar cells, they will adhere completely, and your wiring will be connected correctly. Then you’ll connect the solar cells to each other. Here’s a great video explaining the voltage testing, flux application and wiring processes you’ll do as you build your own solar panel:


Click Here For Your Solar Panel Installation Kit

When all the cells for you solar panel have been connected, using as little silicon as you can, affix them securely to your plywood panel. You’ll have two unattached wires hanging from the connected solar cells, requiring that you drill two holes in the plywood and feed the wires through them. Then seal any gaps around the holes with silicon.

Next you’ll make a “frame” for the panel, because you need to cover the solar cells with Plexiglas. Adhere the frame to the plywood with more silicon and wood screws, ensuring that it’s waterproof. Then secure the Plexiglas to the frame, first with silicon and then with screws. Be sure, however, to drill the screw holes into the Plexiglas before attaching it to the frame. Otherwise it could crack.

Inspect every inch of your solar panel for gaps which could allow moisture to penetrate it. If you find any, no matter how small, seal them with your silicon. Keep in mind, however, that even as tightly as you‘ve sealed it, moisture can still accumulate in the panel's interior. So the last thing you'll do is drill a small hole close to the bottom of the panel but away from all the wiring. This will allow air in to the panel to keep moisture from building up. By placing the hole at the bottom of the panel, you'll also keep rain from collecting inside!

Didn't think you knew how to build a solar panel? Guess what? You just did!

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