Solar panels are expensive and supply chain problems have made them more difficult to find. Rather than waiting and watching your energy bills rise, you can make your own solar panel while saving money and reducing your impact on the environment.
Everything you need is available at big box stores and local hardware stores. While you can make a CD solar panel with highly reflective qualities, you can also use low-cost, easy-to-find solar cells for an affordable, eco-friendly option.
Before you begin making your solar panel, you’ll need a few items. Your panel will need a pressure-treated plywood base to hold the solar cells and wiring. You’ll also want a wood pegboard to attach the cells and wiring to the base.
You’ll need to do some math to decide how big you want your solar panel to be. The size is dependent on how many solar cells you want. Consider making your panel big enough to hold at least 36 solar cells. To keep the cells evenly spaced, use tile spacers. You can glue the cells to the wooden panel with silicon glue.
Your solar panel will need wiring components to convert the solar energy into electricity. You’ll need a soldering iron, red and black 22-gauge wires, a charge controller, deep cycle battery, and an inverter. You’ll need a junction box and a piece of plexiglass to protect the solar cells.
Measure the solar panel arrays, then cut your wood panel large enough to put a frame around them. Create your frame with enough space to put plexiglass over the completed panel. Lay everything out to determine if it all fits, then paint a protective coating over the wood to withstand the weather.
After the coating dries, begin placing your solar cells in straight lines with tile spaces between each array. Keep them far enough from the frame edges so the frame doesn’t put a shadow on the cells. Once you’re happy with the placement, use the silicon glue to secure them.
After the cells are in place, use your soldering iron to attach the bus wire to the panels. You want the panels to send energy to one place, which is why you solder the wiring together. Once the solar cell wires are together, attach the wires to the 22-gauge red and black wires. Test the wires by placing the panel in the sun and using a voltage tester to see how much energy they produce. If all is well, move on to the next step.
Hook the solar panel to the charge controller, then hook the controller to the deep cycle battery. Finally, connect the battery to the inverter. Once the electrical components are attached, place the plexiglass over the solar cells. Then, attach the junction box to the inverter wires with a backflow preventer. Use your silicon glue to keep the plexiglass and junction box in place. The final step is to place the panel on your roof and connect the junction box to your home’s wiring.