DIY Solar Panels

DIY Solar Panels

Are you a Pinterestor YouTube freak?! Or love to work on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects?  Today so many things can be done from home as DIY projects in order to help budget your finances and cut down on monthly bills.Sites like Pinterest and YouTube provide the public with free DIY tutorials that allow you to create things you would like to have or need to have at a much cheaper price.

DIY Solar Panels

DIY Solar Panels

That means that you should be able to create solar panels at home by yourself too right?!  Of course there is the option to purchase DIY kits from IKEA or other home appliance stores, but what about truly DIY solar panels?  The answer is YES!  With solar panels still having a huge upfront long term investment today and electricity bills continuing to rise, many people have gotten their wheels turning and figured out how to make solar panels and solar energy on their own at an affordable price.

How In The World Do You Make Solar Panels?!

There are so many crazy products out there in the world today,that DIY solar panels are nothing out of the norm.  In fact there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world that have already created and successfully use DIY solar panels to create their own energy!As long as you have the time, patience, and determination to complete a project DIY solar panels will be seem like a breeze.Of course everyone does things a tad different when it comes to creating DIY projects, otherwise it would not be a unique project and provide one with such a feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and pride right?  Below are a few sites that provide you with DIY solar panel tutorials.

Solar panel made from broken re-used solar cells: (small version)


Creating a solar panel out of broken re-used solar cell pieces. In addition, you will need some conductive copper mesh (available at most art stores), glue gun + sticks, a multimeter and a conductive pen (or any sort of conductive brush-on). In this tutorial I will try to explain the best technique I found to connect these broken cells, in order to create your own CHEAP solar panel.

Step 1: Get the solar cells


this is how the cells can look like when they arrive

Step 2: Check power and ground


When you look at the solar cell, make sure you check voltage between the positive side (the back side which is usually grey) and the negative side (which is the black side, with all the lines on it) of each cell. You can simply use a multimeter by placing its leads on the cell itself. This step is crucial, otherwise you’ll connect bad cells in the middle of your link, causing the whole panel not to work.

Step 3: Use conductive pen if needed


You need to make sure that all the tiny little lines in the negative side of the cells are interconnected (a way to gather all the electrons from the surface). This step is not necessary for all cells, only for the ones like in this picture, which don’t have any connection between the lines on the surface. you can use the conductive pen to draw a thin line which connects all of them. Once you do that, you will immediately see the voltage rising for that specific cell.

Step 4: Cell with conductive pen line


here’s an example of a cell with the conductive pen line on it, linking between the tiny conductive leads on the negative side of the solar cell.

Step 5: Linking the cells


This can get a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, can be done fast enough. First, some technical notes: In order to get higher voltage, you need to connect two cells in series. This means that the negative part of the first connects to the positive part of the second. As you continue to add more cells in series, you will get a higher voltage from side to side on your solar strip. This is all good, but if your cells are small-ish, they won’t generate much amperage. So even if you have a high voltage, you probably won’t be able to give it any load (probably will hardly light an LED). In order to get higher amperage through the circuit, you need to connect cells in parallel (positive side to positive side, negative side to negative side). When you do this, make sure the positive and negative leads (copper mesh in this case) don’t short themselves out.
I found that the best way to connect between two cells was to use hot glue and some conductive mesh. The mesh is good since it allows light to come through it, and we all love glue guns. So all you need to do is glue the mesh onto the solar cell surface. Its always better to have a longer strip of mesh on the surface, with a big enough shared surface space between the two. Always check with a multimeter that there is connectivity, and that there is voltage coming through. Its a bummer later to try and figure out where the problem is

Step 6: Example measurement for 2-cell link


Step 7: Example measurements from a 6-cell link


This solar array can light an LED when close to the window. (I know… doesn’t help much)
But it can definitely charge a battery… (instructable still in the making…)

Step 8: Silicon coating


I highly recommend applying a silicon coating to your solar array. The cells are so fragile, and the links can easily detach or move out of place. A thin coat of silicon keeps it all in place… and also gives it a very cool effect!

Step 9: Solar Jelly


Here’s what i made.
A little Solar Jellyfish. I put a battery and servo motor inside. When there was enough light on it, the object moved its legs up and down just like a jellyfish.And when it was dark, it lit up from inside and became a light display.
A bit messy, but still a prototype.

Step 10: Hope this helped


Please leave a comment if you have any questions, suggestions or ideas.

Solar panel made from polycrystalline cells: (small version)

Solar panel made from polycrystalline cells: (large scale version/panel of the link provided above)

If you’re a fan of canned beverages, save those cans!! You can even create your own DIY solar panel out of cans.  Recycling ‘soda’ cans for this project makes it extra ‘green’!


Creating a solar panel like those above may be a challenge but in the end it will also be worth it, especially when you start to see those electric bills getting smaller and smaller.  Experimenting with DIY solar panels to get more amperage or efficiency is idea for those with time and creative minds.  Don’t forget to share your experience and/or ideas with the others!

Advantages and Disadvantages of DIY solar panels

As you can imagine like store bought panels and anything else that is home made, DIY solar panels also come with baggage(advantages and disadvantages).  Making solar panels on your own sounds very complicating but if you have read or watched the sample DIY tutorials above you know that is not necessarily true.  But what exactly are the advantages and disadvantages of DIY solar panels?

  • Advantages: Did you know that you can save up to 75% by making your own solar panels right at home (free labor of course J)?  Also without feed-in-tariffs (FIT) (please refer to Solar Power in the UK to read about FIT’s<insert link>)from the government your sole purpose of saving money on electricity is put into effect much sooner.  You are also able to save time by starting your project when you want and working at your own pace.  Ifyou were to work with the government on your solar power project, it could take up to six months or longer just for an installment team to install your panels.

Don’t forget that solar energy in environmentally friendly!

  • Disadvantages:Did you know the government may have a requirement that all DIY solar panels must be installed or connect to your home or other building/appliance by a licensed electrician?  Not only does this cost money but it will also cost time as there may be very busy electricians.  DIY solar panels may also be less efficient than those of higher quality (and cost) bought in stores or installed by the government installation team through the FIT program.  What about warranties?  With homemade DIY solar panels there are no warranties if panels were to break or stop providing energy.  Another down fall for all those who are busy or just do not want to take up such a project is that you have to do everything yourself (unless you can recruit some help).  This means you have to have the time, work area, and patience to create your own solar panels (but it would be worth it).

Note: If you are thinking about DIY solar panels, you should check with your government to see if DIY solar panels qualify and/or apply for FIT in your area.

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