More and more people these days are opting to build a solar panel of their own. Some of them plan on offsetting their family’s annual utility bills while others are simply experimenting with the technology. Regardless of your reasons, it is great step forward to seek more earth friendly means of generating power.
The process of building a solar panel is a simple one, but you will also need to have certain skill sets. However, if you are wondering how to build a solar panel on your own, the following is an outline of the steps and skills needed to complete this project.
Today, it is completely possible for you to purchase a commercially manufactured solar panel for a few thousand dollars. However when you choose to build your own, it will only cost you a couple hundred dollars; and some of your own hard work and time.
Before you can begin construction of your own panel, you will need to decide how many watts you want the panel to produce as well as what power you want it to put out. Your output power will depend upon the electronics that you choose to purchase to invert the direct current to that of AC. Keep in mind that the higher the voltage pout out by the panel, the more efficient the power inversion process will be.
Being as efficient as efficient as possible is very important. Not only should the panel be designed to be as efficient as it possibly can, you must also make sure to purchase the most efficient cells possible. More efficient cells will cost more, but they produce more watts for a given area,
You will need to build a frame for your panel. Most people build theirs using wood. A simple wooden frame is easy to make. If the wood is properly sealed from the elements than it will also last a long time too.
Make sure that the lumber you select is as dry as possible before you start constructing the frame. Keep the bugs out of the wood by mixing Borax in hot water and spraying it on the finished frame before priming and painting it. This causes borate crystals to form on the surface grains of the wood which keeps the bugs from digging in.
Choose a think and durable pane of glass. The glass should not have any form of reflective coating on it. Remember that it has to let the light through, while also protecting the very fragile solar cells from damage. Since glass is not perfectly transparent, you may have to make a choice between thickness versus performance. At the same time, the thicker the glass is, the more the panel will weigh.
The cells will be soldered together in a complex mix of serial and parallel connections in order to create the desired output. In series, the voltage increases but the amperes stay the same. In parallel, the amperes increase, but the volts stay the same. The law of energy conservation tells us though, that the output watts of the panel are the same regardless of the how the cells are soldered together. Therefore, the watts are determined by the actual number of cells in the panel.
After being soldered, the cells will need to be sealed and attached to the glass pane. The best option is to make use of ordinary clear silicone adhesive. Silicone adhesive can be very thick and hard to work with, but it can be thinned down using toluene. In commercially manufactured panels, the cells are soldered together first than incased in silicone before final panel assembly.
Protecting the back side of the panel is also important depending on the expected use. If you only plan on placing the solar panels on your roof and will be careful not to break any cells, then you may not even need a backing.
However, when the backside needs protection, try to use a heat sink material such as a plate of aluminum. Since the efficiency of the panel decreases as the temperature increases, making sure that the cells stay cool is therefore imperative to the panel’s capabilities.
The cells and all the connections need to be sealed from the elements as they will eventually corrode. Corrosion is the number one cause of failure in a solar panel which is why commercially manufactured unit are first sealed before assembly and why they are also so very expensive too.
If you are not up to the task of building a solar panel, you may also choose to use a kit that only requires final assembly.