Build Your Own Solar Panel – Part 2
Building the Frame
In the second article in this series designed to help you create and assemble a very low cost homemade solar panel at home we will discuss the construction of the housing that will hold our solar cells. We've already covered the basic materials you will need to collect, and now it's time to start our journey towards lower electricity bills and green power generation using solar energy.
The base plate material you selected will need to be cut down to the basic size to hold the right number of solar cells plus a little room in between the cells and some room for the border or wall construction around the edges that will form a box. Each solar cell is approximately 3 by 6 inches, and as an example we will size up materials to fit 36 cells in an array of 6 across by 6 down. We will use half an inch separation between each solar cell and between the solar cells and the edges, and we will have about three quarters of one inch for the wall thickness at the edges and we will allow for one wall across the middle of the box to help with the strength and to prevent the plexiglass or perspex covering sagging too much. With these numbers you would need 6 x 3” +7 x 0.5” + 2 x 3/4” = 23 inches across and 6 x 6” cells + 8 x 0.5” gaps +3 x 3/4” walls = 42 and a quarter inches total down.
Cut the three quarter inch square edge timber to size and fix to the base board to form the box walls. You can of course adjust all the dimensions given here to suit your materials you have, but try to avoid making the panel too big and bulky as this will make it hard to mount, and too high walls will affect the efficiency of the solar cells mounted at the edge of our box. Also cut to length the horizontal wall we will install across the middle of the box and fix into place using screws and wood glue.
Now we have the box ready made we should prepare and paint the surfaces to protect the timber against moisture, as the solar panel will only be useful outside! If you want to build the solar panel to last, you should take great care with this step, and make sure you use several coats of paint and let each coat properly dry before applying the next.
In the 3rd part of the series on building your own homemade solar panel out of cheap readily available solar cells, we will get to the good part! We will be mounting and wiring up our cells to bring our creation to life.
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