Do It Yourself Solar Panels for $40
You've decided you want to build solar panel technology, now you want to find out just how much DIY solar panels will cost. In this article we will do a little experiment – we will go to eBay, do a little searching, find the gear we will need to build solar panel arrays that are equivalent to commercially available solar panels, but at a fraction of the price. We will aim make solar panel of 36 solar cells, which will provide about 18V nominally, enough to charge a 12V lead acid or gel battery.
We will be searching for WHOLE solar cells, although you can save even more money if you use broken cells – depending on how damaged they are you can still use them, but with lower output.
I went to eBay, and searched for “36 solar cells” and immediately came up with this entry;
36 Solar Cells w split 3x6 1.8W 3.6Amp
Buy It Now $32.42
Of course this is a “buy it now” type listing, I found many other auctions starting from $1 with just hours to go until bidding stops, so you can pay less than $32 if you try.
An important thing to note is that the solar cells I have found on eBay and listed above are “untabbed” cells, which means you will need to “tab” them yourself. Tabbing solar cells is not difficult, but you will need some more stuff to get it right. An alternative is to pay slightly more, and buy your solar cells already tabbed, and this will save you time and effort. I found this auction (below) as well, which for about $4 more has the cells already tabbed. Bargain!
36 FULL Tab solar cell 3X6 B- grade
Buy It Now $36.63
Now we have our cells, the rest can be found in the local hardware store – you need plywood for a backing, small cross section timber for the frame, a piece of masonite for the substrate and a piece of perspex or plexiglass for the cover. The best part is, most of these items you can scrounge or reclaim from the rubbish at little or no cost at all!
I also recommend you grab a copy of one of the guides currently available to help you with the build process. Doing this will save you countless hours, and will make the whole process fast, enjoyable and truly rewarding. Ebooks and information kits are available that include video tutorials, bonus information and tips on putting together whole solar power systems, plus extras light wind power generation and other renewable energy tips and tricks.