DIY Solar Panels - materials?

I would like to build my own solar panel from some cells I purchased on eBay but I'm still wondering about what materials to make the housing from. A metal case would be nice but I don't have the proper tools to do that.

I can get big glass sheets at the local hardware store no problem, and I was thinking about using maybe plywood coated in fiberglass resin. Also another problem is cooling the cells - having a vent to keep the cells cool could also have problems with condensation at night, so if anyone here has ever built a panel themselves I'd like to hear your results/advice.

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Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,724 admin
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    Here is a segment from "How it's Made"--showing the assembly of solar cells into a glass module:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=qYeynLy6pj8

    My two cents... Do it for fun... Don't do it because you can make a better panel than the "factory"...

    Also, here is an earlier thread here asking about "Building Solar Panels from Loose Cells". A lot more information and links to videos on various solar RE manufacturing processes and systems...

    If you want to make solar panels--looking into building solar thermal collectors would probably yield a very cost effective and long life project for your home...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    you may have bitten off more than you can chew as you will not likely get a pv that will be comparable to those commercially made. if you wish to do this, and you might as well do it now that you have some cells, you firstly will need 36 cells to match what is commercially out there and i don't believe you have 36 there. 2ndly you need to carefully connect the cells by soldering them - to + or + to - so that the cells and thusly the voltages are in series. next you need lead free glass and a special adhesive to bond between the glass and the cells. you will also need heavy leads to go to a physically secured junction box on a strong weatherproof backing to allow for other connections to be made that will not compromise the internal wiring. and of course you need a strong frame to finalize it. when all costs and efforts are added up the commercial pvs are more worth it in general and there are seconds out there available too at a lower cost.
    there are projects worthy of an effort such as yours in some specialized circumstances. some of these may be solar lights for outdoors or maybe a solar battery charger, but both of these need some electronics.
    it may be helpfull for us to know what you intend to do with a pv.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    just to put things in a bit more of a perspective - that box contains 40 whole cells that are rated at 0.55v and approx. 1.1 amps (about enough cells to make a 20-25 watt panel) and these cells only cost me $31 so I'm not too worried even if the total thing is a disaster. I'm just doing this for a fun experment/hobby/proof of concept kind of thing to amuse myself with :)

    i've done tons of work on electrical/electronic equipment over the years so i'm good in terms of that aspect, just wondering what the best way would be to make an enclosure for these cells
  • newenergynewenergy Solar Expert Posts: 291 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    http://www.brunnerent.com/default.asp?reset=1

    You don't have to buy online. You can probably find a local metal supply store that will sell different types of aluminum stock. Put tempered glass in front and something else in back (maybe more tempered class) and seal it with silicon or something.

    DZ_260.jpg

    If you have one of these I guess you should use it. If not I guess your panel just won't last 50 years.

    I saw some cells for sale on ebay and wondered if there would be enough non-broken peices. Where did you buy it? From a regular ebay store or just a one time deal?
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    i also didn't want to risk buying broken cells, Fred480v on ebay sells many different styles of cells at very low cost/watt.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    here's my current solar panel collection - they recharge a 57 AH battery bank made up of some sealed lead-acid batteries i took from my old electric scooters.

    36STA72419.JPG Click Image to Enlarge Image Hosting
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    i stand corrected on the number of cells you have and the price you paid isn't bad for them. making the framework will be quite a challenge as you want something that will secure the pvs and glass without putting any stresses on them. i might suggest you looking up some of the commercial pvs to see how it is they are framed to give you some ideas on how you may wish to do it if that is what you were concerned about.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    There's a nice e-book by Phillip J. Hurley on how to build a Solar Panel.

    I purchased it a few years a go... looks like it may have been updated since
    then. It contains good info - worth a look.

    http://www.goodideacreative.com/solarpanel.html
  • mikeomikeo Solar Expert Posts: 386 ✭✭✭
    Re: DIY Solar Panels - materials?

    just looking on EBAY I found EVA encapsulating sheets, Tedlar backing sheets, solar cell tabbing wire, and about all you would need to mount your cells to a tempered glass substrate including a junction box is available. It appears the glass substrate is what holds eveything together once the cells are soldered and glued down to the glass with the encapsulating sheets. The Tedlar backing then get glued to the back with another layer of the encapsulating sheet. Then all of this would get mounted into a frame. I don't think I would want to build many of these.
    Mike
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