Solar DIY: Do It Yourself Solar Panels Part 1

Solar DIY

Solar diy sounds ridiculous to many folks.  solar-panels-in-space

The idea that the space age panels that adorn spacecraft and satellites can be hand made just boggle them. But really Solar diy is pretty straightforward and within your grasp if you are a little experienced with home repairs.

Let me explain why it is so simple.

A solar panel is just a few dozen solar cells hooked up to each other and mounted securely on a nice flat backing sheet – the real magic is in the individual solar cells.

There are two types of solar panel. The type we spend time talking about here and the type shown in the photo above is the solar electric panel that runs off the photoelectric effect.

So these panels are often called PV Panels

The photoelectric effect is that electrons were found to jump out of a metal sheet when ultra violet light shines on it. Over the years more and more materials were found to show the photoelectric effect and this gets even better when semi-conductors came along.

Nowadays solar sells are made out of silicon which the main working material of the semiconducting industry. Years ago when I started teaching this stuff the main material was germanium and it’s certain that materials scientists will produce other,  better materials.

The other type of solar panels runs off the heat of the sun and are like the normal hot water radiators in our homes. This is the solar thermal panel and we’ll cover that too.

Solar diy or “Do It Yourself” refers to lining up solar cells you’ve bought in a neat array and soldering them together and packaging this in a secure weather proof way and using it as a source of electric current and power.

If you can follow through on the assembly plans then making a solar panel can take a few weekends of careful though not difficult work. If, like me, you can’t solder to save your life, you just get some one to do the soldering for you.

Just about anyone who is good at detail work should be able to do this. I am a “big picture” kind of guy and useless at soldering. As it happens my mother is a soldering champ!  And soldering is the main skill needed in a solar panel project!

Like any other diy job there are possible safety hazards and the whole thing needs thinking through. There is plenty of advice available online and much of it is conflicting! It is often difficult in these circumstances to know who to trust.

One person you may put your trust in is Micheal Harvey. He has spent 15 years in the Solar Industry and has produced a guide – a video guide as well as a book and wiring diagrams.

According to the plan it goes there..
According to the plan it goes there..

Check it out for yourself… Michael Harvey’s Solar DIY Guide

And if you have done any solar diy please feel free to leave a comment on what worked and perhaps what did not work – that’s just as useful.

And keep tuned – this is just part 1 of this Solar DIY series – lots of good stuff to come soon.



4 thoughts on “Solar DIY: Do It Yourself Solar Panels Part 1

  1. You will need some basic tools to build your diy solar panel. If you are going to go with the simplest design using a wood container like I did, you will need basic woodworking tools like saw, drill and screwdriver. You will also need silicone caulk and wood glue. For the wiring, you will need wire cutters, wire strippers, a soldering iron and solder. You can pick up most of the tools at your local hardware store. Radio shack sells soldering irons and solder.

  2. Yeah and good luck to you if you do make your own solar panels. You need good basic engineering skills. I am OK with most diy but would not attempt this!

  3. It may do but is much harder for most people than you imply! You have to be a decent engineer or very keen DIY fan to attempt this.

  4. Certainly, but we all need to realise that adding Solar to their home is an purchase that could improve the long term value of their residence if / when they make a choice to sell. With the environment the way it is going we simply cannot disregard any item that gives no cost power at no cost to both the shopper and more significantly the earth!

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