How to Build a Solar Panel

Six Parts:Assembling the PiecesConnecting the CellsBuilding Your Panel BoxWiring Your PanelSealing the BoxMounting Your Panels

Do you want to get clean, renewable energy for free? Cut down on your monthly power bill? Try making your own solar panels! These cost a fraction of commercial panels and work great! Get started with Step 1 below to make your own.

Part 1
Assembling the Pieces

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    Purchase the cells. There are a few different types of solar cells to buy, but the best cost-to-efficiency option will be polycrystalline cells. Buy however many you need for how much energy/wattage you’re looking to produce. The specs should be listed when you purchase the cells.
    • Make sure to buy extras. These cells are extremely fragile.
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    • Cells will be most easily bought online, but you may be able to purchase some from your local hardware store.
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    • It may be necessary to clean wax off of the cells, if their manufacturer ships them in wax. To do this, dip them in hot, but not boiling, water.
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    Measure and cut a board. You will need a thin board made out of a non-conductive material to attach the cells to. Lay out the cells in the arrangement you will use, then measure the dimensions and cut a board to that size.
    • Leave an extra inch or two at both ends of the board. This space will be used for the wires that connect the rows together.
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    Measure and cut all of your tabbing wire. When you look at your polycrystalline cells, you’ll see a large number of small lines going in one direction (the long distance) and two larger lines going in the other direction (the short distance). You will need to connect tabbing wire to run down the two larger lines and connect to the back of the next cell in the array. Measure the length of that larger line, double the length, and then cut two pieces for each cell.
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    Use the flux pen on each of the three squares (or strip) of each line (usually 2 or 3 lines) on the back of the cell.
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    Melt a thin coat of solder on the squares/strips of the back of cells. (Note: this step is not necessary if you purchase pre-soldered tabbing which is better since it cuts time in half, heats up the cells only once and wastes less solder)
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    Heat the first half of a tabbing wire on top of the soldered squares/strip to bond it to the cell. Repeat for other strips.

Part 2
Connecting the Cells

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    Glue the cells to the board. Put a small amount of glue at the back-center of the cells and then press them into place on the board. The tabbing wire should run in a single, straight line through each row. Make sure the ends of the tabbing wire are coming up between the cells and are free to move, with just the two pieces sticking up between each cell. Keep in mind that one row will have to run in the direction opposite to the one next to it, so that the tabbing wire sticks out at the end of one row and on the opposite side of the next.
    • You should plan to put the cells in long rows, with a fewer number of rows. For example, three rows each consisting of 12 cells placed long side-to-long side.
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    • Remember to leave an extra inch at both ends of the board.
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    Solder the cells together. Apply flux to the length of the two thick lines (contact pads) on each cell, then take the free sections of tabbing wire and solder them to the entire length of the pads. Note: The tabbing wire connected to the back of one cell should connect to the front of the next cell in every case.
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    Connect the first row using bus wire. At the beginning of the first row, solder tabbing wire to the front of the first cell. The tabbing wire should be about an inch longer than needed to cover the lines, and extend towards the extra gap on the board. Now, solder those two wires together with a piece of bus wire, the same size as the distance between the thick lines of the cell.
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    Connect the second row. Connect the end of the first row to the beginning of the second with a long piece of bus wire which extends between the two far thick wires (the one at the edge of the panel and the second being the furthest away in the next row). You will need to prepare the first cell of the second row with extra tabbing wire, as you did with the first.
    • Connect all four wires to this bus wire.
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    Continue connecting the rows. Continue connecting the rows with the long bus wires until you reach the end, where you will connect it with a short bus wire again.

Part 3
Building Your Panel Box

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    Measure your cell panel. Measure the space taken up by the panel on which you have placed your cells. You will need the box to be at least this big. Add 1” to every side, to allow space for the sides of the box. If there will not be a free 1x1” square spot at each corner after adding the panel, also leave room for this.
    • Make sure that there is enough space for the bus wires at the end as well.
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    Cut the flat back. Cut a piece of plywood to the size you measured in the previous step, plus the space for the box sides. You can use a table saw or jigsaw, depending on what you have available.
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    Form the sides. Measure two 1x2s to the length of the long sides of the base of the box. Then, measure two more 1x2s to fit between these long pieces, completing the box. Cut these pieces you have measured and secure them together using deck screws and butt joints.
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    Attach the sides. Using deck screws, screw through the top of the sides and into the base to secure the sides to the bottom of the box. The number of screws you use per side with depend on the length of the sides, but three screws per side is a good minimum.
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    Paint the box. Paint the box whatever color you prefer. Consider using white or reflective colors since this will keep the box cooler and cells perform better when they are cool. Use paint designed for outdoor use. This paint will help protect the wood from the elements and make your panel last longer.
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    Attach the solar panel. Glue the panel with the cells which you constructed into the box. Make sure that it is secure and that the cells are facing up and can get sunlight.

Part 4
Wiring Your Panel

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    Connect the final bus wire to a diode. Get a diode a little bigger than the amperage of your panel and connect it to the bus wire, securing it with some silicone. The light colored end(aka white-striped end) of the diode should be pointing towards where the negative end of the battery(or device) goes. The other end should be wired to the negative end of your panel. This prevents energy from travelling back through the solar panel from the battery when not charging.
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    Connect the wires. Connect a black wire to the diode and run it to a terminal block which you will need to mount on the side of the box. Then connect a white wire from the short bus wire on the opposite side to the terminal block.
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    Connect your panel to a charge controller. Purchase a charge controller and connect the panel to the controller, making sure to connect the positive and negative correctly. Run the wires from the terminal block to the charge controller, using color coded wire to keep track of the charges.
    • If using more than one panel, you might want to connect all of the positive and negative wires together using rings, to make sure you end up with two wires.
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    Connect the charge controller to your batteries. Buy batteries which will work with the size of the panels you built. Connect the charge controller to the batteries according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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    Use the batteries. Once you have the batteries connected and charged from the panel or panels, you can run your electronics off of the batteries depending on the amount of power you need for them. Enjoy your free power!

Part 5
Sealing the Box

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    Get a piece of plexiglass. Purchase a piece of plexiglass cut to fit inside the box that you made for your panel. You can get this from a specialty shop or from your local hardware store. Make sure you get plexiglass and not glass, as glass is prone to breaking or chipping (hail will be the bane of your existence).
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    Attach block stops for the glass. Cut 1x1” blocks of wood to fit in the corners. These should be however high is necessary to fit above the terminal block but below the lip of the box to a depth a little more than the thickness of your plexiglass. Glue these stops into place using wood glue or something similar.
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    Insert your plexiglass. Fit the plexiglass onto the box so that glass rests on the blocks. Using appropriate screws and a drill, carefully screw the plexiglass into the blocks.
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    Seal the box. Use a silicone sealant to seal the edges of the box. Also seal any gaps you can find. The box needs to be as watertight as possible. Use the manufacturer’s instructions to properly apply the sealant.

Part 6
Mounting Your Panels

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    You can mount your panels in different ways.
    • Mount on a cart. One option would be to build and mount your panels on a cart. This would place the panel at an angle but allow you to change which direction the panel faces in order to increase the amount of sun it gets in a day. This will, however, require you to adjust the panel 2-3 times a day.
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    • Mount on your roof. This is a normal way to mount the panels but the angle will need to be consistent with the sun’s path and your peak load time, typically in the afternoon, and it will limit you to only getting full exposure at limited times of day. This option is best, however, if you have a large number of panels and very little ground space to place them.
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    • Mount on a satellite stand. The stands usually used to mount satellite dishes can also be used to mount solar panels. They can even be programmed to move with the sun. However, this option will only work if you have a very small number of solar panels.
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  • The equipment is developed to an automated work unit which characterizes PV cell efficiency using a current-voltage (I-V) test. I-V test subjects a PV cell to a calibrated light source to generate electrical current at different voltages. Using this data, the cell’s efficiency can be characterized. The system then sorts the PV cells according to eight different efficiency ratings for subsequent use in solar panels where cells with similar efficiencies are grouped to maximize the overall panel efficiency.
  • Cables are connected from the junction box for output power of the panel. This cable called MC4 connector.
  • Solar energy is a renewable source of energy. You should take advantage of this benefit not only for yourself but for the environment as well. *Through your efforts of making homemade solar panels, you are able to help in preventing environmental pollution by reducing fossil fuel usage.
  • Tabbing and bussing are two applications that link individual solar cells together to form a solar module (or solar panel). These applications also provide a method to transfer power from the solar cells to a power output, the junction box. Solar cell interconnect occurs when individual solar cells are joined together with tabbing ribbon (also called stringing ribbon), forming a cluster of solar cells. This is frequently referred to as cell tabbing (or stringing). The tabbing ribbon carries the solar cell’s current to a larger ribbon, the bus ribbon, which then carries power from the cell clusters to the module’s junction box for final output.
  • Tabbing ribbons are commonly applied as parallel strips that weave from the top of one cell to the bottom of the next to connect the positive and negative sides of the cells in series. The ribbon is soldered onto the paste that was applied to the TCO. The tabbing application creates a cluster of solar cells. Once all of the cells have been strung together with tabbing ribbons, they are then placed onto a substrate, typically glass. Then the thicker bus ribbon is soldered so that it connects to the tabbing ribbon of each solar cell cluster. The tabbing ribbon collects electric current within its cluster of solar cells and delivers it to the bus ribbon. The bus ribbon then conducts the cumulative electric power from all of the solar cell clusters to a junction box for final output. Imagine tabbing ribbon as a road that travels across the solar cell. The bus ribbons serve as the highways to connect and tie them together. Bus ribbon is larger in cross-section because it has more electrical power to carry.
  • Solar cell standard size is 156mm × 156 mm size, sometime cell having 125 mm × 125 mm size. For making different size panels the cell must be needed to cut in custom size. After cell testing, the cell is cutting in solar cell laser cutting machine. This machine is fully automated machine in which size we want to cut cell that size is logged in automated software system. The some technical specification is CNC machine.
  • Trimming & Framing
  • In this proposal, silicon glue is spread on back side of junction boxes manually, and then the junction box is fixed manually on the back side of the panel.
  • Solar panel manufacturing process
  • So what are you waiting for? Go to your backyard and grab your ruler and pencil to start the work. Making homemade solar panels are surely exciting and fun to do!
  • Solar cell testing should be done before assembling cells, especially if you glue these to a board and permanently attach them together with solder.


  • Be careful with all tools.
  • If you are not certain about working around electricity, contact a professional. Don't electrocute yourself!

Things You’ll Need

  • Solar cells
  • Tabbing wire (pre-soldered preferred)
  • Bus wire
  • Flux pen
  • Silver solder - Size matters here; you need very small so it will melt easily without overheating the cells. Consider buying solder labeled for solar use.
  • Soldering iron

Article Info

Categories: Solar Energy