The Solar Power Expert Blog

How To Make Solar Panels – Part 2

by Chris - January 4th, 2011.
Filed under: Projects. Tagged as: , , , , .

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In Part 1 I started showing you how to build solar panels. This article, part 2, shows you how I completed building the solar panels.

The front plate is made from 0.22 inch thick plexiglass. This allows a more rugged panel than regular glass, which was important for me.

The cells are 3.25 inches by 6 inches. While I could have gotten a smaller piece of plexiglass for my DIY solar panels, I wanted to leave enough room between each string to ‘buff’ with sandpaper. This can be seen in the picture as white stripes. By buffing the plexiglass, it gives the fiberglass resin a better surface to bond to. Another reason for using an oversized panel is that the plexiglass will try to bend as it gets hot. You’ll want it mounted really well to a stiff mounting board to prevent this.

Once I had all the tinned tails attached to the cells, I then wired them up front-to-back to create a string of solar cells in series. I did four strings of 10 cells.

In this picture, you can see one string of ten cells lined up and ready to string. Once I lay the four strings on, I have to wire them in series as well. At this point of my DIY solar panel, I am ready to fiberglass the cells into position.

The fiberglass and resin was obtained from TAP plastics. The resin is a clear, UV stable surf board resin. I used a little more than half a gallon of resin, but you could probably get away with exactly one half gallon. The fiberglass was 6oz cloth.

You can see that as the resin soaks into the cloth, it becomes transparent. Once the resin dries, it is perfectly clear. Those ‘buffed’ lines from the sandpaper will also be filled in and be as clear as glass.

7 Responses to How To Make Solar Panels – Part 2

  1. this post is very usefull thx!

  2. I have been in need of this type of post for a while. I’m writing a college report on this and this is going to help me. Many thanks.

  3. Hi ! I’d like to leave 0.2cents that this post is totally superb, fine describes the subject and have all important info. Reading this post Was pleasure for me :)

  4. Yes, finally someone that shares the same thoughts and ideas on this topic as me. Great stuff. Love your website.

  5. HI ,
    can you put more pictures (if you have) from the laminating process? was it much air bubles left uder cells?I`m thinking about using vaccum bag for lamination.
    Don`t you have any problems with sollar cells during sunny days?Coz i`m just wondering how much is it expanding when it is hot.

  6. The plexiglass does try to curl up when it gets hot. It’s best to mount it to a 1/2″ piece of plywood with lots of good mounting points to prevent it from flexing like that.

    I do get air bubbles during the laminating process. The solar cells don’t sit perfectly flat, so it’s inevitable to get air bubbles, no mater what you do. There were only a couple air bubbles I thought might be problematic, so I just sanded them down and applied another layer of fiberglass and resin to those spots. That’s the nice thing of working with fiberglass.

  7. Hey Chris , just listened to your podcast and dug it !! Are you by any chance in Oregon? Your’e a sailor I take it? I made a 36′ Trimaran in the 60’s and sailed from SD. Cal. to Maui ( lots of deck space for pannels ) My son Sean is in IT programing in Portland , Or. Looks to be your age also. I am a member of the Yahoo group . Thanks for what you are doing , can’t wait for the controller to doing about 30 amps !! Frank

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