Installing solar panels on your home can be an expensive endeavor, with professional installation often costing thousands of dollars. However, with some simple materials from the hardware store and items you likely already have at home, you can build your own solar panel for a fraction of the cost of buying a pre-made panel.

In this article, I'll walk you through a step-by-step guide to building your own solar panel using common household items. We'll cover everything you need to know, from gathering materials to wiring up your finished solar panel. With a little bit of time and elbow grease, you can build a fully functional solar panel that will convert sunlight into electricity to power devices, charge batteries, or even feed into your home's electrical system.

Materials Needed

Building a solar panel at home requires some simple, inexpensive materials. Here's what you'll need:

That covers the core components you'll need. There are a few other miscellaneous electrical parts required too.

Planning the Layout

Once you have your materials, it's time to plan out the layout for your solar cells on the backing board. Here are some tips for planning:

Take your time planning out your board before permanently adhering anything. Once laid out well, you can start attaching the components.

Mounting the Solar Cells

With a layout planned, it's time to start assembling your panel:

  1. Prepare the plywood backer board by sanding it smooth and cleaning it.

  2. Apply a small bead of silicone caulk in the planned spots for each solar cell.

  3. Carefully press each cell down firmly into the caulk. The silicone will hold it in place.

  4. Let the silicone fully cure for at least 24 hours before moving on. The cells must be firmly secured.

  5. Once cured, run jumper wires between each cell, following your planned layout. Use diode on each cell.

  6. Solder or tightly twist each connection point to ensure good electrical contact.

  7. Test with a multimeter to confirm each cell connects properly before proceeding.

At this stage your solar cells will be firmly mounted in their planned positions and electrically connected together.

Waterproofing and Protecting the Cells

Your interconnected solar cells now need to be protected from the elements:

Taking the time to properly waterproof your panel will greatly extend its lifespan compared to leaving it unprotected.

Wiring to a Charge Controller

The final step is connecting your finished solar panel to a charge controller or voltage regulator:

That covers the complete process of assembling your own solar panel from start to finish using everyday household items. Follow these steps closely and you'll have a fully functioning system to generate power from the sun.

Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your Panel

Like any DIY project, your homemade solar panel will require occasional maintenance and troubleshooting during its lifespan:

With proper installation and maintenance, your homemade solar panel can last for many years and provide abundant clean power from the sun.

Safety Precautions

When working with electricity and power tools, safety should always be your top concern:

Exercising caution and common sense will help ensure you avoid electrical hazards when building your DIY solar panel.


As you can see, with a little diligent work, it is quite feasible to build your own solar panel at home using simple household items. Follow the steps outlined here to plan your layout, mount your solar cells, waterproof your finished panel, and wire it to a charge controller. Take your time, be safe, and you can create a fully functional solar panel to harness renewable energy from sunlight.

While a DIY solar panel may not be quite as efficient or durable as a commercial option, the ability to build it yourself for a fraction of the cost makes homemade an attractive option for many. So gather your materials from the hardware store and put your DIY skills to work creating your own solar panel!