Building your own DIY solar panel system for off-grid power can be an affordable and rewarding project. With just some basic materials and components, you can harness the power of the sun to generate electricity without being connected to the utility grid. In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through the entire process step-by-step.

Gather the Necessary Materials and Tools

The first step is gathering the basic materials and tools you will need. Here is a list of the main components:

Solar Cells

The solar cells are the most important part - they absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. I opted for used silicon solar cells which can be sourced very cheaply from damaged solar panels or other electronics.


You will need some simple electrical wiring like copper wire to interconnect the solar cells and connect them to the charge controller.


A clear protective material like plexiglass or tempered glass is needed to cover the front of the solar panel. This protects the cells from weather and impact damage.

Charge Controller

A charge controller manages the power from the solar panels and sends it safely to your batteries for storage. It prevents overcharging and damage to the batteries.


Deep cycle lead acid batteries are commonly used to store the energy produced by DIY solar systems. Make sure the batteries can handle the power output from your solar panels.


An inverter converts the DC power from the solar panels and batteries into standard 120V AC power to run household appliances and electronics.


You will need some basic tools like a soldering iron, wire cutters, screwdriver and safety gear.

Calculate How Many Solar Panels You Need

Once you have gathered the core components, the next step is determining how many solar panels you will need. To do this, you must calculate your expected electricity usage and size the system accordingly.

Here are the key factors to consider:

Use these variables to select the proper number of solar panels, batteries, and inverter. Online solar calculators can help with sizing. It's better to overestimate than undersize your DIY solar system.

Wire the Solar Cells Together

Now it's time to assemble the solar panels. Carefully wire the individual solar cells together in series to increase the voltage output. Each cell typically produces around 0.5V.

Solder the connectors joining the cells using flux, applying heat quickly. String 30-40 cells together to achieve a usable panel voltage of 12V or more.

Connect the rows of cells in parallel to combine the current. Use your multimeter to check the output of each completed panel.

Laminate the Solar Cells

Once the cells are all wired together, they need to be laminated between sheets of protective material.

Thoroughly clean and dry the solar cells then place them between two sheets of tempered glass or plexiglass, sandwiching the wired cells inside.

Apply silicone sealant around all the edges to waterproof the finished solar panel completely. Leave a small gap for the wires to exit.

Allow the silicone to fully cure before moving the panel. The lamination protects the solar cells and wiring for many years.

Add a Frame

Adding an aluminum frame around the edge of the solar panel makes it rigid and easier to mount.

Cut thin aluminum strips to size and screw them into the plexiglass or glass surface using appropriate screws. Make sure the frame does not block the panel or shade the cells at all.

Connect to Charge Controller and Batteries

With the solar panels completed, it's time to wire them to the other components like the charge controller and batteries.

Connect the charge controller to the batteries following the instructions. Then attach the solar panel wires to the appropriate terminals on the charge controller.

Charge controllers have mechanisms to prevent reverse currents; ensure proper polarity when making the connections.

Safety Tips

Take important safety precautions when working on a DIY solar panel system:

Mounting and Placement

Finally, you need to install your DIY solar panels in a suitable location to maximize sunlight exposure.

Some options for securely mounting the panels include:

Aim for an unshaded area facing south (in the northern hemisphere) angled at 30-40 degrees. Keep the area around the solar array clear.

With a properly sized and installed DIY solar panel system, you can generate free renewable electricity from the sun for essential off-grid power needs. Just take it slow, follow safety precautions, and enjoy the satisfaction of harnessing solar energy yourself.