How to Build a Low Cost DIY Solar Panel and Save Big on Your Electricity Bill

Installing solar panels can seem daunting, but with a bit of guidance, it's totally doable as a DIY project. As someone who recently built my own solar panel system, I learned firsthand how much money it can save on electricity costs. Here's my guide on how I built my own low-cost DIY solar panel and started saving big on my electricity bill.

Selecting the Solar Panel Components

The key components you'll need are the solar cells, backing material, wiring, and framing.

Solar Cells

I used polycrystalline silicon solar cells which convert sunlight into electricity. These are inexpensive compared to other types of solar cells. Monocrystalline silicon solar cells are slightly more efficient but cost more.

For a small DIY solar panel, I needed:

Backing Material

The cells need to be mounted onto a rigid backing. I used a fiberglass sheet which provides insulation on the backside.

Other options like plywood or aluminum can work too. Just ensure it's weatherproof.


I used 10AWG solar wire to interconnect all the cells and handle the amperage. The wiring is specifically designed to withstand long-term solar energy exposure.

I also used a solar charge controller and cables to connect my panel to the battery bank.


For the outer framing, I used aluminum struts secured with stainless steel screws. Aluminum is lightweight, weatherproof, and rust-resistant.

Tools Needed

For my DIY solar panel build, I gathered these essential tools:

Step-by-Step Assembly Process

With all my materials and tools ready, I followed this process:

Step 1: Arrange and Wire the Solar Cells

I laid out the 36 cells in a 6x6 grid and soldered the tabs together in series using interconnect ribbons to get to my target voltage output.

Tip: Test the voltages periodically to ensure proper connections.

Step 2: Mount the Cells onto the Backing Sheet

I used a strong adhesive (silicone caulk) to attach the wired cells securely onto the fiberglass backing sheet in the same orientation.

Step 3: Wire the Strings to the Charge Controller

I soldered the positive and negative leads from the cell strings to solar cables connected to the charge controller. Double check polarity!

Step 4: Build the Outer Frame

Using corner brackets, I assembled a rectangular aluminum frame and drilled the fiberglass panel into the frame to hold it firmly in place.

Step 5: Seal and Weatherproof

I applied clear silicone caulk around all edges and between cells to seal off any gaps. This protects against moisture and corrosion.

And that's it! My DIY solar panel was fully assembled and ready to be hooked up to batteries and mounted.

Mounting and Connecting the Solar Panel

I used a sturdy aluminumZ bracket screwed into roof rafters to mount my panel facing due south at a 45 degree tilt to maximize sun exposure.

The solar charge controller connects to the panel output and charges two large deep cycle batteries to store the energy for powering appliances, lights, etc.

Benefits of DIY Solar

Building my own solar panel was extremely rewarding, and I've enjoyed big benefits, like:

So with a DIY approach, it's totally possible to harvest the sun's energy with solar panels you build yourself for a fraction of the cost! I'm happy I can now power my home cleanly and affordably using my own low-cost, hand-built solar array.