How to Build a Low Cost Solar Panel to Power Your Electronics and Save Money


Building your own solar panel can be a great way to power small electronics and save money on your energy bills. With some basic materials and a little bit of guidance, you can build an effective solar panel even with no prior experience. In this article, I will provide a step-by-step guide to building a low cost solar panel that can be used to charge phones, tablets, batteries, and other small devices.

Benefits of Building Your Own Solar Panel

Here are some of the main benefits of building your own solar panel:

Components Needed

The main components you will need are:

Optional components include fuses, blocking diodes, a battery, and a stand/mounting equipment if needed.

Designing and Sizing Your Solar Panel

First, decide how much power you need from the solar panel. Small USB devices can be charged with a 5-10 watt panel. For larger devices like laptops, aim for 15-30 watts.

Calculate the total wattage by multiplying the wattage of each solar cell by the number of cells. Most individual cells are 3-12 watts.

For example, 6 5-watt solar cells would make a 30 watt panel, which can charge a laptop.

Consider the portable size you need and the area you have available for mounting the panel. The more sun exposure, the better.

Step-by-Step Assembly

Follow these steps to assemble your DIY solar panel:

  1. Cut the plexiglass backing to the desired size. Clean it thoroughly.

  2. Lay out the solar cells in the desired arrangement and spacing on the plexiglass.

  3. Solder the connecting wires between the cell terminals to interconnect them. Match the positive and negative terminals correctly.

  4. Attach the wires from the solar cell circuit to the charge controller terminals.

  5. Seal the cells to the plexiglass backing using silicone sealant. Ensure no water can get in.

  6. Allow the sealant to fully cure as per the instructions.

  7. Build a wooden frame to house the plexiglass-cell assembly. Screw it together securely.

  8. Attach an output wire from the charge controller to terminal socket where your device can be plugged in.

  9. Seal and weatherproof the entire panel assembly as best you can for long term durability.

  10. Mount the finished solar panel on a roof, rack or pole facing direct sunlight.

And that's it! You now have a fully functioning solar panel to harness free energy from the sun.

Usage and Maintenance Tips

Here are some tips for using and maintaining your new solar panel:

With some care and maintenance, a DIY solar panel can function for many years and provide great value through free renewable power generation! Let me know if you have any other questions.