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Renewable Energy

Building my own Solar Panel

Posted by Chris van der Zwaal in Solar energy Add comments

img_2989-547-x-410Because I think that the price of a solar panel is still pretty high(in Europe), and because the stimulation from our government (in the Netherlands) is not so good (very,very complicated and time consuming) I started the project of building my own solar panel. I would like to invite anyone who has some experience with this or is interested in it ,to give me any advice or remarks about it. The main challenge is to build a panel that can withstand heat, cold, rain and hail for many years.

Buying My First Solar Cells

In October 2008 I bought my first 100 cells via Ebay. But as I later learned, they were still very expensive: 300 Euros for 100 cells, including shipping. I was told they should produce 1,98 Watt each. Below a picture :

De eerste zonnecellen
The First Solar Cells

After some experimenting and very long brainstorming about how to continue, I found another seller on Ebay who had the same cells (of which he gave the specification that they were 1,75 Wp each……) But these were slightly damaged. Well I decided to buy 500 cells ,a mix of 3 different qualities. The seller had not counted these cells but there were 620 cells, of which after a first selection , just over 500 were reasonably good. Not a bad deal to start with. And a lot cheaper! Also now I had over 100 cells for practice on soldering and handling.

De 2e set van zonnecellen
The 620 Cells.

Building the First Small Panel.

Well I got started. Beginning with the soldering-technique, that takes some practice, but after a while you get the hang of it. And now my first small experimental panel is ready! The main focus and moreover challenge is to get the cells 100% sealed: air and water tight. The cheapest solution for me is to make a double-glass construction. And the cells in between the 2 plates of glass. The panel is made of 12 cells, each 0.55 Volts. On the picture below you can see many purple coloured wires. Those wires are each connected in between each cell so afterwards I can still do some measurements to compare each separate cell.

Mijn eerste zelfbouw zonnepaneel
My First Do-it-yourself Solar Panel

The First Measurements in the Sun

I must say that at first I was worried whether I would see the cells really produce the power they should. But after building a variable resistance (making it possible for me to roughly find the maximum power point) the sun at last was shining (not much sunshine here beginning of February) and I got my first real measurement : 15,5 Watt. According to the specifications the panel should give a maximum of 12 x 1,75 W = 21 Wp. Given the fact that the glass takes away about 10% of the power,without the glass it would have been about 17 Watt. I expect that during summer as the sun rises much higher above the horizon, the measurement will give higher readings , thus coming closer to the specifications…. I am using normal 4 mm (0.16 inch) glass because it costs me nothing. If you just look around near places were they renovate old houses you can get the old glass for free…… This compared to the real stuff they use for solarpanels which is quite expensive and probably very difficult to find.

Influence of Heating the Panel in the Sun.

During the first measurements, I found that the heating up of the panel was pretty strong. But this especially was the case for the backside. were the cells are glued upon (using the same kit I used for glueing and sealing the panel). This panel is 12 mm (0.47 inch) thick : 2 plates of glass each 4 mm (0.16 inch) and 4 mm in between. What troubles me is the temperature-difference between the front and backplate of glass. This will result in different expansions creating stress on the sealing,if that is repeated too often it will start leaking. Now I am using the same kit as is being used in solar panel factories. But it still worries me. A solution can be to keep the panels small, so the difference in expansion stays minimal.

Improvements

A solution to the temperature-problem can also be to make the gap between the 2 plates of glass smaller. So the heat will be more evenly dissipated to both the front and backside ( thereby also creating more cooling capacity). My next panel (picture below) is the same size,the difference is the distance between the 2 plates of glass : it is now 1.5 mm (0.059 inch) …..and this also makes the sealing a lot easier and thereby better. I have used pieces of copper winding wire that I happened to have : 1.2 mm (0.047 inch) thick. I took several pieces of about 3 cm and spread them evenly along the side on the glass backplate. Then the kit along them all around the full edge. And finally pressed the front plate on it. The result is a gap between the plates somewhere between 1.2 mm and 1.5 mm. So on the inside, there is some trapped air (with, of course, a certain amount of humidity in it), which can potentially cause condensation. But my hope is that the amount of that is so small (only very small amount of air……) that it will not be a factor…… ( In the first panel I did put some stuff that can “eat” the condensation. I got this out of old double glass that I separated,the stuff is inside the aluminium strips between the double glass edges)

Het verbeterde zonnepaneel
The Improved Panel

The kit will have to dry for a few days, but anyhow the weather forecast does not indicate any sunshine the coming days………

First Results

Bottom line is that if the output of each cell really hits 1,75 Wp then I can come to a price of Euro 1,20 per Wp (or even lower than that….) And with such a price the panel will not have to last for 20 years……..but off course that is my aim ! That will be the main challenge ! But I must say with this second panel my hopes are getting higher.

You can find more (and more up to date) information on my website

Well, who feels like building panels also ? Or give me some advice, or share experience. I do not mind getting negative critics because they might be correct………and they are there to be solved !

Next Phase

Update: 15 februari 2010:

The first systeem of 400Wp is now fully functional and produced it’s first electricity. The cost price is now around $1.68 per Wp and is expected to drop to $1.10. More information about the next phase in the project can be read in the article DIY Built Solarpanel Installation Now Operational.

164 Responses to “Building my own Solar Panel”

  1. HenkR Says:

    Great job!
    Everybody could go solar, so why hesitate or burn the last gallons of dirty oil?
    To be continued… ;-)

  2. Michael W B Says:

    Awesome, I want to do the same (some day …)

  3. Mike Says:

    You should build your own line and sell it at an affordable price. That would help the spreading of solar energy.

  4. Jeroen Says:

    Great project!

    Note though that your international readers won’t understand that by “kit” you mean a certain type of adhesive, as it’s a Dutch word.

  5. Teri Greene Says:

    Bravo!

    Serving the community by good example.

  6. Jeroen Haringman Says:

    Reaching such a low price is nice, but it’s not really fair to compare it to the price of factory produced solar panels.

    - He used damaged cells while factory produced solar panels use good or perfect cells.
    - The price of factory produced solar panels takes labour into account, he did not.
    - Factory produced solar panels generally have long warranties, he has none. If it breaks after a short while, the extra costs are his.
    - Factory produced solar panels are expected to last a long time because of high quality materials and workmanship. The builder of this panel is already worrying about moisture in the panel. When they’re on the roof, the labour costs of replacing them goes up.

    Regardless, it’s a nice hobby project, and it’s probably fun to do. But it’s not for everyone: I want my solar panels to last at least 25 years on my roof without any worries about quality. It might even be cheaper in the long run to buy factory produced solar panels because I expect them to last longer, thus saving replacement and labour costs.

    Anyway, nice article, and it got olino on slashdot ;-)

  7. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Well ,Jeroen
    My main focus is on stimulating others (who are handy at do-it-yourself) to stop hesitating about going solar ! But go for it !
    But we will see how my panels last or not ! Problem with that is that it takes time to show how long they last.And I hope it will take a lot of time ……
    If they last for 5 years, then by that time : who knows what the price of factory panels will be…..

  8. Me Says:

    And he didn’t count the glass. For mass DIY-production, not everyone will get recycled windows. Also, are there different glass qualities? Do they withstand hail?

    And his panel don’t seem to have a frame. But you need one for fixing it somewhere. (As well as additional fixing material, like for fab panels as well.)

  9. Palle Due Larsen Says:

    Good article. I suspect Dutch and Danish have the word “kit” in common, meaning the elastic, normally linseed oil-based material used for fixating windows. In English, however, it is called “putty”.

  10. Dave Says:

    If the back is still getting hot why not add a solar thermal to it and get some hot water too. Just put some copper pipes around the back of the panel using the water to cool the panel whilst pre-heating your hot water, it might not be a great dealof heat but it’s free and should/might help with cooling the back of the panel…

  11. Joanna Says:

    How come I cannot digg this article anymore?

  12. Jeroen van Agt Says:

    It seems that Digg.com is down! I wonder if it is caused by Slashdot…

  13. Alex Zavatone Says:

    Here’s mine without any attention paid to weatherproofing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIQQgXWmu0

  14. Lord Astral Says:

    In the US, a kit is a purchased collection of parts ready to be put together. Thanks for clarifying the use of the word kit in the article.

  15. Sean Says:

    To Jeroen, you make valid points, but let me make this point. A warranty is only good if the company is still around for 25 years. If they go out of business you are still stuck replacing them yourself.

  16. mike Says:

    Nice, I love to see inventive people taking on projects like this.

  17. JackO Says:

    Great Article! I agree that maybe adding some copper tubing or high heat plastic like they use in hot water flooring, to the back to help cool the cells and get some free whot water in retun is a good idea. Maybe there is a way to use a few low draw computer type fans for cooling, although there wold be the condensation problem. I am building a similar device using solar cells and low draw computer fans to replace my old ineficient AC fan that draws out the heat from my attic in the summer.

  18. Marcio Says:

    Chris,

    Great article. Can you also use lots of mirrors ( or cheap made ones ) to point the sun light to the panel and improve the ratio?

  19. czxczxc Says:

    Hey, why don’t you get electricity from the temperature difference at the back of the panel? YOu could use thermoelectric cooler panels from eBay (just instead of powering them, you’d be getting power from them).

  20. Matt W. Says:

    Regarding the moisture/condensation problem, try flushing the panel with Nitrogen gas before sealing it up. This should reduce the likelyhood of corrosion, etc.

  21. log Says:

    Hi,

    I would consider this a nice experiment. It does not make sense to compare the price per wp. First, the durability is what makes modules expensive. Go and have a look at what standards are required if you want to sell a panel. If you want to use a panel in a productive installation, it should not break because of some heavy weather, you do not want to burn your whole installation because of a moisture-related short circuit in one module, and the cost per watt gets rather high if modules have to be replaced every 5 years instead of running more then 20 years without any work. Than, it seems that you measure the non-interconnected cells. The problem is that the worst cell defines the performance of the whole installation, so matching the cells is part of what you pay for. The temperature problems, by the way, are not so much a problem for the glass – but they will seriously affect your power output.

    So keep interest in the technology, but do not make wrong assumptions on the price of a commercial industry-grade module. And when you get into production of electricity, you are somehow in an industry-related field. Electricity is not about prototypes today…

  22. pat Says:

    Great job, I noticed not many out there use there mind anymore. You can always buy them, but then they really do not understand them. I bet you feel very proud. I know if i would have. I am staying small with solar power for my fence line for the horses. I can only dream of a full panel.
    Keep up the good work.

  23. Niki Says:

    I want to wait a little bit till the new solar cells come out which have a 15% higher output. Then I try to start my own power plant ;-)

  24. Greg Says:

    While I found your project very interesting, I did a quick ROI (Return On Investment) calculation.

    My utility company currently pays only about $0.0418 per Kilowatt for customers using a feedback interconnect (that is to say, you are feeding electricity back into the grid). Based on your calculations of watts generated, converting what you paid into Euros with the current Euro/USD exchange, it would take me almost 14 years to break even with my investment.

    I am not, of course, figuring in the “good feeling” I might have in impacting the environment, etc. However, from a pure cost basis, this makes almost no sense economically at present.

    Here’s hoping that newer technologies and manufacturing techniques come along to bring the ROI below the 5-year mark. This would encourage individual consumers and small businesses to consider alternative power generation sources like photovoltaic cells.

  25. Jeanne Eisenhut Says:

    It’s great to see how much interest this article has raised. I also looked at Slashdot, where there are a lot of comments, both positive and negative. I would say that this article is a great success. The website has a lot of other good articles as well. Keep up the good work!

  26. george Says:

    to Greg:
    Hi Greg.
    When making that calculation, the value of electricity to the end user is the amount the end user pays the power company to get a kilowatt hour(kwh) not how much the power company pays the customer to buy some back.

    If the user pays $0.0850 per kwh to the power company but can produce their own for any amount under that cost, then they have a cash savings. To get the cost of producing yourself under the 0.0850, just pick a “panel lifetime” that is long enough… :-)

    The last part is a joke of course because no one really knows how long any of the panels made today will last and how efficient they will stay over the long term (solar panel output drops as they age). So the analyst who works for the marketing department picks a lifetime duration that makes the panels look good. Speaking as just such an analyst, its all crap. Don’t trust any of the numbers you see in marketing material. Especially for high tech products. Every three years the game changes completely on those products so know one cares what claims were made 3 years ago. ;-( Yes, that does indicate a low integrity process/mindset. Its the same one that has inhabited the financial markets for the past 15 years (at least)

  27. george Says:

    “know one” should be “no one” (dang Speech software! )

  28. jim Says:

    Someone should do this:

    Create a new kind of wall outlet with these features:

    1: regular AC
    2. a DC plug.

    Standardize this and solar will get off the ground!

  29. Richard Says:

    Re: “10% lost because of the glass”, that’s not strictly true. It’s normally “about 4-5% lost, per surface”.

    Now, if your glass is separated from the cells by an air-gap, then you have 3 surfaces (“interfaces”) to get reflections: the front of the glass (air->glass), the back of the glass (glass->air), and the front of the cell (air->glass).

    BUT, if you can get the cell in very close contact with the glass (less than about 0.2 microns), you effectively eliminate 2 of the interfaces (see “evanescent waves” for more). Or, you could bond the cells to the glass with a thin layer of transparent adhesive.

  30. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Richard,
    I only made a very inaccurate measurement regarding the percentage I loose using the normal glass,but I do believe that it is near the 10% ,anyhow it is very acceptable as it costs me nothing…..
    That is a very good one about the distance to the glass.But one would really need that transparent adhesive,and the cost of it would have to at least balance the gained output of the panel…..would that be possible ?

    Hello Dave,
    That idea of cooling is one I also have in mind.Main problem here is that there are only 24 hours in a day…..and ofcourse any fluidcirculation to transport heat is not that very simpel as you need safetydevices like overpressurevalves and such,making it complex..

    Hello Greg,
    Here in the Netherlands the price of electricity is about 20 eurocents,which is about 25 dollarcents…..but I may be wrong. So Europe is different from the USA.But its easy to see that after 6 years I start making money (not realistic because I need an inverter…)And again how long will they last. Well there is only one way to find out…
    But I do need the help of anyone who can give me good but critical remarks to reach my goal of panels that last at least 10 years !

    Hello Marcio,
    That would help but only if you really cool the panel. Because the temp will rise very much and for every degree(celcius) above 25celcius (about 75Fahrenheit)there is a decrease of solar cells-output of about 0.5 percent,and that is a problem…

    Hello Me,
    About the hail, well now that is my main concern! Although we very seldom have hail the size that some parts of the USA get now and then.I am thinking about taking thicker glass for the frontplate.
    But ,emm, that remark about the frame missing, should I really react to that ?

    And to all : When calculating my price per Wp I only look at what realtime output of the panels is ,and I certainly do not use the factory given figures.If I would do that I would probably go down to l,00 Euro per Wp. But that is not realistic given the fact that indeed the weakest cell determines the output of the panel.

    Thanks ,everybody for the comments !

  31. Carbon Farming Says:

    Very good attempt at DIY solar. Would perspex be any better than glass in terms of stress due to temperature differences between front an back? It may not last 20 years though due to UV damage.

  32. Alan Says:

    We are having a 4KWP unit put on our roof this summer. This is being made by a company, your information here has given me some good questions to ask them before they get the contract. Especially about the heating up of the panels.
    Here in Austria we get 3000 Euros per KWP from the government for installing photovoltaic panels. So that cuts the costs by about half, which is why we decided to do it. But I also like your solution and may make a panel for my workshop in the garden using your guide.
    Best regards
    Alan

  33. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Carbon Farming,
    I have considered perspex . Probably better against hail !
    But is it also much more sensitive to sanding on the long run,(I believe they call this “crazing”)so the sunlight will then not pass through as easy.
    Finally during my search I found out that a lot of glass is being thrown away ,and constructors like to keep old glass in one peace because that doesnt give such a mess. So the glass is free, and it is very difficult to beat that price. If I could find a source giving very cheap perspex I would certainly give it a try !

    Hello Alan,
    The heating up of solar panels is well known in the solar world,I dont think you should worry to much about that just make sure there is enough ventilation between the roof and the panel.
    I wish we had such stimulus from our government in the Netherlands……But on the other hand :If we would have had a good stimulus here ,then I might not given this DIY a try. So Like Johan Cruyff says : Every bad thing has a good side to it !
    Best regards to you too Alan !

  34. franco Says:

    couldn’t you learn in a solar factory and then learn where they buy components and so making just a question of man-job?
    wouldnt it be more easy to use something with wind that’s just mechanical and there should be some gratis fem structure calculators(where the wind is good)?

  35. Linda Says:

    Some various questions (knowing nothing about solar panel construction, so may not be best Q’s.).
    First, about panels:
    1. Only reason for glass on 2 sides was cheap cost, Yes?
    2. So some other material for bottom side would be fine?
    2a. Like aluminum sheet metal? (ignoring thermal expansion Q’s for now)
    3. How does heating of solar cells affect their performance? (if they get hot will they still be as efficient? Or will heat cause resistance increases that might lower current output?)
    4. Why *air-tight*? Would keeping them dry be sufficient?
    I.e. if you had air flow (w/o water leaking in, wouldn’t that improve cooling (important?)?
    – Assuming I could use solar cells ‘sitting’ indoors in a type of ‘greenhouse’ (a building, or enclosure w/clear glass top) that kept them dry?
    5. Is glass best? or would a poly-carbonate-clear plastic work? (maybe price prohibitive, or other downsides, don’t know…(?) other reasons? (thinking weight).
    – Maybe durability would be greatly reduced w/poly?
    —-
    II. Design delta Q’s:
    —-
    1. Have you thought about mounting considerations?
    2. Density (#panels. vs. space between each panel)?
    3. Any sun-following or aiming tech? or only fixed mount? Two complexity levels.
    3a. Vertical (to track sun’s arc-height by season)
    – Could even be a manual adjust at lowest ‘tech’. Adjust twice or thrice or 4 times/year.
    – would provide 47 degree tilt-range centered according to latitude.
    – might allow semi-automation (human setting dial or cranking gear); if human present – could optimize, else set for fixed-latitude or sun-arc
    – adjustment period could be increasingly refined w/automation for finer periods (monthly, weekly, daily)
    3b. 2nd type – horizontal sun tracking by hour or sun tracking
    – must be automated & self-powered. (no human needed to track).
    4. Relating to II-2+3 above, any thought to use of reflection technology to help focus sunlight on cells to increase efficiency/cell at expense of layout-space.
    – Type of reflection(flatside, 1-axis convex, 2-axis convex) would vary by adjustment automations); Don’t know how much benefit.

    Those were Q’s and Issues that came to mind. Sorry for length.

  36. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Linda ,
    I like your questions, a bit much though…but they are good questions !
    About the panels
    1 yes
    2 yes, but different temp expansion
    2a with aluminum you would need electrical isolation from the cells but aluminum gives excellent cooling ofcourse.
    3 Bad, about minus 0.5 % per degree celsius above 25 celsius(but this doesnt apply to all solar cells,but generally speaking this is about right)
    4 there is always moisture in air creating condensation(early in the morning) followed by corrosion.Also indoor you have the condensation problem ,unless perhaps the temp. is very stable and the humidity not to high. If you have air flowing over it ,that (I think) would be very good because it prevents the condensation.But you never know what pollution in that air can do after years….
    5 There is special glass made for solar industry having a very low iron content thus letting about 97% of the sun pass through. My glass costs nothing but has about 90%
    I just dont know about poly-stuff

    Design :
    1 Yes, I have not figured that out yet,I think I just have to start trying using aluminum 90 degrees angled strips (sorry I dont now the word in english..) that you can solder easily with a stuff called “alutite”
    2 The space must ,I think, be enough to give cooling-ventilation especially for the backside.
    3 They claim that here in the Netherlands (52 degrees latitude) that you can win about 30 % or more on a yearly basis using a fully automated 2 axis system. I am considering a system whereby the panels will be adjusted every hour or so about 15 degrees. Maybe it will be a simpel clock that can send the pulses each hour.It doesnt have to be that accurate.
    All your ideas also ran through my mind
    4 Problem with concentrating the sunlight will be the extra temp.rise…

    Chris

  37. Hope A Moses Says:

    Hi, Good attempt, I also need the contact of where to source for industrial made cells

  38. Hope A Moses Says:

    Send me contacts of where I could purchase industrial made cells My contact hopefishfarm@yahoo.com

  39. Hugo G. Hernandez Says:

    The solution is to dicipate the heat correct ?
    You could achive heat dicipation by gluing flat piece of aluminum on the back side of the plate and the aluminum should have ridget so it disipates the heat faster imagine a piece of aluminum 24 inches long 5 inches high and every 2 inches make a cut on it been 1/16 to 1/8 of and inch wide
    this will allow the panel to cool off so much. this will do the cooling.
    On the other hand how about harnessing the heat to heat up water to be use for bathing, can be done by cycling pi[pes of could water runing under the solar panel make sure the pipes touch the panel so it takes the heat from the panel if you make the pipe square more surface for heating the water and more heat dicipation from the panel. By the end of your proyect we could apply for pattents in which convine electricity & water heating accomplischemt super good for a home. Good luck my dear friend ( let me know of your progress and let me know of a good source of panels so I build one Hugo G. Hernandez Miami Florida USA 786 326 5544

  40. Linda Says:

    I had no clue normal glass would have appreciable iron content. I, simplistically just think of it as Si-O2 unless it is specified as ‘special’ (colored, hardened, etc), shows how much I know about glass.

    As for the condensation, speaking from only theory, doesn’t condensation occur when a surface is at a temperature below the “dew-point” for the humidity in the air? If the solar cell is suspended below the glass, wouldn’t the cell’s temp be the same as the air around it (thus no condense on cell). The worst threat from condensation (I’m imagining) would be water forming on inside of glass above the cell, falling onto the cell, which could be caused by cold glass trapping warmer-humid air. If the enclosure were vented at top & bottom (I mean a vertical vents) at the highest and lowest portions (as it’s installed at a tilt). You may already have the best design…just thinking of alternatives (which I don’t know would work, but that would be possible).

    I mean if, as an example, I went up to my roof, and pretend my rooftop is angled at sun and just built a 2nd-roof layer maybe 50cm high, w/clear glass top, add waterproof siding all around, mounts for cells ~few cm below glass for airflow, — cells would be dry in structure, but not need to be mounted to glass — would just need electrical hookups and physical support. So rather than making easy-to-install panels, just make a whole 2nd-layer ontop of existing roof (or whatever portion of your roof you would use), and mount raw cells in it. If you designed top level high enough ~1m or so, might give room to replace/access individual cells more easily than if a bunch were enclosed in a panel. But the panel would be more portable…

    Guess I’m not doing your “build-a-solar-panel” project anymore — but just thinking about howto get power from solar cells more cheaply than buying panels. But it would also be alot of work to get something useful to reduce my electric bill (live ~37N on CA,USA coast), but get alot of summer fog from ocean — sometimes overcast at coast all day but clear @1-km inland; Days of highest likelyhood sunshine are in fall. Even winter/spring (rainy season) has more likelihood of completely sunny day than in summer (due to maritime fog layer @ coast).
    A constant torment for my desires for solar energy — don’t know if it would “pay off” in my lifetime (or reduce carbon footprint, if you include mfg. cost of materials).

    Looks great…hope you get to something beyond a project!
    :-)

  41. Waltbaer Says:

    Against the heat u may use an old radiator as backpanel. with that u got an active cooling and warm water for your pool/cool roof in the summer.

  42. FireIce Says:

    This is a very encouraging article to get out and DIY! I understand your cost considerations that led you to use free glass, but this is really where I would put up a little cash for the added efficiency. I haven’t done the research but I’d look for a tempered glass (for the hail issue) and one that has an anti-reflective coating. This allows as much of the light to pass through as possible with little loss. Also, your neighbors would prefer to not have glare coming off your roof! I agree that you don’t need glass on both sides. Our factory purchased panels use a very cheap thin plastic to mount the cells to. I would avoid metal since some of it will be exposed to light between the cells and this only adds to the heating issue (perhaps you should check your wires/soldiers as this could be the heat source and may be at risk for damage). Heating is a major problem since most solar cells work better at colder temperatures (I think the sweet spot is about 45′F but I’m not 100% sure). I would go with a durable plastic mounting surface – no heat expansion. I don’t know if it’s possible, but perhaps the cells could be mounted on 4 corners with foam squares. This would keep a pocket of air behind them to allow for further cooling. To the issue of condensation on the inside: I don’t have any new ideas but I really liked the idea to flush with nitrogen before sealing. I’d suggest a small vacuum pump to first reduce the amount of particulate air in the pane before adding pure nitrogen.
    Well, good luck and perhaps I’ll give it a try and see how it goes.

  43. John Says:

    we’re building a free software platform to measure solar insolation, house consumption and weather reports at:

    http://www.solarnetwork.net/

  44. TennesseeCornStoves Says:

    Great DIY solar job!!
    You probably noticed you got the attention of the utility executive trying to discourage solar progress by falsely claiming 0.04C/Kwh – such price is available No where on earth except Wathington State that generates with hydro.
    Keep up the good work!! The publick is hyponized by grid electricity much the same with oil. Read this three years from now and everyone will be diligently searching for alternatives to the extremely high cost of centrally generated, public grid electricity and foreign oil – no matter where on earth you reside.

    A true ROI will consider the future cost of energy rather than some hypothetically low cost of years past.

  45. Alexa Says:

    Wow, nice job! I think Europe is way ahead of Americans in terms of their commitment to renewable energy.

    However, I think enabling home owners to do what you’re doing is a big step in the right direction for us. The more we can promote distributed energy models, the faster we can make the move towards a sustainable society.

    If you’re interested, check out the growing number of homes being powered by renewable energy here: http://www.buildbabybuild.net/blog/maps/#homes

    It’s slowly growing, but every little bit helps. Thanks for the insightful blog post. I hope it inspired others to follow suit!

  46. polderboy Says:

    Hi Chris, very nice project, as I already informed you privately.

    One important aspect. You suggested 20 eurocents/kWh for “the Netherlands”. Forget it but, those were “the ol’ days”. We are running up in the twenties with a strong pace… NUON “gray” mix is already at 24.6 eurocents/kWh (including the monstrous energy tax of 12.91 cents/kWh…). If you would have a “Natuurstroom” (100% renewables without biomass) contract, you would already pay 26.25 eurocents/kWh. Only “energy pirates” (newcomers with extremely aggressive telephone campaigns) have lower kWh prices, but you would not want to associate yourself with these awful companies, for a number of reasons not relevant here.

    Hence: your “payback time” with present day kWh prices (again changing as of July 1) will be much better even than you thought, since these relative high kWh prices are the true “market value” of the solar electricity you produce, and that you don’t need to consume anymore from your provider via the greedy netmanagers…

    Just my 2 cents… (eurocents, that is…)

  47. Gordon Says:

    Chris,

    I really like the techniques you used to build your panel. How exactly did you seal the panel to keep out moisture? That’s one thing I’d like to know. Also, the overheating issue may be due to the lack of air within the panel. I understand most panels are thick and allow room between the cells and the front glass panel, this can allow for some better cooling.

    On a side note, if you get stuck or need any additional equipment check out our site, DIY Solar Power Guides. Take care and keep us updated, I’ll be watching your blog and techniques! :)

  48. Ron Wagner Says:

    Have you thought of using a simple light concentrating system. This would allow you to create more electricity with less investment. See the ideas on freeenergynews.com

  49. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hi Gorden,
    First thing : you need to clean the glass very good,especially greas needs to be removed.I use ammonia (I dont know if you have that under this name in the USA ,but from school I remember the chemical name was NH3 dissolved in water or “ammonium hydroxyde”. Then I lay all around the first glassplate (with the cells allready on it), about 0.5 inch from the edge , “dow corning pv 804″ (I buy it in the USA via ebay. )It is siliconbased. Later when that one is dry (2 days later) I fill the rest of the empty space between the 2 plates with a polymer.I buy this in the Netherlands : I have 2 different ones that I use .The first one is “PremTech seal & glue ,the other is “Zettex MS Polymer” . I have a strong belief that this will do the job of protecting the cells.
    About the cooling : front- and backside have about the same temperature (the panel of 1,2 mm gap) So I think I could not get any more cooling. But what you suggest is something to keep in mind !

  50. Solar Panel Guru Says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I followed your instructions and I was able to build my very own solar panel. I can’t wait to see how much money it saved me on my power bills. Thanks for the helpful resource!

  51. Dave R. Mason Says:

    I have read this thread and want to commend Chris for getting off the couch and “Just Doing It”!!!
    As for all the concerns – blah blah…
    Sure his panel would be more weather resistant and have more strength with a tyvek backing and cells sandwiched between EVA Sheets (what is EVA?, eMail me and I will gladly fill you in) It is the primary encapsulant for a solar cell panel). Yes the wiring has some unwanted resistamce and he should have used tabbing wire to connect the cells into a string, and buss ribbon wire to interconnect the whole thing to the panel terminals. Blocking diodes would help to eliminate reverse battery drain on a dark/stormy night, and help control cell current runaway (sorry maybe a bit too technical).
    ..
    The overall point in this person’s project is being over looked by a majority here – He took a stance, acted, and built a working solar panel!!! How many have all of you built?
    ..
    The posts about the 200ma (that equates to .2 Amps for the uninitiated) cells costing 1.00 each is not encouraging. With a nominal cell voltage of about 0.55V and .2Amps (best case) you would only have a 9 watt solar panel. Want me to do the math: Take 36-cells (most panels are 36-cell panels), at .55V each = 19.8 Volts. Add a blocking diode (this allows you to parallel panels without interaction or im-ballance due to varying operational characteristics – oops, getting too technical again), you will have to subtract .8Volts (a 60PIV Silicon Diode will result in around -1.7V – a shottky diode will result in only about .7V drop accross the diode, but then will cost five times more than plain ole silicon). Now you have 18.1 V to 19.1 VDC at 200 mA ( essentially 18VDC at .2 Amps) – hence 9 watts. Simple math P (watts) = V (volts) x I (current – aamps).
    ..
    So, if you spend say $4.50 to $6.50 per cell you can get cells with a current rating in the range of 4A to 7A (that’s 4,000mA to 7,000mA!).

    You still need to weather proof the cells (the pros use EVA and a vacuum laminator, the semi-pros use a hair drier or heat gun and gravity.
    ..
    Hint: RV solar cells use a plate of plain tempered glass on top and another on the bottom. Throw in a rubber gasket around the edges between the glass and you have a seal – dah…. How do you bolt it together – with an aluminum or plastic frame and bolts!!!

    Life expectancy of any solar cell exceeds 25-years, unless you leave them open to the weather. We have six panels that are over 20-years old. They are in Arizona, Georgia and Tennessee (we have two panels with no weather proofing at a site in Georgia (Valdosta to be exact), two in Tennessee (SW of Nashville) and two in Arizona. The ones in Georgia and Tennessee only requires maintenance periodically to deal with moisture issues and are operating at 65-70%% of original capacity. oh yea – they are made with .54V 3,400mA cells – state of the art , the ones in Arizona get literally no maintenance and are operating at 85% of their original capacity. Point is weather seal is in fact important – but not that difficult to achieve.

    We also have prototype panels that have operated in the open environment subject to wind, rain (we don’t get a lot in Arizona but the gang’s in Georgia and Tennessee have their own life vests -0 or at least the quack a lot when we IM and video conference together.

    I encourage all of you to get on the stick and build your own panels. To heck with the so called incentives – just run your TV and refridgerator (or even you alarm clock) – with the power from your panels. You will be doing your own part to participate in this wonder full thing called “Green Living”.

    Think they are too big for your roof (we have built them with 7″ wide by 96″ long geometry. You are only limited by your ingenuity – just go for it.
    ..
    Chris – Well Done! Bravo!!!!!
    ..
    Dave R. Mason
    Southwestern Solar
    and
    Arizona Bio Fuels Research
    Phoenix, Arizona, USA
    email: dmason@phoenixcomputerlabs.com
    or: swsolar@phoenixcomputerlabs.com
    ..

  52. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Dave (I allready mailed you personally)
    This is really great that you give me this support !
    Really ! Thank you very much !
    Indeed the essence of what I am doing is to stimulate others !
    And I really like what you are saying about the experience you have with your own panels.
    Untill today I have not used diodes,simply because there is no need (yet) to parallel panels. But since writing the articles I also have moved forward : I now have been able to feedback power into the grid ! I made a 36 cell panel and combined that in series with my first 2 panels of 12 cells.So I got 60 cells in total giving almost 34 volts. I bought a secondhand small only 95 Watt inverter(OK4E, inputrange about 20 – 50 Volts) and I fed the output of my panels into it. I plugged the inverter via a power-meter into a wallsocket of my house and voila : 68 watt into the grid ! I almost jumped for joy ! I almost finished my next 36 cell panel.
    I have another project : I found a real good technician who these weeks is working on repairing secondhand gridtied inverters (he and I bought 5 of them all the same ones)if those repairs work out as he and I hope ,I might have inverters that cost me only 22 Eurocents per Watt.Now compare that to a new inverter. I have been told by several technicians that inverters can last very,very long but they will fail at some time in the future.But allmost allways it is possible to repair it. I foresee a market whereby a slowly increasing number of hobbying technicians will offer their services for much lower prices than for instance sending the inverter back to the factory…..
    Well soon I hope to have the time to write an update to my article……

    Chris ,
    Oh ,here is the company where I buy my cells : Everbright Solar, its in Fremont near San Francisco.They are also on ebay .There the sellers name is “RebeccaYi”. And they send free to allmost all States in the USA.
    (tell them how you found them ,that would be nice….)

  53. Thijs Mellema Says:

    Great job!
    I’d like to examine the possibility to implement sunpanels into houses before construction(so you dont have to buy roof-tiles). Btw, do you know where i can buy similar solar models as yours? I couldnt find any on Ebay…

  54. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Thijs,
    Did you look at http://stores.shop.ebay.com/Everbright-Solar-Inc__W0QQ_armrsZ1 . Its at ebay.COM…..
    Look also at : http://link.marktplaats.nl/242902558 (its mine, lower price when more than 20….)

    Chris

  55. Phil Says:

    I had an idea for making the panels. Could you spray the front of the cells with clear polyurethane, then just stick them all onto the glass? Wire them up after they dry. Glue a small border around all the back edges of the glass (probably should do this before sticking the solar cells on). Pour a can of polyurethane over the back. The border will hold it in ’till it dries. I think this will also make the glass less prone to hail/impact damage, plus no where for a lot of heat to build up. You could then silicone around all the borders and stick it onto a board (or anything really) that is slightly larger than the glass. You could then mount the panel by using screws through the board…

  56. Phil Says:

    Oh yeah, this would also be moisture proof! Now I want to build one! Here’s a link on ebay if anyone is looking for solar cells…
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110371347510&category=41981&_trksid=p3907.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC%26its%3DI%252BC%26itu%3DUA%252BIA%252BUCI%26otn%3D15%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D54

  57. Gdife Says:

    You guys Rock!! Chris great job…And Dave R Mason you’re absolutely rock!!

  58. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hi Phil,
    I think your idea is good. But some remarks :
    You should first solder the strings of cells together, because if you would do it after it is “glued” to the glas, you would heat up the glas to much and it would almost certainly break !
    Second remark : try to figure out how much it would cost per Watt.Also the board that you have in mind,how weather resistant would that be ?
    I am trying to balance the cost of it all versus the durability and the output in watts…..
    Third : I am busy finding, not to expensive ,tempered glas that they use for greenhouses(in holland we have lots of those…) About 98% of the sunrays pass through it compared to (a very rough measurement of me) about 87 % of the free glas I have used so far.The price is about E 18,00 per sqm (about $ 24.00/sqm)

    Then this ebay link that you give is sold out, but they have much much more. I have been in their warehouse(Fremont /San Francisco) were they have more than 100.000 cells. So this ebayseller RebeccaYi is were I have bought my cells.I buy the slightly damaged ones….
    Very friendly people ! I can recommend them !They ship for free all over the USA (including Hawai and Alaska) Just send them a mail,telling what you want.(mentioning my name will probably help…..)

    And Gdife : Thank you !!!

    By the way, my technician has got the first one of the five inverters working ………

    Chris

  59. ank Says:

    Hi,

    Great article. Main problem is heating in situ – the greenhouse effect with the glass. Heat seriously reduces electricity generation as well as stressing the assembly. Maybe some kind of heat sinking is necessary. Say bond to an aluminum plate, or aerated hollow box.

    ank

  60. Solar Panels Says:

    I header the US goverment is gonna install solar panels in the white house but not spread them over the Sahara to provide energy for the rest of the country. should be ashamed.

  61. Dingo Says:

    Chris I am glad to see you keep up with your thread. I have an idea for you. I purchased the same cells from RebeccaYi. I payed a little over $1 per watt for the cells.

    OK, here is my idea. This is what I am trying for panels I am building right now. I bought industrial laminating sheet, 0.01″ thick. Here is my plan. Place the soldered strings of cells face down on a piece of glass. I cut a sheet of laminate the size of the glass, and build another bag of laminate and duct tape that I can create a vacuum in. I have a small industrial food processor vacuum pump. I’m pushing it on the duty cycle, but it works. So I have the glass, cells, and sheet laminate in the lamiate bag, under vacuum. While under vacuum, I have been using a heatgun to seal the plastic laminate. So the back of the panel is double layer of laminate, and paper(so you cant see through), sandwhiching the cells to the glass.

    I havent tried it yet, but this is my plan. I originally built two panels on peg board, and I siliconed them, so they wont come off. I did laminate those two panels. I am worried because laminate is covering the front of the cells vs glass. I don’t know the amount of light the plastic will let through, and I’m worried about long term durability in the sun.

    My only concern with the laminate on the glass panels will be the durability of the adhesive on the laminate. I have to build a couple layers of laminate on the edge of glass to bring the thickness to .25″, the glass is 0.188″, so it will fit in a standard frame. I think if I silicone the edges in the frame, it should hold the laminate securely on the glass, and nothing should be allowed to enter.

  62. Wuelman Morales Says:

    Hi Chris> I think is the best Idea work with natural force,
    like sun power, I am just starting with a Photo Cells Project, I want to reduce my electrical bill, If you can share some information about it, send me the information at wuelman@yahoo.com

    Best Regards

    WM

  63. Jack Bard Says:

    For anyone interested in learning more about how to build their own solar panel, I highly recommend the video and manual course here: http://budurl.com/mjqq.

    There are step by step instructions with clear illustrations to build solar panels and even wind power generators. The author did a great job of making this very easy to follow. You should definitely check it out if you want to save money on your electricity bill: http://budurl.com/mjqq

  64. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Dingo,
    Sorry for the late reaction .
    I am very interested in your results with the eva and the way to make the vacuum. My worry would be that if you make the vacuum too strong ,the cells might break under the pressure. Because after soldering the cells cannot be complete flat against the glass as the cellwire + (most probably) some solder will be in the way. I hope I make myself clear . So please let me know how you are doing. One more thing that I am concerned with is the strenght of the glass : I will change to tempered glas(for the frontplate)and it is a type of glass that they use in greenhouses(I still have to test that regarding the amount of sunlight it lets through)of 3mm (maybe 4mm)because it can withstand hail, etc. I can buy it for E15 per square meter(about $1,85 per square ft) and that is a reasonable price.
    Regards , Chris

  65. Dingo Says:

    Here are some problems I ran into. Some cells do crack, but only where I glue them to the glass so they wont move around, or if I have a big bump in my solder. I have gotten pretty good now at laying the solder flat on the front, I have been using less solder, partly since the wires are tinned. I need better flux than I have, cleaning the flux off is what is breaking most of my cells. I still have to test the panel and measure the output. I’ll update, when I do.

  66. Dingo Says:

    The duct tape didn’t hold the vucuum to well. What I ended up doing is building a bag out of laminate and using an iron to seal the edges. I made the bag with the glass and solar cells already inside. I sealed all but a small opening in the bottom. I used a vacuum pump, you could actually use your carpet vacuum, and pulled a vacuum inside the bag. Once the air was removed from the glass, cells and laminate bag, I used a heatgun to seal the last small opening I left for the vacuum. If you seal the edges well, the bag will stay under vacuum and you can use a heatgun to melt the adhevise on the laminate to the glass and back of cells. I effectively made a sandwich of laminate, glass, solar cells, backing paper, and laminate. Having the laminate and glass for the sunlight to penetrate, I’m not sure of any issues that may yet develop from it. Having the laminate bonded to the glass will increase the strength of the glass, and if it breaks, should contain all the shards. I still have to do more testing, and any ideas are appreciated.

  67. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    What I especially like is the extra protection of the layer of laminate in front of the glass : even if a crack would develop, then still there is the protection against moisture.That is : if the laminate is not damaged to much.
    I do like your concept !
    Question : What do you mean with the word “backing paper” .I understand it a bit, but how flexible or inflexible is it ? Or how thick ? What is your reason for using it ? Could you do without it ?
    What is the cost of the industrial laminating sheet ?
    I think you might have a very good concept Dingo !
    Keep me posted or…..perhaps start a website ? Pictures and all…..

  68. Dingo Says:

    I bought a roll of 27″ x 100′ 10 mil(0.25mm) laminate from http://www.mybinding.com . $70.00 usd with shipping. I bought the standard low melt.
    I’m not super pleased with the adhesive on the one I bought, maybe next time I will purchase a more expensive type of laminate. 100′ is enough for 10 panels though. Construction note, when you iron the edges together with everything inside, top and bottom laminate have to be square with eachother, or it will wrinkle when you pull it under vacuum.
    The backing paper probably mostly ended up being for looks. I was hoping if any moisture was trapped inside it would remain within the paper, also it prevents you from being able to see through the cracks between the cells. I was tired of having to cut and piece things together, so I bought some 18″ wide painting drop paper. I only had to cut it to length. I did about 4 or 5 layers on the back. Also if I ever have to take it apart, the laminate will be stuck to the paper instead of the cells. I should be able to save more of them. I got the green one for latex and enamel, I thought dirty white paper would be ugly.
    As you have pointed out on the glass, the reflectivity is killing my panel. I should have tried the low iron glass, but I already had my glass ordered before I read about it.
    I’m thinking about putting everything together. I have two more panels to build, and I’ll take pictures along the way this time.

  69. Dingo Says:

    I wanted to say thank you also. Your articles was one of only a few out there I had to go off of, so thank you for that, and your ideas. When I finish I will try and do the same. The more information out there, maybe more people will give it a try.
    Sean

  70. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Nice to hear you say that Dingo, thank you !
    What I also very much like is that you do things (like the paper/moisture) for a reason, being right or wrong doesnt matter that much, it means you think things over. I do like that !
    Hope you really can find the time to make those pictures of the building proces. It will make things much clearer. Hope you can put them on a website too ! And thanks for the link to the laminating stuff.

    Regards , Chris

  71. Michael Says:

    Maybe you can find some help by seeing this video…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYeynLy6pj8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fvideo%2Egoogle%2Ecom%2Fvideosearch%3Fhl%3Dcs%26q%3Dyoutube%26um%3D1%26ie%3DUTF%2D8%26ei%3DSS4NSseXKIOysAa47Nj7Bw%26sa%3DX%26oi&feature=player_embedded

    Keep up good work!

    Michael

    sumi@post.sk

  72. Hans Maas Says:

    With the information here on this forum, your site and my own production experiences (also to see on my site http://hansmaas.come2me.nl) I’m convinced that my next generation panels will be as good as factory made solar panels and than for a nice price too.

    Keep us updated regarding your experiences, I will continue experimenting with EVA sheet and will let you know how it’s going as when this is going to be a success we can start using only 1 sheet of glass which saves costs (so far I found that EVA sheet cheaper than glass).

    My experiences and my net connected production you can still find on my site http://hansmaas.come2me.nl.

  73. raul valdivia Says:

    Dear Chris,
    I salute you sir. you are an inspiration. and big ups to you D.R.Mason.
    I WILL BUILD A SOLAR! I WILL BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!!
    thank you both
    rv

  74. don Says:

    i dont give a rats a## about a warranty or anything else. i build my own panels for pennys on the dollar and some are 6 years old and still making full power with no issues.
    costs me under $100.00 to build 65watt panels and takes me less than 3 hrs to do it plus, its fun.

  75. Dingo Says:

    Don -

    I care about how long my panels last and the quality of the output. Maybe its just me, I don’t know.

    If you live in a humid climate and your panels arent air tight, they won’t last very long. I have heard averages of around 3 years. Even at 6 years you would have to make panels 3 or 4 times to last as long as one commercial, or properly made panel. In the end your $100 comes to $300 or $400, and then you can easily buy a comercial panel for that price.

    Besides the cells alone cost almost $100 so I doubt that figure of $100 is remotely accurate.

  76. john apple Says:

    hi ive made a few panels which i think are really cheap and durable just use sikaflex 212 to seal glass and cover cells with silicone elastomer super water tight nothing can touch cells either all my panels make peak outputs.its only making a double glazed unit with cells in it?

  77. DrdNaught Says:

    u should use plexiglass as it can withstand hail and doesnt need to be replaced for a long time or never at all. :)

  78. Ralph Says:

    Isn’t there a better way to do this?

  79. Clean Energy Man Says:

    I’m going to go with solar, wind, and any other alternative energy I can. Good Job.

  80. vern Says:

    Just had a stroke or something but this is what happened.
    If you make a frame and put in a sheet of 1/8″ steel about 6″ wider and longer than your panel lay in soft non Flammable cloth lay in your glass than cells than backing than EVA than A peace of carpet than 1/4″plat steel that covers the hole panel this gives pressure heat from the bottom with a space heater or whatever. looking for input before I try it.This could also be made into a box with a good seal on the lid than it is a vacuum chamber.the shop vac or you wife’s vacuum cleaner if you can get away with it. put in a valve so you can suck out all the air and close it

  81. frank f Says:

    I have read a few people articles.

    I’m new into making solar panels.

    Can you all please write a simple step by step short procedure.
    I can make the panel. ok

    I don’t see anyone that can show us where to buy the frames
    with the glass. completed . done
    All i have to do is solder the cells and done.

    Can you all just write short to the point , so we can learn
    easy. Please send us legit website. not scams

    Kepp up the good work
    for a 36 cells 3x 6 .
    Can someone send us the website wher we can buy it

  82. frank f Says:

    this is a follow up…

    Can someone send us websites where we can buy the complete
    frame with glass.
    I’m building 20 panel of 36cells 3×6″ I bought with your
    help at fremont, cal. company. very nice people.

    Now all we need is get the frame . 25 w x 31L x 7/8″

    Please help me find the frame maker website.
    thanks again,
    Frank e-mail: : solarfloridaroofs@yahoo.com

  83. northbaydarrell Says:

    i bought 1.75wp cells on ebay. used a piece of plywood and some ceramic tile spacers glued to the plywood only to make one straight line. i found most of the sells are just a bit different in size so i only made one line just to have the cell sit loose in line. ketp the cells straight while soldering 9 in a row. tested the output of the 9. then i placed my clear 5mm glass on the table. placed the 4 rows of 9 cells face down on the glass to made 4 rows. completed the final soldering of buses with cells face down. Used PV 804 to place a 2 in dia dot in the middle on the back which was not up of each cell. i then placed a 5mm clear placstic on the back with two holes pre-drilled where the two power leads needs to come out. extra PV 804 around these two holes too. pressed gentally and evenly to have all cells in uniform. like a sandwich flipped the whole thing over now and lifeted the top piece of glass off. i then placed a 1/2 inch continuous bead of PV 804 all the way around the outside edge about 3/4 to 1 inch in from the edge. placed the top piece of glass on top and pressed gentally all the edges to make sure i had a great seal. using alum trim the the glass companies use 12mm inside u chanel i then applied some PV 804 to the inside of the trim. with all corners mitered to 45, pushed the edging on and wiping off the excess pv 804 from the back and front surfaces. flipped it over and now applied more PV 804 to mount a J-box on the back and solder and trim the leads into the box.
    my panel works great and here is my cost list.
    $30 for 5mm glass plate 26×32, $50 for plastic 5mm, $18 alum trim, $15 pv 804, $20 odds and ends 36 cells at $2.30 ea for 1.75wp some shipping costs less than $240.00 63 watt 18v 3.5amps. i paid over $800 for 130watt panels plus shipping costs. i can build 2 of my panels to achieve the same watts for half the price. for a DIY type guy, not knowing the best places to buy stuff and get the best values. paying top dollar for all items. i know i still did a prety good job. quality of the product is the some of workmanship and materils. i’m not selling but i know it the materils do what they say i’m in good shape. not bad for a guy that never seen this stuff before and had no idea what i was getting into let a lone know what i was doing.
    i am handy and there is a lot to this so be patient if you not handy. DO NOT RUSH any of thess processes. if your not electrically incline, make sure you seek some experiance from someone that has that back ground before connecting this stuff up. this is live voltage once the sun comes out.

  84. northbaydarrell Says:

    i also forgot to mention that i did this in my family room over a period of two weeks. it also took me two weeks because i needed to lay out cells to get the best sizing. then i needed to soldier them together take some measurements add some spacing, call around get pricing and sizes, order the plastic and glass find time to pick it up while working, so hr here hr there. but i would have to say that now that i have made one, the next 5 i am going to make will not take as long. a guess would be 4 or 5 hrs per panel. lots of questions from my family as to how much longer will this take. i am in the middle of making my frame to mount my finish panels outside. the first one takes the longest because the next part depends on the first part.. once i have my outsdie mounting completed, then i will make the rest of my 5 more panels. no need to have glass products laying aournd unless you have a place to put them. like Frank F in the reply before my first entry, i will plan my outside to determine how many of these to actually make. now knowing the easy workable size of 36 cells, i now have my process. you will find yours.
    when i say 5 hrs to make this does not include the time to drive around to pickup items that i ordered and the time on ebay and waiting for parts to arrive. once i have the stock pile of materials then if i just got up and started the project sat morning i would be done 1 panel just after lunch.

  85. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Frank,
    contact Everbright Solar In Fremont Calif. They are good people selling a very good price per watt. Here is the link : http://www.everbrightsolar.net/ . You will have to make the frame with the glass yourself. I have sofar not seen any place were they sell this. I myself use tempered glas and make the frame of aluminum.

    Hello Darryl,
    Good description of your building the panel. Now start looking for cheaper materials. I dont see any reason for not using glass for the backplate. Advantage is that ,if you look around long enough ,you can find the glass for free. You just need to cut it to the right size.Also it will expand and contract at the same rate as the frontplate when the temperature changes during day/night and summer/winter, that way not creating to much stress on the pv804.So it will last longer.
    I now have gotten my order of tempered glass and I have about 100 square meters of it. I got it for a bit less than $20 per square meter. There are about 10.8 square feet in a sqm. So it means about $1,80 per square foot. But I have been searching for it for a few months also checking out other types of glass.This had the most economic price wereby I also considered the amount of sunlight it lets through. My glass is 88%.

    Chris

  86. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Next week I will receive a last order and then I will start building 10 panels of 50Wp each. So a total of 500Wp. Then see how it holds during our wet/freezing winterseason. If it holds well I will continue to over 2000Wp.
    Chris

  87. Jon (Solar Power DIY newbie) Says:

    @Chris – great article, your panels look tight. Mine would probably have duct-tape all over them =^)

    @frank f – here are some reviews of the top step-by-step solar power guides that are out there now. A bunch of them even include videos too:

    http://www.reviewsuncensored.info

    I think that the one called “Green DIY Energy” looks the best, even though their website maybe looks a little less hyped-up than the other solar power guides out there.

    Good Luck!
    Jon

  88. Harouna Sangare Says:

    Hi, Chris

    I am very impressed by your courage and i wish you the world in your expérimentation. I myself have been hookd up on the solar energy sector just 4 months ago and i have learn so much from it. Keep up with the good work and one day i will invite you to Africa where you can have your own signature, lead a business that could change the world cause I am down to learn as much as i can and then we could teach others how to make this world go green. I am dead serious by the way.
    Good Job, Budd. Harouna

  89. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Thank You very much for your compliment !

    Chris.

  90. Stefan Hughes Says:

    Hey Chris,good job but did want to warn some guys off the old evergreen cells.They are microcracked and will be producing power in 2-3 years at under a Watt.We have been warning people off but newer high efficiency and high watt cells are now hitting DIY due to the price wars in China,everyone is dropping prices to compete with them but weve had them in stock for about 4 months.New stuff is now on the market but really the reason all of our employees are now on the net is because of the guides mentioned above in an earlier post.
    100% of them,all of them-earth4energy,the “comparison” sites,all the slick or non slick sites related to guides that are 6 months or newer are a scam.Google links and generalized info are all you get for 49.99.We are starting a campaign against them all over the place and you will start seeing alot more of us and alot less of them in the coming weeks.So for those looking for DIY solar guides or advice stay away from the newer stuff,it is general info that will not help you build successful panels and at all costs,dont use wood frames!It warps and even if you use sealant or marine plywood you have to reseal it every year!
    Fiberglass or glass like Chris has used here is what you need to be using as a backing.
    And Thanks,Chris,for promoting real DIY solar!

  91. liam Says:

    My friend and I have been brainstorming about how to make an airtight solar panel. We were thinking that we could create a metal frame and put plexiglass in the back of the frame. We would then place the panels on the plexi in the frame. We would then pour polyeurathane onto the cells and place lexan on the top and then let the polyeurathane dry.

    My qyestions are:

    Will the poly disrupt the charges on the solar cells?
    Will the poly contract or expand enough in winter and summer to crack the solar cells?

    Thankyou.

  92. Lewis Says:

    Congratulations on your build, I hope the panels serve you well and this article will hopefully encourage more readers to follow your example. Great detail included as well. The potential of solar power is so huge, people really could do so well from following your example.

  93. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Liam,
    I do not think that the poly wil have influence on the power generated by the cell (if that is what you mean by “disrupt the charges” ) but the sunlight will lose power when it penetrates the layer of poly. And that after it has also lost some power allready when penetrating the lexan.I would not know how much losses you get.The best thing to do(especially regarding the temperature/contractions/expansions) is to just go ahead and make a small panel (for instance 12 cells) and test it through the summer and winterconditions. Perhaps you can find a place were they have deep freezing-installations and put the panel in and out of there several times so you wont have to wait for winter…… I know someone who did it with a testpanel( made with glass/cells/PVB) small enough to put in his kitchen freezer.

    In the meantime I have built 5 panels , 50 Watts each. They are not completely finished but the double-glass is finished,cells enclosed in it and I am working on the frames. But that is a less demanding job.For some pictures see my latest update on http://www.doctersnuggles.come2me.nl

  94. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Liam,
    I do not think that the poly will “disrupt” the charges on the solar cells. (I dont really understand what you mean by that…..) I dont think it will cause any problems with the cells but the only way to find out is to try it !
    Use the freezer and put it in and out of there 10 times or more.
    You also have to deal with the airpockets between the lexan and the poly as it will be very difficult to put the lexan onto the still fluid poly without trapping pockets of air.
    One more thing is that the sunlight will have to travel through the lexan and the poly , which means 2 times oosing sunlight. Besides I have found out is that tempered glass is a lot cheaper than lexan……

  95. rajesh Says:

    i am intrested in making solar panel,i need deatials about solar..

  96. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Rajesh,
    I do not understand your question really. Most details are on my website, did you look there ? http://www.doctersnuggles.come2me.nl

  97. evangeline Says:

    if your frames are water tight try filling them with a clear (or mostly clear) oil. you loose 5% of your light at every glass surface due to reflection. the reflection occurs because of the abrupt change in refractive index between the glass and the air. if you fill the air gap between the glass and the panel with oil, I recommend canola or rapeseed, you eliminate one of these reflections.

    if you are very brave you could even try mounting the cells directly to the glass using a clear silicon glue. though the thermal gradient may crack the panels or the glass.

    if on the other hand you are very ambitious you could use a small pump to circulate the oil and use it in a combined heat solar application. in the Netherlands the temp would be just about right for heating your home. in fact you will probably get more energy from this than the cells.

  98. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Evangeline,
    I have been thinking about these suggestions, wondering if it is true about the abrupt refractive change. But now you confirm them. Thank you. I will try them sometime in the future. I wish there were more hours in a day…..

  99. Billig Fliegen Says:

    I believe that the energy future is solar. Not in that big dimension what we would need to run all things but enough to support every household with energy. But till it is so the price of the solar opanels has to fall.

  100. olli Says:

    hi..
    did anyone try to laminate the cells with clear expoid resin? well, its not that i dont trust the laminated versions with the EVA sheets or with the PV804 silicone based stuff… its just that i could get lots of epoxid resin for free at my work… =)
    i also think, epoxid resin would be cheaper price then both other versions, aslong as 10kgs of resin cost just about 60€, witch is alsmost the price for 1kg of the PV804 or similar stuff.

  101. Bob Says:

    I am very impressed at the efficiencies your experiments have acheived. An idea to avoide the condensation concern would be to use an encapsulant this will eliminate the air space. Also be very cautious of the glass you are using as there are all types of spectrum inhibitors wich will reduce your efficiency. The less opacity the better obviously. Also take into account the effects curing the encapsulant, any voids in the material will reduce efficiency. you could try it in a manner similar to how transducers are mounted in boats with epoxy resins (the type that transmit through the hull). Another consideration is the thickness of the glass, the stuff you are using is very fragile, an encapsulant will add to the module’s strength as well as reduce current leakage giving you the most bang for your buck.

  102. Solar Panel Says:

    There are very few DIY solar websites on the internet that aren’t trying to rip you off. The author of this article along with a couple people who replied are some of the few who actually have websites worth looking at. Why pay for the DIY solar guides when you have people like this who go out of their way to give you solid information for free on their personal websites. I posted all the DIY solar websites worth looking at in the DIY section on http://www.solarpaneltalk.com I’m hoping it will be of some help to those of you tackling this type of project.

  103. Solar / Winds Says:

    I have made 4 solar panels so far but I seal my back different then you. I use sylgard 184 from dupont. It’s a liquid that hardens to seal all the air out of the panel. It also gives with the heat and the expantion of the cells. I have been working with 4×4′s cells and now 6×6′s cells.
    I want to make a 72 cell panel next.

  104. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hi Solar Panel,
    Thank you for your comment. I have looked at solartalk. I allways wonder why people don’t understand that its more like a hobby. Instead they start calculating the time lost in making the panels, time they could have used to make more money doing other things. Its just a lot off fun building them. And I do have the time to do it.And ofcourse , its a big challenge !
    At the moment I am finishing building 8 panels of 50Wp totalling 400 Wp. I want to have that finished before december to let them outside in our wintery environment and see how they last.

    Hello Solar/Winds :
    Could you tell me how much it has cost you to use the Sylgard per panel (better : per Wp)
    The price of my 50 Wp-panel will be about $ 90 ( E 60 )

  105. Solar / Winds Says:

    I have found a place that sell’s sylgard foe $36.87 a peace but they want you to buy at least $100.00 worth .
    http://www.Superioressex.com go to shop on line and enter ( DC-184-ms 1.1) This is better then ebay. I needed that much any way. It comes out to three of them.

  106. Solar Panel Talk Says:

    Hi Chris thanks for the reply. How old is the first panel you made? Have you seen any decrease in production since then?

    I agree with what you say. On the forum we stress that exact thing.

    I just finished sending an email to you a couple of minutes ago before looking at your last comment. I didn’t know it was you until I put my mouse cursor over your name and saw that your doctersnuggles :)

    Thanks for taking the time to put out quality information on your website. It’s a great read!

    I’ll be checking back on your site to check out the 8 panels when they are completed.

    See you around!

    Jason

  107. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Jason,
    I have to disappoint you : I dont have any panels outside yet ! I have to finish a total of 8 panels and connect them in series to get enough power for the inverter that I am going to use. It means 196 cells in series giving 105 Volt unloaded. My inverter has a minimum input voltage of 75 volts. So once the inverter starts working the voltage of 105 volts will drop to around 85 volts , and that’s still above the minimum input-voltage.
    Just now I finished panel nr.6 , putting the sealant all around the aluminium frame. It will have to dry for a few days. Panel nr.7 : I need to make the frame first. for panel nr.8 I still need to make most of the parts. So maybe 3 weeks from now nr.7 + 8 will be finished.And then I will have to attach all 8 of them to my house…… I have calculated these panels to be around 50 Wp, meaning I will have an installation of 400 Wp.
    These are very low efficiency cells, but I got them so cheap ( about $0.73 or E0,49 per Wp ) that it is worth making these panels. I have calculated the completed panel of 50Wp to cost about $ 90 or E 60. So $1,80 or E1,20 per Wp
    The inverter is secondhand. And I bought it for about $0,24 or E0,16 per watt.The only other cost will be installing materials. I guess that it will be around $0,38 or E0,25 per Wp.
    If I add this all up I get a complete solarpanel installation for $2,40 (E 1,60……)per Wp !!
    The only thing is that it will have to prove itself coming years !

    Hi Solar/winds
    Once again I ask you : how much sylgard ( in dollars or euro’s ) do you need for a panel ? And how much Wp is that panel ?

  108. Solar / Winds Says:

    11/14/09
    I have the three panels out side now and it’s been about three month now. They seem to be holding up to the weather real good . We have had snow and very cold weather so far. I want to power al my Christmas lights this year.
    I haven’t cept track of what it cost but I would say I have spent over 2 to 3 thousand dollars so far. I still have three more to go of different size cells. I want to do a 72 cell panel also. I have just received some 6×6 cells and there is about 5 to 6 cells that are no good now . They must of broke in the mail. I need to put my panels in searies .I’m ordering a new Charge Controler , a larger one .I have a 30 Amp now and I’m going to a 60Amp MPPT.
    This is just a hobbie for me also. Just having fun.

  109. Solar / Winds Says:

    Chris Van der Zwaal,
    I don’t know how to change dollars into euro’s sorry,
    I know ourn money is less then Euro’s .Like $1.00 would be 1.75 Euro’s . I’m just guessing. Sylgard is $ 36.87 usa so It’s alittle more exspensive there. Don’t buy Sylgard off Ebay it’s to exspensive there.

  110. Solar / Winds Says:

    I just use one 20oz sylgard to cover a 36 cell panel. I’m making a 6×6 now and I think I might have to use alittle more so I’ll probly use two of them. I have 6 hihg and 6 wide.

  111. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hi Solar/Winds,
    I have done some calculations with the figures you have given me. I see that 20 oz is about a pound which is about 0.5 Kg. Now I see that Sylgard is on ebay : 0.5Kg for $53. So you probably mean that you buy this same packing of Sylgard for $36,87. So I conclude that you use that full pot of Sylgard for a 36 cel panel . Is this correct ?
    If so , then it is pretty expensive per Wp. Perhaps you can try using it in a thinner layer…..
    36 cells of 6×6 inches will be a panel of about 120 Wp . Meaning you use $0,25 to $0,30 per Wp….if you use only one pot of 20 oz.

  112. Solar / Winds Says:

    Yes I use the hole 20 oz’s , 0.5kg to put on the cell’s 36 cells
    It’s the only thing I can find right now to seal the back side of the panel. It’s exspensive but it does the work. it’s made for the solar opanels. I’ll probly mix two for the 6×6 becaust it’s a big fraime .I had to buy 3 sylgerds for one order. I think it came out $102 or 5 US $. I am looking into some other stuff but it’s made by Dupont. If i qulify they will send me some samples of three different types and at 20 oz. each. I don’t think I could use a thinner on it becaous once you mix it it takes 5 min. to mix then you have to use it. I don’t know but maybe it would react different if it was thinner. You can buy sylgard in a different type that does not harden fast .It’s just for fun doing this.

  113. Johan Says:

    Hello,
    Anyone out here who has some experience with thin film solar and could give me some pointers ? see panels in cost range of 175 euro with specs like this: Model: SCG55-HV-F

    Belangrijkste eigenschappen:

    * Open circuit voltage Voc(V): 50,9
    * Optimum operating voltage Vm (V): 38,8
    * Short circuit current Isc (A): 1,69
    * Current at Pmax Imp(A): 1,42
    * Maximum power Pmax (Wp): 55
    * Power tolerance: ±5%
    * Maximum system voltage: 1000V
    * Afmetingen: 1258 X 658 X 30 (mm)
    * IEC en TUV gecertificeerd
    * Gewicht: 14,6 kg

    Thnx
    Johan

  114. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    I started another website : http://www.doctersnuggles2.come2me.nl
    So far I put only pictures on it ; text will follow…..

  115. Solar Panel Talk Says:

    Hey Chris, added that site in the DIY solar discussion forum on Solar Panel Talk as well. Thanks for the great pics.

  116. Urban solar panels could provide entire Earth with energy « Hammarström's Blog Says:

    [...] Besides from all this, there is the economical incentive: solar panels are much cheaper than many other forms of energy, such as fossil fuels. Some might argue that this is not true, because purchasing solar panels is so expensive, but remember that it is a one-time investment, which then will provide energy for a long time (figures range from decades to over a century). And it’s becoming cheaper by the minute. It also depends on how you construct and install it – doing it yourself, which isn’t as complicated as it sounds, could save you a lot of money. Here is how Chris van der Zwaal from the Netherlands did it. [...]

  117. J Saxton Says:

    Good advice here! Glass for both sides allows good sealing and no bother with painting. I have ordered 36 of the new 6 by 6 inch poly cells rated at 8 amps. This should be a 160 watt panel, if all goes well. For my glass I have an excellent source.. A used building materials store nearby. Double-pane windows of tempered glass, various sizes for 15 to 30 dollars. This will be my first try at a panel. I have already good electrical skills.

  118. J Prokos Says:

    Amazing to me that people are comparing these home made panels to manufactured panels. The idea is to be resourceful and imaginative. Any warranty on a solar panel increases the cost tremendously. Manufacturers have to factor in a certain percentage of returns in order to turn a profit. Therefore the initial price goes up. When you get a warranty you are paying for it – believe me. I think DIYers like Chris and others will eventually bring the price of solar down. Right now it’s a rich person’s hobby. Not many folks have a spare $40,000 to buy a name brand PV system.

    Now, on to the panels. I like what Chris has done. He asked for ideas… one way to evacuate the water vapor would be to leave a small silicone pipe or two protruding into the space and let the water vapor evaporate out with the heat of the sun, then plug those pipes with silicone. If you ever have a condensation problem in the future you could reopen and repeat. Love what you have done and will use your page as a guide while building my 8 ~190 watt panels in Nepal.

  119. SilverSolar Says:

    I had a friend who wanted to install solar on his roof. I gave him a commercial quotation but he found it too expensive. He ventured in making his own solar modules, pretty much like what Chris did with the cells, glass, soldering, etc. The solar modules worked, but only for two weeks due to corrosion on the wires. His investment worth $14,000 for PV just became room dividers for his house. He eventually get a deal with Shell solar modules that the oil company want’s to get rid off their inventory.

    I will make my solar modules just for the fun of it and for the learning process. This is an expensive lesson to learn, but I am not expecting to save on the overall cost of solar modules compared to the commercial ones.

  120. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Silver Solar
    Pity that your friend did not find a way to build his panels airtight/watertight. Over here in the Netherlands there are a few people allready who have their panel out for over half a year and still running…….
    My installation started working jan 1 2010. Worst season to start because we have very little sunshine in januari here in the Netherlands. But luckily jan 1 was a sunny day and it works well. Only thing is that the sun on jan 1 does not come higher on the horizon than 15 degrees……I am expecting the maximum/peak output to happen somewere in april.(low temperatures and sun high enough) Max. production per day will probably be later on when the daylight period will be longer.
    Just go and see my second website : http://www.doctersnuggles2.come2me.nl

  121. vern Says:

    Hi Chris I like what your doing with charing info.I have perchast two traning systoms and they arnt as good as your websits.I have built to propeler type wind generators.Ied like to see moore of the one you built.I have alot of trees that make turbulans.I think yours would be moore afactive in inconsistant winds.I am working on my 4th solar panel and notice how you bend your tab wire did you make a tool to bend it? it looks so presice and consistant.
    I use a pice of lamnated wood flooring to build my string on with pens much like yours.Than I lay anther pice of wood flooring on top to turn tham over after removing the pens.I was floping tham over and brok some so I found anather way.The wood flooring is very slik so it is ezsy to slid tham off in place very little strees.

  122. Hante Says:

    Hello Chris,
    congrats on your full system installation. Your work was and still is inspiring for me. See my website as well:

    http://www.xs4all.nl/~hante/index-en.html

    regards

  123. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    Hello Vern,
    I use a piece of flat iron-plate that is pretty thin. Then I used my ironsaw to make a cut in it. Then in that cut I place the wire (still perpendicular to the iron) And then I bend the wire to get the bend. It is a bit difficult to explain in words without a picture. I hope you understand how I do it.
    Also your idea to turn over the string of cells is a good and simple one. I have heard this idea. But sofar I have been too lazy to change my way of working. Also because I only have 6 cells in a string , and those cells are relatively thick and thus they are relatively strong. For longer strings and weaker cells , your suggestion is much much better and I think even nescesary.

    Regards ,
    Chris

  124. Chris van der Zwaal Says:

    I do also very much recommend Hante’s website ! If you look for good information go there !
    http://www.xs4all.nl/~hante/index-en.html

    Chris

  125. Solar Water Pumps Says:

    Experimenting with RSS. I can keep current with your website from now on- very neat feature

  126. Homemade Solar Panels Says:

    Great article. Developing organic solar cells from polymers, however, is a cheap and potentially simpler alternative

  127. Emmett Hirschy Says:

    It is astonishing to me just how many individuals are unmindful of the energy concerns that we face. Its truly upsetting that so many of us either believe that there is an unlimited supply of good clean energy, or ignore the issue completely. For others, solar options, as well as many innovative technologies symbolize a bright light at the end of a really dark tunnel. I highly regard anyone, who in either a strong or small way, takes their worthwhile time to educate everyone about their personal opportunities and obligations when it comes to our future, and our kids future. When we reflect twenty years from now, it will almost be unbelievable that we were even involved in this debate. Our energy future is a forgone conclusion, and we all have a part to play in progressing us toward it.

  128. Solar Solutions One Says:

    Thanks for the info and illustrations. More people should take the initiative to implement solar energy. Keep up the good work.

  129. Nanflexal Says:

    Guys,

    I want to build 4pcs of 100watt solar panel. could someone help me. Thanks

  130. How To Make Homemade Solar Panels Says:

    Chris,
    Looking forward to seeing some more updates on your system since you have built it up to 400 watts capacity.

    Thanks for the helpful article.

    Mike

  131. Chris Says:

    Hi Mike,
    Well , the system works very good.
    The output must be somewhat higher than that 400 W ,as the maximum that I have seen sofar was 57,5 Watt per panel (this was the power before it went into the gridtied inverter). So for the full system of 8 panels the outputmax. was not 400 but 460 Watt.
    I am keeping track also of the total (yearly) powerproduction. And on june 22nd that total was (so you can say after half a year) 205 kWh meaning that for a full year it will be close to 400 kWh.
    All these figures indicate that my panels are around 55 Wp (Most panels that are factory rated at a certain Wp-figure will during their lifetime sometimes produce a higher output than this factory rated Wp-figure, this is to explain why I do not rate them at 57,5 Wp)
    And for now I have not seen any problems regarding the sealing of the panels.
    My next series of 8 panels is almost finished and then I will start to use a more powerful inverter that I have ( SunnyBoy 1100) requiring the higher voltage of the total of 16 panels in series. I am talking about an outputvoltage of around 225 V DC. That is really becoming dangerous when the isolation is not allright….

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  133. Teri Haul Says:

    From reading your first paragraph we are in somewhat the same predicament. I am just a learner in solar energy as well. I will be building a new home 5 months from now and my goal is to build it a solar energy home. I believe in the long haul it will save in energy cost. I’m looking forward to finding the right info to build solar panels that are cost saving. Instead of buying ready made solar panels why not build your own right from your house. I found a site that sells info on building your own energy solar panels and | will give a go and build my own. Imagine that running my home with solar energy that |had a part in. Taking a hot bath and heating and keeping me warm from solar panels built with my own hands. I’m looking foward to building my own solar home and living in warmth created by the sun.

  134. carmen Says:

    Excellent article, Solar panel power is great way to produce huge electricity and this article impress to other to build own solar panel

  135. kieron Says:

    This is the best site i have visited ref solar energy,I am building a1 kWh unit using opti glass this has a very low iron content and so will pass more light, To fix cells to front glass i am using an opti clear bonding agent as used by window fitters in the uk a very nice chap at the factory is then going to sandwich this as in double glassing and then replace air with argon,the glass cost £25 1050×960, but regardless of cost i will still build a unit for less than a 3rd of factory price, i will use a screed of thermally conductive bonding agent on the back panel 8mm thick as regards longevity the double glassed units in my house are 16yrs old

    anyway good luck crack on and do not listen to negative critics, they only serve to drive me on so you see they to have a use.

  136. Doctersnuggles Says:

    Hello Kieron,
    Thanks for the positive comment !
    Nice way you put the cells to the front glass. Are you able to get all the trapped air out ? There is someone in the Netherlands who is exxperimenting succesfully with EVA (that is the stuff they use in real solar panels to seal the cells laminating them with this EVA)
    My first 8 panels are working great after more then a year. And I am continuing building. At the moment I have 18 panels. I expect to \make\ about 900 kWh with them this year ( jan-dec ), its on my website : http://www.doctersnuggles.come2me.nl. I am aiming for an installation of about 2300 Wp.
    And indeed : the negative critics made me stronger and more persistent ! Thanks !

  137. PV Solar Panels Says:

    Well done, it’s inspiring to see someone really make the effort to bring solar power into their home!

  138. H.C. van der Zwaal Says:

    If you visit my website (part in Dutch/part in English) you can see that I now have 990Wp operational and feeding into the grid !
    I am still building aiming for a total of over 2300Wp…….

  139. How to Make Solar Panel – Websites Says:

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  140. H.C.van der Zwaal Says:

    Nice that you say that you have all the information in one place ! But I am not able to see if it really gives what you say it gives. UNLESS I pay for it…… And it is very,very disappointing to see that I have to pay to get the information………

  141. johnny Says:

    Hello,

    Can you please delete comment numbers 127 and 128, it’s spam and the websites mentioned a scam. I think there are more here but I didn’t check them all.

    of course you don’t have to publish this comment.

    Best,
    Johnny

  142. Good info. Says:

    Nice Read….

    [..] This morning after I read this blog post, I appreciated the ideas and decided it was worthy of a link. [..]…

  143. Patty Says:

    Great post! It’s encouraging to see people who really take the effort to bring solar power for home.

  144. G Smith Says:

    Just fitted solar pannels to my own home, should of found this article sooner..good reading tho

    GAZ

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  146. gaz Says:

    thanks for the post realy good read,im going to start a solar panel service now

  147. Carmen R. Westerlund Says:

    I finally built my own solar panels thanks to your guide. I’ve been saving between $24 to $28 every single month and I know for some it may not seem like a lot of money but it feels really good to be spending less on my energy bill.

  148. Ronald L Wilson Says:

    how to beald a solar cells 3×6

  149. roof repairs Oldham Says:

    Do they work just as good if you build them your self or do the work better

  150. How To Keep a Man Interested Says:

    How To Keep a Man Interested…

    Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks…

  151. Types Of Solar Panels | Solar System Facts Says:

    [...] If you lights can absorb enough sun during the day, choose a proper size will match your request. Solar heating panels come in a variety of configurations. One popular set-up is the flat plate…anels – Crucial Facts About Solar Panels Types …" style="width: 120px;float: right;clear: [...]

  152. THE SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC $1 a watt DIY Solar Panel Part 2 Make your own solar panel series Bus Wire | Renewable Energy Benefits Says:

    [...] certain to get everything required to build your solar panels from start to … Video Rating: 4 / 5 This is part 2 and covers the basics for beginners + The cells I am using are all broken cells I pu…="425" height="355" [...]

  153. Solar Panels Kits For Your Home | Electric Solar Panels Says:

    [...] others . And I really like what you are saying about the experience you have with your own Panels. Untill today I have not used diodes,simply because there is no need (yet) to parallel [...]

  154. EF5Twister Says:

    And since you posted this, the prices of solar panels has decreased dramaticallly. Whether a person builds their own or buys them, the idea of free electricity has gazillions of advocates. In many place sin the world, it’s the only viable solution for electricity generation.

  155. Easy Solar Panel Plans Says:

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for DIY solar panel guides

  156. James Says:

    Good post! Build DIY solar panels is not difficult things but for newbie still need some good step-by-step instruction to help them build efficient solar panels.

  157. MI Says:

    Great post!
    Excellent discussion.

    Why not leave out the glass plate entirely?
    Just laminate the cells between two layers of plastic.
    I think it would withstand rain and some hail.

    Did anyone try this (not using glass but laminates only?)
    Thnx!

  158. DIY Solar Power Websites Showing Successful Projects | Renewedsolar.com Says:

    [...] Olino Article [...]

  159. Solenoid Valves Says:

    Im having a hard time finding all the parts for my solar project locally.

  160. Green Iowa Energy Says:

    In seeing this post is several years old, the comments are no longer valid. Solar panels have come down in price so far that it is actually cheaper to buy 200+ watt panels than it is to make them from scratch. As a hobbyist however, these are very fun to build and it’s very educational for the solar enthusiests. Stumbled!

  161. Nomadic.za.org» get going in one artical Says:

    [...] As part of every nomadic life it involves settling for a time here are a few things that might make it more enjoyable and allow you to live off the grid so why not get water from thin air with ecoblue or Build your own solar panel. [...]

  162. Making a low cost solar panel | Workshopshed Says:

    [...] van der Zwaal from OliNo Renewable Energy has been making low cost solar panels from smaller cells he picked up cheap on [...]

  163. Zelfbouw zonnepanelen | Nulpuntenergie Says:

    […] http://www.olino.org/articles/2009/03/19/zelfbouw-zonnepaneel (NL-talige versie) http://www.olino.org/us/articles/2009/03/19/building-my-own-solar-panel (idem, Engelstalige versie met extra commentaren) Chris was ook op de uitzending van 24 maart 2009 […]

  164. steve Says:

    Some good points raised above. Very Interesting.Thanks

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