DIY Build Solar Panels 1/2: Homemade from Scratch
Hey, thank you so much for watching. I’m Pippi Peterson. You can connect with me and the RV living community on my website at Pepin is calm as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. So this video, that’s about building a solar panel from scratch, I’ve, written a blog to accompany it.
It has the shopping list, dimensions, specifications and stuff like that, as well as some diagrams. That will help you along your way. If you’re planning to be building a panel along with this video so be sure to check that out start with building your frame, the dimensions will fully depend on the size of the cells you buy.
I’m using inch and a half aluminum angle iron, with miter cuts on the corner for the frame I used the same angle, iron to cut out my corner brackets as well. Don’t forget to take into account that inner screws on the corners for your overall sizing calculations once your frame is assembled, use, clear, caulking to cushion your glass from the metal and help keep it in place.
Get some help placing the glass into the frame and let the caulking dry. I use the same original angle iron to make l brackets to hold my glass in use caulking between the metal in the glass. Now that I got my frame built and ready, it’s, time to start soldering the cells, so how we’re going to solder, the cells together in the panel is going to be in series.
So just like, we have different connections when hooking up batteries and solar panels, so you know you can do series or parallel well series increases the voltage, so you can do the same. You know variation of hookups on solar cells, but I want to do in series.
So I’m, going to do parallel to negative or sorry positive, negative, positive negative. So the front side of the cell is positive and then the back side of the cell is negative. So when it’s done it’ll kind of look like so I’ve got these tabs on the front side, and then I’m, going to solder the front tabs to the back.
So that’s, going to be series, so it’ll increase my voltage and that’s. What I want to do is increase the voltage, so I’m going to have 36 cells, and so you might be wondering like how do you know how many cells you need? Well, these particular cells are roughly 1/2 volt.
So if I put 36 cells together in series and they’re half a voltage, that means the overall voltage of the panel is going to be about 18 volts. So I’m, going to be using this to charge a 12 volt battery and because there’s loss – and you know in the wires or there’s loss in the charge controller.
You need roughly 18 volts going into your charge controller to get to charge a 12 volt battery. So if I have 36 cells and they’re half fold each – that’s, going to be 18 volts, so that’s. How I know how many cells I want – and you know, depending on your project or what you’re doing, you can customize it that way so to solder them together.
This is the tabbing wire. It just comes in a spool, and I’ve cut a bunch to be about the size. You really only need the size to go from the front to the back of the other panel. It’s about six inches on these ones, and I’m using so this.
This tabbing wire supposedly has a little bit of solder on it, but I’m using solder anyway, and I think this one is, I’m, pretty sure I got non-lead doesn’t really matter, but I don’t really want to work with lead, and then I’m using a little bit of the paste kind of flux, the flux just kind of helps it like blend a little bit.
The metal left run and mix together, and you only have to solder on the the white line. Putting the tabbing wire on the blue doesn’t really do anything, so it just needs to really go down. The white line make sure that it gets connected the whole way down and doesn’t have little spots where it disconnects.
So these ones you can. You can solder the Front’s on separately and then you can put them together on the panel, so you may as well get it set up and get all of your cells tabbed. So I’m going to see I’
Ve got a loose connection there. So I’ve got a big pile of these, and I’m just going through these and then once I get these done, then I’ll, go outside and start putting them on the the glass frame.
Before you start laying down your cells, you want to make sure you like triple cleaned your glass. This is the side that you’ Ll, never be able to clean again the other side you can, but you want to make sure you’
Ve got all the dust off, so I’ve got a few started already. You just take one cell and since the front side is already tapped, you’re, going to lay the front side down and then just solder, those tabs that you just put down to the little white squares on the back.
So I’m just going to take a little bit of flex and dab it on each little white square. Then the flux will help the solder that’s already on the tab. The tabbing wire to flow on to the back of the solar cell and make sure that you’re, not overlapping your cells.
By any chance, you want as much of the front side to show. So I’m, going to get some hot solder on the tip of my gun and make that connection all right. So I thought so. I have half of my cells down already and they’re in their own individual rows.
They’re, not connected yet, and I just wanted to test just to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong and I’ve testing these two to make sure they’re, fully hooked up, and so Solar cells and panels – you know you can’t turn them on and off.
They pretty much are on when there’s Sun going on them, so I’ve got this mirror below, and this is raised up so that the Sun shines underneath. So that way I can read how much voltage they’re getting and then just because of the where the Sun is and the mirror – and you know this little setup – half of these aren’t getting Sun.
So so the reading will be a little bit less, but this is what I’ll do is I’ve got my own meter. I’ve, got it on DC volts and so the front side of the cells. The blue side is negative. I’ll, put the negative, I’ll, just leave it there the whole time.
So I’ Ll touch the positive side. The back I’ve got a point four, eight six, so that’s pretty good, especially because it’s, not getting direct sunlight. So I should read it about that: SOTA bit should be about five or 0.
5 and then one and then one and a half to two and a half three three and a half. So these are all reading. You know pretty much every 0.5 intervals, which is good, that’s, exactly what I want, so I know that they’re all connected, so I’ve, actually read all of them in there.
They’re. All doing well – and you can even check the amps on this, but I’m just looking at the volts right now, so keep in mind that when you use your flux when it hits the heat, sometimes it can splatter.
So you want to be sure that you’re cleaning, your glasses, you go Plus on your cells that you probably use the flux on to. They may have gotten a little bit of flux, splatter on them and probably definitely fingerprints, so you can actually use.
I’m. Just used this glass cleaner, it’s, ammonia, free and I’m, just kind of wiping the cell down just to get fingerprints off and any little flux. Splatters. Also, you’ll notice that these are going to be running kind of in a snake pattern.
So if you have the positive tabs going this way on one row, they’re, going to be going this way on the next row. So, to figure out how to run them and where they’re, going to be connected in relation to the terminal block and where all the wires will go.
I’ve got a diagram on my blog that you can check out that specifically designated towards this project, and it will also give a ton of other information. You know specs, and you know all the like: a whole shopping list and dimensions and all sorts of things like that.
So there’s, a lot of information there. You should check out after a few hours. I have got four completely unconnected rows of soldered cells, so now I need to connect them together so like if it were a snake right, let’s.
Imagine a snake. The snake’s. Head would start up here and it would go over here and then it would have a curve here. You know, and then it would have the curve here and then here and then here would be the tail.
So we’re kind of doing that same thing with the we’re, going to do that with plus bar. So this is like it’s kind of the same thing as the tabbing wire, but it’s just a little bit bigger. So we’ll, put a little one here, kind of like a cap for the head and the little one will go here where, like like the tail and then where it would come and kind of make that corner.
We’ll. Put a longer one and then over here a longer one and then down here there would be a long one as well. I’m just going to put a little bit of flux on the metal. You know I got my solder and the gun and I’m, going to do what’s called a hot solder joint, which means I’m, going to first melt solder onto the the bus wire and I’ll just slide that right.
Underneath and now I’m going to use solder on the tabbing wire and then combine where there’s solder already on, so that it makes a really strong connection. So, as you’re, going through make sure that no wire is going to be touching any metal because that could possibly short out the connection like over here, I had to make sure I cut these really close and I haven’t Cut those yet, but obviously you don’t want anything hanging out that can be exposed to any sort of elements.
Well, the soldering of all of the solar cells in the entire snake formation. I was fully done now now. I am ready to hook up the wiring so after I got all these wired together, I took it over again to my mirror and the sun’s.
You know it’s, probably like four o’clock right now. So the sun’s at a really extreme angle, and when I put the mirror underneath, I couldn’t get all of the cells to be lit up or illuminated. So because of that, I was getting a little bit less of a reading than I should on all of them.
I should be getting about 18 volts, but I was reading between, like you know, upper 16 and you know into like mid 17, so that’s, pretty good for not having like full Sun. You know and it’s coming from a mirror and it’s like an odd angles and stuff.
So I’m going to take it as it’s. Fine, if you do go through and you see that your number doesn’t increase as you move along, then you’ve, probably got like a bad connection or maybe even a bad cell, so that should be taken care of.
But you know I went through most of them and at the end I just like jumped right to the end, and I’m, pretty happy with the number so anyway, stay tuned for the next video, where I’m, going to hook Up all the wires, get it to the terminal block, so it’s fully ready and as well as encase it, and then I’ll, be ready to set it up.