How To Build A Solar Panel For Free

by:Longsun     2020-05-26
If you've started researching how to build a solar panel for free than keep reading. Although it is technically not possible to build a solar panel for free because at the least you're going to need to buy the solar cells there are several different things that can be done to help you reduce the overall cost of your solar panel. Lets start with the solar cells because they make up over half of the cost of each panel. Solar cells are separated into grades depending on their quality. Grade 'A' cells are ones that manufacturers use to build their panels. There are also less than perfect cells that work great; however, they may have some slight cosmetic defects. These are known as Grade 'B' cells and are significantly cheaper than Grade 'A' cells, but they still produce the same amount of power (some may be slightly less than rated). My favorite place to buy cells is eBay, just do a quick search and several results will pop up. Some people may also tell you that you can use broken and cracked cells in your solar panel. Don't listen to that advice! First, those panels don't look very good, and secondly they don't produce nearly as much power as a Grade 'B' cell. It may seem like a steal to buy broken solar cells, but it will cost you more in the long run because the power generated will be really low. Using Grade 'B' cells over Grade 'A' cells is going to save you at least 60 - 70%. These days if you search hard enough you can find deals at 0.65 per watt vs. $3/watt for Grade 'A'. Now that you have the solar cells, what else can you do to reduce the cost of your solar panel? The front covering (usually glass) and the backing are the next two most expensive parts. I use a piece of 3/8' plywood for the backing and a piece of 1/4' clear plexiglass for the face. The reason is all about saving money. Plexiglass or glass costs a lot more than plywood so I use the plywood to provide the stiffness (if it bends than cells will break). The thin plexi is there simply to protect the cells. An important thing here is proper preparation for the plywood. It's going to absorb moisture unless you paint it. I like to put 3 coats of white exterior paint of each board. I like the white because it shows through in the front which makes the panel look even more professional. I have yet to have a piece of plywood swell from water with 3 coats of paint because that seals it so well. What about the plexiglass? Won't it become cloudy over time? Several people have asked me that to which I reply that cloudiness is easy to fix. Cloudy looking plexiglass is actually just scratched. The good news is that on a mount or up on your roof there isn't very many opportunities for the face to become scratched, but if it does you can literally take a buffer and buff it back to it's original condition (I recommend buffing them before putting them up because it might give you a few more watts of energy per panel). While I can't show you how to build a solar panel for free I hope I've given you some great ideas on how you can save a ton of money building your own.
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