Solar panels, which harness the sun’s energy and turn it directly into electricity, are the principal means by which humans power the planet. Is there anything we can’t do without electricity? Machines that most of us use every day are powered by it.
Is that all there is to solar power? What if you were able to design and build your own?
In this article, we’ll teach you how to make a simple solar panel that actually works.
Six (6) components are typically used to make a typical solar panel: the PV (photovoltaic) cell, which generates electricity, the glass that covers and protects the cells, the frame that provides rigidity, the backsheet where the cells are arranged (the junction box), and the encapsulant, which serves as an adhesive.
You must know and comprehend these six components because most people lack the tools needed for solar panel production, so that anyone can plan the materials needed for a DIY or home-made solar panel.
The materials needed to build a solar panel must be readily available, both locally and online, and should not be prohibitively expensive or take an inordinate amount of time.
PV Cell (PV for short)
When making your own solar panel, the solar cell is the most important consideration.
Visible light is converted to electricity using a photovoltaic (PV) cell or a solar cell. In the same way that Baymax (Hero 6)’s microbots are only functional when united, a single solar cell can’t create enough electricity on its own. The DC (direct current) voltage generated by this basic unit is between 0.5 and 1 volts, which is adequate for some applications but insufficient for most. The solar cells are connected in series and then encased in modules to form the solar panel, which generates a usable DC voltage. It’s possible to have two cells that produce 1 volt if they’re connected in series, so long as one of the cells generates 0.5 volts. In a typical module, 28 to 36 cells are connected in series. There are 28 cells in a 28-cell module. This means that the module can provide 14 VDC, which is sufficient to charge or power 12 V batteries or devices.
As with connecting batteries to create a battery storage system, connecting two or more solar cells requires a basic understanding of series and parallel connection.
A monocrystalline cell and a polycrystalline cell are the two most prevalent types of solar cells available for purchase. Efficiency is the main difference between these two designs, which both measure 156mm by 156mm. In the event that some of the cells fail, you should acquire more cells to act as a backup, such as faulty solder, broken cell, scratched, etc.
Black and octagonal in shape, monocrystalline solar cells are the most common type. Because they are composed of the highest and purest silicon, these solar cells are pricey. When a client’s solar system design calls for the highest output possible in the smallest amount of area, the most efficient solar cells are those that use thin-film technology.
PV made using polycrystalline crystals The bluish color and rectangular shape of cells distinguish them from other organisms. The silicon content in these cells is lower, and the efficiency of the final product is lower as a result of a simpler manufacturing method.
But this doesn’t indicate that monocrystalline cells perform and produce more power than polycrystalline cells, because this isn’t always the case. The efficiency of a solar cell is influenced by the cell’s size, and each solar panel and its individual cells are given an efficiency rating based on standard tests conducted at the time of manufacture. This rating is usually expressed as a percentage, and the most common figures are 15% to 20%.
The glass shields the photovoltaic cells while yet letting in plenty of natural light. Anti-reflective materials are commonly used to make these. There are still some manufacturers who use flat plate glass on their solar panels, despite the fact that tempered glass is currently the preferred material. A chemical or thermal method of creating tempered glass results in a product that is more expensive to make, but the cost of manufacturing them today is acceptable. Broken flat plate glass shatters into long, jagged slivers, as opposed to the smaller, more manageable fragments created by tempered glass. Flat plate glass is used in most amorphous solar panels due of the construction of the panel.
Solar panel producers employ tempered glass to mass-produce their solar panels. Plexiglas, often known as acrylic glass, is a safer option for this DIY project than conventional glass from your local hardware store. In spite of its high price, it is weather-resistant and does not easily shatter. Screwing or gluing the Plexiglas to the frame is likewise a simple process.
3) Embrace the framework
An anodized aluminum frame provides the solar module with structure and rigidity. For simple and secure installation on a roof or the ground, these aluminum frames work with most solar mounting systems and grounding equipment.
Factory-built solar panels typically have an aluminum frame into which the solar panel sheet is screwed on all four sides. Assume it is a skeletal rectangular frame. To summarize, the solar panel sheet is made up of four different layers and laminated in the following order: tempered glass, top encapsulant, solar cells, bottom encapsulant, and finally the backsheet. The backsheet is the last layer to be added to the panel sheet. Using Plexiglas for the Plexiglas top cover, and the wooden component as the frame and backsheet, we will construct a DIY solar panel. The ultimate result will be similar to a picture frame, but with solar cells glued to a non-conductive board as the picture.
4) The Backsheet.
The backsheet is the plastic covering that covers the module’s backside. The module is solely protected from dangerous DC voltage by this layer. Most of the backsheet’s functions are related to protecting the user from shock and ensuring that the electrical conductivity is as safe as possible.
Using plywood, the backsheet will be attached to the frame with screws from top to bottom and from side to side. Pegboard (perforated hardboard) will be used to install and align the PV cells, and this Pegboard will be placed on top of the wooden backsheet and inserted into the wooden frame.
A Junction Box, for example.
There is a junction box in which the terminal wires and bypass diodes are tucked away. It is possible to use these terminal wires to connect another solar panel, an inverter, a charge controller, or a battery system depending on the architecture of the solar system. When the solar panel is not producing electricity, as it does at night, the bypass diode acts as a safety measure to prevent power from returning to the panel.
There are now solar panel connection boxes that are specifically intended for factory-built panels that may be purchased online from China. Purchase electrical junction boxes from your local hardware store or order online and wait for the delivery option if time isn’t an issue. The junction box’s primary function is to keep the terminals (both positive and negative) dry and free of debris. Red for positive and black for negative will be emanating from this location. A PV attachment known as MC4 can also be used to protect the opposite end of these two wires, and it can be ordered online along with the PV junction box.
PV cells are protected by shock-absorbing encapsulant sheets that prevent water and dirt from infiltrating the modules. Like a glue, but much stronger, they have this ability to adhere to glass, PV cells, and the backsheet. Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) is a common material for encapsulants, and lamination machines and methods are commonly used to apply them. Vacuum and oven are used by solar panel producers to seal and cure the EVA sheet on the solar panels. Although many people have attempted and failed, others have achieved varied degrees of success.
Thin plastic sheets are often laminated on the top and bottom of the solar cell sheet. Encapsulants Underneath the backsheet is a layer called the bottom encapsulant, in which the solar cells are mounted and held in place. Instead, we’ll be working with latex acrylic paint for this project. Attempting to apply this paint to the pv cells will result in an uneven distribution or application of the liquid to the cells’ surfaces, which could have a negative effect on performance. Paint will be applied to the frame, backsheet, and Pegboard. Protecting the wood from the sun’s rays and preventing blistering and cracking over time should be possible with this Latex Acrylic paint. Despite being water-soluble, this paint dries quickly and is water-resistant after it has dried.