How To...Build Your Own Solar Panels

How To...Build Your Own Solar Panels

Sonia Zjawinski
Sep 25, 2008

When Mike Davis, an astronomer, moved to a remote part of Arizona he realized his astronomical sights were so rad in his new location because he had no light pollution. As a result, he also had no electrical grid to plug into. To solve the problem he went on eBay and bought some of the materials he needed to build his own solar panels, including inexpensive blemished and damaged solar cells...

Mike, who has also built his own wind turbine, explains on his site how you too can do it yourself, though warning to tinkerers, you'll need some electrical prowess to do this right without burning your hair off.

One of our favorite parts of this tough task, which is something that can only happen when you're doing a DIY project, is that after Mike found his solar cells on eBay he discovered that, "The seller of these solar cells dips stacks of 18 in wax to stabilize them and make it easier to ship them without damaging them," he writes. "Getting the wax off the cells is a real pain. After some trial and error, I came up with a way that works fairly well. Still, I would recommend buying from someone who doesn't dip their cells in wax. The first step is a bath in hot water to melt the wax and separate the cells from each other...My girlfriend asked what I was cooking. Imagine her surprise when I said solar cells."

Here's a breakdown of what it cost for Mike to make his own panels.

Photos: Mike Davis

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