Making a small solar panel with PV Ribbon is a great way to start cutting costs on electricity. Small, homemade solar panels can light a lamp, power small DC electronics or charge AA batteries, and if you make a small solar panel yourself, you have the flexibility to provide exactly the voltage and amperage you need. From this jumping off point, you can learn how to build larger solar energy panels and even, eventually, power your own house.
Our small solar panel contains eight 1 inch by 3 inch solar cells wired together. Mounted on a board and protected by clear plastic. This will provide about 250 milliamps at four volts.
- Eight multicrystal solar cells
- Small gauge wire and ribbon wire
- Clear plastic
- Four wood screws
- Battery holder for two AA batteries
- Plywood – ½” thick panel
- Silicon sealant
Steps to Make a Small Solar Panel
First, cut a flat piece of wood for backing the solar cells. All the cells will need to wired together, the front of each cell connected to the back of the next. To do this, cut the ribbon into 10 pieces, one and half inches long each. Solder eight of these pieces to the fronts of the cells, with half of each piece sticking out of the back of the cell.
All the cells will be wired in series, that is, the front of each cell will be connected to the back of the next cell in series. Cut the ribbon into ten approximately one and a half inch long pieces and solder to the back of the cells. Next, attach the connector wires.
Cut a piece of clear, weather-resistant plastic for the backing. A small opening should be available at the lower, right side to allow space for the two connector wires. Place the plastic over the panel and screw the panel in place. Put silicon along the sides to seal water out. Then the battery holder wires should be soldered to the solar panel’s connector wires.