Are Homemade Solar Panels Possible, Economical, and Useful? (1 Viewer)


May 9, 2011
With energy prices rising steadily over the last few decades and no reason to think they'll fall anytime soon, many homeowners are exploring the option of powering their homes with renewable, or "green", power systems. The two most common home green energy systems are wind turbines and solar panels. Of these two, solar energy panels have emerged as the most popular, due to their solid-state nature - meaning that with fewer moving parts, they require less maintenance over the years.

Unfortunately, installing a solar power system in your home can be prohibitively expensive. Having pre-made solar power panels professionally installed costs at least $3000 - and the price tag only rises quickly from there. To reduce this huge cost, many homeowners are exploring the possibility of building and installing their own homemade solar panels. You may be one of them.

If so, you probably have a lot of questions. Can the average person really build a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solar power system in their garage or basement? If they could, would it really be significantly cheaper than having it professionally installed? And finally, would homemade solar panels provide enough electricity to be worth all the time and effort? This article will seek to answer these questions.

What Are the Benefits of a Home Solar Power System?

o You can reduce or even eliminate your power bill.
o If you generate surplus electricity, you can sell it to your local power company.
o You can increase the property value of your home.
o You can get tax deductions for using eco-friendly home power systems.
o You no longer have to worry about power outages.
o You help protect the environment - solar energy produces no greenhouse gasses.

What Are the Benefits of Building Homemade Solar Panels?

o Money. Over half of a contractor's installation fee is time and labor. If you provide this yourself, you can drastically reduce the cost of building and installing your own home solar power system.

o Time. You can build your homemade solar panels in stages, adding new panels and producing more electricity at your own pace.

o Education. By building a home solar power system yourself, you'll learn how solar electrical technology works. You'll be able to perform your own maintenance and repairs, further reducing your costs.

Where Can I Find the Materials to Build a Homemade Solar Panel?

Almost all the materials you'll need to build a DIY solar panel (such as copper wire, plywood, glass, silicone, etc.) can be found at either your local hardware store (such as Home Depot) or electronics store (such as Radio Shack). The same goes for the tools and equipment you'll need to build your homemade solar panels. Any tool you don't already have in your garage or basement (such as a voltage meter), you can buy at your local hardware or electronics store.

The lone exception to this rule is the photovoltaic solar cells that you'll need to build together into DIY solar power panels. Unless you live in a very large city with a specialized solar hardware store, you'll probably need to order these online or you can make it on your own.

Where Should I Place My Homemade Solar Panels?

The two most common places to put DIY solar panels are either on the roof of your house, or on the ground in your yard.

The roof has emerged as the most popular location for two reasons. First, in order to convert sunlight into electricity, solar energy panels need a direct line-of-sight between them and the sun. Trees, other buildings, or any other obstacle that provides shade or otherwise gets in the way will block the sun from your homemade solar panels. The easiest way to solve this problem is to raise the solar power panels up higher than the obstacles. To do that, of course, you should place the DIY solar panels on the roof.

Second, solar energy panels are big, and take up a lot of space. Furthermore, you will probably need more than one to power your entire home. If you mount your homemade solar panels on the ground, you may quickly fill your entire yard. Mounting DIY solar panels in the roof instead has the advantage of keeping them out of the way and freeing up your yard.

Ground-mounted solar power panels, however, do have one big advantage: accessibility. It is much easier and safer to walk out into your yard than on the roof of your house to perform maintenance and repairs to your homemade solar panels. If you live in a part of the country where there are few trees, such as the Great Plains or the Southwest, and if you own enough property (like a farm) to mount several DIY solar panels and have room to spare, perhaps ground-mounted solar energy panels are the way to go.

What Direction Should I Point My Homemade Solar Panels?

Placing your DIY solar panels perfectly flat, facing straight up, is the best option. This way, no matter where the sun is in the sky or at what angle, sunlight is still hitting the solar panel somewhere. Unfortunately, however, many homes have angled roofs instead of flat, making the "pointing straight up" option impractical. In this case, mount your DIY solar panels on the south-facing side of your roof to collect the most sunlight. In the continental United States, the sun is in the southern part of the sky for the most part.

How Can I Build Homemade Solar Panels?

The answer to that question goes way beyond the scope of this brief article. What we can do, however, is point you in the right direction. The easiest and most efficient route for you to go is to buy a step-by-step instruction manual on how to build DIY solar panels from one of the many websites that sell them. These are usually $50 or less, and well worth the money.

Not all instruction manuals for DIY solar power panels are equal, however. Here are some things to look for when shopping online for a good instruction manual:

o Clear, Step-by-Step Instructions (instead of just overviews)
o Simple, Plain English (instead of confusing technical terms and slang)
o Multiple, Clear Illustrations (instead of just text)
o Demonstration Videos (although not necessary, they are very, very helpful)
o Shopping Tips (for solar cells, deep-cycles batteries, and other hard-to-find items)
o Good Reviews (from past customers)
o Price (more than $60 is too much)

If you can find a high-quality manual, you will start enjoying the benefits of DIY solar panels within 2 weeks, because the manual should be able to teach you to build homemade solar energy panels in just a weekend.
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I closed my account
i will be playing around with the diy panels real soon, after i get my power right first, right now i am using plug and play pv panels. tomorrow i am getting another 5app0 watts should bring me up too 110 watts, that means that running my laptop should not tap in to my batteries at all. my goal is to have 500 watts and 500 amper hours by the end of the summer
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Mar 13, 2011
the desert
awesome! i know a little about electronics, would love to play around with this.. i read recently about researchers who developed basically an artificial photosynthetic process, meaning that high-efficiency solar energy might not be that far off...


I'm a d-bag and got banned.
Apr 9, 2009
I don't think you can make photovoltaic cells in your garage. The boron silicon wafers are the heart of it all, and where the cost comes from. It's like building a go-cart. You buy the engine, then you can build or buy the frame. for most its more practical to buy the frame, unless its specialized somehow, or a hobbie. I'm gonna check out the photo synthetic process. the boron silicon wafers have only about 30% efficiancy, wich means they only convert 30% of the suns energy into electric. One intresting fact that they work equilly efficiant during summers long days as they do during the short days of winter, because they work better in colder temperatures. The only way you could come close to making your own wafers is buy a chunk of the material and slice it yourself, but I'm rather sure that you need special tools even for that.


Aug 10, 2010
Yea I researched it all just to humor FoxtailV when I was in Charleston S.C. The old wingnut was hellbent on producing his own, convinced he was that it was infinitely cheaper and easier, I tried to tell him that wind and hydro generation is far superior and easy to produce for the common man some people get stuck on the idea of solar and wont let it go. The details of how its possible are irrelevant - for us its near impossible to home(less) make your own solar panels.


Apr 6, 2009
Near Ukiah California.
I like this conversation.
But solar for what ?
Electricity or water or heat ??
There are different possibilities for all of the above.
Yes you can buy and install your own panels for electricity.
But making panels from scratch ?? Hmmmm that's more difficult.

If you are paying taxes and have a 'legal' home/house,
you can get mega tax breaks for installing solar on your roof.

I'd suggest checking out Mother Earth News magazine/web page.
They often have plans for DIY solar & low/alternative tech stuff.

Hope that helps.

I would say though that is't a good idea to have a mix of energy producing
systems and not JUST rely on solar...........


I'm a d-bag and got banned.
Jun 2, 2011
no panel will get 30% efficiency. I believe the industry standard is around 18% right now. decent homemade cells will net you anywhere from 8-12% depending on the effort and materials put in. there's actually a lot of DIY solar cell guides floating around the net if you take the time to search. I found a good one on a torrent site (tpb I think).

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