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A 42 cell solar panel was constructed in less than a day using low cost materials available from the hardware store. The enclosure was constructed out of plywood and coated in highly reflective mylar. The cells were joined together in series and glued on spacers on top of the mylar. UV resistant polycarbonate sheeting was used to protect the panel and to reflect tangental onto the cells.
Keywords: Solar cells, Photovoltaic, PV, diy solar panel
Cheap solar panel built
in one day
42 Monocrystalline cells @ 1.75W each
Strands of copper wire were tinned and soldered to the pads on the back of each cell. Six points were pre-soldered on the conductive strip on the top of the solar cell with a low temperature soldering iron. We adjusted the temperature of the soldering iron using a variac.
Cells were connected together in series by soldering the three lengths of copper wire to the top of the next cell.
Connecting the solar cells together
Three rows made from seven cells were connected in series to make a panel. (Two panels were constructed).
Wooden ends were cut to fit the corrugated polycarbonate sheeting. The polycarbonate sheeting protects the cells from physical damage and also protects the panel from UV light.
Highly reflective mylar sheet was glued to the surface of the wooden enclosure. This was used to reflect thermal radiation away from the base of the panel.
Constructing an Enclosure
Cardboard shock absorbers were glued between the fragile cells and the mylar sheet to hold the in place and protect them from cracking.
The polycarbonate sheet was screwed to the curved plywood ends. Power is connected by brass bolts that protrude through the wood.
The cells are extremely fragile and are easily damaged by falling braches.
17 undamaged cells are wired for final testing.
Results: Updated 6/1/2013
Ebay Specifications:

Average Values
Power (Watts): 1.75 Wp
Current (Amps): 3.5 Imax
Voltage (Volts): 0.5 Vmax
Measured Results After 6 Months of Testing
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Figure 15. Measured results after 6 months testing
Figure 14. Solar panel with damaged cells bypassed
Figure 13. Closeup of damaged cells
Figure 12. Cells without polycarb cover
Figure 11. The cells after 6 months of practical testing
Figure 10. The cells output is currently undergoing practical testing
Figure 9. The corrugated dome catches additional tangental light which would normally be lost with a flat panel
Figure 8. The polycarbonate sheet screwed to the wood
Figure 7. The cells glued to shock absorbing cardboard
Figure 6. Highly reflective mylar sheet glued to the walls of the enclosure
Figure 5. An enclosure constructed using wooden ends to fit the corrugated polycarbonate sheeting over the top of the base
Figure 4. The cells soldered in series in three rows of seven on top of a wooden base
Figure 3. Cells are soldered together in series. Top view (top) and bottom view (bottom) are both shown
Figure 2. A temperature controlled soldering iron using a variac
Figure 1. The back of the solar cell with copper wires (top). Top of the cell with six points pre-soldered onto the conductive strip (bottom)