If you live in Australia you know there is plenty of sunshine in most places and it makes for a great environment for the use of solar energy. You can reap some of this energy by knowing how to make a solar panel or panels and then put them to use to for your energy needs. By making your own panels you will be using clean and renewable energy for free. It's a great way to cut down on your power bill.
The first thing when you learn how to make a solar is to make sure that you buy the right items. There are several different kinds of solar cells that you can buy in Australia but the best ones are the cost to efficiency option cells that are called polycrystalline cells. You should buy however many you are going to need for the amount of energy/wattage you are wanting to produce. You will find the specs on the cells. Always make sure to buy extra cells because they are fragile.
You are also going to need some thin board that is made out of any non-conductive material that the cells can be attached to. Lay your cells out in the pattern you will use them in and then measure this and cut the board to these measurements. Make sure to leave an inch or two extra at both ends of the board. This gives room for the wires you will need to connect the different rows together with.
You will need to buy some tabbing wire. This wire needs to be connected to the two larger wires you will find on the cells. This wire will be used to connect to the back of all the cell arrays. Make sure to measure the length of the larger line and then double that length for the wire and cut two pieces for each cell you have.
You will need a flux pen, silver solder and a soldering iron and then take the flux pen on each of the three squares on back of the cell and then take the silver solder and solder it to the first half of a tabbing wire strip to the three squares.
The next thing you need to do is to put a small amount of glue at the back an center of the cells and them press them onto the board. Your tabbing wire should run in a straight line through each row. The ends of the tabbing wire come up between the cells and should be free to move. With two pieces sticking up between each cell. It is a good idea to use as few of rows as possible for example, try three rows that each have 12 cells in them.
Next you will need to apply flux to the length of the two thick lines on each of the cells and then you can take the free sections of the wire and solder that to the entire length of the pads.
Now at the start of the first row you will need to solder the tabbing wire to the front of the first cell. This wire needs to be about an inch longer than actually need and it should extend toward the extra gap you have on the board. Solder those wires together with some bus wire, this should be the same size as the distance you have between the thicker lines of the solar cell.
The second row now needs to be connected to end of the first row with some bus wire that will extend between the two far thick wires. Prepare the first cell of the second row with some extra tabbing wire just like you did with the first row. Just continue to connect the rows in this fashion until you reach the end and then you will connect it all with a short bus wire.
When learning how to make a solar panel you will also discover that you will need to make a panel box as well. What you will do is measure the cell panel you made. The box will need to be at least this big. Ideally you should add an extra inch to each side to allow for space for the sides of the box. Next cut a piece of plywood to the size you measured for the panel plus the extra space. Use a table saw or a jig saw. Get two 1x2s and measure them to the length of the long sides of the base of your box and then measure two more 1x2s to fit between the two longer pieces. Cut these pieces and then secure them together using some deck screws and some butt joints.
Taking some deck screws, you will then screw through the top of all the sides and into the base in order to secure the sides to the bottom of your box. The number of screws you use will depend upon the length of the sides of your box but three screws per side is a safe minimum to use. You will next want to paint your box this help to protect the wood and the panel will last longer. Make sure that it is outdoor paint. Finally glue your solar panel to the box.
Now you will take a final bus wire and connect it to a diode. You should get a diode that is a bit bigger than the amps of your panel and then connect that to the bus wire and secure it with some silicone. It should be pointed towards where your batteries are going to be.
Connect your black wire to the diode and then run it to a terminal block that you will need to mount on the side of your box. Then connect the white wire from the shorter bus wire on the opposite side. You will need to buy a charge controller and connect that to the panel and make sure to connect the positive and the negative correctly. You should run the wires from your terminal block to the charge controller and make sure to use color coded wire to keep track of your charges. Next you connect the charge controller to the batteries. Make sure to buy batteries that will work with the size panel you built and then connect the charge controller to the batteries according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Take some plexiglass and cut it to fit inside the box of your panel. You can get this at a local hardware store. Then attach some 1x1 inch blocks of wood to fit the corners to use as stops and glue them in place by using wood glue before putting the plexiglass on. Put the plexiglass on the stops and screw it into the blocks. Finally seal the box with silicone all along the edges.
Finally mount you panel on a cart, your roof or even on a satellite stand.