If you’ve ever wanted to create your own solar panel, you’re in a small but sizable minority.
Below, we collected a hodgepodge of DIY solar panel plans.
Some of them hack together solar cells into innovative designs, while several (#9 and #13, for example) show you how to actually build your own solar panel.
Whatever the case, there’s some DIY fun to be had here- some frugal builders even buy scrap solar cells for pennies on the dollar to build some whacky off-the-grid power supplies.
Scroll through the list below and see what strikes your fancy- whether you’re trying to lower your energy bills or merely experiment with some Arduino hardware, there’s a plan on this list for you!
If you’re interested in solar panels, you might want to take on a smaller project: DIY smart device charging stations or these DIY wind turbines!
16 DIY Solar Panel Plans
1. Basic DIY Solar Panels Idea
Using solar panels is a great way to save money and help out the environment. However, they are expensive to buy.
If you’re like this DIY designer and want to make your own panels even though you don’t have any experience working with electrical components, this is the perfect DIY plan for you.
All of the required materials can easily be purchased on Amazon and the step by step instructions and diagrams are easy to follow.
You also need to calculate the best angle and direction your panels should be facing based on your home’s location.VIEW PLANS
2. Upcycled Solar Cells Panels Idea
If you’re looking to save money, consider making a solar panel out of broken solar cell pieces. These can easily be reused and cost only a few dollars for a whole bag of them.
To complete this DIY project, you’ll also need a multimeter, hot glue gun, conductive copper mesh, and a conductive pen. Simply link the cells together and you’re good to go.
You can also apply a silicone coating to this for added structural integrity.
To harness the power from this, you’ll need to attach it to a battery or power source.VIEW PLANS
3. Portable Solar Panel Plan
If you’re looking for a small scale power solution, try following this DIY plan.
This might be easier for those experienced in electronics, as you’ll need a soldering iron, solar cells, gauge wire, ribbon wire, wood screws, and more.
You’ll first need to build a backing, wire the cells together, attach them, and put on a plastic cover to protect everything. This can charge two rechargeable batteries and or a small electronic device.
You can buy a solar panel yourself or stitch solar cells together though the builder recommends doing the later.VIEW PLANS
4. Horticultural Solar Panels Idea
This is the perfect DIY blueprint for those that have home gardens. The builder created a terracing system that can be integrated into your current plant layout.
Using pallets, plastic mesh, nails, and an elastic joint, you can make sure that your plants and flowers always have enough sunlight. These panels attract the sunlight and direct the rays.
You will need to orient the pallets accordingly and make sure they have enough support to stand on their own without falling or crushing your greenery.
Although it’s not the most visually appealing, this gets the job done.VIEW PLANS
5. Solar Panel Rover Project
If you’re willing to tackle a big project, this is the DIY plan for you.
Requiring a two-wheel trailer metal frame, four solar panels, 1,000-watt power inverter, and charge controller, you’ll spend a good amount of money on supplies.
However, this is still less expensive than buying a premade panel system. You’ll first mount the solar panels, attach the controller and batteries, then theft-proof the rover.
This builder says this system is used to power many outdoor events on a school campus, so you could consider downsizing if this is just for your own home.VIEW PLANS
6. Folding Solar Panel Blueprint
This compact DIY plan allows you to easily charge your electronic devices on the go.
Comprised of plywood panels, usb sockets, a regulator, schottky diodes, and hinges, this is relatively easy to make and doesn’t require any physical computing skills.
After you have the parts ready, make all of the electric connections and test to ensure everything works. Then you have to mount everything to the board and glue the connections together.
You can scale the size of this up or down depending on the solar panels that you buy.VIEW PLANS
7. Simple Solar Panel Idea
This 63 watt panel costs around $400 to build and is a great weekend project. Perfect for beginners, this tutorial is accompanied by a step by step video.
The builder used some plywood as a base for the panels and used a soldering iron to connect the separate solar cells together.
Following the instructions on your packaging or watching some videos online should help you get comfortable with arranging them. The panels must be then glued down and attached to the battery which is housed in a junction box.
8. Truck Solar Panel Plan
This DIYer crafted solar panels for his truck roof which works to charge a portable battery inside. You’ll need to thoroughly clean the roof of your vehicle and prepare the panel.
Then, affix the it with a very strong adhesive — he used 3M tape though you could do some research to figure out what other materials would work as well.
You can also add some rope to ensure the panels will not fall off and shatter or hurt cars driving behind you.
After connecting this to your battery, you can easily charge your phone, bluetooth speaker, and other devices.VIEW PLANS
9. Sunflower Solar Panel Idea
This creative device aims to mimic the flower that angles itself to always be facing the sun.
You will need servo motors, a hot glue gun, jumper wires, photoresistors, metal paper clips, an Arduino UNO, and resistors. Schematic diagrams allow you to easily connect the wires and electronics.
You will also need to follow coding instructions to program the board and troubleshoot it.
This designer used a cardboard base and painted it green, though you could use wood, medium-density fiberboard, or anything else painted whatever color you like.VIEW PLANS
10. 60 Watt Solar Panel Blueprint
This builder is actually an astronomer and offers some great insights for crafting an effective solar panel at home.
Buying factory rejected solar cells is a great way to cut down costs when building this, as they work just as well and only have a few cosmetic imperfections.
Simply build a wooden base, prepare and solder the cells, connect the strings, install half panels and the blocking diode, and then connect to your battery or power source. The only downside of this is that the designer often has to move this to be under direct sunlight a few times a day.
11. Inexpensive Solar Panel Plan
If you’re on a budget, this is a great DIY project for you to follow. Buying volt sockets, wood, solar cells, a charge controller, LCD voltmeter, and blocking diode shouldn’t cost you more than $100. You can also use things you probably already have at home, like a 9V battery, old picture frame, and car inverter.
To construct this, connect the cells together, make a base stand, run the wire into your house, and set up the controller. Depending on where you live, the builder warns that keeping this whole unit outside can shorten the life of the battery.
12. Maximum Efficiency Solar Panel Idea
This designer sought to create something that would harness the sun’s power but also the thermal energy also received. This gets a bit complicated and might be better for those more experienced.
To build, you will need an aluminum backplate, glass, copper pipe, silicone caulk, a water pump, aluminum flux paste, and a soldering tool. After testing this over a couple of weeks, the builder was happy with the results but realized he spent a lot more money than anticipated.
However, this is a fun project and a great way to experiment with solar panels.VIEW PLANS
13. Diode Solar Panel Idea
Diodes are inexpensive and easy to use semiconductors. This designer played around with using these instead of solar cells. Although cheaper, you will need to use many more of them to achieve the same power output.
If you need a small amount of power to charge your phone or wireless headphones, for example, you can use this blueprint to create a cheap and efficient power source. This will not work for powering your whole home, however. This is a fun DIY idea that requires less than $30 in materials and is relatively easy to follow.
14. Cheap and Portable Solar Panel Plan
Costing less than $30 to build, this is a great basic solution for power needs on the go. All you need are solar cells, gauge wire, test lead clips, bus wire, plastic film, diodes, and a few other tools like scissors and wire cutters. After soldering, cut the tab wire, test out the panel, and secure everything together.
Because these panels are always outside, it is important to weatherproof them and make them easy to clean. This doesn’t produce a large amount of power, but you can customize the types of cells you use.VIEW PLANS
15. Beginner Friendly Solar Panel Idea
This DIY plan is very detailed and provides clear instructions and photos to help those new to physical computing. While your solar cells should come with a directions sheet, some do not and you will need to research online to figure out how to properly set them up.
It can also take some time to get used to using a soldering iron and properly sealing connections. The panels made in this DIY project are small and lightweight enough to be moved, though they’re on the more fragile side.VIEW PLANS
16. Solar Panels to Power Your Home Project
This DIY plan offers a long-term and realistic power solution that can service your entire home. This is expensive to build, however, costing around $4,000. Depending on where you live and how much your electricity bill is, you should expect to start seeing power savings in a few years.
All you need are solar panels, optimizer modules, a power inverter, and mounting equipment to attach this to your roof. This builder also suggests researching your local laws – you’ll need a permit for this and most likely have specific instructions to follow when building it.VIEW PLANS
What’s Reddit Saying?
Over in the Reddit DIY community, one user submitted 16 images displaying how he installed solar panels on his roof.
He used the SketchUp software to import Google earth to help him create an intelligent layout for the solar panels.
The panels themselves are longer than 9 feet but they overlay a 45° roof.
While he didn’t actually build these panels himself, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how a DIY installation goes (GreenWindSolar).
Perusing the images, it seems he used a chalk line to lay out where to insert the screws and install the racking mounts. The power optimizers were installed beneath the panels.
He also recommended getting some scrap carpet to work on the spare your feet and knees aggravation. He also documented the grounding lugs as well as the inverter technology he employed to change the DC current to AC.
Helpfully, at the end, he calculated an ROI- saying that is a solar panel set up should pay for itself in two years as opposed to 10 years if he had had it installed professionally.
Users were impressed- the original poster also said that there are significant tax advantages-in his own state he received a $2,000 rebate with a federal rebate of 30%.
Another poster submitted his solar project- it documents how the panels were installed on his roof-he had purchased 18 panels that were rated for 280 W of peace, weighing in at 1,200 pounds costing $1700.
Some of the posters were somewhat skeptical saying that because of how it was installed on the roof he will likely face water leaking issues in the future.
A professional Solar installer agreed, saying that the issue is how the mounting rails are attached to the composite roof.
That said, the original poster was praised for how cheap he was able to acquire the panels. He said that the way he acquired them, he went on to eBay, now to search to his local Texas area, and contacted the seller directly to coordinate a local pick up and purchase.
Keeping Your Panels Clean
Cleaning solar panels is a very important part of maintaining the panels. There are two major types of cleaning, light cleaning and heavy cleaning.
Light Cleaning: Light cleaning is the most common type of solar panel maintenance. It is recommended that this type of maintenance be performed about once a month. This type of maintenance removes dirt, dust, and other objects that have settled onto the surface of the solar panels.
Heavy Cleaning: Heavy cleaning is a more intensive form of solar panel maintenance. It should only be done every 12-18 months because it removes all traces of dirt particles and may damage sensitive components on the panels if not done properly.
If you keep up with this maintenance schedule, using your solar panels effectively will be a cinch!
The ColdFusion video creator explains that our sun is incredible if you contemplate it- sunlight travels countless miles across space through our atmosphere and to us supplying warmth, visual light and essential energy for vegetation on this planet. He says, let’s suppose we could employ this solar energy in a significant way. This is exactly what solar energy aspires to do. We have been previously scammed by solar roadways, but what is the reality about solar?
Could it actually change the world? The YouTuber says that he’ll have a look at the present state of solar energy- explaining that it really appears like a solar movement is starting. Taking into consideration insulation cloud cover and land, that’s workable by humans, etc., ColdFusion says we are able to use about 0.4 to 13 % of this raw solar energy. The development of solar energy adaptation has actually been happening fairly quickly- around forty percent per year since the year 2000.
He explains that we’re presently producing over ninety-seven times more energy from solar than in 2004. Even though this seems like a lot right now, total solar power is still approximately 1 % of global production, but the rate of growth is inspiring.
Believe it or not, a 2014 study by the International Energy Agency forecasted that solar energy could provide 27 % of global electrical power generation by 2050. He wonders, is it too costly? Adjusting for inflation, the price of a solar module per watt was ninety-six dollars in the mid-1970s.
Right now, ColdFusion says, because of technical developments and economies of scale, the price is now 36 cents per watt. Along with conventional nuclear and coal power, Apple’s new solar farms are responsible for more energy than the business can use. Another interesting tidbit- China is at the forefront in solar cell manufacturing and is creating costs as little as 8 cents per kilowatt-hour. Based on a report by the chairman the world’s biggest solar power manufacturer solar cell cost will halve every decade as global shipments grow.
Watch the video for the full rundown! If you make one of the DIY solar panel plans from this list- comment down below and we’ll feature your build on this page!
Hi, my name’s Elena Coolidge. I’m a DIY enthusiast who loves building fun woodworking plans. These DIY plans are fun hobby projects for enthusiasts or even more advanced builders that want to build things like bunk beds, end tables or even a duck box!