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Making a Decent Solar Panel

There's nothing impossible about making a decent solar panel. Even if you don't consider yourself a great handyman or handywoman, the skills needed are within the reach of the average person. Most of the required tools are very basic, such as a screwdriver, file, ruler, drill, pencil, and saw. The few non-basic tools, such as a soldering gun and volt meter, are inexpensive or can be borrowed from a friend.

You'll also need a well-vented place to work. A picnic table or a garage workbench with a fan will be fine for the intricate work of soldering the cells and stringers together. Since you probably won't get all this work done in one day, you'll need a place where you can leave the unfinished project without moving it. It should be a place where children will not be able to touch or move things.

For the larger work, like cutting the backing for the solar panel, wooden horses or cutting table in the back yard or garage will suffice. Or for that matter, you can get the front face and backing cut for you at the lumber yard or wherever you buy these sheets.

All the materials for a good solar panel can be bought locally or online. None of the parts are overly expensive or hard to find. It's just a matter of knowing what to buy and where the best places are to get them.

Part of the construction of the solar panel involves handling delicate solar cells. Most panels have 36 cells, for reasons described in another article. Since they are delicate and don't like fingerprints, you'll need to wear latex or vinyl gloves. You should also order more solar cells than you'll need to complete the project. Most vendors will include a few extra cells, knowing that some might get damaged in shipping or handling. Some vendors pride themselves on the extra packing materials they use to get the cells to you in good condition. You might want to buy your solar cells from a company that gives you some guarantee that the cells will arrive in satisfactory condition.

Soldering the solar cells together requires careful work. If you have experience with soldering, this is a real plus. If not, there is certain to be someone in your life who can give you a lesson, or even help you with the soldering work. Practice makes perfect, so allow yourself some time to get comfortable and proficient with the soldering gun. If you're not familiar with using a volt meter, this is not a problem either. They come with a users' guide or your friend can demonstrate how to use the one you borrow.

Now you may be wondering, "What can I do with one solar panel?" Well, if you already have a solar system up and running, you can put your panel in line with the others to generate more electricity each day, assuming you built a solar panel of comparable wattage to the ones you already have.

If you don't have a solar system in operation yet, you could use your first super-duper really cool homemade solar panel to power a DC electrical device whenever the sun is shining. For example, you could power a DC (direct current) radio, such as a car radio, or DC lights you can get at the hardware store.

Eventually, you'll add other components to your home or cabin's solar system. Batteries will store the power your panel is creating. The inverter will change your electricity from DC to AC power. Other components will help your system run smoothly.

There are a good many guides in the marketplace offering step-by-step instructions for the installation of a solar-power generated system. You may wish to involve yourself reading one of these style guides. In so doing you will benefit by fully understanding the attractiveness of solar-powered systems pertinent to cutting energy costs within your household. Not only will you save money, but do your part in keeping the environment safer and healthier for future generations.

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