How can I construct my own solar power system?

It is a significant task to build your own solar system, but for many DIYers or anybody interested in engineering, it can be a satisfying project.

It will take a lot of planning and research to build a full system from scratch, including finding the suitable materials and obtaining the necessary town permits.

If you wish to construct a panel for a little project, such as backup power for an RV, it makes the most sense to do so. For usage on your home, we do not advise creating your own solar panel system because too many mistakes could result in dangerous panels.

We’ll go over everything you need to know, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of installing DIY solar panels, and explain why hiring a pro could be a wiser choice.

Is it possible to build your own solar panels?

Yes, you may construct your own solar system from scratch, including the solar panels. But doing so carries some risk because poor construction might result in breakage and system failure.

Soldering solar cells into strings, linking these strings, and connecting those threads to a junction box are the steps used to create solar panels. The parts need to be sealed after being put together in order for the solar panel’s active components to be watertight. After that, a clear waterproof sealant is applied to the front to provide protection. After that, silicone is used to seal the panel’s edges so that moisture cannot enter.

Making a single solar panel is not technically challenging; the main challenge is soldering solar cells and wires together.

Finding high-quality materials to construct the panels is the main challenge. The majority of the time, materials are acquired haphazardly from numerous vendors, making it challenging to monitor quality. Building solar panels with subpar tools can result in broken panels or a fire risk due to poor construction.

Instead of creating them for a complete house, we advise building them on a smaller scale for things like connecting electricity to your shed. Low power demands will result in smaller projects, which make DIY installation manageable and less prone to malfunction.

Building and installing a system large enough to power your home might be perilous for someone with little to no familiarity with solar technology.

How do I build a solar panel system?

You can adhere to the detailed procedure listed below.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that the solar cells supplied on websites are frequently seconds that didn’t make it through quality control before sourcing your equipment. It’s not ideal if they are chipped, discolored, or otherwise damaged.

Step 1Design and determine size of your system
Step 2Purchase components for solar panels
Step 3Purchase inverters and racking
Step 4Install racking
Step 5Connect solar panels to racking
Step 6Install solar inverter

1. Design and determine the size of your system based on your energy needs 

You need to know how much energy you expect to use on average each month and how much sun exposure you can expect throughout the year in order to calculate how many solar panels you will require. Once you are aware of it, you may choose the brand and model of solar panel that is most appropriate for you.

There would be less panels required if you are making panels for a small project or appliance. Simply calculate the kWh the appliance will consume, and then work backwards to determine how many panels to construct.

2. Purchase the components that make up a solar panel 

You will need:

  • Solar cells
  • Pre-soldered wiring
  • Non-conductive material (wood, glass, or plastic)
  • Plexiglass

Solar cells 


Solar panels contain roughly 36 solar cells, which are what turn the sun’s energy into electricity.

Pre-soldered wiring 

Pre-soldered wiring

The method can be sped up by purchasing pre-soldered tab wire, but a soldering iron is still required to solder the wiring to the solar cells’ backs and string the wire appropriately to link the solar cells.

Non-conductive material to attach the cells to, like wood, glass or plastic 

Non-conductive material to attach the cells to, like wood, glass or plastic 

Wood typically serves as the ideal base material for homemade solar panels because drilling holes for the wiring is simple. After connecting all of the wires and soldering each solar cell together, you may glue the solar cells to the wooden backing.

A charge controller, which controls the voltage of the energy, is connected to these wires after wiring. Additionally, a box made of wood can be constructed to house solar cells and be covered with plexiglass to prevent moisture damage.

Seal the solar panel with plexiglass 

You must cover your solar cells with plexiglass to protect them from heat, debris, and moisture once they have been connected and fastened to the wood backing.

3. Purchase additional solar equipment like inverters and racking 

You can purchase a solar panel kit that will come with more detailed instructions (and typically racking to assist secure your panels) if you don’t trust yourself to assemble solar panels from scratch. Considering that solar kits already come with racking, buying one might be more advantageous.

Racking is challenging; you must choose the right equipment for your particular roof or ground mount. When you visit the websites of wholesale distributors, the selection of clamping and mounting tools is almost absurdly large.

4. Install the racking for your solar panels 

The location of your panels will determine which type of racking you should acquire. For instance, will they be installed on your RV or the ground? The kind of racking you need to buy will depend on this. After selecting your racking, you must plan where to drill the holes to attach it to your structure.

5. Connect the solar panels to the racking equipment 

You will need clamps, or connectors, that are made for the racking you select to fasten solar panels to the racking apparatus. A excellent approach to ensure they are made for each other is to purchase them from the same distributor and together. Although racking is typically included in solar panel packages, if you purchase everything individually, make sure you conduct the necessary research to construct a complete solar power system.

6. Install the proper solar inverter 

Because a solar inverter must be connected to the electrical grid, installing one requires technical knowledge. We advise hiring a professional installation for this task since they will handle it legally, safely, and effectively.

Are you skilled enough to build your own solar panels?

Solar panels are reasonably easy to construct, but they must be made with high precision if they are to last for an extended period of time. Solar panels must be able to keep their integrity despite adverse weather, repeated exposure to heat, and direct sunshine.

The main issue with homemade solar panels is safety. They might become ruined by moisture, and poorly constructed solar panels might catch fire from the heat of the sun. It usually requires the expertise of a knowledgeable electrician or engineer to master soldering and electrical wiring.

It needs research, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and practice in soldering and electrical wiring procedures to build a system. Therefore, if you are an experienced engineer or electrician, this might be a little bit easier to grasp, but it definitely isn’t something you can do yourself in a weekend.

How do you build your own solar panel system with a kit?

Even while it is feasible to construct solar panels from scratch and then retrofit a full solar system, most people prefer to construct their solar systems from pre-made components before installing them.

The key benefit of purchasing a bundled solar kit like one from Grape Solar over purchasing each component separately is that the kit’s components are guaranteed to function together. If you purchase each item separately, though, that is not always the case. For instance, certain inverters and solar panels can only function together under specified electrical conditions.

own solar panel system with a kit

What are the pros and cons of DIY solar panels and solar systems?

The majority of do-it-yourself projects have advantages and disadvantages, but having properly manufactured panels is crucial because solar systems provide electricity to your home. It’s the difference between spending a few thousand dollars on solar panels that you know will be secure and saving a few thousand.

As you can see, the disadvantages much exceed the advantages.

Plans and instructions are availableCan cause fires
Can be a great learning experienceMaterials can be poor quality or sold second-hand
 Homemade systems often violate electrical codes
 Not eligible for rebates or tax credits
 Warranties will be invalid


  • Plans and instructions are readily available online at little to no cost. Being able to follow the steps to building a panel is definitely possible, but it is a large project to take on.
  • Manufacturing your own solar panels for small off-grid projects can be a great learning experience. If you have an engineering mindset and are curious about how solar panels work, this could be a fun challenge for you.


  • Homemade solar panels configured incorrectly can cause fires due to intense heat buildup on hot, sunny days.
  • If you choose to buy secondhand from sites like eBay, you’re likely purchasing factory seconds, rejected, or damaged solar cells. Buying any of those materials is bound to lead to system failure.
  • Homemade systems often violate electrical codes, this will lead to issues in permitting. It’s easier to rely on a solar company to handle electrical codes.
  • Homemade panels are not eligible for incentives, like the federal tax credit, or rebates which help bring down the cost of home solar systems.
  • Warranties on any parts will be invalidated, model warranties are usually only covered if installed by a professional.
  • The amount of money you save might have a short shelf life. If your panels break, you will be on the hook for that cost. Not to mention, homemade panels will not last as long as professionally-built panels. 

How much does building your own solar panel system or solar panel kits cost?

A 6kW system might cost anywhere between $7,000 and $18,000 before the 30% federal tax credit due to the wide price range of solar panel systems. However, if you engage with a professional, they will cover the fees of installation and permitting.

The average price of a 6kW system as of August 2023 is $18,000 before the tax credit, making the system $12,600. Because it comes with a system with a 25-year lifespan, the slightly higher price is justified.

When it comes to creating solar panels from scratch, the price of solar cells, cabling, inverters, permits, etc. varies and could end up being less than hiring a pro. However, these panels might not function, and you won’t have access to manufacturer support or warranties in the event that your system breaks down or you have concerns.

What are other benefits of professional installations?

The price of installing a solar system can seem frightening, but there are numerous financing options, including solar loans, as well as incentives for homeowners that can significantly lower the cost.

Despite the high expense of installing a solar system, installers have years of practical experience, which no amount of reading or learning can match.

Up until 2032, the federal tax credit was increased to 30%. To restate, if you constructed and installed the panels yourself, you would not be qualified for this incentive.

Although DIY solar systems and panels are feasible, they are best reserved for small-scale applications or science projects. Professional installations might provide you peace of mind, even if they don’t give you the gratification of finishing a project.

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