make a solar panel

Building a solar panel: manufacturing tips

Tips for making a solar thermal panel yourself in self-construction

Keywords: energy, solar, thermal, heating, self-construction, homemade, DIY, Do-It-Yourself, construction, tips, tricks, ideas, help ...

With a minimum of tools and materials it is possible to build an efficient and durable solar thermal panel yourself. A solar water-water system will heat your domestic hot water (DHW): sink, washbasins, bath, showers, swimming pool, spa ... According to the means you put into it you can claim a large share of energy autonomy during the beautiful days!

Making your own thermal solar panels is good, but for an even greener house, and without having to invest, you can also think about taking a green electricity supplier.

Indeed, signing a green electricity contract guarantees you a supply of electricity from renewable or carbon-free sources, without having to invest the least euro! The prices may be slightly higher but it remains very reasonable when you know the climatic damage to come! Switching to green electricity means investing in future generations, something that unfortunately many parents seem to ignore!

This file presents 5 technical methods to make a homemade solar thermal panel according to the material you have.

General principle of self-construction of solar panels

A solar water heater is less complicated than you might think. Here is the principle of operation of solar panels as they are sold and installed by professionals.

operating principle solar panel

Solar panel with garden hoses

make a solar panel

If you have a pool and a small room you can improvise at a very low cost a solar water heater:

  • Place a good length of PER or garden hoses directly on a roof or on a support made for the occasion.
    The roof and the pipe should preferably be dark in color. The optimal tilt of a solar panel depends on your latitude and the date
  • In France, the optimal solar inclination varies in an amplitude of 40 °. That's a lot, so you have to know if you want to use it in summer (swimming pool for example) or in winter (heating solar heated floors for example). A simple solution giving an “average” result all year round is to take the latitude of the place as the slope.
  • To have a measurable result on a swimming pool, the surface must be at least the equivalent of 2 m² depending on the size, shape and capacity of your pool.
  •  The inlet and return pipes of the sensor must be diametrically or diagonally opposite in the pool.
    The inlet pipe to the sensor must be placed at the bottom of the pool (or it is the coldest).
  • A large capacity aquarium pump or a small pump could serve as water circulation.
  • Adjust the flow rate of the pump, if possible, to obtain the desired temperature at the sensor outlet.
  • A valve and a strainer can be installed on the suction side to avoid de-priming the pump at each stop. It is easier to prime the pump. This should be installed closer to the water level.
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Such a system, despite its extreme simplicity, can heat your swimming pool water in a few days, but you can also do a similar test with a simple basin or children's pool.

Solar panel with plates

Get a corrugated iron panel. Make a simple structure as suggested. Position your panel facing the sun.sheet metal solar panelsolar panel autoconstructionRun the water slowly, about 10 liters / minute. In a few minutes if the sun is present, you will have hot water to supply a small children's pool for example.

Solar panel with an old water radiator

A fairly economical solution and very quick to achieve is to use simple hydraulic radiators (water) painted black.

solar panel radiator

A current new radiator generally consists of 2 parts containing water and fins. Just remove the fins and “open” this heater as shown in the image below to get a very economical solar panel.

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An aluminum radiator with an "open" area of ​​between 2 and 3 m2 can be found new between 150 and 200 € in any DIY store.

solar panel radiator autoconstruction

The heating power given corresponds roughly to the 1,5 times the maximum solar power that can give your panel. An 2000 W radiator will give about 1300 W of solar power.

Take care of the electrolytic copper-aluminum pair: you must electrically isolate the 2 metals if you use them on the same network (plastic ring or end of hose).

Solar panel in EPDM flexible panel

Sold in the swimming pool departments at an unbeatable price per m² (from 150 to 250 € for 6 to 7 m²) these panels can very well constitute a permanent back-up panel for the summer. In winter, in case of frost, they must absolutely be drained but EPDM alone is resistant to frost on the other hand. Here is an example of a 7 m2 solar panel sold in France at the beginning of summer 2007 for 189 €.

solar panel EPDM autoconstruction

The system can be used as it is, but a sight under glass could only improve performance!

integrated EPDM solar panel

On the right, an example of EPDM solar panels integrated into a roof in a Mediterranean region.

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"Classic" copper solar panel with glazing: the basics of construction

A solar panel is not complex, and we can obtain very honorable performance with
basic materials. In addition, self-construction generally allows better integration of the panels
solar.

So you can build your solar panel simply, with readily available materials. The costs are usually quite low.

Your tools will be reduced, jigsaw, handsaw, hammer, etc.

a) The case: will be made of plywood from 10 to 15 mm, exterior quality if possible.plans to manufacture its box solar panel Reinforcements, simple squares of wood. The absorber panel ideally copper first choice but expensive. Then galvanized sheet or aluminum sheet. The collector pipes will be 12 plumbing copper tubes at 20 mm in diameter.
Glass wool or rock wool insulation (the best: a natural insulator, see natural insulating folder).

b) Glass surfaces: Quality glass by checking that this glass has little or no iron. This is easily controlled by checking the edge of the glass.
If you see a lot of green color on the edge, do not use this glass and ask for a glass with less iron.
The use of plexiglass is possible, you will opt for plexiglass at least 4mm thick. Otherwise you can use semi-opaque panels (preferably dark color).

plans to make his copper network solar panel
cut of a solar panel

Other pages to visit on solar and the construction of a solar thermal panel:
- Realization of a solar panel coupled in connection with the boiler and heat pump
- Build a solar panel
- Forum Solar Thermal­
- Forum heating, thermal and housing
- Forum bricolage
- The solar potential of your region in France: the sunshine map

12 thoughts on “Building a solar panel: fabrication tips”

  1. Hi
    I have 4 used solar panels for self-builder hesitating to embark on the adventure
    Water heater size 154 X 106 fiberglass shell
    they are in a remote corner of the High Alps in LA Beaume 05140

  2. Forget the black pipe it doesn't work. For the simple reason that the pipe is too long suddenly the water heats up at the beginning of the pipe, and then it is too hot so it loses heat instead of gaining it. It would take a huge pump for effective tonight (see http://sunberry.io/fr/fabriquer-panneau-solaire-thermique).

    For the sheet metal solution, you say to use a low flow. This is true if you want to use hot water directly at the outlet of the panel, but if it is to heat a swimming pool or a closed circuit tank, on the contrary, you need the highest possible flow. See the power calculation formula.

    1. The water heater must be placed downstream of the balloon (or the swimming pool), it is the same thermosiphon principle that prevailed in the central heating installations of yesteryear, when we would never have thought of adding a circulator.

  3. Hello I broke the glass of one of my solar panels placed on my land that feeds me in hot water, you said less iron in the glass a tempered glass extra clear it is appropriate in 4mm or as there was du3,2 kind of glass need it really thanks for the answer

  4. I do not understand the technique of opening (like an oyster) an aluminum radiator. Can you specify the type of radiator?
    Thank you

  5. I tried to heat the water in my small swimming pool with metal radiators: at the outlet of the sand filter, the water was sent to the radiators (painted black, inclined at 45 ° towards the south, etc ...) then released into the basin. It works… but the radiators have rusted +++ (because of the chlorine) and the water has taken on a nice yellow color. The yellow of the water + the blue of the swimming pool = green… not at all appetizing. Total failure. The two circuits must be separated by placing an exchanger on the other side of the device. That complicates +++ since it requires a specific pump, an automatic purge, a filling, a drain valve….

    1. Hello Thierry,

      We must distinguish between solar panels used in closed circuit (with heating circulator) and open circuit. The swimming pool is an open circuit where the water is permanently oxygenated: this necessarily increases the risks of oxidation, not to mention treatment products which are often very corrosive or oxidizing!

      The best for swimming pools is the use of EPMD or polymer panels because they are insensitive to corrosion or oxidation, which is what is also available on the market!

      It is obvious that in the case of a swimming pool it is necessary to use materials which do not corrode!

      For example: copper is prohibited in swimming pool circuits, iron even more… and it is not possible to use a heating pump (circulator) for a swimming pool… or any other open circuit!

      1. Hello,
        I have old solar panels, and I really want to try to modify them to make an open circuit for my swimming pool, rather than investing in an exchanger with pump, expansion tank, thermostat and so on. Either with PE pipes, or plumbing PVC, or Multilayer. A priori these materials are all insensitive to chlorine and oxidation, and between these choices my heart balances ... Doubt about the multilayer at the level of the fittings, because suddenly that would limit the assembly of the pipes to the spiral, which limits the pump flow rate and therefore requires parallel mounting (/ by pass), while the other materials make it possible to make a “comb”, and to pass all the water circulation in the panels. But I'm a little afraid of leaks at the fittings. I just need to plan an oil change for the summer, when I don't need the heating, so that it doesn't heat up too much, which would be fatal for the panels :-). I did not know the EPDM in heating panels, I will look at this.
        What do you think?

    2. It would be necessary to be able to put on the roof or the adjustable tilting plane or not a primary heating circuit with the radiators indicated which would be connected with conductive copper pipes to a transfer and heat exchange box and manufacture this box. exchange inspire from the solar recuperator (again with radiators of the same type as the heating box placed on the roof) a secondary circuit coming from the swimming pool in pipes supporting the chlorine with heat-absorbing materials would surround itself effectively close to the radiator and its pipes so as not to mix the chlorinated swimming pool water with the heating circuit it may be more complex as an installation to do. But we must be able to make this box-style heating and transfer box with closed solar water and well insulated see on the plans.
      by coiling the pipes coming from the swimming pool on those of the radiators so that we can transmit the heat from one circuit to the other and therefore afterwards it is necessary to see for the performance of the whole to see if the water from swimming pool is really heated

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