This DIY article will teach you how to make a small solar panel that can charge two AA rechargeable batteries or power small DC electronic devices. There are several small solar panels available on the market today, but making one allows you to configure it to the exact amperage and voltage.

You can buy small 1 x 3 inch solar cells online, but for this DIY project you must first have some knowledge about how solar cells work. To increase the amperage of your solar panel, wire the cells in parallel. To increase the voltage, wire them in series. In addition to the eight solar cells, you’ll also need a small gauge wire, ribbon wire, clear plastic, four to six wood screws, ½ inch-thick wood, paint, silicon adhesive, soldering iron, wire stripper, drill, paint brush and saw.

  1. Cut the piece of wood to back the solar cells. The size will depend on how you’ll arrange the solar cells, so be sure to have adequate space for the wiring.
  2. Sand the wood and apply paint. Let it dry.
  3. For this small solar panel, we’ll be connecting the solar cells in series. That means you’ll be connecting the front of the cell to the back of the next one in the series. To connect the solar cells, solder ribbon wires to each solar cell.
  4. After soldering the ribbon wires to the front of the solar cells, carefully flip the solar cells and arrange them in two columns of four each. Make sure they’re not touching each other. Bend the ribbon wires and solder it to the back of the solar cells. Now you’ll have two sets of four solar cells.
  5. While still upside down, place the two sets of solar cells alongside each other. Make sure that the column on the left has the ribbon soldered at the front and that the right column is soldered at the back. Solder the wire to the top ribbon wires.
  6. Create a template for your backing. Use a piece of paper and outline the backing into it to make sure that the solar cells will fit.
  7. Apply adhesive on the solar cells and gently press the wood backing over them, using the paper template as a guide. Pull up the backing to check whether the solar cells are in place.
  8. Cut two wires and attach them to the bottom ribbon wires. Then connect them to a reserve diode to prevent the charge from draining.
  9. Cut clear plastic the size of your backing. This will serve as the covering for your solar panel. Attach the plastic to the backing using adhesive.
  10. Get a battery holder and attach it to the connector wires. Make sure that you get the polarity right.

This is how you make a small solar panel to charge your AA rechargeable batteries. Place it under the sun to charge your batteries. It will take around ten to twelve hours to fully charge them.