Building Homemade Solar Cells - How to Make Your Own

Do you wish to build your own homemade solar cells?

In today's economy, more and more people are looking for ways to save on energy costs. It is only natural that those people soon investigate the advantages of solar energy. It is also a natural step to then consider building your own solar panels.

But what exactly is a solar panel? It is basically a box that is filled with solar cells. It is the solar cells that actually do the work to gather sunlight and turn it into the energy that you will use. New solar cells are quite expensive, and can sometimes be hard to come by in any quantity. Therefore, it makes sense to try your hand at building your own homemade solar cells. Here, we will give you an idea on how to build your own homemade solar cells.


The materials needed for making your own home made solar cells is commonplace and can be found at your local hardware store. You can make a solar cell from the following materials:

  • Copper sheeting
  • Alligator leads
  • Multimeter
  • Electric burner or stovetop
  • Largemouth glass jar
  • Sandpaper
  • Shears

    How to Do It

    Here are the basic steps for making homemade solar cells.

  • Step 1: Start with a square foot of copper sheeting. Trim your copper sheeting in half, and one half to a square the same size as the burner top you are using. Wash the cut copper sheeting and your hands really well. You do not want any grease or corrosion in any form on your material. You can use the sandpaper on the sheeting to ensure there is nothing on the copper.

  • Step 2: Next step for your homemade solar cell - place the cut piece copper sheeting directly onto the burner or cooktop and turn the burner on as high as it will go. Cook the copper sheeting on this high heat for at least 30 minutes. It will turn all kinds of great colors, and will finally start to form a thick black crust. This is a good thing, so do not panic. Once the black crust is nice and thick, turn the burner off and let the copper cool off on the burner. As the copper cools, much of the black crust will pop right off - this also is a good thing, and while this is happening, you just need to watch and be patient.

  • Step 3: After the copper sheeting has cooled for about 20 minutes, you will want to wash the copper, giving it a light scrubbing under hot water removing all traces of the black crust. You will want to be gentle and not bend or traumatize the copper in any way. You now are holding a thin layer of red cuprous oxide.

  • Step 4: Next step for your homemade solar cell - place both pieces of copper in the glass jar, each on a different side not touching each other. You might have to gently bend them to fit. Connect the alligator leads - the positive to the clean sheet, the negative to the burnt sheet. Fill a pot or measuring cup with enough hot water to fill your glass jar and add a couple of teaspoons of salt, stirring until dissolved, then add this water to your glass jar, stopping within 1 inch of the top of your copper sheets. The water should not touch the alligator leads.

  • Step 5: Connect the meter and watch what happens! Move the jar into the light and you will see the amount of energy generated increase.

    You have now created a battery and your first homemade solar cell! You would need a lot of this type of solar cell to power something as big as a solar panel, but it is a good start to learn how solar cells are made. Something of this size is an excellent science project for a student. This experiment is a good start to understanding solar power and alternate energy sources.

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