How To Make A Solar Panel With Household Items 

Whether you switch to energy-saving bulbs or upcycle old clothing, we should all be doing our bit to save the environment. One way of doing this is through solar panels.

How To Make A Solar Panel With Household Items

These clever devices transform sunlight into electricity, which has the added benefit of saving you money on your electricity bills! 

Solar panels may save you money later, but they aren’t the most affordable item to buy.

Luckily, you can make solar panels right at home! All you need are a few items you probably already have lying around your house. 

You’ll learn how to make four types of solar panels in this article.

Don’t worry if you haven’t experimented with crafts before, as the steps for all of these methods are straightforward to do. 

If you’re ready to make your own solar panels, keep reading!

Making A Solar Panel With A CD

You Will Need

  • A CD
  • Copper wire
  • Zener diodes
  • Insulated electrical wire
  • Soldering iron
  • Glue
  • Voltmeter
  • Wire cutters


Glue the Copper Wire and CD

Apply the glue to the end of the copper wire where the CD’s center hole is. Move the copper wire to the edge of the CD, then bring it back to the middle. 

Repeat this step as you glue the wire down to the CD, ensuring that you cover most of the surface. 

Once you’ve finished, the CD will resemble a flower. Make sure the glue and copper wires dry fully before moving on.

Secure The Zener Diode

Once the copper wire has dried, you can fix the Zener diode to the openings amidst the copper wire sections. 

Do this by soldering the Zener diode’s end and the copper wire ends. Leave one end alone, as this will connect the insulated cords later. 

Connect The Insulated Wires

Now that you’ve finished securing the Zener diode, you’ll need to link the insulated wire to the end of the copper wire we left free in the previous step. 

Simply solder the insulated wire ends to the copper wire ends. Once you’re finished, you can start testing the solar panel.


You can test the panel by placing it in a sunny area, then using a voltmeter to read the current. 

Simply link the insulated wires on the panel to the voltmeter cables.

If it works, the voltmeter should read a current when sunlight contacts the panel. If you shield it, the voltmeter shouldn’t read any current whatsoever. 

Making A Solar Panel From Aluminum Foil

You Will Need

  • Glass in a square shape
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wire cutters
  • Soldering iron
  • Insulated electrical wire
  • Copper wire


Glue the Copper Wire In the Glass

Place your square-shaped glass in front of you. Position the copper wire at one end of the panel, then take it over to the other end, gluing the wire down in place. 

Keep repairing this step until the entire glass is covered.

Cover With Aluminum Foil

Once you’ve covered the whole glass with copper wires, leave the glue and wires to dry. After it’s dried fully, you’ll need to cover the glass with aluminum foil.

Aim to cut a piece of foil that’s larger than the glass so you can cover the whole panel with it. 

Ensure that both ends of the wires are visible, as you’ll need these to power the system. 


Once the panel is ready, you can begin testing it. Connect the copper wires to your voltmeter, then place the panel in a sunny location. 

If successful, the voltmeter should start reading current. Check to make sure it stops reading current if the panel is covered too. 

Making A Solar Panel From Soda Cans

You Will Need

  • Soda cans (can range from a few dozen to a hundred)
  • Exhaust fan
  • Air intake/output tubes
  • Silicon adhesive
  • Sheet metal or plywood
  • Black spray paint
  • Polycarbonate sheet 


Cut The Soda Cans

To begin, you’ll need to cut your soda cans. The number of cans you’ll need will vary with how large you want the panel to be. 

Slice the top of each can and the fin off of the base. This will allow more heat to come into contact with the panel, as cutting the cans allows air to flow through. 

Glue and Join The Cans 

Once the cans have been cut, you can glue them together to create the panel. 

Place one can on top of the other, then another one beside it. Use the silicon adhesive to glue them, creating a large strong block. 

Silicon adhesive is the best glue for this, as it resists high temperatures very well. The adhesive can handle temperatures above 400°F, so it’s a good choice for a solar panel.

Create the Frame

Now we will create the frame that will house all of the cans. Measure your soda can block to ensure the frame is large enough. 

The back of the frame can be wooden or metal, but the front should be polycarbonate or glass, as these will allow sunlight to pass through. 

Spray the frame and the cans with your black paint. This will encourage the panel to take up more sunlight. 

Position the Tubes

Attach an intake tube on top of the frame, then fix the outtake one to the bottom. Ensure that all gaps in the frame are filled with silicon or soda cans. 


Now you can fasten an exhaust fan around the intake tube to direct cold air into the panel. As the air enters the solar panel, it will heat up inside the little greenhouse.

Warm air will then enter back into the room through the output tube. 

Making A Solar Panel With Blades

You Will Need

  • Blades
  • Cardboard
  • Voltmeter
  • Glue
  • Copper wire


Stick the Blades Down

To begin, you need to fix the blades to the cardboard. Simply glue down the blades next to each other on one side. 

Repeat this on the other side of the cardboard to create a solar panel with two faces.

Attach the Blades

Once we’ve glued the blades down, we can connect them with copper wires. 

Simply glue down the wire on one side of the, then do the same for the other side. If you prefer, you can use aluminum foil to connect them as a copper wire substitute.


Once you’ve glued copper wires to both sides of the panel, connect the wires to the voltmeter and place the panel in a sunny location. 

The voltmeter should begin reading current when the panel is in sunlight, then cease when covered or in the dark. 

The Bottom Line

Solar panels help to produce electricity without the use of fossil fuels.

These environmentally friendly devices can be expensive to install, but you can make your solar panels at home with some common everyday items! 

The methods outlined above will help you create solar panels from a CD, foil, soda cans, and blades.

Have fun attempting these methods and see if you can create some operational solar panels right at home

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own Solar Panels?

Building your own solar panels will cost you much less than paying to install a system.

However, DIY panels may cost you more as time goes on.

The materials you use might not be of high quality and may have a greater chance of breaking down. You’ll also need to factor in replacement costs as the panels won’t have a warranty to protect them. 

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

In most cases, solar panels last between 25-30 years, but the latest models claim to last between 40-50 years.

Despite this, these panels will continue to create electricity after this period, just not at their optimum state.

Looking after your solar panels and cleaning them every so often can help increase their lifespan. Just be careful to avoid damaging the panel as you do so. 

Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days?

Yes, regular daylight is enough for solar panels to produce power. These panels don’t need strong, intense sunlight, but they are a lot more efficient on sunnier days which have more daylight hours.

However, solar panels will not work as well in the shade, so make sure that any obstacles, like trees and shadows, don’t block the panel from receiving sunlight.

Joe Danner