Thinking about building your own PV modules from scratch? Think again. While this has been done on occasion (especially in developing-world situations), we strongly recommend against it.
First of all, you won’t be making the PV cells. This is high-tech, clean-room technology, not something you’re going to do in your garage. And this is the most expensive and important part of the PV module manufacturing process.
You could buy cells and assemble your own modules. We see opportunists advertising plans to do this cheaply, but we suspect that the main benefit is to the plan producers’ bank accounts. While a handful of companies are promoting DIY module building as a practical alternative, the realities of the actual cost and, more importantly, product safety, are being ignored. Without question, PV system components should be listed to applicable Underwriters Laboratories standards, just like any other electrical product in your home. These standards were developed to ensure the safety of you, your family, and your neighbors. Unlisted components are an accident waiting to happen.
PV modules are incredibly long-lasting devices if they are well-constructed. Most carry 20- to 25-year warranties on energy production and will continue producing electricity for 40 years or more depending on the quality of their construction. Trying to do this yourself will rarely, if ever, result in the durability and longevity you will find in well-manufactured modules. Building PV modules is best left to PV manufacturers.