Introduction: DIY Portable USB Solar Charger ($20 - 4 Ports)

Picture of DIY Portable USB Solar Charger ($20 - 4 Ports)

Dreamed of making a cheap and "EXTREMELY RELIABLE" portable USB solar charger? Here's a quick tutorial, revealing how I made mine with a budget less than $20!
I have so many uses for it. When we travel and go camping, it serves us an unlimited supply of charging power for our handheld devices, such as iPhones, iPads, Speakers and Android Devices. It can charge anything! Anytime, anywhere! When an outrageous storm comes in, blackouts are inevitable, it's a good thing to have a solar charger!

By the help of of our trusty USB powerbank, charging during night time is possible, it acts as a battery reservoir, and charges during day.
It only takes 40-120 minutes to fully charge your powerbank, and it also comes with a 4 bar battery indicator!
It's a sustainable + reliable source of energy, ideal for charging USB devices.

- 10 Volt 3W Solar Panel (Water Proof - Shock Resistant)
- 2800mAh PowerBank (2A Output - iPhone 5 compatible)
-  Self-sustainable - Close to Unlimited USB Power :D

Also, please support and visit my site: (incompatible with IE -Under Renovation)
Enjoy Reading :D Cheers!

Step 1: Tool & Materials

Picture of Tool & Materials

It's recommended to use a solar panel rated at least 3W-10W at 6-10 volts. This is done to shorten your charging time. My parts and materials cost me 725php ($17/ USD). The links below are just alternatives. In the next page, I gave a list of cheap, quality powerbanks from products w/free shipping". The price is up to you, try to hunt down clearance sales.

My Parts - (w/ Alternative Links):
1.) Solar Panel (mine= 10V 400mAh | 3W)
2.) USB PowerBank (2800 mAh - w/ battery indicator)
3.) 4 Port USB Hub
5.) 7805 Regulator Chip
6.) Micro USB Cable (A stripped end)
7.) Leatherman Multitool (from: Instructable Prize)
8.) A short length of stranded wire.
9.) Superglue (Gorilla or MightyBond)

Step 2: Choosing Your PowerBank (Optional Step)

Picture of Choosing Your PowerBank (Optional Step)

Here's a variety of powerbanks I recommend. Products derived from "" + free shipping
You can chrage your powerbank even if devices are plugged to it. You can skip this step, if you already have a powerbank :D

The Price List:
1.) 2600mAh External Battery Mobile Power Bank ($6.30)
2.) Compact 3000mAh Portable Rechargeable Power Bank w/ LED Indicator ($9.20)
3.) Power Bank Aluminum Alloy Housing Case w/ Protective Board ($10.40)
4.) Ultrathin External 4000mAh Power Battery Charger w/ Touch Control ($14.30)
5.) Ultrathin External 4000mAh Power Battery Charger w/ Touch Control (Black Edition $14.30)

Step 3: Soldering the 7805 Regulator

Picture of Soldering the 7805 Regulator

Since my solar panel produces 10 volts (3W), while the powerbank needs to be fed with 5V of USB power, a regulator must be added in order to charge the powerbank. Without the 7805 regulator, the powerbank's internals might get damaged due to over-voltage.

1st.) Follow the simplified schematic diagram above, read them carefully!
2nd.) Solder the micro USB plug first, to the 7805
3rd.) Solder two wires on your 7805, to be connected to your solar panel (+ & - )
4th.) Use a small droplet of superglue to mount the regulator in your solar panel's terminal block.
6th.) Trim the heat-sink mount of your 7805 chip if necessary. 
5th.) Solder the two wires of your 7805 to the solar panel. Observe polarity! (+ & - )

FYI, The switching regulator, gets more juice from your solar panel!
Since the 7805 is limited to 1 Ampere, you might want to buy a HIGH-EFFICIENCY 5v Switching Regulator from for only ($3.80 + Free Shipping)!

OPTIONAL: You can now charge your device directly from the panel, even without the powerbank! 

Step 4: Mounting Your Devices

Picture of Mounting Your Devices

It's now time to mount your devices. I used a heavy double-sided adhesive to mount the powerbank and the USB hub behind the solar panel. If you plan to mount these devices permanently, it's ideal to use hot-glue or epoxy, for them to stay still. 

1st.) Mount The PowerBank
2nd.) Connect the charging cable of the solar panel to the powerbank's charge-input.
3rd.) Plug-in your USB Hub/Port to your powerbank's output.
4th.) It's now time to charge your devices! Just plug them in you USB Hub!

Step 5: Unleash 4 Ports of USB POWER! It's Ready :D

Picture of Unleash 4 Ports of USB POWER! It's Ready :D

Plug your devices and your done! Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for more projects!
Please support and visit my site: (incompatible with IE -Under Renovation)


andrea biffi (author)2013-08-24

that's really useful!

ASCAS (author)andrea biffi2013-08-24


rabbidturtles99 (author)ASCAS2013-10-21

What is the powerbank for they are really expensive when your trying to make multiples of these things. Could I still make one of these with a 6v solar panel without a power bank.

ASCAS (author)rabbidturtles992013-10-22

Yes you could! But a power bank acts as your battery reservoir, when there is an absence of sunlight, the powerbank serves as your powersource.

I don't think it's practical to build your own powerbank, since AA battery packs are really inefficient + takes longer time to charge. Second, why make one if you could buy one for only $6

kamhagh (author)ASCAS2014-11-02

nice guide :) im planning to use lipo instead of the powerbank, but also, that way i will need a lipo charger+ a boost circuit that makes 3.7 to 5v and a charger to charge the battery from solar :D

i dont think boost circuits are easily found in my country , so im planning to make my own :P

the whole reason that im doing this is to learn :D more than battery problems :P

manhla (author)kamhagh2016-10-07

Hey man, how far you with the project of building your own boost circuit?

AaronY11 (author)ASCAS2016-02-24

Some of the items are out of stock and possibly will not be resupplied/restocked. Are these parts easily interchangable or replaceable

cwozny (author)ASCAS2015-06-22

If you're using an L7805, wouldn't you need a solar panel with a minimum output voltage of 7 W due to the 2 V dropout voltage of the L7805?

also if I was using a battery pack that held 4 AAs and they were rechargeable would that be capable to replace the powerbank and if I used a 6v solar panel and the usb port from a car charger to hook up to the regulator and all

agis68 (author)2013-08-26

its a nice cheap and clean way to manage your charges......

ASCAS (author)agis682013-08-26

It's true! Now my parents will have a peace in mind, now that I don't have to charge my devices on the outlet 24/7. Instead, all of them are being charge 24/7 on the panel with a $0 bill :)) Cheers!

no joker (author)ASCAS2016-05-15

you know electricity doesn't cost much

clark5113 (author)no joker2016-05-15

Do you live in America? The price of electricity has risen significantly in my part of the country. It has actually become a concern to leave transformers plugged in even when not charging. they are referred to as "vampires" because they leach small amounts of current when not in use.

no joker (author)clark51132016-05-17

I do actually is live in ame

agis68 (author)clark51132016-05-16

I live in Greece (Europe) the prices really got up the last 2-3 months but I use often ebeay market to biuy electronic parts. I think the rise of the prices has to do with the global financial crisis. Ofcourse always there are cheap parts more passive parts (resistors, capacitors, diodes, etc) But the prices of the IC chips are rising.....

benwade (author)2013-08-26

I'm going to vote for you! I love this, not just because it's useful (and cheap) but also because it's very doable. Even I can put this together. Thank you!

ASCAS (author)benwade2013-08-26

Thank you very much! It's a good thing, I didn't stick to my original plan, which was assembling the whole setup from bare parts.

DragonDon (author)2013-08-25

Awesome idea! Going to look into doing this! Favoured and voted!

ASCAS (author)DragonDon2013-08-26

Thank you very much! Well appreciated. I'm planning to make a site with a independent domain, I tried weebly, but it wont let me upload my own codes. I'l give wordpress a try =D

DragonDon (author)DragonDon2013-08-25

Also, it seems your domain is available for purchase! Might wasn't to look into that. Or just start a free blog on

lonesoulsurfer (author)2013-08-24

Great job and instructable - well done.

kenbob (author)2013-08-24

Very thorough and well written instructable! Great job!
Possibly dumb question, do you need a diode to prevent power from draining into the solar panel from the powerbank when it is dark?

ASCAS (author)kenbob2013-08-24

Thanks! Well its not dumb at all :D, actually most powerbanks have a built in diode. Adding an extra one might cost some powerloss, specially when the proper specs are not observed.

The 1N4007 series is only limited to 1 ampere, while the 1N5402 can reach up to 3 amperes. So to be sure its good to add one. The Voltage & Ampere rating of your diode must be higher than your solar panel's rating. Thanks for the positive feedback! :))

computersdivine9 (author)2017-08-30


mythodea (author)2015-12-22

how is it possible to charge the powerbank & your phone (connected to the powebank) at the same time? I bodth a Xiaomi 10400mA power bank supporting pass through functionality ( charging the powebank & your phone at the same time), but it needs a strong amperage (I.e charge from the power outlet) to function.

Xanderone2 (author)mythodea2017-07-16

Most "Romoss" power banks have that capability. I have two with that brand name that have digital displays and work in that manner. Watch out for fake Romoss power banks out there.

ccray1954 (author)2016-05-15

this is amazing!!!!! love it will try to make. but where do you get solar at?

pivoron (author)ccray19542016-06-24

Ah, the sun.

ccray1954 (author)pivoron2016-06-24

really i didnt know this!!!!!!!!!!.i was asking about panels

Xanderone2 (author)ccray19542017-07-15


slivka made it! (author)2017-06-13

I Built this to charge my phone.

Got 18V 5W panel:

LM2596 regulator

The problem is that even in direct sunlight all I get at 0.27A at 5.00V. So my phone charges too slow.
Any idea how to increase amperage?



Xanderone2 (author)slivka2017-07-15

Your solar panel is 18volts 5W which is adequate in my opinion, although 10 watts is also okay. Power banks require 5 volt usb input to charge. You can easily get this from car chargers. These chargers are rated for 12 volts to 20 volts and act as a buck regulator to bring down the 12 volt car battery voltage or 18v to 20v spikes of ignition down to 5 volt usb output. I'll rather get the car USB charger variants that show voltage & amperage and maybe temperature so that I can always view in real time the voltage from the solar panel.

Have this hooked to your power bank to charge. Your usb device can be plugged into your power bank in turn.

I have designed this set up using a hard one power bank that shows the %age battery charge and the charge voltage and amp real time. It worked for sometime, but got burnt for a mistake I made in later plugging it into the wrong solar panel cable - a 100 watts solar panel under full sunlight.

I've ordered another power bank box unit and awaiting the delivery.

JoelJ31 (author)2017-03-11

Is it okay if i make my own power bank instead of buying one?

ketan11293 (author)2016-12-04

if i buy a 5 watt 10.8 volt solar panel and regulate it to 5 volt how much ampere the the current output would be ?

blackie.sage (author)2015-04-27

Maybe someone can help me. I chose this instructable because it was the most simple and straightforward one and I've never done this kind of thing before.

I have a 5v/3w panel, the 7805 regulator, a 10,000mAh powerbank, and a 4-port usb hub.

I charged the powerbank via wall outlet prior to putting together the panel, and then discharged it with my phone to see how many charges I could get out of it. Worked fine.

But now that I've put together the panel (I've triple checked all connections) the powerbank lights up like it's charging, but it's stuck at 2 of 4 bars. It will sit in the sun for days and not budge. Just does the charging blink and nothing else. I would hope it's not discharging back into the panel (I assume blocking diodes would be built into the powerbank making it unnecessary to have one coming from the panel) but I can't be 100% sure.

Is it because I have a smaller panel but a larger powerbank (capacity-wise)? The input for the powerbank is 5v, and I understand that panels won't always output their exact voltage, but even in direct noon sun it doesn't charge. I don't have a multimeter to measure output.

I don't know which would be better: Buying another identical panel and wiring them in series, or buying a smaller powerbank.

WillD10 (author)blackie.sage2015-07-30

it could be because you have a 5v @ 3 watts. That equals aboutg .6amps of charging power. Assuming the 5v is without a load. Once under a load the output of your panel could drop down to 3.8v -ish. It is always better to get a higher voltage panel and regulate it down. This way you can get good charging current even with a lower light condition. I bought a 12V 10W panel. It's about 1'x1' in size. Tied it to a regulator with a USB output @ 2 amps. This keeps a 20,000mah battery pack charged very well. All in all about 40 bucks, but plenty of power for anything I want to charge or run.

I use it to power USB light bulbs while camping, cellphone/tablet charging, flashlight charging. It is very handy.

manhla (author)WillD102016-10-07

Hi could you please send me your email address I'm interested in your solution!

eincar (author)2016-09-04

Maybe that is more expensive for you, it should be a good choose to go here:, here is a place which with good item for you.

wesleysuhler made it! (author)2016-08-25

I decided to keep the leads long in order to have the battery pack in my backpack while the solar panel receives the photons from outside the backpack, or even set the panel in the sun, while the devices and I enjoy the shade! Thanks for the awesome idea,


RoxannH (author)2016-08-09

Angelo! Wow! What a brilliant young man you are! Your idea is excellent! And, your writing the instructions was easy enough even me - an old, old Gramma with 0 knowlege of anything like that can follow! You are so very talented! Your parents and grand parents must be so proud of you! I'm very proud of you! Roxann in NE

tbenedetto (author)2016-08-09

I have been wanting to do solar but my husband does not want it so i cant wait to try it myself.

gcai_fwb (author)2016-05-15

nice project - but why does one have to take the technology along camping/hiking?

I was under the impression that camping/hiking is to allow one to get away from all that.

pivoron (author)gcai_fwb2016-06-24

Well, you take your coffee camping. You do use a pillow for sleeping, right. Do you drink clear water at your campsite?

gcai_fwb (author)pivoron2016-06-24

and what do those (coffee water pillows) have to do with technology? Seems to me you can't differentiate between camping and a hotel stay. And yes I can ( and have) make fire by rubbing 2 sticks together.

ScottW24 (author)2016-05-16

Buck converters and digital solar regulators are available as 'china specials' in the $1-3 range. 7805 is more lossy from heat yet similar price range. They work, but many solar based. Also, you'll find many of the power packs have a built in buck-converter on the input anyway and can handle a range of input power. If you're really worried about it, there are DiY solar power packs all over ebay in the $5-10 range that have both the input and output digital converters on the same board. Just tap into where the solar panels connect and run a wire out in parallel.

HerbertD1 (author)ScottW242016-05-23

Solar Panels are expensive. To get the most out of them don't use ordinary buck regulators. With solar cells the input voltage has to be regulated(not done by ordinary buck regulators). This only as an example

DavidN71 (author)2016-05-15

Angelo: your website has been hacked. It redirects to a known malware site. DO NOT go to It has no content and will redirect. My antivirus blocked the redirect. I will not post where is goes.

ReeceL3 (author)DavidN712016-05-19

Same Thing, it but it only redirects in Google Chrome. It redirects me to:

DavidN71 (author)ReeceL32016-05-19

I was running both a Mac and PC with Firefox 46 and redirected both times. It was blocked by the antivirus on the PC. The Chrome addon advertised is considered malware because there is no need for it. If you use Chrome, Google is tracking you server side. Otherwise use DuckDuckGo and a private browser window and Google won't be able to track your searches. Plus don't log in the Google before doing a search.

DavidN71 (author)ReeceL32016-05-19

That's were it went for me on my Mac. It was something worse on my PC. Both run Firefox 46 with noscript. The PC has Avast Free web protection as well. The browser hijack says it prevents Google from tracking you, but it makes no sense to use Chrome and not expect Google to track you. Otherwise use a private browsing window and DuckDuckGo for searches and you won't be tracked by advertisers.

I ran an online security check of the original website and there was no firewall. He left it open.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi I'm Angelo! I am a 18 y/o college sophomore taking my majors in BS-ECE at the DLSU. I use my course as ... More »
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