Picture of How to make a Solar USB charger! (simple!)
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Welcome! I will show you how to make a solar usb charger that out puts about 6v and is perfect for charging anthing that uses USB. This is perfect for someone new to soldering! Here is the finished product:
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Step 1: Parts

You need the following:
1x USB extension a/a cable (That's where I got mine.)
1x Any Diode (RadioShack #: 276-563)
1x 6v Solar panel (RadioShack #: 277-1205 )
Soldering iron(RadioShack #: 64-2051)
1x Project box (Radioshack #: 270-1803) I would maybe chose a smaller on, I had a bigger one laying around.
Electrical Tape
Glue Gun or tape to hold the peices in place.

Thats it!

Step 2: Getting ready

Picture of Getting ready
This is a simple circuit so all you need to do before you solder is Cut the USB extender cable towards the bigger side. Leave an inch (or two if you want) and then cut off the shielding and get rid of everything except the red and black wire

Step 4: Drill!

Now you just need to drill a hole for your cables to go through on top (from the solar panel) and another hole for the cable.

Step 5: Glue it together.

Picture of Glue it together.
This is the last step. Just put glue around the extension cable and on tp of your project box to glue on the solar panel and your done!

Step 6: Test it out!

Picture of Test it out!
Its charging up my blackberry perfectly! It is even 7:30 here and not too bright.
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siddheshb26 days ago

will it cause any damage to my phone..please reply fast

SantoshR27 days ago

Hi.. i have successfully made the above.. also by adding a pair of rechargeable batteries inbetween.. to save some for the night charging .. but im trying to show a 5 or 6 led indicator [ indicating % power left in the battery ] or something like that.. could you help me out with that.

mujahedkhalil2 months ago

I want to make it, actually I don,t know ho to control current? i.e: if solar panel have 1.5A current and wanted current is 800mA. then how can we reduce and vice versa?

Maybe you want to make a variable current regulator
shubhamk1 year ago
Hey i bought a 6v and 100mA solar panel and a zener diode of 12 v and 1 watt and connected all as shown. Wen i expose the solar panel in sun it shows me charging on my phone but i waited for long time still my battery is same and not charging!! Please help as soon as possible...
GroutN shubhamk1 month ago
You need to raise the current it needs to reach at least 500mA
Probably because 100mA isn't even enough to put a dent in the charge of a cell phone. Could power an led or something but phones use a lot of energy.
So is there any solution to it??? Except buying a new solar panel! May be by adding anything like a diode or something in the circuit??
Put the panel out in the sun and use a multimeter to make sure everything is set up and working properly. If it's all working right then a bigger panel is probably what you need. If you have an iphone or ipod check out and see if that helps at all.

use a regulator

if you use a regulator it will boost the power from 100ma to 500ma or 1 amp and will keep a stedy rate at 5 volts

don't use 12 volts its too much power and it will damage the battery please use a 5 volt regulator with 1 amp of power

AlberA2 months ago

Hi im gonna build a charger like this for my school work, but i dont have the knowledge to know what solar panel i need what Voltage or watts it should have, can you please send me a link of a panel that can do the job ? A amazon or ebay link would be great. Thank you

shane.lareau2 months ago

If I have a 5V solar cell at 500mA, would I really need to worry about installing the diode at all?

adamellifritz3 months ago
I use the 1N914 can get 50 for $1.99 @ radio shack
adamellifritz3 months ago
the diode on the parts list at the beginning is the voltage regulator...otherwise, it's a very good project. I dont see any problems other than the fact you need a 5v diode so you wont over charge.
Fashiondez2 years ago
Can I use a 6v 35ma cell for this project?

No, it needs to have more ma, like 500ma or more. Otherwise your phone will charge really slooooowly or not charge at all. If you use a 6v panel, you need to add some sort of regulator, eg. a 5v zener diode, otherwise you risk damaging your phone. (You should use one anyway even if you use a 5v panel).

mking011 year ago
Hey, this is probably a stupid question, yet i will still ask it because google can't help me (for once)
If i were to use a higher voltage solar panel (ie. about 8V) and add in a 7805 5v regulator, wouldn't that essentially make it safer for my iPhone and possibly increase the mA? I need this answer as soon as possible, but even if its been a while, still answer because i might want to make this again some day outside of school, thanks!

if you want to charge an iphone you will need a 5 volt regulator with 500ma to 1 amp anything more then that will damage the battery

I would use a 5v regulator no matter what. However to charge Apple devices you can't simply supply the 5 volts, there needs to be around 1.9 volts on the two data lines of the usb. This way it thinks you're using an Apple charger.

But this is not the case for other, non-apple products? So other phones don't need power on the data lines?

How do I know how many volts my solar panels are? I'm using some solar garden lights I bought really cheap at Walmart. Could I just hook up a few of them to get more volts? Lol I feel really dumb because I know next to nothing about electronics... I'm having a really hard time even getting started with this project because I can't find one using exactly what I am. I am using a car USB charger that would plug into a cigarette lighter also. I would prefer not to use AA or AAA batteries as well.

if your set up is more then 5 volts then use a 5 volt regulator because anything more then 5 volts will damage any cell or smart phone

Which Diode no. is being used???

check the parts at step one

tim.payne.3364 months ago

this project is good in all but you forgot the 5v regulator because if you put 6 volts in the phone it will damage the battery or the battery will explode but if you put 5 volts in the phone nothing will happen because the regulator will produce a fixed amount of voltage ex: 5v, could you please update this how to and do it with a regulator so the phone won't explode

pjordan1 year ago
most of the problems I'm seeing people have is that they aren't getting enough amperage. most cellphone chargers have an output of .7-1 amps if all your getting is 100mA then your never going to generate enough power to overcome the drain on the battery and therefore you'll never get it charged. to overcome this you'll either need more solar panels connected in parallel or a higher amperage solar panel. Hope this helps

You're essentially charging two devices, the external backup battery and your phone, at the same time. This instructable explains what kind of charge controller and power is required to perform this task and give constant phone charge even under non-ideal conditions:

tron201 year ago
I was thinking most of these people are talking fast USB for charging. Couldn't you just get a USB 3.0 and add it to the board and it would charge faster than the USB 2.0 and its backward compatible. I have a Seagate 5 Gigs slim and its USB 3.0 and backward compatible to USB 2.0 If you try that and it worked then you wouldn't have to add more solar parts unless you were to connect a laptop.
garrydolley2 years ago
If one hooked multiple panels together in parallel, increasing the current (or perhaps just get a bigger one), as long as the output is 5V, would it charge faster? I would imagine it would provide more current in lower light situations too.
Fashiondez2 years ago
i am working on a solar charger project and have scavenged a circuit boat from a car usb charger. Can I put a regulator on the usb circuit that needs 12 v? or do i need to get a usb board that is 2v (or whatever it is) and let it bump it up to teh 5v that it needs?
dkba272 years ago
A cell phone charger outputs .7 amps and 5v which in turn = 3.5 watts.
My question is how to get a solar panel, 9v and 1.5 watts to do the same.

Is there a set of components that can be added to get the same results?
Like lowering the voltage and increasing the watts?
dkba27 dkba272 years ago
helps with the math.
You cant increase the watts by any method.
i used a 5v regulator for my charger but still my phone is not charging
ddaniels-33 years ago
can you make something like this that would charge a phone and have an output to charge say a kindle or ereader
dabomb1022 (author)  ddaniels-32 years ago
Yeah all you gotta do is cut the charger cable for hat device and solder the red and black wires
jdongon3 years ago
can you give me instructions how to build this charger i dont have any idea into what part goes where...thx
dabomb1022 (author)  jdongon2 years ago
I just did!
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