Solar power is amazing! You can power motors, lights or any electrical device, and they are available all over the world for a very reasonable prices.
In this Instructable I will show you have to use solar panels to power LED lights. The estimated cost for this project is only 10$!
Step 1: Materials
You think solar panels are expensive? Think again! One 6V 150mA can be bought from Ebay for only 1,5$! You will need 4 of them so that's a total of 6$ worth of solar panels. However, if you want to have really bright LED lights I recommend more than 4 solar panels.
Solar panel: http://www.ebay.com/itm/301966354364?_trksid=p205...
The LED lights can also be bought from Ebay very inexpensively. Price will depend on numerous factors like length, type, color and if you require the lights to be waterproof. From this seller I was able to purchas 2m of white 3528 LED lights for only 2$
You will also need a cable long enough to reach from the solar panels to the LED lights. This is also extremely cheap at just a couple of dollars (10m; 20AWG; black).
Note: This is not the materials used in the video. I had everything at home so I only got some solar panels.
Step 2: Solar Panel Connection
The reason why we need 4 solar panels is to achieve the correct voltage and current. 1 solar panel has a voltage of 6 volts, and a current of 150mA. In order to power the LED lights we need a minimum of 12 volts and 200mA (depends on the length of LED strip). That's why we have to separate the solar panels into two different groups.
Basically, take two of your 4 solar panels, let's call them solar panel 1 and 2. Solder the positive pad from solar panel 1 to the negative pad on solar panel 2. Then solder wires to the remaining positive and negative pads on each solar panel. This is what's called conecting circuits in series. What we have done from these two solar panels (1 and 2) is increased the voltage from 6V to 12V. This means, instead of having two solar panels producing 6V and 150mA each, we now have two solar panels working together to produce 12V 150mA. Do the same with solar panels 3 and 4.
By connecting the two serperate groups of solar panels in parallel we can make 1 big solar panel producing 12V and 300mA. This will be more than enough to power several meters of LED lights.
Step 3: Holder Platform
You really don't need to get too fancy here. Take a scrap piece of foam, plastic or anything of that nature (nothing conductive though). I used a square piece of foam larger than what I needed to easily add more solar panels in the future.
All solar panels are waterproof and these cheap panels are very rigid so no protection is necessary. Use plenty of glue to secure them to the piece of foam!
Step 4: Cable/Wire Connection
From your solar panels to the LED lights you will have a rather long cable/wires going in-between. Since I didn't have that long wires in my home, I went with a long cable. I solder the positive wire to the inner pin, and the negative wire to the outer shell of my cable.
Note that the longer your wire, the more power loss you will have. Don't worry too much about the length, but in case you have several meters of unused wire just pushed behind your furniture, you might just aswell cut it off.
Step 5: Panel Placement and Cable Management
Obviously you want to place your solar panel where it will be exposed to the sun, so make sure you choose wisely. Use double-sided tape to attach the holder firmly to any surface, and begin bringing your cable inside to the LED lights.
To secure the cable agains the roof I used a tape resistant to water, but that was a little overkill. You can easily use duct tape.
Step 6: Connecting the LED Lights
Take the other end of your cable/wires from the solar panels and solder an electronic switch to the circuit in order to turn it on and off. This is optional but recommended, if you don't have a switch you could simply solder a connector and unplug when you want to turn it off.
I also used a PDB (power distrubution board) to easier connect more LED lights in the future. However, this step is also optional. If you don't want to use a PDB, you could simply connect the cable/wire from the solar panels to the LED lights and you will have working light wherever you want.
Step 7: Attach the Switch and LED's
Since the LED's are pre-glue you can basically attach it to any surface, which is great because it makes the installation very easy. You can also cut the LED's at certain locations, so if you want to use shorter lenghts of LED's you can do that!
Step 8: Turn It On!
Get creative! Remember that you can purchase the LED's in multiple colors, and don't worry about the power, even on rainy days the LED's will have enough power to stay lit. Also, the more solar panels you connect the brighter the LED's will be.
Want to see more awesome projects like this? Check out my YouTube-channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/RcLifeOnSimon