Sometimes you need a whole lot of solar power to get your gadgets going. Bigger phones, tablets, and gadgets mean that they're more power hungry. When normal DIY solar chargers fail you, you need to turn to a Heavy Duty solution.

In this project I'm going to show you how to create a Lithium Heavy Duty Solar USB Charger. It's the second version of this project and addresses a lot of minor issues while improving the overall design. The key highlights of this project are it's 5W Solar Panel, 3A dual USB output, a powerful Lithium Ion Battery, and a laser cut wooden case.

Due to the parts being used, this project is suitable for direct solar to USB charging and could easily be used day to day. It's something that could be used for light camping or be used in an emergency situation. It's internal battery is more than powerful enough to charge any cell phone up at least once, and lesser phones/ gadgets several times. The only downside to this project is that the laser cut case is not waterproof, though it is very rustic looking.

Most of these parts can easily be found online, or at least very similar parts. I have a full Lithium Heavy Duty 2.0 Kit available on my website. If you're looking for a smaller project, try the Solar USB Charger 2.0 Kit. If you just want something pre made, then grab a Folding USB Solar Cell.

Note: This is not a beginner Maker project. Lithium Batteries can be dangerous. Practice doing some other projects before doing this one.

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Cost: Medium - Less than a store bought at the same power
Time: 30 - 60 Minutes

Step 1: Parts

All parts to this project can be found at BrownDogGadgets.com. A complete kit is available as well.

USB Charging Circuit - DC to DC Boosting Circuit
3.7V Lithium Battery Charge Controller
3.7V Lithium Battery - 2600mAh or better
6V 830mA Solar Cell (5 Watts)
2.5mm Male Barrel Jack with Wire
Toggle Switch

Laser Cut Case Parts:
Laser Cut Box
16 X 6-32 Screws
16 X 6-32 Nuts

Soldering Iron
Hot Glue Gun
Foam Tape
Wire Cutter
Wire Stripper
Screw Driver

Optional Tools:
Helping Hand

How is this an instructable, you don't teach anything about making the actual product. It's just free advertising for you to sell a product.... <br> <br>Now if you included how to make all your actual circuits.
I also don't tell you how to forge your own screws, cut down and mill trees into wood, how to chemically treat copper and turn it into a solar cell, or how to spin copper into wire. But no doubt you find fault in all instructable posts for those reasons as well. <br> <br>You can use this basic guide to create your own charger using a whole bunch of off the shelf parts. If you really want to learn how to make your own using similar parts found all over the web, or use parts of this design and go your own direction with it. No one is forcing you to buy anything from me, and I'm giving you the design and explanation for free. (In fact if you have access to a whole lot of junk, like at a Makerspace, you could use this design and make it from junk parts alone.)
<p>That said, it would be nice to have the schematic for the charge controller so those adventuresome enough can beild their own from scratch. </p>
<p>It's not THAT kind of project. Building the charge controller from scratch and the USB circuit from scratch are rather large under taking. In fact that would increase the difficulty and price by a factor of 100. That isn't the point of this project. This project is for beginners. If you're smart enough and ambitious enough to make your own USB and charge controller, you're smart enough to do some quick google searching and easily find schematics for both. I've had great success doing this with middle and high school students, none of whom would have been able to make this 100% from scratch. They were however able to make up this project and could easily explain the theory and ideas behind it. That's the point of this. </p>
<p>I'm smart enough to know that you are buying the same parts from eBay we can Then selling them with your FAKE Instructable for a 300% profit.</p>
<p>Don't see how it's fake. We're showing you how to make the project and listing all the supplies you need to make the project. You can buy the kits from us or from somewhere else, either way our directions are here for all to use.</p>
<p>Wild. I found all, the stuff on ebay like you said Gomo. Just search the name &amp; look for the matching picture. </p>
<p>I remember when Instructables didn't have businesses posting their overpriced products as<br> projects on here. All the parts for this project <br>can be bought from eBay for 1/4 what the Author is charging. BUYER BEWARE !</p>
<p>And no one is stopping you from doing that. We're showing you who to make it and letting you buy parts from wherever. You act as if we're FORCING you to buy parts from us. Free guide on how to make something.</p>
hey! can i use NiMh battery instead?
I have used Lithium Ion Batteries for years with Radio Controlled aircraft. Yes, they need to be handled with care, but I would never consider them any more &quot;Dangerous&quot; than any other type of battery - Why do you say they can be Dangerous?
lithium, batteries have an unseen floor, they catch fire and their flame is invisible to the naked eye,by the time 80% of damage has taken place no appearance is seen. <br>Electric scooters have been retrofitted with other batteries for this reason the rider does not know he/she is on fire. (First noticeable cases IBM laptops-since changed.)
<p>Ummm you're talking about METHANOL not Lithium LOL</p><p>Lithium batteries make a REALLY big bright orange and red flame...</p>
<p>This reply sounds like you have actual experience with them burning!</p>
They don't catch fire until the casing is breached. Without oxidizer, there is no fire. What happens is called a thermal cascade, and it is when the heat from the battery accelerates its own discharge in a positive feedback loop. At some point in the cycle heat swelling can rupture the battery and spray lithium into the air. That is when it catches fire. Before then, it is just irreparable damage.
Wow! I am vey impressed with the high level of knowledge on these batteries - I guess I lived in my little corner of the world (R/C airplanes), and had no clue as to many of the facts pouted out in other replies. Thanks to all who replied for the information!
There are two concerns with Lithium batteries. First they are prone to thermal runaway; and second, the electrolyte is flammable. Couple that to the fact that lithium packs a lot more energy in a small space than any other battery technology and you have a dangerous combination. <br>Many RC enthusiasts will only charge their lithium batteries in a protective sack that can contain the results if a battery does go rogue. <br>Lithium batteries have become safer as manufacturers have improved their designs and processes. That combined with protective circuits that prevent over-charging of the batteries make the incidence of battery mishaps rare. but while the probability of a problem is low the consequences are significant.
Like any of the &quot;new&quot; advances in science, there are positive and negative qualities. Personally, I'm not into learning all the nuances of the MANY TYPES of chemicals used on Li-Ion batteries. Some are safe, some are DANGEROUS. The best information on current technology, and how these batteries came to be. <br><br>Complete info can be found at http://www.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery - Thanks for pointing out some of the possible dangers!
<p>Hi,</p><p>I am new to this field , what is the use of the switch ? <br>Is it possible to charge from the panel directly in case of good sunlight ?</p>
I my name is Ay(Skytech), please what solar pannel can I use for laptop I mean 220v were I can I buy it And there website kindly help me.<br>Here is my email: Sky.ayorinde@yahoo.com.<br>Thanks
<p>sorry 20W*</p>
<p>thank your for you great idea. would i be able to use this for my product which is 20 volt??</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Thanks for the educational ible! Very inspiring. I was wondering if a 7.5V 720mA solar cell is compatible with the lithium charge controller on your website? Is that too high of a voltage for the controller? Or is there such a thing? Also, I've read all your other ibles and have noticed that the rechargeable AA battery solar chargers require a diode between the solar cell and batteries, does the charge controller also eliminate the need for this? Any help would be great! I intend on helping a brown dog get some treats ;)</p>
<p>Yes. That would be enough. You may want to drop the voltage down a bit though. (I've had people use 9V solar panels with the lithium boards I sell, no problems. It's one of those &quot;it should be ok, but I should also just monitor it a bit to be sure&quot; kind of situations.)</p><p>There already is a diode built into the charge controller I'm using, otherwise you are correct about one being needed.</p>
<p>Thank you</p>
can you send the circuit diagram and how can we connect the solar panels each other
<p>a cigar box works very well for this step. That's what I used:)</p>
I have noticed JoshuaZimmerman that you didnt specify the type of lithium... I want to make one that has lots of mAh and that will support my samsung galaxy mega ( lots of power drawn) and my ipod classic and my gfnds samsung note. Can I use any type of lithium?
I'd like to build something like this, but I want to permanently attach the solar cell to the battery instead of plugging and unplugging it. Are there charge controllers available that would allow this.?
That there are. Quite a few. I have one on my website if you can't find one.
Thanks :) I will look that up ;)
Awesome instructable!!!! =) I am actually planning to make something similar to this, but I'm using a battery from an old ipod, and its not gonna be solar.<br>But I did a lot of research, and I still can't figure out how to tell if the battery is charging (the battery has full charge right now, last time it worked), and I think you might have more experience than I do, so maybe you would be able to help me somehow...
You need a battery charge controller. Many have built in battery status LEDs. I have a couple different types on my website, some with many status LEDs, and some that just tell you when it's full. It depends on how big you want your project to get.

About This Instructable




Bio: I used to teach middle school science, but now I run my own online educational science website. I spend my days designing new projects for ... More »
More by BrownDogGadgets:LED Broken Heart Bracelet LED Paper Holiday Tree Red LED Nosed Reindeer 
Add instructable to: