Introduction: Remove Solar Cell From Outdoor LED Lamp

I wanted to find out how to remove and the solar cell from one of those $4 outdoor solar
lamps that you just stick in the ground. I couldn't find anything online so I took it upon
myself to figure it out. It was pretty straight forward but I thought I'd post my findings anyway

Note:
$4 Outdoor Solar Lamp will yield:
~3V solar cell
~photo resistor
~AA rechargeable battery
~bright LED
~circuit and some resistors
~metal sleeve and stake if you need it for something.


Step 1: Tools

All you really need is a small philiips screw driver and a Dremel. Unfortunately for
some unfathomable reason I have not brought myself to purchase a dremel tool, if only
because a friend's is always available. I did have some wire clippers on hand which was
messy and time consuming but got the job done.

~Dremel
~Phillips screw driver
~Flat head screw driver or something with a  thin metal edge.
~Wire clippers
~Multimeter


Step 2: Disassembly

Unscrew the head from the shaft, about 1/4 turn and it comes right off, (but you knew that already)and unscrew the

3 screws on the underside. Remove the rechargeable AA battery and the metal decorative sleeve over the plastic casing. Pry a flat head screwdriver or blade under the lip of the case and pry it up. It should slide off with minimal effort.

The battery is a AA rechargeable 1.2V @ 350mAh Ni-Cd battery. With charge and quick charge voltages and amp info. Quite nice actually.

Step 3: Getting to the Solar Cell

Using a dremel and cut off wheel would have made this job 100% faster but alas I don't have one (can I still consider myself a true hobbyist without one?). I used some wire cutters and some muscle to cut through the thin sides of the case up around each corner of where the solar cell was glued down. I originally tried to pry it up but I started to scratch the cell and didn't want to risk breaking it. If it can be pried up successfully without cracking it, let me know.

Step 4: Removal and Testing

There was a bit of rubber glue holding the cell in but not as much as I had suspected. I had freed enough of the cell from the plastic I could gently raise it up and peel it away from the plastic. There was some silicon sealant coating the hold that the wire leads were threaded through. This was all done the waterproof the unit. I shoved a small phillips screw driver in the hole and twisted it the loosen up the sealant. then I pulled the wires through. The I went ahead and removed the LED the circuit and the photo resistor.  

I should add that before I attempted to remove it I tested it with my multimeter to ensure that it provided the suspected 3V that I needed for my BEAM projects I wanted to work on. Sure enough under direct florescent light, it gave slightly more then 3V in the picture below I have captured it close to that rating as documented proof.

Comments

author
tfozzfiberart (author)2017-01-17

hi, very interesting instructable, thank you! What is a BEAM project? Is it the educational one for kids? I'd like to know more about what I can do with one of these cells.

author
aginnsz (author)2014-10-12

Hi, I'm also in the process of dismantling similar (bigger) lights and the idea would be to make a small panel by connecting all the cells together, put it ouside, and put the leds and the batteries inside. I'm just wondering how compact these cells really are (compared to the power they generate) and how to hook up the whole thing so that the final panel can recharge the same number of batteries.

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author
jonney_o (author)2011-05-01

I removed a few solar cells using Rubbing Alcohol on a Q-tip. Reaching from underneath the plastic cap where the Pos and Neg leads were cut through. The Rubbing alcohol immediately releases the Hot Glue or Hot Bond, which allows you to just lightly push the cell up though the top using the Q-tip. No cutting the plastic, no mess. Hope it helps

author
BrownDogGadgets (author)2011-04-07

My local Dollar Store, called Dollar Tree, had the slightly cheaper version of these lights for $1 each. They were made completey of plastic with no metal. I may have bought 100 of them for projects.

Getting a solar cell, AAA battery, and LED circuit for $1 isn't a bad deal.

I've been seeing quite a few decent solar lights at Home Depot for under $4. A handy thing to have around.

author
Nerdz (author)2010-02-23

Saw these at Ocean State Job Lot (like a upscale dollar store-or a downscale harbor freight store)

How much current does the cell put out? I was thinking of getting one for this purpose, but for 4 bucks you can get much better on ebay for the same price

author
jackel3415 (author)Nerdz2010-02-24

If I did my calculation right about 10-15mA unless my units were off.

Yea, it isn't the greatest that's for sure but I figured for the price I might get a half decent solar panel and the rest of the parts aren't a bad deal. I'll probably have to order a much stronger one for the other project I'm working on. On the bright side with a few changes to the basic circuit and you might have a half decent Pummer. (just speculation though)

author
Garasvaldi (author)jackel34152010-11-08

we can find the same one or one very similar here in Georgia, USA 2 for $5 and on rare occasion $1 each.

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