Introduction: Solar Activated Cooling Fan

About: Dabbled in dark matter, settled into engineering with a blend of inventing and teaching, always trying to solve problems + learn new things!

A quick & easy portable cooling fan that turns on when sunlight hits the solar panels! This basic design is perfect for beginners in electronics. For advanced users, there are tons of possible extensions to the basic module.

The BrownDog gadgets 5W solar panel outputs 5V via USB. It can easily charge most cellphones, and with the addition of a rechargeable battery it can be a power source for most microcontrollers such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Step 1: Materials

-- BrownDog Gadgets 5W Solar Panel

-- Arduino Nano microcontroller

Nearly any other microcontroller will work. Choose a small one if you are not adding any more functions.

-- DC fan

Mine was harvested from an old desktop computer. You can also buy them online or at electronic supply stores.

--USB cord

-- Wire (~ 12 in.)

-- Optional: Switch

Step 2: Tools

-- Soldering Iron

If not available, twist wires together and coat in epoxy or hot glue.

-- Epoxy or other adhesive

If you want a less permanent mechanical connection, hot glue is a decent substitute.

-- Wire Strippers

-- Recommended: Multimeter (for testing)

Step 3: Build It! Pt. 1

Recommended to build the circuit on a breadboard and test outside prior to soldering or connecting components.

1. If there is a connector plug at the end of the DC fan, cut off with wire strippers.

May also want to extend the DC fan wires by a few inches.

2. Connect the fan black wire to a ground pin on the Arduino Nano.

3. Connect the fan red wire to the 5V pin on the Arduino Nano.

Step 4: Build It! Pt. 2

1. Plug the solar panel into the microcontroller and test outside or underneath a bright light.

2. If the system works as expected, and you do not want to add any other components, coat electrical connections in epoxy (or hot glue for a less permanent connection).

3. Optional: Case it!

Depending on your chosen function for the system, there are different methods for encasing the fan and/or microcontroller. Here are three options:

A. Desk Mount: Add a stand to the fan so it stays upright.

B. Hat Mount: Epoxy fan to a stiff hat brim.

C. Outside electronics: Place project into a waterproof case.

Step 5: Put It in Action!

There are tons of extensions for this basic module; anything possible on your microcontroller can be activated when sunlight hits the solar panel. Plus, if you include a rechargeable battery, the solar panel can also function as a 24/7 power source!

Get creative and use the sun to provide a source of renewable, clean energy for your next microcontroller project!

Move It

Participated in the
Move It