HOW TO: Pocket Sized Solar Battery Charger




About: I am a maker. As founder of MakerBlog, I enjoy sharing my creations with others.

Ever wanted a battery charger that even a beginner can make? Well you've got it. Ever felt bad because of the fossil fuel that is burned and the fumes it releases into the environment every time you recharge your batteries from the wall outlet? Want a better alternative? You've got it!  This isn't the only alternative, but it is the only alternative that is cheap, green, easy and fast to make, efficient, compact, travel sized, and homemade. Ever wanted to tap into the enormous energy contained in a star? You can!  Even if you're a beginner, this project was designed for you. And what do you need? 1. A used solar powered lawn light. 2. AA Batteries that need to be charged. 3. Jeweler/Small Screwdriver. 4. Soldering iron.    With these few things this project is an absolute no-brainer!

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Step 1: Transforming Your Lawn Light

Unscrew the solar powered yard light so that you can see the insides. You should be able to see a rechargeable battery. If you can't, then you probably need a different kind of yard light. Once you can see the insides you should take out all of the wires but the ones attached directly to the solar panel. Solder the black wire to the negative end of the battery holder and solder the white wire to the opposite end. IF your charger does not work, switch the ends of your wires. Replace the cover and hold it in place with one of your screws. FINALLY, we're finished. Put your rechargeable batteries into the battery holder. Leave in the sun all day.  Now you and your friends can go to any extreme place on planet earth(as long as it is sunny), and enjoy a wilderness adventure.  Wait there's more.........

Step 2: How to Make This Project With Supplies From Radio Shack

   RadioShack 0.5W Solar Panel 9V
   RadioShack AA Battery Holder
   Dantona "AA" 1.2V/600mAH NI-CD Batteries
  Solder the black wire from your solar panel onto the negative end of your battery holder, and solder the white wire on the opposite end. If that doesn't work switch the ends of the battery holder that the wires are on. Glue your battery holder to the back of your solar panel.          

  Wasn't that easy?

  IF you want to  improve it even more, modify a small plastic container(for example a butter tub) into being a body for your project. You can do this by cutting a hole in the lid the size of your solar panel and then placing your solar panel in the hole and gluing it in place with something other than hot glue.   Thank you for reading. If you can think of someway of making it more efficient or just in general more interesting, please tell me how by posting a comment. If you like this Instructable, please vote for me.
  Now you can go and touch the surface of the incredible energy the sun contains!!!

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    6 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I must be missing something. It alreading charges 1 aa battery what is the change this project does?

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    First, many people did not know that you could charge a battery with LED solar lawn light. Also, removing the circuit board and wires that I removed made it so that instead of using the power on the LED light as soon as the sun went down, now, the rechargeable battery retains the energy.

    To make it better you could desolder a diode from the PCB and use it to prevent back flow of the battery power, if your light doesn't have one then you could buy a diode, so yea you COULD use a IN4007 diode but it would be better if you use a diode with a lower drop voltage like the IN5819 diode with a 0.2 voltage drop instead of the 0.5 voltage drop of the IN4007 diode, so you could leave it in the sun for charging large capacity batteries like 3000+ mAh batteries. Overall good job for ni-cd batteries and low mAh ni-mh batteries I just use 3000mAh batteries and that's why I think it might help some people. :-)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for making this! This was my first instructable. Gtoal is right however, no soldering is required.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You don't need to solder anything, just bend back the lugs on the battery holder so you can remove the original battery while leaving the contacts in place. Insert battery to be recharged, throw it out on your lawn in the morning, and extract the battery in the evening before the sun goes down, the light turns on, and the battery starts draining!

    By the way the smaller cheaper solar lights (like the $1 units that the Dollar Tree sometimes carries) hold AAA batteries, if you want to be able to charge them too.

    Ataching a 9V solar panel to a Joule Thief circuit (the logic board in these lights) that's expecting less than a volt may not be a good idea. I'd check the output carefullt with a voltmeter in the brightest sunlight you have available.