Recycled Solar Power




Introduction: Recycled Solar Power

This is about a Solar Power Plant made from recycled parts. It is a work in progress. It all started at the landfill where someone next to me was throwing away 11 solar garden lights. I had 9 at home from garage sales. I had an old picture frame and some plywood and paint. I had to buy 4 diodes from radio shack. I started by taking all the lights apart and using the solar cells. I saved the circuit boards and LED's for future projects. The plastic globe made nice little hot caps for the garden.

Step 1:

Step 2:

I painted the board with some old house paint. I soldered 5 in a row pos. to neg. I think that 4 would have been OK I will know when I get done. Each set is putting out 22 volt in good sun.

Step 3:

I mounted the cells with a little hot glue then soldered a diode to the pos. on each set and into a splice on a single cord. Next I spliced all the neg. ends to a single exit wire. I dabbed a little hot glue over the solder joints to keep everything in place. I hot glued the picture frame over everything leaving the bottom un glued for a little ventalation.

Step 4:

The first test. Over 22 volts on a winter day. Tried it vertical and horizontal. I have no idea of how many watts.

Step 5:

I cut some scrap plywood and nailed and glued it to the sides. I cut them at 60 degrees for Washington state.

Step 6:

I used the globes for hot caps out in the garden.

Step 7:

Next I cut some holes in an old sewing box. Added a 12 volt receptical Made an opening for the inverter and an exit hole for the solar panel wire. Soldered both pos. to each other same with negs. a fuse will attach to the hot wire when I find one. Just for testing I wired it up with no regulator or fuse. I salvaged the 2 12 volt batteries out of a broken electric razor kids scooter. I used a 2 pronged plug to exit the box and plug into the solar panel wire. The voltage in the batteries went from 9.5 volts to over 11 volts with very little sun. I ordered a voltage controller off E-Bay $22. It will be here in a few days.



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    42 Discussions

    does anyone know the simplest configuration similar to this that I would need to charge a phone? I have 11 solar panels (and 6 more smaller panels) I need it by the day after tomorrow

    nice recycling...good work


    1 year ago

    I would like to make a solar powered outside outlet for a fish pond pump. Any solutions for a DIY gal with no solar intellect lls


    3 years ago

    hi. can any one offer any explanation. I have 8 solar cells. each tests at 3.1v i hooked them all in series i got up n down numbers as if bad cells of wires. so i took apart. i hooked 3 cells and get 9.1 v good i guess right? but wont drive a dc fan motor.? so anyways I went to add another cell to row and i drop to 2 volt. i figure bad cell? so i get two rows each 9 v but when i connect those two i only get 9 v? what am i doing wrong? i tried connecting the two rows in series and parallel any thoughts?

    1 reply

    Hi, maybe it is a bit too late for an answer, i had the same problem but finally i figured out what it was, i had about 20 cells, i had to test each of them to get similar voltage and amperage, i isolated 6 most powerful, it was enough only 6 of the good ones to get 12 volts. Before that i couldn't get more than 5 Volts out of 20 cells.

    Actually, 4 diodes was the correct choice. They serve 2 purposes. 1, they keep the array from discharging the batteries when there is no light, and 2, they keep a bad cell in one of the lines from stealing the current from the others. The loss is exactly the same since each of the 4 paths only pass though 1 diode. Using 4 also lets you get away with cheaper diodes since each diode only has to handle 1/4 of the total current. If you use 1 diode it has to handle the current from all 4 arrays. With 4 diodes, you actually lose less power. Power loss is the the internal resistance of the diode times the current squared. So for example, lets say the internal resistance of the diodes is 1 ohm and each of the legs provides 1 amp of current. With 4 diodes, your total loss would be 1 ohm X 1 amp x 1 amp = 1 Watt (per diode) for a total of 4 watts loss. If a single diode was used you would have 1 ohm x 4 amp x 4 amp = 16 watts loss.

    2 replies

    Hi. Being an absolute beginner and not knowing my butt from my elbow. What is a diode? I assume they come in different sizes so what size should be used here?

    loved this project but may I ask when you measured 22volts from each of the 4 rows of five cells did you measure that before or after the Diodes?


    3 years ago

    What size diodes?
    What size solar panels. Mine only put out about 1.4 volts each

    is there a video for this? i understand these types of things better when I can see it being done. And I need to build one of these.

    Good job on the solar by the way.Ive got many cells from old garden lights,and was planning on doing something like this,being that store bought panels are so high,thanks to oil companies,and other like minded crooks.Some of mine are different shapes,so I will see what I can come up with.

    Have you still got the scooter?The motor may make a hellova nice wind turbine,depending on which motor you have.

    the one concern I have with putting the inverter and the battery in an old sewing box like that is the fact that the inverter needs to be kept cool and the battery when it's charging gives off a small amount of corrosive gas. Or a large amount if your battery is bad. So if your putting them in a small box so close together you might wind up with corroding the inner workings of your inverter by the gasses from the battery or overheating the inverter because not enough cool air.

    Those batterys probably cant hold a good charge anymore anyways. From what u said they have been sitting at 9 volts. They are probably badly sulfated. When you put a heavy load on it the voltage will drop like a rock.

    if you tested it with a volt meter and no load connected then that is open circuit volts, so real volts with a load would be about 18 volts.

    I've done this with a bunch of much older solar lights.. these had a small 6V Gel Cell, (which usually was well cooked/dry) and a BIG 4"-Square solar panel which would generate up to 8V. (never really got the chance to measure the mA output.) I used to run a 9V transistor radio off one two in series.. No ideas where the heck I put it, though.. Yes, these are totally reusable! I almost had a fit when someone dumped a whole bunch of these style lamps off at the local recycling center, and before I could collect more than 3, the town employee grabbed the whole bunch, into a pail, and put them in the electronics bin. (which made them Hands-Off.. The town collects electronics for (they say) payment from the recyclers. (if they think they'll make millions on the gold, I'd hate to see how much they'll spend on the excess scrap they can't..)

    Nice Up-cycling! One tip to save you some money on the next one. You don't need a diode on all runs. You only need one at the end after you combine all the circuits. It is all you need to keep the battery from draining.

    yes, formula is very much correct

    Could you please tellme what Diod you used. Thanks for instructable. I have quite a few garden lights and there are very few instructables on using garden pannels for arrays.