Solar Rechargeable "light Bulb". Ideal for Camping. (made From Recyclable Materials)




About: My name is Taylor, I am an electrical repair tech by day and an engineer by night, after work or free time.

Now when I go camping I like to escape technology and just enjoy nature, however I often want light at night in my tent, who doesnt? With all your electronics at home and an outlet far from reach light is hard to find at night, so in this I will show you how I made a solar rechargeable light bulb using LEDs and common materials. Its eco friendly and fun! Ok now lets get started :)

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Step 1: Things Needed. (no Image)

Things needed;
9 white LEDs
1 standard diode
1 solar panel ( i used two)
1 dpdt switch (i used two spdt side by side)
 rechargeable battery. ( I used a 4.7 nickel based battery)  
1 ten ohm resistor (might not be needed in your case)

tin foil
2 liter pop bottle
white spray paint
soldering iron
hot glue 
coat hanger
some fishing line

Step 2: The Cardboard and Pop Bottle

First cut off the top of a 2L pop bottle and then cut a small cardboard circle that would fit nicely inside of the bottle top.
The cardboard circle will be our make shift circuit board. It will hold all the electric componets.

Step 3: The Circuit.

This circuit is pretty easy and before we start putting the componets together on our make shift circuit board lets take a look at the schematic. The most important componet in this circuit is the DPDT switch. in one position it allows you to charge the battery (solar) and in the other position it turns on the leds.  The DPDT switch also acts as an off switch. 

Step 4: Making the Circuit on the Card Board

In this step we are going to make circuit board. First mark where the leds are going to go, one in the middle and the rest around the edge spaced evenly. the middle led will be the led where the power is inputed and before that lies the 10 ohm resistor. simply draw the symbols for the componets on the cardboard then poke holes in there place. and insert the componets. after all the componets are inserted you can start connecting all the positive wires and negative wires together. then solder. after everything is connected you then solder a long wire to the resistor (positive) and then solder a long wire to one of the negative connections (ground), the resistor should be soldered to the middle LED. Connect all the LEDs in parrallel starting with the middle LED. (L1). 
After the circuit is done cover the exposed cardboard in tinfoil. The tin foil helps reflect the light making it brighter.

Step 5: The Solar Panels

This step is easy, You hot glue the solar panel (s) to the top of the bottle top and run the wires trough the mouth of the bottle. I used two solar panels in parrallel to increase amps. be sure to add the diode to the solar panel output before running it to the switch. Before you add any cricuity you could spray paint the bottle white, I chose to paint it to give it a light bulb look .

Step 6: The Switch.

This step could be hard if youre new to dpdt switches. solder the battery wires to the two middle legs of the switch then solder the solar panel wires to two legs on next to the battery and then solder the led wires to the other two legs. One side should be positive and the other side negative. I cant explain that any easier so if youre having trouble with that just message me or comment.  

Step 7: Closing It Up.

After everything is wired to the switch, cut a little hole in the bottle to mount the switch, mount the switch using hot glue. I also added a usb connection. I am not going charge it using usb power from an outlet but from my solar usb charger i made a while ago, the solar panel on my usb charger charges a lithium ion battery and I can then charge anything at any time of day using that charge. 

Step 8: Almost Done!

after everything is connected and mounted its time to glue the card boaard inside the pop bottle. I hot glued the battery on the carboard then shoved the card board up the bottle and glued around the edges. 

Step 9: Adding the Hanger

take the coat hanger and clip off the hook part, then tie some fishing line around it and the bottle. this allows you to hang the light. 

Step 10: Finished!

You are now done and can have light in your tent every night! And every morning just set it in the sun, switch the switch to the charge position and let it charge! 
I hope you enjoyed this project :) If you are on facebook from time to time be sure to check out my page electricreations. Its a page dedicated to DIY projects. heres the link  . 
if you have any questions or need help just comment or message me :) 

Check out the last step!

Step 11: We Have Light!

I hung my light off of my shower curtain and turned it on. You can see its very bright!

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    12 Discussions

    Hmm I cant really remember the current. I used to 5 volt panels in parallel to get more current. The battery i used is rated at 300 mah (i think, cant remeber for sure). It takes around 8 hours to fully charge. I will try to measure it soon and get back to you :)


    6 years ago on Step 3

    On the negative wire from the solar panel,it then is attached to a resistor and then marked positive at the end of the wire. Is that on purpose or does the resistor create an opposite charge?

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 3

    Nevermind I messed up while looking at it.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Ha Ha Ha Ha! Very good. There are automatic charge / automatic on at dusk pcb's that come with commercially made garden lamps that I save when ever I run across them. With the addition of one of these boards and a switch to turn onn and off, charging your batteries would no longer be manual.

    This particular board is well marked on the foil side to serve my bad memory ~

    4 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    now thats a neat idea! I looked at the pictures and I can see a LDR and a switching transistor. To my knowledge those two componets are what causes the battery to charge and the lights turn on. when the batteries charge the ldr isactivated and once night time rolls in the light turns on (ldr deactivated). I could posibly make a similar circuit. there are a few componets on that board that Im not sure do, but thanks for the share! it helped a lot.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Picture on the left has a slide switch for turning LED's on HighPower that lasts 5 hours and low power that lasts 10 hours with the batteries supplied. 3 volts. I have taken the battery box and rewired it to produce 6 volts to play a radio for the last week with no sign of losing voltage. The last is a picture of one of those cans from the top of a street light that turns the lamp on and off. Good for 105 to 305 volts and still works !


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I like the radio idea :) That sounds very cool. That one picture is a street light circuit? How did you get that lol That would be fun to have


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Power Company took down one of the street lights and left it lay on the curb. When they took off I moved in because I knew what that thing was and I wanted it.
    If I had ah car I would have gotten the whole thing!


    6 years ago on Step 3

    A SPDT switch would work. Just connect the cathodes of the LEDs to the negative terminals of both the battery and the solar panel.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You are right, I guess I over looked that. I must have thought switching both + and - was the only way. It works tho :p. thanks for your feed back :)