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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Build a Solar Powered Cell Phone Charger from a few dollar store items and a few parts.

$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Hack two simple pieces of electronics for a new purpose. This cell phone charger is not for those who use their phones a lot, although it could have other purposes, like being an MP3 player charger or anything that charges from a USB connection.

Steps

Step #1:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Start with a dollar-store solar garden light.

Step #2:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Twist the housing off to expose the LED and diffuser.

Step #3:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Twist off the diffuser to expose the LED. Inside the battery compartment on this one you'll see a AAA NiMH 300Ma. Some models have a large capacitor instead. Put the battery cover back on.

Step #4:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Sometimes they twist apart, or you may have to remove a few small screws to get inside. You can see the 2 wires leading from the solar cell on top going to the board. I'll snip the LED (checking polarity with a charged battery and a multimeter) and use those leads for later hook up.

Step #5:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Again, at the dollar store I found a AA battery-powered emergency cellphone charger with a variety of tips including the mini USB used by my Crackberry. Cracked it open to remove a small PC board that basically transforms 1.5V into something over 5V, enough to give a little charge to my phone. Sorry 'bout the fuzzy shot, I was drunk when I took it.

Step #6:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

I used a little piece of double-sided tape (hot glue gun would work just as well) to stick the charger PC board into the solar light housing and soldered the 2 leads from the light to the corresponding leads on the charger.

Step #7:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Put the housing back together and if you can, coil up the excess wire to the plug. I added an old rubber foot with self adhesive tape I found in my parts bin. It keeps it from sliding around on my dashboard

Step #8:

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$3 Solar-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Voila! It sits on my dash, charges the AAA battery during the day and when it gets dark, it automatically sends power to the charger and then to my phone. I keep my phone in the glovebox for emergencies and this way it's always charged. And all for under 3 smackers.


  • https://www.facebook.com/randy.jacks.7 Randy Jacks

    I’d like to see how to hook up a bunch of these to make a 12 volt charger/float charger to keep my boat & jet ski batteries charged…

    • https://www.facebook.com/steven.clark.961 Steven Clark

      Haber freight tools already has one that’s solar to 12 volt. I have 3 and left them one all the time.

  • Asha D

    really very good concept and save the power …….. I am proud of because I am a mechanical engineering

  • http://bcrenewable.com Will

    We have small panels with the controller built in, just attach to battery and done. B.C.Renewable

  • Pingback: Weekly Project Idea: Solar-Powered Cellphone Charger |()

  • shannon

    do you have a video on this ?

  • Pingback: DIY $3 Solar Powered Small Electronic USB Charger - SHTF Preparedness()

  • https://plus.google.com/114591437832130932286 smith yuesir

    This idea inspires me a lot, I’ve searched on the web but only find one alike on tinydeal http://www.tinydeal.com/solar-powered-cell-phone-charger-w-3-led-assorted-color-p-61935.html

  • Gavin

    Need some advice Kevin. Kinda along the same lines as this.

  • Angel Wallace

    Kevin – My son chose this as his science project and step 5 is throwing me off. I’ve been to radio shack, dollar general, etc… and no one has the AA battery-powered emergency cellphone charger. I also need the mini USB tip. Are there any other products like this the have a small PC board that transforms the 1.5V into something over 5V? Do you have a better up close shot of what you’re pulling out of it in order to connect to the solar panel? Thank you in advance for helping a 7th grader and his desperate mom…

  • Pingback: DIY $3 Solar Powered Small Electronic USB Charger » The Prepared Page()

  • [email protected]

    This sounds like you just made up some stuff. Is it meant to charge fully or just keep it topped off. That one little solar panel has to charge a huge cell battery pack. And no real picture of the “stepup” device and how that works.

  • Marc

    I saw a great portable solar charger thats a flashlight also at http://www.p4yp.com what are your thoughts? only twenty bucks.

    • John

      There are Many types of solar powered chargers sold through Amazon at reasonable prices

  • Randy

    I had a dozen or so of the solar yard lights given to me, took them all apart, only a couple of the panels was bad, most of them had quit because batteries burst an ruined the boards. ANYWAY, I messed with putting several in series an parallel an made 2 good battery chargers, that can easily convert to other voltages the way I bread boarded. And the grandkids got a big kick out of using them

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  • http://www.amazon.com/2001-Dodge-Ram-2500/e/B004CGERMU_ctf=rdr_T Gaylord Swallows

    I am so impressed with the work they did on my patio that I just had to say something. Did anyone ever hear of Paver Lights? Its an ASOME light that is solar powered and is exclusively sold by http://paverlightdepot.com/. They Did a really Good Job!

  • http://www.futuremark.com/hardware/news/58755_intel_sandy_bridge_core_i5-2500k_i7-2600k_cpus_launched/ Mari Weygandt

    I am so happy with what Paver Light did that I just had to tell someone. They installed these EXCLUSIVE lights that are solor power and see through on my house !! Such an amazing job that I am at a loss for words! I really hope someone reads this and checks them out. almost forgot here is the website http://paverlightdepot.com/ !! HUGE THANK YOU TO THEM VERY NICE COMPANY !

  • http://www.bestbuy.com/site/seagate-250gb-internal-serial-ata-hard-drive-for-laptops/9107744.p?id=1218030894551&skuId=9107744 Matilda Mcconaghy

    I am so happy with what Paver Light did that I just had to tell someone. They installed these EXCLUSIVE lights that are solor power and see through on my house !! Such an amazing job that I am at a loss for words! I really hope someone reads this and checks them out. almost forgot here is the website http://paverlightdepot.com/ !! HUGE THANK YOU TO THEM VERY NICE COMPANY !

  • Stealth Grow Box

    Totally awesome, wouldn’t have thought of that but I am going to use the info. We are looking for way to power are dc 12v fans inside our grow boxes. http://unique-hydroponics.com, but without a plug in adapter which break often, have been at a loss. A solar powered version to run under our grow light would be amazing!