Looking for a solar charger for your phone, your laptop, or even for a back-up generator for your home. You can find products for all three of these needs, but expect to shell out: even smallest solar battery charger runs $30-40. A diy battery charger, on the other hand, can cost you as little as $4-5, and even make use materials you already have on hand.
After a visit to some prepper boards on Pinterest (it’s not all weddings and wish lists over there), I discovered that homemade solar chargers are pretty popular with that crowd, and run the gamut from really cheap models that can power up small rechargeable batteries to full-scale generators that will cost you several hundred dollars to build. But if you’ve got a dead phone battery on a camping trip, or the power’s out after a storm, you’ll be glad to have one of these on hand.
DIY Solar Charger Projects: From the Petite to the Household Workhorse
1. The Super-Cheap $4 Solar Charger
From Instructables, this project is the cheapest of the bunch… and project publisher JoshuaZimmerman gives a nice overview of solar power and batteries. You need to know how to solder for this one… via Lifehacker.
2. Another $4 Solar Charger for Rechargeable Batteries
You know those cheapy solar path lights you can buy at the discount store? You can hack those into a charger for AA or AAA batteries. The video below from The DIY World shows you how.
3. And Yet Another Cheap DIY Solar Charger from a Path Light
This one differs from the previous project in that you only use one path light, and put it all back together after modifying it to charge batteries. This one looks a bit simpler than some others.
4. The $20 Solar Phone Charger with USB Ports
5. The Altoids Tin Solar Charger
6. The DIY Solar Charger and Power Supply Unit
This one’s unique in that it allows you not just to charge your batteries, but can also function as a battery (aka power supply unit) on its own.
7. The Solar Generator
Speaking of power supply units, this project from Bright Enlightenment (video below) allows you to power much larger systems than your phone or laptop. Yes, it’s definitely more expensive than the other projects here, but if you’re powerless for a few days after severe weather, it’ll pay for itself in peace of mind. The video for the power pack is here.
Know of other diy solar charger project plans? Got one of your own? Share it in the comments…