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Eco-Friendly Solutions

Make The Sun Charge Your Phone: Cheap DIY Solar Chargers

Using a smart phone makes your life so much easier and your communication and organization immeasurably simpler. Just think of previous generations of mobile phones and the limited scope of their actions – you could call, text, play a simple game and check the time, and that was, more or less, everything.

With the newest models that have been in use for several years now, people have more options and apps they can use, but all of this means that these new phone batteries last much shorter than the old ones. Again, if you think about your first phone, you will remember that its battery used to last for days and days.

Now, if you get through the entire day without having to recharge, you are lucky! Among the ways of dealing with the problems of charging are solar chargers you can make yourself cheaply, so here are a couple of options.

The Benefits of Solar Charges

Since they cannot carry their chargers everywhere they go – and even if they do, there is no way they will have a guaranteed place to plug them in – people who use their phones all the time had to come up with a new solution. Overnight charging provides you with power through the day, but if you constantly use your phone, the chances that the battery will die in the evening are quite big.

Solar-powered chargers are sensible solutions everyone can use and take with them upon leaving home: they fit into your bag or purse and can be carried around. Just plug your phone in for half an hour and it will be enough until you get home. Furthermore, some people build their own solar-based charging stations that can charge several phones, so it is ideal for a home or a community. This way, your electric bill becomes lower and your phone will always be charged.

How to Build a Portable Charger

A portable and rather lightweight charger can be easily built and charged when you are at home – just place it facing the window – or outdoors, too – if you attach it to your rucksack – so you can instantly charge your phone, basically converting solar power into battery power, which is great when on a camping trip.

In order to make a portable charger, you need a solar panel, a converter changer with a USB outlet (this can come from an old charger, the important thing is to have a working chip), some solder and soldering iron and a small plastic box (a pill box will do just fine). First, check the voltage of your solar panel – or panels: you can use two, three or more to get more power – and connect it to the converter charger by soldering red to plus and black to minus.

Then place the charger in the plastic box leaving the USB outlet out and make a stand for your panel, preferably at a 45 degree angle that will get the maximum of solar power and connect the outlet to your phone’s charger. All of this will cost you up to $5 and will save you much, much more.

How to Build a Solar-Charging Station

Compared to the previous project, building a solar-charging station is a bit harder and complicated, but can benefit more people, especially in remote places that do not have electric network but an abundance of Sun. These charging stations, therefore, not only provide power, but ensure the flow of information and, in the end, save lives in case of an emergency.

What you need are electrical components for the main part, components for the frame or the “body” and some power tools for you to work with. For under $100, you can purchase a solar panel, a charging regulator, USB charger adapter and outlets, some batteries, fuses and heat-shrinking tubes, as well as wires and connectors. The most important thing is to accurately connect the solar panel to the charger and batteries and basically allow the conversion of solar into electrical power.

Since you do not take this station on the road with you, it is essential to have a box which will house all the wiring and electronics and have the panel mounted on top of it. You can make it out of wood – should not exceed about $30 – or even use an old tool box. Once you set everything up, it is time to test it and make sure it is working.

The Bottom Line

The cost of building a DIY solar charger is much lower than paying for the same amount of electricity, so constructing your own solar charger saves money and gives you options when you are out of the house. Therefore, you should try building one, as it will surely come in handy.


Author Bio: Neil Adams is a homeowner and DIY enthusiast, especially interested in sustainability and environment friendly projects. He loves trying new tools and old materials in his woodworking endeavors. When not tinkering around the house with his kids, he enjoys writing for a number of DIY and technology blogs. You can find him on: FacebookTwitter, or Google+

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