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DIY Solar USB Charger: 7 Steps (w/ Photos). Solar panel smartphone charger

DIY Solar USB Charger: 7 Steps (w/ Photos). Solar panel smartphone charger

    The Best Portable Solar Chargers of 2023

    Adam has been writing about mobile technology since 2011. He is the former host of the Android Authority podcast, and his work has appeared in numerous publications.

    Rich Scherr is a seasoned technology and financial journalist who spent nearly two decades as the editor of Potomac and Bay Area Tech Wire.

    The best solar chargers use the sun’s abundant power to keep your devices and batteries topped off. Solar chargers aren’t just for nature enthusiasts. Anyone who spends time away from an electrical outlet will find them helpful.

    We recommend the X-DRAGON SunPower Solar Panel Charger for its 40W power output and high-efficiency cells. This charger doesn’t include a power bank to store all that juice, but if you are away from power and need to charge your phone or even your laptop, this is a great option. Opening the eight solar panels will give you plenty of power as long as there’s daylight.

    Best Overall

    X-DRAGON 40W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Charger

    Our best overall charger can produce up to 40W of juice from its eight efficient panels. It opens wide to collect a lot of sunlight with eight high-efficiency panels, but it folds down small enough to fit into your backpack. There’s no water-resistance rating here, so be careful not to get caught in the rain, and no battery is included. But if you have large items that need a charge, the X-DRAGON SunPower Solar Panel Charger is a great choice.

    You can plug in your phone and tablet, but you can also scale that up to your laptop with the five included different-sized barrel chargers and connection for your car battery. This is a great item to keep in your emergency car kit or your backpack for camping. The 18-month warranty will give you peace of mind too.

    Number of Ports: 2 | Power Output: 2.8A max USB, 18V DC | Types of Ports: USB-A, DC | Number of Cells: 8 | Efficiency: 22 to 25% | Battery Capacity: N/A

    Most Portable

    BigBlue 28W Solar Charger

    The Big Blue Solar Charger is a highly-portable solar charging solution that folds to a tiny 11.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches when closed. It’s long but narrow and thin, easily fitting into most backpacks. Included carabiners allow you to open and strap it to your bag outdoors.

    solar, charger, steps, photos, panel

    There is no built-in battery, but the three USB-A ports allow you to charge any phone or tablet quickly. The panels are waterproof, which our reviewer tested by submerging the cells in a bathtub.

    Our reviewer also noted that the advertised 28W output is misleading. There are four 7W panels which add up to 28 Watts. Unfortunately, the panels could output only around 17W maximum during our testing.

    There’s a pouch for holding cables or devices while charging, which is a nice bonus. Given its water resistance, we’d recommend this for hikers and campers, even in inclement weather. Of course, cloudy days will mean less charging, but at least you know your panels can stand up to it.

    Number of Ports: 3 | Power Output: 5V / 4.8A | Types of Ports: USB-A | Number of Cells: 4 | Efficiency: Not listed | Battery Capacity: N/A

    What to Look for in a Portable Solar Charger

    Water Resistance

    Solar power works best outside, so looking for water resistance in case you unexpectedly get caught in the rain or snow is a good idea.

    Built-in Battery

    Solar panels generate power, and that power has to go somewhere. If you have a solar panel and nothing plugged in, the panels will not generate energy, which is fine, but a battery would allow you to generate power and store it until you need it.

    Power Output

    Keep in mind the kinds of devices you’ll be using. Most solar panels can do the job if all you need to charge is a phone or tablet. If you need to power something larger, such as a laptop or car, you’ll need a powerful setup to get the job done.

    That depends mostly on the cells’ efficiency and the amount of sunlight you’re getting. Solar panels are getting more and more efficient these days, which means they’re capable of generating a lot of power. On a bright, sunny day, it’s not unreasonable to think you can generate enough power for a phone and tablet or even bigger items.

    If it’s big enough, a solar panel can deliver a charge to your car’s battery to allow it to start. A jump start technically means you’re drawing from a power source to start your car right away. The solar option is more of a car battery charger, meaning you’ll need to wait some time for your car’s battery to charge before you can turn the key. But yes, it is possible.

    Solar panels should never be left in a window or in a car to charge. The glass from the window can FOCUS with light on the panels and cause them to overheat. Solar panels are meant to be outside and under the sun, or put away.

    DIY Solar USB Charger: 7 Steps (w/ Photos)

    Just so you know, this page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one, at no extra cost to you I may earn a small commission.

    I recently made a DIY solar USB charger that, in my opinion, is WAY better than most of the other designs out there.

    It’s portable. It looks good. And it can charge your phone and USB devices faster than the mere trickle put out by most other homemade solar chargers.

    That’s right — it’s a DIY solar charger that you’ll actually use.

    It’s affordable and easy to make.

    Materials Tools


    • 2 3W 9V solar panels
    • 22 gauge stranded wire
    • 5V DC/DC buck converter
    • E6000 craft glue (a hot glue gun is pictured, but this is what I ended up using)
    • Reusable grocery bag
    • Heat shrink tubing (optional)
    • 4 1/4″ eyelets (optional)


    • Wire strippers
    • Soldering iron
    • Scissors
    • Safety glasses
    • Multimeter
    • Heat gun (optional)
    • 1/4″ eyelet tools (optional)
    • Hammer (optional)

    Step 1: Prep the Fabric

    For this design, I upcycled an old reusable grocery bag to cut a strip of fabric to which I attached the panels. It protects them and allows them to fold up for easy storage.

    Place the panels, eyelets (if using), and DC/DC buck converter on the reusable grocery bag in your desired layout.

    Tip: I recommend giving yourself 1″ or more of space between your solar panels so they can fold easily. I also gave myself more length than necessary so I could fold the fabric over the buck converter, as you’ll see in Step 6.

    Cut the fabric to your desired dimensions with scissors. (Mine ended up being about 14″ long by 8.25″ wide.)

    Step 2: Wire the Solar Panels in Parallel

    Cut a length of wire to connect the panels’ positive terminals. Give yourself some slack in the wire so it isn’t pulled taut when the panels are folded.

    Note: Because my panels have two pairs of terminals on back, before wiring I used a multimeter to check their voltages. It turned out the terminals that output 9 volts are the two “top” terminals — not the terminals with the “” and “-” signs. Strange.

    Strip and solder the wire from positive terminal to positive terminal. (I decided to orient my panels in opposite directions to lessen the stress on the wire when the panels are folded.)

    Tip: Keep your solder joints as flush as possible with your solar panels. This helps later on when gluing them to the fabric.

    Cut a length of wire to connect the panels’ negative terminals. Once again, give yourself some slack.

    Strip and solder the wire from negative terminal to negative terminal.

    Step 3: Solder the Leads to the Panels

    Cut a length of wire for the panels’ positive lead. It will connect one of the panels’ positive terminal to the buck converter’s positive terminal. Make sure it can reach where you want to place the converter. Don’t forget some slack!

    Strip and solder the positive lead to one of the panels’ positive terminal.

    Cut a length of wire for the panels’ negative lead.

    Strip and solder the negative lead to one of the panels’ negative terminal.

    Now let’s test the panels’ voltage and amperage outputs with a multimeter to make sure we wired everything correctly! Connect the meter’s positive probe to the positive lead and its negative probe to the negative lead.

    What outputs should we expect?

    Well, here are the specs for the panels I used:

    Wiring solar panels in parallel adds the current (amps) together while keeping the voltage (volts) the same.

    Thus, for volts, you should see a number around 9V DC.

    For amps, you should see a number around 666mA (333mA 2). But in real world conditions, expect solar panels to output a little less than their stated current.

    Tip: You’ll likely have to switch the red probe to your multimeter’s other port in order to measure this amount of current.

    Step 4: Solder the Buck Converter to the Leads

    Locate the positive and negative terminals on the buck converter.

    Solder the positive lead to the converter’s positive terminal and the negative lead to its negative terminal.

    Now you should have a working solar charger!

    Time to check that it’s working.

    First, make sure the buck converter is connected properly and working by shining some light on the panels. Its LED should light up.

    The LED is on. Looks like it’s working.

    Next, test your charger by placing it outside in direct sunlight and plugging in your phone or USB device. Your device should start charging.

    My Kindle’s charging light turns on when I plug it in — my charger is working!

    I tested my charger’s output with a USB meter to confirm that the charger was indeed outputting a decent current at 5V.

    It’s outputting 460 mA (about 0.5 A) at 5V. That’s about 2.5W, or half the rate of a standard 5W phone charger. (During real-world use it regularly got up to 3W.)

    According to our solar charging calculator, it will take about 5.7 peak sun hours to fully charge my iPhone XR.

    Definitely not the fastest solar charger, but it’ll top off my battery in a pinch.

    Optional: Shrink wrap the buck converter using heat shrink tubing and a heat gun. I did this to for aesthetics and to protect the circuit board a bit. It covers up the converter’s LED, but that wasn’t a big deal to me.

    Step 5: Glue the Charger to the Fabric

    Grab your glue and the strip of fabric you cut back in Step 1. Glue the panels and buck converter to the fabric in your desired layout.

    Tip: The glue I used bled through the fabric a bit, so you may want to put a piece of newspaper down first.

    Wait for the glue to set. Once it has, touch up any spots you missed, if needed.

    Step 6: Install the Eyelets (Optional)

    Because I’ll be using my charger while hiking and biking, I wanted to install eyelets so I can strap it to my backpack and bike. If you don’t need to attach your charger to anything, you can skip this step.

    First, let’s install the two eyelets at the “bottom” — the side opposite the buck converter.

    Cut a circle in the fabric using the eyelet as a guide. Feed the eyelet bottom through the hole.

    Tip: Since I used such small eyelets I just cut a small X with my scissors. You could also create a hole by poking a nail through.

    Place the eyelet base tool underneath the eyelet bottom. Place the eyelet top on top of the fabric.

    Place the eyelet punch tool over the eyelet top. Hammer the punch tool to install the eyelet.

    Repeat these steps to install the second bottom eyelet.

    Now it’s time for the top eyelets — the ones on the same side as the buck converter.

    To protect the converter, I decided to fold the extra fabric over it and cut a hole for its USB port. (If you don’t want to do that, just install the top eyelets like you did the bottom ones.)

    Then I installed the top eyelets through both layers of fabric, glued the flaps together, and glued the USB port to the fabric.

    solar, charger, steps, photos, panel

    Note: Don’t cover up any of the solar panel!

    Wait for the glue to set, and you’re DONE!

    Step 7: Test Your DIY Solar Charger

    Now that you’ve made your own solar-powered charger, it’s time to charge something with it!

    Place it outside in direct sunlight. Plug in your phone or other USB device. Then sit back and relax as you take advantage of all that free solar energy.

    When you’re done charging, fold the charger shut for easy storage.

    This charger doesn’t have a built-in battery. Adding a battery makes a homemade solar phone charger more complex.

    You can easily pair your charger with your battery pack of choice (I use the Anker PowerCore 10000). Charge your battery pack during the day, then use it to charge your phone or USB device at night.

    DIY Solar Charger Projects

    Solar Electric Bike Charger

    Learn how to solar charge your ebike battery for what may be the most eco-friendly transportation method there is. I even show you how I mounted my solar charger to my ebike to make a full-on solar bike.

    E40 Triple Ports Solar Panel Charger Highlights.

    -Versatile Smart Charging: Integrated USB, PD Type-C, and DC three charging ports, versatile to top up any power banks, phones, tablets and most laptops and small capacity portable power stations. Integrated IC automatically detects the connected devices and provides the optimized charging, and an included LED light shows the charging status.

    -Portable : Six monocrystalline panels folded in a compact size for easy storage and carry. Hanging hooks and carabiners allow you to strap the panel to vehicles, tents, and more.

    -Waterproof Durable: IP67 waterproof and rugged materials make the solar panel work under unexpected weather and last longer than other solar panels.

    What Can Charge and Charge Time.

    Effortless charging via the integrated USB port under sunlight or pair with a power bank, the 40W solar charger can charge the following devices:

    What Can the 40W Solar panel Charge?

    Effortless charging via the integrated USB Type-C ports under sunlight or pair with a power bank, the 40W solar charger can charge the following devices:

    -Lighnting devices. iPhone 12/13: 0.4 hours; iPad: 1.2 Hours-20000mAh PD power bank: 3 Hours-Android QC fast charging phones-Type-C MacBook Pro: 4 Hours-Portable Power Station 240Wh: 11 Hours-Other 12V DC devices


    Q: Does the solar panel store power? A: No, there is no built-in battery in this solar panel. But it supports all the power banks charging, so that you can store power for using.

    Q: How to clean the surface of solar panels? A: Please use a dampened soft cloth to wipe the surface of the solar module, and remove all dust or other adhesives as soon as possible to avoid performance degradation.

    Q: Does the solar panel include Type-C and DC cable? A: No, to make the solar panel more affordable and eco-friendly, we don’t include different kinds of cables. You can use own Type-C or DC cable to charge.

    Solar Cell Phone Charger – How it Works, Best Solar Phone Charger

    Solar Cell Phone Charger converts Solar energy to Electricity to charge cell phone batteries. This post will discuss about Solar Cell Phone Charger, how it works, best Solar phone chargers, size of Solar Panel needed for charging phone efficiently.

    What is Solar Cell Phone Charger

    As the name summarizes, it is a charger that functions using Solar power. These chargers make use of Solar Panels or Photo-Voltaic cells that converts Solar energy to electricity.

    Fig. 1 – Introduction to Solar Cell Phone Charger

    It is an innovative invention that can be used for the replacement of electric chargers. It is portable, uses sustainable energy resources, environment-friendly and economical. Solar Batteries or mobile chargers have an USB Power Socket with up to 2.1 A of output current. You can plug in your device’s USB cable to start charging your phone using solar energy.

    Fig. 2 – Foldable Wallet Solar Mobile Charger

    What Size Solar Panel do I Need to Charge a Phone

    Solar Cell Phone Chargers are available in different types, sizes, and shapes. Usually, the size of the panel determines the capacity of the charger. What size Solar Panel you need to buy is directly proportional to the device which you plug in to charge. Pick up the Solar Panel which will be compatible with your device.

    How Long it Takes to Charge a Phone with Solar Phone Charger

    When given a situation where there is bright sunlight and a decent capacity charger having 5-watt Solar Panel, it would take around 4-5 hours to charge a cell phone fully.

    How does Solar Cell Phone Charger work

    Fig. 3 – Block Diagram of Solar Cell Phone Charger

    Solar Panel

    Solar Panel is the parallel arrangement of solar cells. Solar Cells are the photovoltaic cells that absorb solar radiation. When the light rays hit upon the panel, the free electrons start moving and initiate the current production process. To read more about how the Solar Cell works, click on the link which will provide you complete information on Solar Cell.

    Charge Controller

    It manages the power going into the battery from the solar array.


    It stores the energy received from Solar Panel.

    Voltage Regulator

    The voltage from the solar panel is not stable and varies drastically according to the intensity of the sun rays and the degree of incidence over the solar panel. Hence to regulate the voltage, Voltage Regulator circuit is used.

    It helps in regulating the voltage and current coming from the Solar Panels going to the battery. This circuit is used in between the Solar Panel output and the battery input. Voltage Regulator makes sure that the voltage never exceeds the safe value required by the battery for charging.

    Universal Charging Port

    Universal Charging Port is connected to the Voltage Regulation circuit to plug-in the device (Cell Phone) to be charged. USB cable is used to transfer the charge from the Cell Phone Charger to Mobile Phone.

    Is there a Solar-Powered Cell Phone

    The answer may surprise many, yes there are Solar Powered Cell Phones. Samsung is the first brand that launched Solar-Powered Cell Phone into the market in the year 2009. Later many other brands like Xiaomi and Micromax also launched Solar Cell Phones.

    Fig. 4 – Solar Powered Cell Phone

    solar, charger, steps, photos, panel

    In Solar Powered Cell Phones, the solar panel is embedded on the back of the phone. When this is kept facing the sunlight, it absorbs and converts Solar energy to electrical energy. Since the surface area of the back of the phone is less, it limits the quantity of solar panel insertion. This directly results in the charging capacity.

    Best Solar Phone Charger

    In recent days, Solar Cell Phone Chargers are making sound in the market due to their adaptability and user-friendly nature. But sometimes it may get overwhelmed to choose the best and suitable charger among the numerous. So here we have listed some of the best solar cell phone chargers in the market to make your purchase easy.

    • Efficiency of your device
    • Adaptability of charger
    • Power output of the charger

    Apart from all these, easy-to-use indicators like level of battery, durability, affordability are some of the other factors to keep in the picture while purchasing a Solar Charger.

    • BigBlue 28W Solar Charger
    • BioLite Solar Panel 5
    • Feeke KR-T01 Solar power bank
    solar, charger, steps, photos, panel

    BigBlue 28W USV Solar Phone Charger

    This is one of the most loved and highly rated Solar Phone Chargers. The device folds open to 4 layers, weighs around 550 grams. So it fits into any backpack and is apt to carry along when traveling. It provides three USB ports for charging. The only con this charger possesses is, it does not have any battery backup, which in turn doesn’t support the direct charging category.

    BioLite Solar Panel 5

    This solar panel is well designed to place it on any terrain or you can even hang it on the tree to get maximum sunlight. This is compatible with many phones, tablets, and also cameras. This provides the battery backup facility wherein you can charge and use it at any time. It is a lightweight device weighing less than 250 grams which makes it travel-friendly. The only con we can find in this is; it has only one USB output port.

    Fig. 5 – Image of BioLite Solar Panel

    Feeke KR-T01 Solar Power Bank

    This is one of the bestselling, top-rated Solar Power Banks on the internet. This has got the additional provision of wireless charging (only for QI phones). This supports both Micro input and Type-C plugins. It is sturdy, lightweight, easy to carry, waterproof, dustproof. To sum up, it is one of the efficient Solar Cell Phone Chargers.

    Though we have mentioned only three chargers, there are plenty of options available in the market to choose from. You can choose your preferred charger according to your requirement.

    Do Solar Phone Chargers really Work

    The popularity of Solar Cell Phone Chargers is less compared to solar water heaters and light. So it is likely to hear questions like ‘do solar phone chargers really work’?

    Yes, the Solar Cell Phone Charger works efficiently as any other charger. In fact, Some countries have implemented public Solar Cell phone charging booths. So clearly, solar Phone chargers are a streamlined device that performs its purpose very well.

    Fig. 6 – Solar Powered Charging Booth

    Disadvantages of Solar Phone Charger

    Also Read: 3G Vs LTE (4G). Evolution of Mobile networks 5G Phone Cellular Network Technology. Working Architecture, Characteristics Cell Phone Sniffer Tracking System. How to Find Lost Phone Block IMEI Cricket Wireless. How Do I Find Cricket Account Number, myCricket App

    • Tags
    • Advantages of Solar Charger
    • Best Solar Cell Phone Charger
    • BigBlue 28W Solar Charger
    • BioLite Solar Panel
    • Block Diagram of Solar Charger
    • Charge Controller
    • Disadvantages of Solar Charger
    • Feeke KR-T01 Solar power bank
    • how Solar Cell Phone Charger work
    • Photo-Voltaic cells
    • Solar Batteries
    • Solar Cell Phone Charger
    • Solar cells
    • Solar Charger
    • Solar mobile charger
    • Solar Panel size
    • solar panels
    • Solar Phone Charger
    • Solar Powered Charging Booth
    • Solar-Powered Cell Phone
    • Universal Charging Port
    • Voltage Regulator
    • Wallet Solar Mobile Charger

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