Solar USB Charger (DIY)

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Commercial solar USB chargers are expensive.  From the local sporting goods store, a small USB battery with a solar charging augmenting and trickle charging, it was 49.99 US Dollars!  So I decided to go about it my own way.  In this tutorial, I built a 1.44Watt(and earlier a 2.8Watt) compact solar charging with iPhone compatible USB output for less than 25 Dollars.  This might not be a “compete tutorial”, as it is supposed to be inspirational in the DIY fashion, also feel free to ask questions in the comments below if you have questions.

To those who may find it useful, here a tutorial for a regulated, stable, and fairly safe solar charger, with things you may find around your house, or if your fortunate a local fry electronics(RIP Radio Shack).  This is useful for both beach goers and outdoors people in general, and mine works quite well for me.  Just know, that sharp objects and electricity is in use, and I am not liable for any damage to you cause to your property, or yourself or others.  Proceed at your own risk.  That being said, I hope it works well for you!

Parts List

  1. Project enclosure(Free!)
    • Ive built two of them, one of them was in a DVD case, and the smaller one was in a CD case.
  2. Buck Boost Converter aka:  DC-DC converter(Free to 7.99)
    • I found my buck boost converter module in a Car(12vdc) to Lightning Connector(5vdc).  These can be found at most stores, or even around the house.
  3. Solar Pannel(~15.99)
    • Any panel/ combinations of panels could potentialy work, however you are probably going to want to get >7 volts DC @ .2 Ampere.(A good resource for using multiple panels) You also want to test it out, one of my DC-DC converter only worked at 9vdc+ and the other worked as low as 6vdc, so a little bit of testing is required.
      • For one model of the project I used two 4.5vdc@.2223ma to get 9vdc at .223ma(2 Watts)
      • for this revision of the project I used one 7.2vdc@.2ma (1.4 Watts)
  4. Diodes!(.99 and less!)  When dealing with Solar, these do wonders from preventing current back flow.
    • I recommend the 1N4001 or the 1N4148


  1. Soldering Iron/Solder
  2. Hammer
  3. Hot Glue& Hot Glue gun(Electrical tape works well too)
  4. Pliers(Helpful for prying connectors apart)
  5. Scissors(useful for striping wires)
  6. Multimeter/Voltmeter

All of the Parts, and some extra perhaps helpful tools:


The Build:

  1. After locating the parts, And guessing and checking the DC-DC power supply, the build is fairly simple.  The OPSEPP solar panel that I got from Frys had a protruding back.image-2
  2. Remove the 2.1mm barrel plug and expose the strip back the insulation. With the exposed copper twist each lead like a twist tie, but keep them separate! — electrical shorts are a bad.image
  3. So instead of removing the plastic from the back, I measured and outlined and cut a hole in the plastic of the CD case.  WATCH OUT, the plastic used is thin and brittle, use some sort of tape to prevent cracking outside the desired region.image-6Lesson learned.  You can use a drill bit, screwdriver and hammer or a knife.  Be as safe as you feel you need to be.  I am not liable for any injury to you or your property.
  4. Remove the outer plastic from the automobile DC-DC converter and mount with tape(temporary mounting) the module to the inside of the case.  DVD cases have more room to be forgiving so this may not be necessary, but for the CD case model it is for it to fit.  Avoid cutting any wires on the inside of the case. mount The solar panel and image-1
  5. Connect the Diode, and Power to the Boost converter. The Center middle pin of the automobile is the positive whereas the outer side contacts are ground.GraphicSolarUSB
  6. Exchanging connectors–Varies if your charger includes a standard USB output or a specific kind.
  7. Initial Testing!– Before Hot/Super glueing everything in place, you may want to test it
  8. Hot glue and Enjoy!



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