Making your own solar panel phone charger is a fun DIY project that allows you to harness the power of the sun to charge your devices. With just a few simple materials, you can build an inexpensive and eco-friendly charger for your phone or other small electronics.

What You'll Need

To make your own solar panel charger, you'll need to gather these materials:

Solar Cells

The solar cells are the key component that will convert sunlight into electricity. You'll need 6 solar cells rated for at least 0.5V and 200mA each. Common solar cell sizes are 2x4cm or 3x6cm. You can find individual solar cells available from electronics and solar component suppliers.


You'll need a battery to store power from the solar cells. A rechargeable lithium polymer battery with a capacity of 1000-2000mAh and 3.7V works well. Make sure the battery has a built-in protection circuit.

Charge Controller

A charge controller regulates the voltage and current from the solar cells to safely charge your battery. Get a controller designed for 3.7V lithium batteries. The controller prevents overcharging.

Cables and Wires

You'll need various wires and cables:

Soldering Iron and Solder

You'll need a soldering iron and solder to attach the wires and connectors. Rosin core lead-free solder works well.


An enclosure houses and protects your charger. A plastic project box or even a mint tin can work.

Hot Glue Gun

A hot glue gun helps secure the components inside the enclosure.

How to Assemble the Solar Panel Charger

With your materials gathered, here are the step-by-step instructions for assembling your own solar panel phone charger:

Step 1: Arrange and Connect the Solar Cells

First, arrange your 6 solar cells together in a layout that will fit your enclosure. Keep the tabbed wires on the bottom.

Solder the solar cell tabbing wire between each cell to electrically connect them in series. Connect positive to negative to form a string. This increases the voltage.

Step 2: Solder Battery Charging Cable

Take your battery charging cable and split the USB connector off one end. Strip and solder the red wire to the positive tab of the end solar cell, and the black wire to the negative tab. This feeds power to your battery.

Step 3: Connect Charge Controller

Attach wires from the solar panel tabs to the input terminals of the charge controller. Be sure to match polarity. Then attach wires from the charge controller output to the battery's positive and negative terminals. This regulates charging.

Step 4: Check Connections

Carefully check that all solder connections are solid. Verify none of the solar cell or wire tabs are accidentally bridged or shorted.

Step 5: Install Components in Enclosure

Place your solar cells face down in the enclosure. Secure with hot glue. Orient the cells so the charging cable and connectors feed through holes in the case. Hot glue the battery and charge controller in place.

Step 6: Seal and Test Charger

Seal up your enclosure, leaving the cable accessible. Test it out! Plug your phone in and set the solar charger in sunlight to verify it works. Then start harvesting the sun to charge your devices!

Tips for the Best Solar Charger Performance

Follow these tips to create an efficient solar phone charger with optimal power output:

With quality components and careful assembly, your homemade solar panel charger can be a very practical device providing free power anywhere the sun shines!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about making your own solar panel charger:

How long does it take to charge a phone?

Charging speed depends on factors like sunlight intensity, battery capacity, and phone power draw. In optimal sunlight, expect a full charge in 2-3 hours. Charging times are longer in cloudy or indirect sunlight.

What's the best enclosure for outdoor use?

For outdoor use, a weatherproof junction box sealed tightly with silicone caulking makes a durable enclosure. A Pelican case also works well.

Can this charge a tablet or other USB devices?

Yes, as long as the solar panel provides sufficient current and the battery has enough capacity. Just connect via USB cable. But charging higher power draw devices will take longer.

How long will the solar cells and battery last?

Good quality solar cells can last over 20 years. The rechargeable lithium battery will last about 500 charge cycles. The controller may need replacing sooner.

Is it actually worth it to build rather than buy?

If your goal is to save money, commercially made solar chargers are more cost effective. But building it yourself is very rewarding, educational, and allows customization!

So in summary, with a DIY solar panel charger you can harness the free power of the sun for your phone or other devices anywhere off the grid! With a quality build, it's a project you can enjoy for years to come. Just follow the instructions carefully for best results.