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How to Make a Solar Charging Bag

Never worry about a dead cell phone again! Charge your portable electronics by harnessing the power of the sun.


  • Step 1: Remove the solar panel Carefully remove the solar panel from the light fixture with a screwdriver. It should have two wires soldered to a rechargeable battery. Detach the wires using the wire cutters, and strip the ends with the wire strippers.
  • Step 2: Test the voltage Place the solar panel in direct sunlight, and touch the positive probe of the voltage meter to the panel's positive wire and the negative probe to the negative wire. The screen on the voltage meter will give you a reading. You're looking for 5 volts, the output for a standard USB cord.
  • TIP: Make sure the meter's probes are connected correctly, or the voltage meter reading will be very low or negative.
  • Step 3: Add more solar panels If one solar panel does not provide enough volts to charge your device, add another. Solder its positive wire to the negative wire of the first solar panel. Test the voltage again. If it's still not enough, add a third panel.
  • Step 4: Add a diode Using the soldering equipment, solder the diode to the positive wire. The diode will restrict the flow of electricity to one direction. A stripe on one end of the diode tells which way the electricity will flow through it. Face the diode stripe away from the solar panel, which will prevent any stray current from flowing back into the solar panel.
  • Step 5: Add the USB cord Cut off the end of the USB cord that does not go into the electronic device you want to charge. Strip about a ¼ inch of the protective coating.
  • Step 6: Solder the USB cord Solder the positive and negative wires in the USB cord to the corresponding wires of the solar panel. If using more than one panel, solder to the panel with the unused wires. Then, take the panels out into direct sunlight and see if they charge your device.
  • TIP: To increase the stability of the solar panels, hot glue them to a piece of cardboard.
  • Step 7: Sew the vinyl Cut out a piece of clear plastic vinyl slightly larger than the size of the panels to act as a sleeve. Find a spot on your bag for the solar panels. Cut a small hole in the bag to fit the USB cord through, and then sew three sides of the vinyl plastic to the bag, directly over the small hole.
  • Step 8: Add the solar panels Feed the USB cord through the hole until you can slide the solar panels into the plastic vinyl sleeve. Once you have the panels snugly inside the sleeve, sew the last side of the vinyl sleeve to the bag. Now get out there and power up!
  • FACT: In 2008, an unmanned plane flew nonstop for 82 hours, 37 minutes, powered entirely by solar energy.

You Will Need

  • Solar-powered garden lights
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • A Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Wire cutters
  • A wire stripper
  • A voltage meter
  • A diode
  • Soldering materials
  • A spare USB cord for your device
  • A messenger bag or satchel
  • Clear plastic vinyl
  • Scissors
  • Sewing materials
  • Hot glue (optional)
  • A piece of cardboard (optional)

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