Best Dollar Store Solar Battery Charger
You can get a solar AA or AAA battery charger for just $1 at the dollar store. At the most, you may pay $3 for such a charger at a normal store, but it sure beats the normal $20 retail price for a "real" solar battery charger.
This is a simple dollar store solar path light hack. Very simple, because all you need to do is change one little thing in the solar path light in order to make it the perfect solar battery charger.
Dollar Store Solar Path Light
First look around for the perfect solar path light for the project. The path light you want will have a battery compartment just like shown in the photo below. You want to be able to open the battery compartment in order to change out the batteries with ease.
This type of solar path light requires the least amount of modification in order to use it as a solar battery charger. Depending on the size of battery you want to charge, either AA or AAA, you will need to search for the prefect path light.
To check for a battery compartment, simply take the solar path light in your hands and remove the top with a little twist. The top of the solar path light should come right off in your hand. Now you can look for a battery compartment like the one shown.
Solar Path Light Hack - Make A Battery Charger
Below you can see the battery compartment has been opened and the original (yellow) battery has been removed. A new battery to be charged has been insterted into the battery compartment.
The photo below was taken just to show you what you are looking for in a solar garden light for this hack. There is a little tab you push with your finger and you can open the battery compartment in order to change out batteries.
Solar Path Light Hack - Making A Solar Battery Charger
This is the easiest solar path light hack ever. The only step needed is actually optional. The way these path lights work is that when the sun shines, a circuit inside the solar path light turns off the LED light. This allows the battery to be charged when the sun shines.
When the sun is down and it gets dark outside, the circuit turns on the LED light. Normally this is desirable and good. But for a solar battery charger, we do not want the light to turn on if we do not get the solar battery charger inside before it gets dark out. The battery would be discharged at that time.
In order to make this a solar battery charger, simply open the solar path light by removing the 3 small screws that hold the solar panel onto the battery compartment. Open it up and simply cut off the LED light. Then close the path light back up and put the screws back in.
Charging AA Battery With Homemade Solar Path Light Charger
That is it. Now you have a simple and very affordable solar battery charger. Place it out in the sun during the day and leave it. These path lights are weather proof, so even if it rains, there is no need to worry about leaving it outside. You cannot say that about the $20 retail solar battery chargers.
Depending on the size of your battery to be charged, the charging time will vary. After a day outside, check the battery voltage. It should be about 1.2 volts. A little higher is fine after charging. If you have a larger capacity battery, it may take two days for a full charge, depending on the sunlight and weather conditions.
Now you have the cheapest and easiest to make solar battery charger.
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