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Solar Recharger Battery Kit

Do It Yourself (DIY) Instructions

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SolarRechargerBatteryKit

RenewableenergysystemscreatepowerindirectcurrentorDC.Whilethis DC power must be inverted to alternating current to run most of your household appliances and electronics it is well suited for charging batteries since batteries store and provide DC power. Laptops, for instance, run on DC power from the battery.

To charge the battery from your standard 120 volt wall outlet, it requires a mini inverter to take the 120 volts AC power from the wall power source and invert that to a lower voltage output in DC. This mini inverter is the little black boxthatyouseeattachedtothecordsforalllaptops.

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Many small electronics are powered in this manner. Whenever you see thatlittleblackrectangularboxyourdeviceisrunningoninvertedDCpower.

AA batteries are a good fit for charging with solar cells, since they have a low voltage of just 1.5 volts per battery and dont take long to charge. A rechargeable1.5VAAbatterywilltypicallyhaveastoragecapacityofaround1600 milliamp hours (mAh). Just as you need around 1618V to charge a 12V battery, you also need more voltage from your solar battery charger than the battery will provide in order to force the extra current into the battery, thereby charging it. Usingthewateranalogy,envisiontwopipeswithflowingwatermeetingupinthe

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middle.Voltageiscomparabletothepressureofthewater.Ifthewaterpressure ishigherinpipeAthaninpipeBthewaterwillflowfrompipeAtopipeB.Ifpipe Bs pressure is higher than pipe A the water will flow from pipe B to pipe A. To charge a 12v battery, you need to supply more pressure to it (a higher voltage) toforcethecurrentintothebatterycellandchargeit.

Currentcanbecomparedtotheamountofwaterthatisflowing.Thinkofa battery like a water tank. If the pressure going into the tank is higher than the pressurecomingoutofthetankthen youwillfillthetankwithwater.Depending onhowmuchwaterisflowingdictateshowfastthetankwillfillup.Likewise,itis

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dependent on how much current is flowing from the solar panel to determine how fast the battery will fill up with power. Conversely, this is why solar panels without a blocking diode will drain batteries at night time. Once the sun dips belowthehorizon,thevoltagefromthesolarpanelwilldropbelowthe12vbeing suppliedfromthebattery.Whenthishappens,thepressurefromthebatteryis higher than that from the solar panel and the current will flow into the panel. Withthisinmind,2voltswillbeenoughtochargea1.5Vbattery. To obtain the desired 2 volts we will begin by wiring 4 solar cells in series. Remember each solar cell, regardless of size has a voltage of .5V, so 4 cells wired inseriesis: .5V/cellx4cells=2.0volts

Since a standard full sized 3 x 6 solar cell will deliver around 3 amps of current, using 4 full sized cells wired in series will provide more current than needed and you risk overcharging the batteries. It is important to remember the natureof solarcells withrespecttovoltageandcurrent.Nomatterwhatthesize of a solar cell it will always deliver .5V, while its surface area is directly related to thecurrentproduced.Forexample,a3ampcellcutinhalfwilldeliver1.5amps, while still delivering the same .5V. For the purpose of this guide, we will be using

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4 cells wired in series that will produce approximately .3 amps under full sun. To chargea1.5VAAbatterywithstoragecapacityof1600mAh(milliamphours),also writtenas.16Ahitwilltakea.3A,2Vsolarpanelaboutahalfhourtofullycharge thebattery. .3Ax.5hours=.15Ah If more batteries are being charged at once it will take longer (2 batteries willtaketwiceaslong,4willtake4timesaslong).Ifthebattery,orbatteries,are at a partial charge before being connected to your solar battery charger the total charge time will decrease. Take care not to overcharge the batteries, as under pressuretheymayleakorexplode.

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To carry the current from the solar panel to the battery you will need to size the conductors to allow for the necessary current to pass through without too much resistance in the wire, resulting in voltage drop. More than likely, this wont be too much of an issue, as youll have low current flowing from the solar panel and the wire to the battery holder doesnt need to be more than a couple offeet. Once you have connected the positive and negative conductors to the positive and negative panel leads you need to connect the other end to a landing stripofaconductivemetal,suchasaluminum. Byconnectingthepositiveandnegativeleadsthroughthewiretothemetal youareeffectivelyenergizingthemetal,whichwillhelpcompletethecircuitonce the batteries are in place. Buy angled aluminum so that youll have somewhere to attach the metal to the wood substrate and also attach to the terminals ends

9 Copyright 2009

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of the battery. Measure the length of the battery and screw the two pieces of aluminum to the wooden substrate. Plastic would work for a substrate, too, just makesurethatyour substrate isntconductiveand wontcarrythecurrentacross the positive and negative terminals otherwise you run the risk of shorting out your circuit. Use conductive screws to attach the two aluminum pieces to the woodotherwiseyoulllosealotofyourpower!

Cut the aluminum pieces to make separate connections for each battery you plan on charging. This gives each battery a secure place to charge, with a positive and negative depression made on opposing sides to aid in the security. This can be done in numerous ways, but I choose to drill out a pilot hole in between each battery placement and use metal snips to cut from the edge of the aluminumstripinwardstothepilothole.

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This gives individual terminal holders for each battery. The number of separate terminal ends to make depends on the length of the aluminum you are usingandthenumberofbatteriesyouwishtocharge.

Make little indentations in the positive and negative sides of the aluminum to allow the batteries to hold in place and make a better connection. Make an indentation inward for the negative side and an indentation outward for the positive side. This is easily done with a nail and a hammer. Place the nail firmly againstthemetalandtapwithahammeruntilthedesireddepressionismade.

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Snugly place the rechargeable AA batteries in the holder, making sure that thepositiveterminalsonthebatteryarealignedwiththepositivelychargedmetal holder and the negative terminal to the negatively charged metal holder, place thesolarpanelunderthesunandyoudone!

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