Published Date 1/22/14 12:20 PM

Here are a list of components you could use to build a basic solar power set-up for powering a laptop in the summer, charging a phone and LED lighting. In the winter it would provide lighting and basic phone charging but would have problems keeping a laptop running. The images and links are just examples, you would need to research at time of buying for best cost/utility of components. Am up for consultion on this.

DIY setup

The panel goes in a sunny location (high up and out of the way) with no shade, the cable comes down to close to the battery (make up the connectors for the charge controller) connect the panel to the charge controller and the controller to the battery with as short wires as you can manage. Then the battery to the 3 way splinter, plug the 12v cigarette lighter plug into the splinter for laptop and USB charging. Wire up the LED light strips with cheap wire to the battery with a switch. Then connect the voltage meter to the battery its very important not to run the battery at less than 12v as it will permanently degrade its function after a while. Try and keep the battery full charged at 12.6v if you can, to do this it is best to use the power during full sun in the middle of the day and not at night, if you store the power to use latter you can lose as much as 40% of it…

100w solar panel from under £100

Basic Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Battery Regulator under £20 (a 10amp charge controler is fine)

*** you will need to get the correct conecters for the cables for the charge controler you buy ***

Pre-Crimped 4mm solar panel PV cable MC4 Connectors x2  around £15


12V 110AH Leisure Battery at under £100 you could just use a old car battery, but it would degrade in 6 month to a year depending on use.

You need a “lug” to put on the top of the 12v battery to screw the connectors two and rings to put on the end of the cables




To connect things to it you need:

MULTI SOCKET CAR CIGARETTE LIGHTER SPLITTER USB PLUG CHARGER DC 12V under £10  you would need to cut the plug off and directly connect this to the battery (remmber red (white strip) goes to + and black to – if you do this wrong ones you burn out the USB sockit)

You need to make shore the 12v power suppy you get has the right tip conecter for your laptop £20-30

If you need to charge more power hungery USB devices around £10

Warm White LEDs Waterproof Flexible Strip Lighting12V, best off buying these from hongkong (less than £15) then cut it up to fit the space.


This would come to £200-250 with out the battery and take a day to put together with basic soldering/crimping skills. Probably a day to order from ebay and Amazon.


* use a volt meter to check polarity when connecting cables

* use your nose to smell for burning and look out for heat

* never plug any 12v components directly into the solar panel with out the battery in between (apart from charge controller)

* don’t run the battery under 12v for any length of time

* keep the battery full charged as much as possible

* in the summer make shore the battery is in a well ventilated space as it may produce explosive gases

* in the winter make shore the battery doesn’t freeze

* to conserve power run your laptop with its internal battery disconnected