How to be green with LEDS
Solar Power and LEDs make a great combination
Solar power is a great way to power items while at the same time be green and help out the environment. LED's are also exciting way to light up things while using a low amount of power. What I will show you is a way to help out the environment and provide accent or fun and safe FREE lighting for you and your family.
The problems with solar power is that it is only available a few hours per day in certain areas and times. Another thing that limits solar power is that it can only power things that require little power if powered directly with only one or 2 cells. What you need to do is slow charge small batteries and then use the batteries to power our project. We need to look at the batteries as a storage container for our solar power. Since we are making a project that involves Solar and LED lights we can assume that it is to be used at night and that is why we need to have the batteries since there is not any daylight to power our system at night when we want to use our lights.
Where to get supplies
There are many places that you can score good electronics at small prices. One place that you can get good deals is at on line stores like Amazon, Ebay and Harbor Freight.
Along with your regular sources for direct from China and Taiwan cheap supplies, you can also get good supplies from many other sources. One place that you can get stuff from is garage sales.
Another place that has a negative stigma attached to is garbage cans. There are many things that people will throw away that is still perfectly good enough to pirate things off of. In my area there are days where people are allowed to throw out as much stuff as they want at the end of the driveway (at no cost to them). This is a perfect time to score a years supply of goodies. Believe it or not I have scored an new lawnmower (it was assembled wrong), solar LED yard lights, snowblower and the list goes on.
Last but not least is Freecycle and the like. Different boards on the internet where you can post up things to offer to others that you would otherwise throw away and at the same time try to get things that others don't want.
Meat and potatoes of my LED system
There are many things that solar cells can do but the one thing that I like to use them for is to charge up AA batteries so that I can power LEDs in my house. I made a solar station that will charge up to 8 AA batteries per day in the summer months. Now in Minnesota during the winter the amount of sun light that we get goes way down, and that is when the charging of batteries gets to be a little trickier. There are certain tricks that we can to to help charge up our bank of batteries in the winter though. Generally what we need is voltage that is 2x the amount of voltage of the battery that we will charge. Leds require about 2 volts so 1 AA battery is not enough. What I have done is put 2 batteries in series to achieve the needed voltage to light up the Leds. Now to charge those batteries we will need need 4 volts at minimum. Rechargeable batteries are typically 1.25v each not 1.5v like an alkaline. I tried to link up several cells in series and in parallel so see what charged better. For me in Mn I needed to maximize the amount of charge in the winter without over charging in the summer. I was not able to make a standalone system that I could walk away from all year. What I did was design the system to work at max capacity in the summer, then in the winter I eliminate battery cells so that they stay fully charged. Now my batteries will not last as long since I do not have as many cells in the winter. It is not a perfect system but it works for me.
Then what I did was run small speaker wire to different areas in my house that I wanted to mount LEDs. I have some mounted under my upper kitchen cabinets, in my bathroom vents, laundry room and in my pantry. I did not want to drill any new holes in my siding of my house so I shoved the wire coming from my outside Solar cell into my house through one of the holes already coming into my house. That wire was then plugged into my charging station to power my LED's. I also cheated and used the charging circuits from the solar yard lights that I pulled from the garbage to handle the regulation of power from the sun.
My motto is work smarted and not harder. So if you can take a part off of something else to make this project easier- by all means go for it. Why reinvent the wheel? Good luck on your projects!!
You can get pretty good deals on supplies from Ebay. They can be either supplies intended for use in projects or items that we pirate supplies from.
Video Example of a solar powered LED project
This is a small example of what you can do with solar power and LED's. It is not a perfect example but it is an example of what can be done. The only thing that is limiting your solar powered projects is your imagination and hours of daylight.
Give a search on Amazon and I am sure that you will find something that will be usable for your project.
Tell me what you think .
Do you have any projects that you are doing that are similar? Suggestions?