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Thread: saw this Solar Panel @ Lowe's today...

  1. #1

    Default saw this Solar Panel @ Lowe's today...

    for $16.97.

    Is it strong enough to, well do anything bike light wise? I am looking to use something (this panel?) to run my utility trailer lights - umm, no I don't have any lights yet, but if this will run some lights, I'm open to suggestions.


    car-lite 'bent triker dude in the desert of SoCal
    ABT1X pedal car of choice
    @kcpickett (Twitter)

  2. #2

    Default Re: saw this Solar Panel @ Lowe's today...

    The little panel you've linked to is rated 1.8 watts (actual output will be closer to 1.5 watts or less in full sun), which on a good sunny day would generate about 5 watt hours of power or the equivalent of the power found in two AA Nimh 2000 mAh batteries.

    These small panels are meant to be used to keep idle car/truck batteries from going flat from the self discharge that occurs. There output is intentionally small so even in full sun it won't over charge the 12v battery it's plugged into.

    I recommend if you are wanting to experiment with solar to get at least a 10 watt panel which is just over twice the cost of the one you listed but produces over 5 times as much power, or the equivalent of ~14 AA rechargeable batteries in a days worth of good sun.

    Couple the 10 watt panel with a cheap battery charge controller and an old lead acid battery and you have a solar battery system that will run inexpensive 12v LED utility trailer lights or other low wattage 12v lights and devices for a few to many hours.
    Last edited by filibuster; 02-17-2012 at 08:25 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: saw this Solar Panel @ Lowe's today...

    Thanks, filibuster!! That's what I was curious about. An old lead battery?? huh, I thought that running solar panels had gotten a bit lighter and easier to use - I'll have to go back to the forums I've seen dudes using them and look at their systems.
    car-lite 'bent triker dude in the desert of SoCal
    ABT1X pedal car of choice
    @kcpickett (Twitter)

  4. #4

    Default Re: saw this Solar Panel @ Lowe's today...

    I figured if your garage was like mine, you might have an old lead acid battery removed from a car or truck or maybe would be using a battery found on some trailers which would also most likely be lead acid. The reference was meant to find something already on hand that could be easily grabbed and used for an experiment... and I also took your reference to utility trailer lights to imply something to do with lighting up a trailer and not a bicycle ;-)

    For bicycles a lead acid battery would be much too heavy which is why many are looking to capacitors or lithium based rechargeable batteries because of their lightweight and small size. If cyclists are using small solar panels for their bikes it's likely in conjunction with a lithium or NiMH based battery as the power storage solution.

    For a kit that has all the pieces of solar panel, lithium battery and electronics you might find a solution from this package: note however, that this system is based on 6v solar panels which are better matched to charge the lithium based battery in the kit which has USB output.

    For a lightweight 12v solar panel option look at: or

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