How to use a solar panel calculator to power a light

Written by jordan gaither
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How to use a solar panel calculator to power a light
LED bulbs can be powered by solar panels. (water clear led image by Kir from Fotolia.com)

Solar-powered calculators generally run on 3-volt solar panels, which can be repurposed to light up 3-volt LED light bulbs. By carefully removing the light-collecting solar panel from the body of the calculator itself and attaching it to a low-voltage LED light in a certain way, you can use ambient sources of illumination to power the LED as if it were connected to a regular battery.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Solar-powered calculator
  • Small flathead screwdriver
  • Wire stripper
  • Electrical tape
  • 3-volt LED with leads

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Unscrew the visible screws from the body of the calculator and remove the external housing to expose the inner circuitry.

  2. 2

    Locate the solar panel and unscrew it from its moorings. Pull it as far away from the circuit board as you can stretch the wires without damaging them, and snip the wires as close to the calculator as you can.

  3. 3

    Strip about 1/4 inch of insulation from the end of the solar panel's wires using the wire stripper.

  4. 4

    Twist the positive (red) solar panel lead around the positive lead of the LED, and the negative (black) solar panel lead around the negative LED lead. The LED leads will be marked on the body of the LED itself.

  5. 5

    Secure the connections by wrapping them in a small strip of electrical tape. Illuminate the solar panel until the LED glows brightly and consistently.

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