DIY Solar LED Light Project for a Car

Written by tricia lobo
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DIY Solar LED Light Project for a Car
Solar panels are increasingly used to supplement home electrical supplies, but smaller versions can be used on cars to power LED lights. (Solar Panel image by kuhar from Fotolia.com)

LED lights are a great way to customise the interior and/or exterior of your car. Depending on the colours of the lights and where you choose to put them, LED lights can have various effects. They can conveniently illuminate your map compartment, or they can make your car completely stand out from other cars on the road. The simplest way to power LED lights involves connecting them to your car battery, but you can also power your lights using sunlight.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Solar panel
  • 12-gauge AWG cable
  • Blocking diode
  • Electrical tape
  • Deep cycle battery bank
  • LED lights
  • Charge control switch
  • 8-gauge AWG cable
  • Soldering iron

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Attach a solar panel to the roof of your car, per manufacturer's instructions.

  2. 2

    Connect the solar panel to a blocking diode using a 12-gauge AWG cable. Solder the two together by lightly tapping with your soldering gun. The blocking diode ensures that, on a cloudy day or at night, the charge will still only flow from the solar panel to your deep-cycle batteries, not the other way around.

  3. 3

    Run the 12-gauge AWG cable through the interior of your car. Hold it in place on the car walls using electrical tape. Connect the cable to your to your control switch, which lets you turn your LED lights on and off at will. Connect your control switch to your battery bank.

  4. 4

    Use an 8-gauge AWG cable to connect the deep-cycle batteries in your battery bank together in series. With the cable, connect the positive terminal of each battery to the negative terminal of the battery next to it until all but two battery terminals (on different batteries) are connected together.

  5. 5

    Connect the remaining two battery terminals to an AC inverter, which converts direct current from your solar panel to alternating current, which your LED lights can use.

  6. 6

    Plug in your LED lights. If wired correctly, on a sunny day you will be able to turn on your LED lights, regardless of whether the car battery is on.

Tips and warnings

  • Select batteries that will store substantial amounts of voltage charge, which will allow you to power your LED lights even if it is cloudy outside. Alternatively, consider connecting your LED lights to the car battery as an auxiliary power source in case your solar panels are not providing enough energy.

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