What do you do when you really want solar power, but you live in a 350 square foot apartment in NYC with no roof access? That is what our friends at Life Edited asked us to work on.

Sunlight was limited, but we did find a window ledge that gets a few hours of sun a day. That should be enough to run a couple of LED lights plus take a cell phone and iPad off the grid.

Here’s the plan.

We decided to use two of our V39 USB batteries as the power reservoir. These will be charged from 4 of our 3.4W 6V solar panels. They will run end to end along the window ledge. We chose charcoal so they would blend in:

The idea is to mount the panels on a plastic backing and attach the backing to the ledge. We are still working on that part, we wanted to get the wiring in first before the builders closed up the walls.

The panels connect in parallel using our 4 panel circuit box (6V setting is parallel).

We spliced into the power out cable and ran a connecting wire through an existing hole in the wall (used for the cable TV). Then we salvaged a couple of 5.5×2.1mm plugs and spliced them on to make the connection to the two V39 batteries. And that is our basic solar charger

The builders are going to make a niche in the closet for these batteries just above a set of draws where the phone and iPad can sit to charge.

To power the lights we will connect to the USB output of the batteries. So we hacked a couple of USB plugs on to 18 gauge wires which we then ran through the ceiling to the locations we had chosen for the lights (the maximum power from the USB port will be 2amps at 5V so 18 gauge should be overkill).

On the light end of the wire we needed to come up with some sort of plug and mount for the light. We decided to integrate the two using a collection of parts from the local lighting store.

We tied knots in one of our “shoulder wires” (with a 3.5×1.1mm female plug on the end) then passed it through the threaded rod, filled the rod with silicone to hold the wire in place, and then put a cap on the rod to be sure the plug could not push through. We found a bracket at the lighting store which we used to secure the whole thing to the ceiling.

Next for the lights. Actually they were talking “solar chandelier”. That will have to be the subject for another post since we haven’t made bit that up yet.

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4 Responses

    • admin

      The system will work with either a V39 or V11, but the V39 works better because of its larger capacity. If you’re trying to charge tablets, it is better to go with a larger battery. If you’re interested in running a few lights or charging phones, than the V11 can work well. /jeff

      • Vid

        Thank you! I have one V11 and one V60. Is it possible to use them wired in parallel connection? And connect one wire to solar panel? Will the ‘bank’ of batteries charged up?

      • admin

        Not really as they have different characteristics. The V11 charges at 6V and the V60 from 14-20V. You could potentially connect the V11 to the USB output of the V60, but this isn’t very efficient so you’re not gaining much. I think the best setup would be a 16.8 Watt panel outside (pointed towards the sun) connected to the V60 inside.

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