Choosing a Solar Panel

When choosing the right solar panel for your project, you must consider cost, size, ease of use, technical capacities, and flexibility. When you are dealing with soft goods and wearables, it may be best to use flexible solar panels. To learn more about hooking up flexible solar panels, view our Solar Panel Hook-Up methods post here. For smaller wearables like our mini solar panels are likely to be your best bet. 

Size, shape, and flexibility are the major factors to take into consideration of how you want your panel to fit into your project. Additionally, you must consider the ways in which you can hook your solar panels up (solder wires, connect to grommets, etc.). 

Keeping in mind more technical concerns, you will also want to choose a panel/panels that can adequately power your project. For this, consider the minimum input requirement as well as the amount of voltage and current your components require. You can refer to our post on powering your project with solar panels to learn more.

Some DIY projects we have that take these factors into account include:

    • Our Solar Scarf Tutorial which uses Flexible solar panels
    • Our Solar Necklace Tutorial which uses Mini solar panels and
    • Our Solar Handbag Tutorial which uses Rigid solar panels with connectors (micro USB, USB C, etc)

Below, we explain in further detail how we used each panel:

Flexible solar panels

We used Power film flexible solar panels with a charging regulator to charge a battery that allows us to light up LEDs on our scarf. The choice to use flexible solar panels was in order to allow it to match the flexible nature of a scarf, while the choice of utilizing a charging regulator was in order to be able to light up the LEDs when away from the sun.

Rigid Solar panels

We used a rigid solar panel with an onboard charging circuit and took advantage of its rigid shape to create a pattern for a bag that can enclose it and allow you to charge your phone. Using this panel not only allows for easy assembly but also provides a structure for the bag to follow.

Mini Solar Panels

Mini solar panels were deemed ideal and practical in creating our solar necklace due to its minimal form factor. To reach voltage and current requirements, multiple panels had to be used, with some wired in series and some wired in parallel in order to obtain the proper output. For more on wiring panels in parallel and series, check out our post on Testing Panels with a Multimeter.

For more examples, view our list of tutorials here.