In this guide, we’ll show you 15 practical solar-powered do-it-yourself projects to start at home.
Some projects are easier than others, and some require more complex thinking to accomplish (which is why we put in a difficulty meter), but in the end, every project is educational and valuable—so, let’s get started!
Solar DIY Projects [Easy to Hard]
Sun Jar Solar Light (Easy)
Brief Overall: The Sun Jar Solar Light is a way to spice up your garden decor—it’s a jar that “captures” sunlight into a pot and lights up an area with a colorful glow of your choice for the night!
Applications: You can use the Sun Jar Solar Light to light up an area during the night, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on lights and electricity. By choosing the colors of your choice, you can throw a backyard party with just the power of the sun and creativity, of course.
Components Required: Tiny jars, solar-powered lamps, cans of frosting spray of chosen colors, pliers, a screwdriver, and tape.
Starting a Fire with Chocolate and a Can (Easy)
Brief Overall: That’s not a typo—you can start an easy fire via sunlight with just a soda can and a chocolate bar. By polishing the bottom of a soda can with chocolate, you can create a concave mirror that reflects and focuses sunlight to a point.
With this point, you can light the chocolate bar’s wrapper on fire within seconds in the right conditions.
Applications: If you’re all out of matches during a camping trip, chocolate and a soda can are likely to be found. Even without the chocolate, you can use a soda can to impress your friends and family by starting a campfire with a standard, everyday household item.
Components Required: A chocolate bar, a chocolate bar wrapper, a soda/beer can, and the sun.
DIY Solar Hot Tub (Easy)
Brief Overall: This one might be self-explanatory, but turning a regular bath into a luxurious hot tub has never been easier—this process can be repeatable for a swimming pool if desired. This DIY requires covering the top of a bank or a tub with a glass layer that lets sunlight through but traps the rays, so they’re unable to escape.
Applications: This method is inexpensive and straightforward if you’re trying to turn an ordinary bath into a hot tub party or even if you’re trying to turn the heat up in your swimming pool. Even on colder days, you can heat your hot tub with the sun to be temperature-ready for yourself.
Components Required: A hot tub or a swimming pool, many glass sheets, and professional help (applicable only if working on a large swimming pool).
Solar Engraver (Easy)
Brief Overall: For those interested in laser engraving or laser cutting, this DIY might suit you! Simply, by taking a magnifying glass, you can focus the rays of the sun into a powerful beam that engraves on most materials and even cuts through weaker materials.
Applications: The applications of the solar engraver work on leather, cloth, wood, and many more materials. It doesn’t work as well as a conventional laser cutter, as this method needs patience, but for just $3, you can have your own engraver. You can build a “table engraver” that doesn’t require you to move the glass every time for stationary use.
Components Required: A magnifying glass, the sun, and a magnifying glass holder (for stationary use).
Solar-Powered Bluetooth Speaker and Charger (Easy)
Brief Overall: Although this build is easy, it does require a lot of money, but not nearly enough as an actual solar kit.
By utilizing a solar panel meant for charging a phone, you can set up a Bluetooth speaker in a position where the solar charger would power your speaker while charging your phone, so you’re not losing any power.
You can take this DIY build anywhere you’d like as long as the sun is in the sky!
Applications: If you’re wanting to listen to music while jogging, hiking, camping, working outside, or just chilling in your backyard, you’ll see the worth in utilizing this simple build.
Components Required: A solar charger, a Bluetooth speaker, a phone charger, a phone, and the sun.
Solar-Powered Car (Easy)
Brief Overall: This is a fun project to be taught in a science class during middle school! This build utilizes a solar panel that uses solar electricity to power a motor which causes the wheels to go forward. Even though it’s simple, it gets many interested in solar energy as a teenager.
Applications: By allowing a certain amount of light in, students can measure how far the solar car travels over time to calculate how much power is being inputted into the solar panel or even how much energy is being lost by being translated into AC power.
Components Required: Wheels, axles, a small 12V motor, chassis, a base, and a solar panel.
Calculating Solar Power for your House (Easy)
Brief Overall: This method will allow you to calculate how many solar panels you’ll need for your house in the future if you want to start on a big solar project.
All you have to do is calculate the square footage of your roof and divide the number by 15 (the square footage of an average solar panel)—that is how many solar panels you’ll need.
Applications: If you want to go fully solar-powered in the future, this method will let you calculate the number of solar panels you’ll need.
Components Required: A long measuring tape, a ladder, proper safety gear, and a calculator.
DIY Cardboard Solar Oven (Medium)
Brief Overall: Tired of baking cookies on your car’s dashboard? With the DIY Cardboard Solar Oven, you’ll be able to have fun cooking while using inexpensive, standard building materials and staying environmentally friendly.
The solar oven focuses the sun’s rays and traps them within a glass box, almost like how a traditional oven heats the food.
Applications: A solar oven can be used during camping trips or as a fun experiment with family and friends. Just be careful—the solar oven works, but solar-cooked food, specifically all meats, should be temperature-checked before eating!
Components Required: A cardboard box, glue, aluminum foil, duct tape, black paper, a heat-proof glass bowl, a thermometer, a time-and-temperature chart, and a hot, sunny day.
Check out: DIY shoe box solar oven guide here
DIY Solar Water Heater (Medium)
Brief Overall: With sunlight, you can use a simple DIY build to turn incoming cold water into hot water to shower or bath in. A tiny, greenhouse-like shed collects and stores sunlight and heats the water that’s inside of the collection bin.
From there, you can turn on the water and shower with the warmed-up water—the only downside is that the water’s amount is limited to how large the shed is and how long it’s been in the sun.
Applications: If you need an energy-saving method to heat water to shower with, this lengthy but simple DIY build will impress you and your neighbors.
Components Required: Hardware materials like wood, plastic, screws, etc., glass sheets, a water-collecting bin, pipes for incoming water and output, and time.
Solar-Powered Fan (Medium)
Brief Overall: This project has a little bit of everything: science, engineering, and physics. By using a small solar panel, you’ll be able to make a connection to a fan that’ll blow cool air in your direction.
The best part about this project is that it’s completely scalable—you can make this as small as a cellphone or as large as a ceiling fan (which will require more power and hardware).
Applications: During a hot summer day, if you want free air that’s powered by the sun, this project will come in handy. Besides just you, if you decide to scale the project, you can cool down an entire room with enough solar power.
Components Required: Solar panels, a small 12V DC motor, a small propeller, styrofoam blocks, a plywood board, a hot glue gun, a soldering machine, and a solder.
Solar Chimney (Medium)
Brief Overall: From a popular DIY build, the solar chimney project allows you to build and install a solar chimney that redirects light and heat through a tunnel right to your house.
The parts and hardware into building another chimney may be extensive, which is why some people utilize their chimney that’s already in their house, so they won’t have to make another—this renders the point of the chimney useless, however.
Applications: From the solar chimney, you can heat your house during the winter, or you can use natural sunlight to light up your home during the day. Don’t worry about the sun moving through the sky during the day, as the solar chimney has a glass dome that captures sunlight from all angles.
Components Required: Many mirrors, a glass dome, a buildable chimney (if building another chimney for solar power), and time.
Solar Refrigerator (Medium)
Brief Overall: This build utilizes the fan that we talked about earlier and adds to it. After acquiring an insulated box, you’ll set up a solar-powered fan inside the box so that your box and the food inside of the box will stay cool while being powered by the fan.
Applications: The best use for this build is for refrigerating food during a hot, summer day. This doesn’t apply to items that need to stay below a specific temperature, like meat or frozen foods, but it’ll make sure that your drinks stay cool during the day.
Components Required: A solar-powered fan, an insulated box, aluminum foil, scissors, a blade or a saw, glue, tape, and standard hardware tools.
Solar-Powered Water Still (Medium)
Brief Overall: This DIY involves taking two water bottles and taping the water bottles’ holes together, and laying them at an angle.
With one bottle filled with dirty water, purified water will be evaporated and collected in the second bottle, empty, as the sun shines down on the bottles. In just a few minutes, you’ll start seeing water droplets!
Applications: If you’re ever out camping and you’ve forgotten your water bottle, you’re not entirely out of luck just yet. With this trick, you can quench your thirst out in the wild.
Components Required: Two water bottles, a lake or a pond for a water source, and tape.
DIY Solar Generator (Hard)
Brief Overall: Even though this project requires a lot of work and parts, it’s one of the most beneficial DIY projects out there.
This build requires many parts from solar kits, such as a solar panel, a solar power inverter, a battery, a charge controller, and wires, but it’ll help out during emergencies or even on camping trips if you’re in need to charge something.
Applications: This challenging but worthwhile DIY project helps stay green in many ways. You can use this generator to go from powering phones and cameras to powering televisions and other larger appliances. This build depends on how much you want to spend, but you can even power a refrigerator with this DIY with suitable materials.
Components Required: A tub, an AC solar power inverter, solar panels, a solar battery, a charge controller, an AC power inlet, LED floodlights, and standard tools.
Solar USB Phone Charger (Hard)
Brief Overall: Instead of spending $60+ on a solar phone charger that barely works, you can make a DIY solar USB phone charger at home. With simple tools and items lying around the house, you can build a custom-made solar charger for phones and more.
Applications: The Solar USB Phone Charger can be used to charge anything with a USB—we’re talking about smartphones, iPads and other tablets, cameras, and even LED lights.
Components Required: USB charging circuit, a 4V+ solar panel, AA battery holder, AA rechargeable batteries, a 1N914 Diode, an Altoid tin box, wires, a soldering iron, solder, a glue gun, and tape.
We hope that this guide helps you build your next solar DIY project during the weekend! These projects are more than just for usage; they help teach you and others about the sun’s infinite uses while saving the environment.
Big solar companies use these elementary methods in some of their inventions, but their gadgets look a lot better since they’re made out of premium materials; but with a bit of help from painting and decoration, your next solar DIY project can be just as fantastic!