Solar panels. They take advantage of one of nature most powerful and free resource, sunlight. They are currently one of the most popular green energy and are being used everywhere like our houses. However, those are bigger solar panels which are around 65 x 39 inches in size.

There are also Mini solar panels which are much smaller and also simple to use which allow them to be used almost everywhere like our own DIY projects. Some examples of mini solar panels application are in calculators, watches, etc. Through this blog, you will learn about:

  • How do Mini Solar Panels Work?
  • Best Mini Solar Panels for DIY projects
  • Tips to get the most out of your Mini Solar Panel
  • Project ideas to get you started

With further ado, let us jump right in to our first point!

How do Mini Solar Panels work?

  • Similar to regular solar panels, they absorb sunlight as a source of energy for them to generate electricity through their Photovoltaic Cells. They transfer absorbed energy to the semiconductor which creates an electric field and delivers voltage and current which is then measured in watts (W).
  • Most mini solar panels either use a monocrystalline silicon solar panel, polycrsystalline silicon solar panel or a thin-film solar panel to generate solar power from sunlight.
  • A thin-film solar panel are made by solar cells that have light absorbing layers and much smaller than a standard silicon panel which allows it to be light.
  • Monocrystalline panels are created from a single continuous crystal structure compared to polycrystalline which are made of many fragments of silicon together to form the wafers of the panel.
    • Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels but are more expensive.

Best Mini Solar Panels

You may think that getting a mini solar panel may cause a hole in your wallet but no! Here at Seeed, our Mini solar panels range from the most expensive solar panel at only $39.90 and the cheapest at $1.95! Surprised? I am too! Here at Seeed, we offer 3 types of mini solar panels to suit your projects:

  • Portable, Efficient Mini Solar Panels
  • Thin Film Flexible Mini Solar Panel
  • Mini Solar Cloth

Portable, Efficient Mini Solar Panels

0.5W Solar Panel 55X70 ($1.95)

  • Finding for a cheap, efficient and portable mini solar panel? Well, our 0.5W Solar Panel 55X70 will be a perfect fit for you to build your outdoor project!
  • Our 0.5W Solar Panel 55×70 is not value for money, standing at 55x70x3mm and weight of only 17g it is portable and easy to carry around!
  • This mini solar panel is made of single-crystal material (monocrystalline) that performs high solar energy transformation efficiency at 17%.
  • Even though its really mini, with a high efficiency monocrystalline solar panel, it is able to provide enough power for your DIY projects.
  • It also has a fine resin surface which makes it waterproof and a sturdy back suitable for outdoor environments. A 2mm JST connecter is attached to the penal, which makes it perfect to team up with most of our can-use-solar-power-supply boards, like our Seeeduino microcontroller seriesLipo Rider charging boards series and XBee carrier WSN products series.
  • The typical open circuit voltage is around 5V, depending on light intensity. In bright summer days with a clear sky, the peak OC voltage can rush up to 10V.
  • Not what you are looking for? We also offer 5 similar Mini Regular Solar Panels products that differ just in size and power:

For your convenience, we made a table comparing all of our regular mini solar panels so you can easily pick one that suits your project!

Size Efficiency Voltage at Peak Power Current at Peak Power Weight Price
3W Solar Panel 138*160 160x138x2.5mm 16% 5.5V 540mA 104g $11.95
2.5W Solar Panel 116*160 160x116x2.5mm 15% 450mA 90g $9.95
2W Solar Panel 80X180 180x80x2.5mm 17% 360mA 69g $7.95
1.5W Solar Panel 81*137 137x81x2.5 mm 16% 270mA 48g $5.95
1W Solar Panel 80*100 100x80x2.5mm 15.5% 170mA 33g $3.95
0.5W Solar Panel 55*70 70x55x3mm 17% 100mA 17g $1.95

Thin Film Flexible Mini Solar Panels

2V 1W Thin-film Flexible Solar Panel ($13.50)

  • Our Thin-film flexible mini solar panel is built on an ultra-thin backsheet which can be installed in a curve of up to 30 degrees.
  • It is packaged with durable, high light transmittance ETFE film and fast curing EVA film.
  • Utilizing the latest flexible solar cell technology we offer a new solution to your battery charging needs and you no longer require a flat surface for mounting your solar panel.
  • This allows a lot of makers to be able to build their outdoor products with the lightweight and flexible solar panel.
  • Some features of this thin film flexible solar panel are:
    • Chainable
    • Waterproof
    • Lightweight
  • We also offer a similar thin-film flexible mini solar panel which differs just in size and power:

For your convenience, we made a table comparing all of our thin film mini flexible solar panels so you can easily pick one that suits your project!

Size Voltage Power Conversion Rate Weight Cell type Price
2V 1W Thin-film Flexible Solar Panel 165x38x0.5mm(with edge 195x58x0.5mm) 2V 1W
10%
29g
Three junction of flexible amorphous

silicon thin film solar cells
$13.50
2V 0.5W Thin-film Flexible Solar Panel 186x78x0.5mm(with edge 208x78x0.5mm) 0.5W 18g $7.50

Mini Solar Cloth

5W CIGS Solar Cloth

  • This thin-film solar panel is made of CIGS material which is very flexible.
  • It performs 14% solar energy transformation efficiency which is much higher than that of other thin-film solar panels.
  • In addition to its high efficiency, our solar panel is build on an ultra-thin back sheet which can be rolled 360 degrees and are built with special ETFE film which is durable and high light transmittance.
  • Some features of this 5W CIGS solar cloth are:
    • Waterproof
    • Lightweight
  • We also offer 2 similar products that differ just in size and power:

For your convenience, we made a table comparing all of our thin film mini solar cloth so you can easily pick one that suits your project!

Size Voltage Open-Circuit Voltage Power Current Weight Price
5W CIGS Solar Cloth 350x170x1mm 5.3 V 6.7V 5W

950 mA
56g $39.90
2.5W CIGS Solar Cloth 180x170x1mm 2.6V 3.1V 2.5W 41g $18.90
1.25W CIGS Solar Cloth 180x90x1mm 1.3V 1.7V 1.25W 14g $9.90

Tips to get the most out of your Mini Solar Panel

Here are a few tips to make sure your Mini Solar Panel is functioning effectively and efficiently!

  • Keep your mini Solar panel away from water if possible as it can cause cloudy solar panels where water vapour water are present inside your solar panels
  • Avoid scratching your Solar Panel
  • Remove plastic transparent film off your Solar panel (if there is)
  • Clean surface off any residue or dust if any!

Mini Solar Panel Project Ideas

So now you got your very own solar panel, what are some things that you can do with it? Do not worry as we got you covered with some project ideas for your solar panels!

Power an Arduino in 4 Steps with your Mini Solar Panel

What do you need?

Instructions

  • Connect the Solar panel and the Li-Pol battery in their designated places in the solar charger shield as shown in the figure below:
  • Place the solar panel under sunlight or filament bulbs and ensure that the charging (Red) light glows as shown in the figure below:
  • When the battery is fully charged, the red light will turn green.
  • You can then mount the shield on to the Seeeduino. As you power up the solar charger shield, it should power up the Seeeduino.

DIY Portable Mini Solar Panel Phone Charger

What do you need?

  • Any of our Regular Solar Panels, Thin Film Flexible Solar Panels or Solar Cloth
  • Old Phone USB charger
  • Phone charger cable
  • As this project will require soldering and mounting, you will require a:

Instructions

  • Strip your old phone USB charger and retrieve the USB charger circuit inside. The circuit needs to be a step-up or a step down regulator for it to work with the solar panel.
  • Solder charger circuit to the solar panel
  • Mount the USB charger circuit to the solar panel with a hot glue gun
    • Take note that USB port should not be protruding out and the USB circuit should not touch any other leads on the solar panel!
  • And you’re done! Just connect your phone USB wire to the USB port and plug it into your phone and it should be charging!

Summary

Still do not know what type of mini solar panels will suit your project? No worries! We have constructed a table to compare between the 3 different types of solar panels where you can identify their differences and pick the best fit mini solar panel for your project!

Power Range Type Flexible Water Proof Efficiency Cost
Regular Solar Panels 0.5W, 1W, 1.5W, 2W, 2.5W 3W Monocrystalline silicon
No Yes 1st Lowest
Thin-Film Flexible Solar Panel 0.5W, 1W Thin Film Yes Yes 3rd High
Solar Cloth 1.25W, 2.5W, 5W Thin Film Yes Yes 2nd Highest

Decided which type of mini solar panel you want to get? You can check out all our solar panels here!

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