Is it possible to hack a device to run on solar vs AA batteries?

That’s the question, I have a device that runs on 4 AA batteries and I want to know it is possible to basically hack it so it gets its power from a smallish solar panel?

Yes, it’s possible.
You need to know the current and voltage requirements of the device, and the output from the panel.
Some more information would help.

As long as you can supply enough DC current to the device at the right voltage, it should work fine. You may need some additional circuitry to modify the current coming from the panel if it’s not a close match.

Well my idea is to take something like this handheld air conditioner and make it run on a solar panel to put in a car to try and keep it cool for short periods while it sits in a parking lot. I know there are solar fans,but this is more about creating cooler air, not just recirculating air. It is more of a fun idea versus a practical one, I am guessing.

It says it runs on USB power, which means that you need a maximum of 5v @ 500mA from your solar panel. Should be doable, but I think you are going to be disappointed by the results.
Trying to keep your car cool with this is like trying to air condition Death Valley…

If I’m doing the math right and it doesn’t take more than 300mA or so, then you would need something about this size. A solar panel that is 6x10 inches.

But yeah, I don’t know if it would be very noticeable to cool a car interior in the sun.

Oh, I know it is 90% folly.

Hey now! …

if the panels are in the auto the amount of power produced will be less than the panel rating.

You’ll probably get more benefit from the panels acting as a sunscreen than you will from the power produced by them.

You also have to deal with instantaneous current draw for battery operated devices. Batteries can source a lot of power quickly when needed. Solar panels typically can’t.


The linked device is an evaporative cooler - they’re disappointing enough when you’re just trying to cool your face in a warm office.

Yeah, I would think that you’d have a couple of issues using this to cool a car. First, the kind of temperatures you see in a hot car would probably evaporate all the water very quickly. Second, you’d be blowing humid air into the car which means that it will probably condense all over your windshield and upholstery.

But, if you want to do it, you should probably put rechargeable batteries in the device and use the solar cells to charge the batteries, because otherwise the fan will stop every time the sun goes behind a cloud.

Don’t most solar lights now work by charging a rechargable AA battery during the day, running the light at night? Find a few cheap solar lights and rewire it to charge the batteries in your device.

You’re going to get a much better outcome with less effort by just leaving the windows cracked a half-inch.

Why not go old school and get a swamp cooler that hangs out the window? The fan in it is powered by the motion of the car.

Even works in the dark!

He wants to cool his parked car. :slight_smile:

Best thing you can do is get a sunshade for the windshield and crack your windows a bit.

Between those two things, your interior temp will be more or less ambient, and that’s about the best you can ask for, when a closed, unshaded car in the sun can easily get over 120 degrees.

This definitely.

Or, on the other hand, if you just want to stop the inside of the car baking in the sun while parked, get one of these which will at least circulate some air.

Also, check here Solar powered car fans - do any of them actually work? - In My Humble Opinion - Straight Dope Message Board