I made a 15 V solar panel from garden lights which supplies 50 mA of current in direct sunlight.

For some reason it doesn't power a simple DC motor which can run on a 1.5 V battery. Why isn't it powering the motor, but can power an LED? Is it a lack of amps? If so, how can I increase amperage?

My 15v solar panel

  • \$\begingroup\$ You should find out how much energy an AA battery (by 1.5V it could be AAA or AA) can deliver to start a motor. Then see if the panel will do the same. \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 17, 2019 at 18:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What short circuit current did you measure from the panel? \$\endgroup\$
    – winny
    Mar 17, 2019 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ To make something like this actually work you need a panel and motor matched to each other; salvaged components are unlikely to be. Most examples would be a little project kit with a motor that spins a (perhaps pitch-less) toy propeller looking cool but not really moving any air. Though I do recall a baseball cap with a panel on top and a little fan in the brim that did put a little air across one's face in bright sunlight. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2019 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SolarMike I will check \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2019 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @winny at first I circuit it straight to the solar panel leads. After that I tried with an LED. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2019 at 19:27

2 Answers 2


Why do your solar panels produce only 5mA? Mine from cheap solar garden lights produce 40mA.

Each of your solar panels appear to produce 2V then why did you connect them in series to produce 15V at hardly any current? In parallel they will produce 2V at 45mA or more.

A 1.5V AA battery can supply hundreds of times more current than your solar panels. Use a much larger solar panel but you want more current, not more voltage than the motor needs.

One or a few paralleled solar panels like you show can charge a little AA Ni-MH rechargeable cell all day in the sun that can power the 1.5V motor.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So should I connect them in parallel to achieve what I'm attempting? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2019 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course you must connect the solar panels in parallel to increase their total current. \$\endgroup\$
    – Audioguru
    Sep 13, 2020 at 16:23

ALL the paralleled solar panels (9 of them) must be in full sunlight. A shaded one will draw some current from the remaining ones that are in the sunlight.


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