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Solar light station for plants

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My wife and i live in an apartment that is north-south facing, which means we don't get a lot of sunshine during the day.

recently we have started to grow a few potted herbs, and its starting to expand into more than just a few. all these plants need some kind of light source.

I was thinking of doing some kind of fluorescent lighting station for the plants and i want it to be powered by a battery that is charged with a solar panel.
fluorescent light is supposed to be good for plants.

I have a solar panel that is meant to trickle charge car batteries when left standing for a long time.
I want to buy an SLA 12v battery and build a solar charger circuit, plus some kind of circuit which will allow me to light up a fluorescent light with 12v..

I would be grateful for any ideas on how to go about doing this kind of thing, and if anyone can recommend schematics for these kind of cicuits and some other info like what to watch out for etc..

Much thanks, Gideon


I don't think it's very practical, you'll need a huge solar pannel relative to the area you want to light.


Those trickle charges do just that, maybe 160 mA. You won't actually be getting enough to charge an SLA. There are a bunch of small inverters intended to plug in you car lighter, for charging small stuff like cellphones, Ipods, cameras, maybe even laptops (100 watts?), but they are dirt cheap. Might be enough to run a 40 Watt fluorescent. There are camper/RV fixtures that run directly of 12 volts, might be more efficient. Didn't catch you location, so kind of hard to suggest a panel size. I'm in Florida, installed a 12 watt panel about 3 months ago, and it keeps 10 Ah battery charged, and suspect I could double that.


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Your charger is no good.
A trickle charger keeps a battery fully charged when the battery is not used,
You want to use the battery a lot so you need to charge it a lot.

You might need a huge and expensive solar panel to charge your battery in a couple of hours.


New Member
Thanks for all the replies,

I will probably be lighting it only for certain hours with a timer, so the battery will not be in full use.
I am also thinking more in the direction like the camper lights, with out inverting to 110v/220v.

here is what i came up in google:

-I found this website that has a 12v inverter that is capable of lighting 40W tubes. i am not too sure what kind of battery i need for this, and i am not too familiar with winding transformers (and that one looks damn hard!).

-and another one for lighting a 4w tube with 1.5v....

HarveyH42, we are living in Singapore we get a relatively strong sun (when it doesnt rain).


Coop Build Coordinator
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It is best to use grow bulbs specifically designed for growing plants.

A less expensive way is to use a cool white and a soft white bulb.

Plug the lamp in. It will take years to recover the cost of solar panels large enough to run the lamps.

EDIT: The bulbs need to be quite close to the plants to do any good. About 6 inches above the plants, maybe closer. Google for more info.
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